The millennium celebrations were a worldwide, coordinated series of events celebrating the end of 1999 and the start of the year 2000 in the Gregorian calendar. The celebrations were held as marking the end of the 2nd millennium and the 20th century, and the start of the 3rd millennium and the 21st century (although the start and end points of such periods was then, and continues to be, disputed). Countries around the globe held official festivities in the weeks and months leading up to the date, such as those organised in the United States by the White House Millennium Council, and most major cities produced firework displays at midnight. Equally, many private venues, cultural and religious centres held events and a diverse range of memorabilia was created – such as souvenir postage stamps.
As with every New Year's Eve, many events were timed with the stroke of midnight in the time zone of the location. There were also many events associated with the dawn on 1 January. An international television broadcast called 2000 Today was produced by a consortium of 60 broadcasters, while an alternative program Millennium Live was cancelled two days before the event.
Several countries in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and hence close to the International Date Line made arguments they were the first to enter the new millennium. Variously, the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji and Kiribati all laid claims to the status – by moving the dateline itself, the temporary institution of daylight saving time, and claiming the "first territory", "first land", "first inhabited land" or "first city" to see the new year.
Sydney, the host city of the 2000 Summer Olympics, held a large fireworks display centering on the Harbour Bridge, with the locally famous graffito Eternity being recreated. For the first time in its history, the Sydney Opera House precinct was almost completely cordoned off from the public. Instead, tickets costing as much as A$2,000 each were being sold for Opera House parties. However, public transport and access was available to view the fireworks on the Bridge, which included a "waterfall" effect.
In Tokyo, there were a series of concerts (NHK's Kohaku Uta Gassen at NHK Hall, Johnny's Countdown Live at the Tokyo Dome) and a fireworks display. At midnight, temple bells across Japan were rung 108 times to "dispel the evils of mankind".
In the Philippines, millennium parties simultaneously began in different parts of the country. President Joseph Estrada and top government officials joined celebrations at the Rizal Park (which was broadcast on ABS-CBN), while at the Ayala Millennium Center, Regine Velasquez sang the Philippine Millennium Theme Song, "Written in the Sand" at the top of the Peninsula Manila at about ten minutes to the Philippine midnight as part of the Philippine presentation on 2000 Today (Global Millennium Day broadcast on GMA).
Fireworks for the Vietnamese New Year in February were cancelled; in turn, Ho Chi Minh City organized a countdown party on 31 December at 10 pm, culminating in fireworks which began at midnight.
In India (UTC+5:30), many Indians use the Hindu calendar, but the start of the year 2000 was still celebrated. On New Year's Eve, fireworks were observed in the capital New Delhi. This was overshadowed by the return of Indian Airlines Flight 814's passengers and crew, who arrived home from Afghanistan after being held hostage for a week.
Paris was the focal point of celebrations in France where searchlights and 20,000 strobe lights for the event were installed on the Eiffel Tower. They remained in operation until June 2003, when they were replaced by another installation.
In London, attention focused around Big Ben, as well as the opening of the Millennium Dome. A huge fireworks display, called the "River of Fire", went along several kilometres of the River Thames.
The Irish national radio and television organisation RTÉ produced a marathon 19-hour broadcast called Millennium Eve: Celebrate 2000, while the BBC in the United Kingdom headed an international 28-hour event known as 2000 Today.
Rio de Janeiro held a special party led by Gal Costa at minutes to midnight. South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands became the first place in the Americas to celebrate the millennium but with no people on it, all of the British inhabitants chose to spend the midnight celebrations back at GMT time.
Argentina's celebration was centered in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, with a tango performance by Julio Bocca and Eleonora Cassano, broadcast on ARTEAR (El Trece)'s El Dia del Milenio and worldwide through the BBC-led 2000 Today.
In Newfoundland (UTC-4:30), a concert was held that was broadcast to thousands of Canadians as the small island celebrated being the first place in North America to welcome the 21st century. Meanwhile, in Bermuda celebrations were marked as the first Caribbean nation to crossover to the new millennium reached its highest at midnight.
In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien presided over celebrations on Parliament Hill, which included artistic performances and a midnight fireworks display launched from the Peace Tower.
In New York City's Times Square, a new Times Square Ball made of Waterford Crystal was commissioned and organizers expected a total attendance exceeding two million spectators. It was broadcast live during ABC 2000 Today with Peter Jennings and Dick Clark in the United States, and worldwide via 2000 Today.
U.S. President Bill Clinton watched with thousands of spectators in Washington, D.C. as the Washington Monument lit up at midnight. Washington was also the world's largest Y2K command center despite GMT being the coordinated time zone.
In Los Angeles, the Hollywood Sign became illuminated in various colors, one of the very few times the sign became lit. It was also the last stop in the ABC 2000 Today broadcast in the United States.
Samoa, the last independent nation to celebrate the new millennium, remains unchallenged in its claim as the last place on Earth to celebrate the closing of the century. This time zone remained in use in Samoa until 29 December 2011, when it would be shifted to UTC+13.
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