Millennium celebrations

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Millennium countdown on the Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Millennium celebrations were a worldwide, coordinated series of events celebrating New Year's Eve in 1999–2000, marking the end of the second millennium and beginning of the new, third millennium.[1] This also marks the ending of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Many countries held official festivities in the weeks and months leading up to the millennium, such as those organised in the USA 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[2] and a diverse range of memorabilia was created – such as souvenir postage stamps.[3]

As with every New Year's Eve, many events were timed with the "stroke of midnight" at the timezone of the location. There were also many events associated with the dawn on 1 January. While there was debate over whether the millennium truly begins in 2000 or 2001 the popularity of the round number made New Year's 1999–2000 a global celebration. 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.

Some countries in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and hence close to the International Date Line engaged in "Millennium politics" to argue they were the first to enter the new millennium. Variously, the Chatham Islands, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji and Kiribati all laid debatable claims to the status – by moving the dateline itself, institution of daylight savings and claiming "first territory", "first land", "first inhabited land" or "first city".[4]


Standard Time Zones Map, as of 10 November 2012. Millennium celebrations proceeded from right to left.


The US Navy submarine Topeka positioned itself 400 feet underwater, straddling both the International date line and the equator.[5]

At Caroline Island, renamed as "Millennium Island" in the mid-Pacific, the republic of Kiribati claimed the first land to see the new millennium.[6]

On the Chatham Islands there was a Maori blessing. "As they faced the Pacific Ocean, a beacon was lit and school children sang."[7]


In Auckland, a fireworks display on the Harbour made New Zealand the first industrial nation to celebrate the year 2000, being just west of the International Dateline.




Sydney, hosts of the 2000 Summer Olympics, held a large fireworks display centering on the Harbour Bridge with the locally famous graffito Eternity being recreated.[8] 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 $2000 each were being sold for Opera House parties.[6] However, public transport and access was available to view the fireworks on the Bridge, which included the "waterfall" effect.[9]


In Tokyo, there were a series of concerts and a fireworks display. At midnight, temple bells across Japan were rung 108 times to "dispel the evils of mankind".[5]


In Beijing, alongside fireworks and dragon dances, President Jiang Zemin lit an "eternal flame"and "pledging China would restore its lost glory".[5]

In the Philippines, Millennium Parties simultaneously began in different parts of the Country. President Joseph Estrada and top Government Officials joined the celebrations at the Rizal Park (which was broadcast on ABS-CBN) while in 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 Philippine Midnight as part of the 10-minute window on the Philippines in the 2000 Today (Global Millennium Day Broadcasts on GMA)





South Africa's Nelson Mandela lit a candle in his former cell at Robben Island at the stroke of midnight.


Moscow's Government and its National Government had sponsored parties across the city. They all celebrated as the Spasskaya Tower ring in the New Millennium


Athens held a fireworks display over the Acropolis and a televised choir sang the Olympic anthem, a Byzantine anthem and the Greek national anthem.[10]

In Jerusalem, and particularly at the Mount of Olives, fears that doomsday fanatics "...could try to trigger an apocalypse prompted one of Israel's biggest peacetime police operations."[5]

In Giza, a concert called The Twelve Dreams of the Sun with music by Jean Michel Jarre was held on the pyramids.[11]


Paris was the focal point of celebrations in France where searchlights and 20,000 strobe lights for the event for installed on the Eiffel tower. They still operate each night.[12]

In Rome, Pope John Paul II led a traditional Te Deum service at St. Peter's Basilica.[5]


In London, attention focused around Big Ben, the Millennium Dome and fireworks display, called the "River of Fire" went along several kilometers of the Thames.[13]

The Irish national television channel RTÉ produced a marathon 19-hour broadcast called Millennium Eve: Celebrate 2000.



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 person on it, all of the British inhabits chose to spend the midnight celebrations back at GMT time



In Newfoundland and Labrador 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 twenty-first century. Meanwhile, in Bermuda celebrations were marked as the first Caribbean nation to crossover to the new millennium reached it 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.[14][15]

Fireworks were launched from the CN Tower in Toronto.[14]

In New York, a new Times Square Ball made of Waterford Crystal was commissioned and organizers expected a total attendance exceeding 2 million spectators.[16]

A Millennium Celebration was held at the Walt Disney World theme park in Florida, primarily at Epcot.

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.[17]



Hawaiian celebrations were centered in Honolulu. The party was headed by the Governor and his family.


"Samoa remains unchallenged in its claim as the last place on Earth to celebrate the closing of the century."[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2000: World celebrates New Millennium". On This Day: January 1. BBC. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "A pointer to celebrations". Asia CNN. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "Stamp issue – Millennium Firsts". Posterity Post. Chatham Islands Postal Service. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Aimee, Harris (1999). "Millenium: Date Line Politics". Honolulu magazine (August ed.): 20. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Japan Holds Traditional, Millennium Celebrations". Orlando Sentinel. 1 January 2000. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Rivera, Larry (1 January 2000). "Into the New Millennium". Australia Travel. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Beale, Jonathan (31 December 1999). "Celebrating on Chatham Island". BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Dennis, Anthony (1 January 2000). "Millennium dawns". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Video of Sydney Millennium fireworks". YouTube. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  10. ^ "ET1". Youtube. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "The Twelve Dreams of the Sun was a concert by Jean Michel Jarre". YouTube. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "The Eiffel Tower's Illuminations". Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "2000 Arrives – London, England". Youtube. ABC. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Branswell, Brenda; DeMont, John; Wood, Chris; Phillips, Andrew; Came, Barry; Fennell, Tom; Bergman, Brian; Geddes, John (January 10, 2000). "New Year Celebrations and No Y2K Disasters". Maclean's. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Year 2000 arrives in Central Canada". CBC Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  16. ^ Kelley, Tina (30 December 1999). "There's Another Countdown Before the Famed '10, 9, 8 . . .'". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  17. ^