Millennium celebrations

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Millennium countdown on the Eiffel Tower, Paris

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 1000s millennium (January 1, 1000 – December 31, 1999) and the beginning of the 2000s millennium (January 1, 2000 – December 31, 2999).

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[1] and a diverse range of memorabilia was created – such as souvenir postage stamps.[2]

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. 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 savings, and claiming "first territory", "first land", "first inhabited land" or "first city" to see the new year.[3]


Standard Time Zones Map, as of 31 December 2019. Celebrations proceeded from right to left.[a]


The US Navy submarine Topeka positioned itself 400 metres (1,300 ft) underwater, straddling both the International date line and the equator.[4]

At Caroline Island, renamed as "Millennium Island" in the mid-Pacific, the republic of Kiribati claimed the first land to see the new millennium.[5]

On the Chatham Islands (UTC+13:45) there was a Maori blessing. "As they faced the Pacific Ocean, a beacon was lit and school children sang."[6]


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 date line.



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.[7] 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.[5] However, public transport and access was available to view the fireworks on the Bridge, which included the "waterfall" effect.[8]


Adelaide's celebrations were at their Central Business District with a special presentation before the countdown and lots of fireworks as the new millennium begins. Adelaide was on UTC+10:30 during daylight saving time.

Brisbane's celebrations were broadcast live on ABC (Australia) and all across the world in BBC's 2000 Today.


In Tokyo, there were a series of concerts (NHK's Kohaku Uta Gassen, Johnny's Countdown Live) and a fireworks display. At midnight, temple bells across Japan were rung 108 times to "dispel the evils of mankind".[4]


In Beijing, the traditional Chinese New Year hasn't started till February 5th of that year, celebrations gathered alongside fireworks and dragon dances, Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin lit an "eternal flame" and "pledging China would restore its lost glory".[4]

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 Philippine presentation in the 2000 Today (Global Millennium Day broadcast on GMA).

In Singapore, a pop trio consisting of Fann Wong, Tanya Chua and Elsa Lin performed the millennium song for Singapore, Moments of Magic.



In India (UTC+5:30), many Indians use the Hindu calendar, but the start of year 2000 was still celebrated. On New Year’s Eve, fireworks were seen in the capital New Delhi. This was overshadowed by the passengers and crew of Indian Airlines Flight 814 arrived home from Afghanistan had held hostage for a week.




Moscow's government and its national government had sponsored parties across the city. They all celebrated as the Spasskaya Tower to ring in the new millennium.


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

Athens held a fireworks display over the Acropolis and a televised choir sang the Olympic anthem, a Byzantine anthem and the Greek national anthem.[9]

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."[4]

In Giza, a concert called The Twelve Dreams of the Sun with music by Jean-Michel Jarre was held on the Pyramids. Most Egyptians were observed with the coincidence of Muslim holy month of Ramadan.[10]


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.[11]

In Rome, Pope John Paul II led a traditional Te Deum service at St. Peter's Basilica.[4]

In Spain, The Star-Shaped balloons on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid.


In London, attention focused around Big Ben, the Millennium Dome and a huge fireworks display, called the "River of Fire" went along several kilometers of the River Thames.[12]

The Irish national television channel RTÉ produced a marathon 19-hour broadcast called Millennium Eve: Celebrate 2000, while the BBC in the United Kingdom hosted a 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 of the World, 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 twenty-first 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.[13][14]

Fireworks were launched from the CN Tower in Toronto.[13]

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.[15] It was broadcast during ABC 2000 Today with Dick Clark.[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.


Chicago celebrated the Millennium by having a fireworks show on Navy Pier along with celebrations in homes and in Grant Park as was viewed during the ABC 2000 Today broadcast.



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 then-governor Benjamin Cayetano and his family.


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 until 29 December 2011 when it would be shifted to UTC+13.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ At the time of the millennium celebrations, Sri Lanka was on UTC+6, Belarus and Turkey were on UTC+2, Morocco was on UTC±0, while Samoa and Tokelau were on UTC-11.


  1. ^ "A pointer to celebrations". Asia CNN. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Stamp issue – Millennium Firsts". Posterity Post. Chatham Islands Postal Service. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b Aimee, Harris (1999). "Millenium: Date Line Politics". Honolulu Magazine (August ed.): 20. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Japan Holds Traditional, Millennium Celebrations". Orlando Sentinel. 1 January 2000. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b Rivera, Larry (1 January 2000). "Into the New Millennium". Australia Travel. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  6. ^ Beale, Jonathan (31 December 1999). "Celebrating on Chatham Island". BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  7. ^ Dennis, Anthony (1 January 2000). "Millennium dawns". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Video of Sydney Millennium fireworks". YouTube. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  9. ^ "ET1". Youtube. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  10. ^ "The Twelve Dreams of the Sun was a concert by Jean Michel Jarre". YouTube. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  11. ^ "The Eiffel Tower's Illuminations". Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  12. ^ "2000 Arrives – London, England". Youtube. ABC. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  13. ^ a b Branswell, Brenda; DeMont, John; Wood, Chris; Phillips, Andrew; Came, Barry; Fennell, Tom; Bergman, Brian; Geddes, John (10 January 2000). "New Year Celebrations and No Y2K Disasters". Maclean's. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Year 2000 arrives in Central Canada". CBC Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  15. ^ Kelley, Tina (30 December 1999). "There's Another Countdown Before the Famed '10, 9, 8 . . .'". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  16. ^ "ABC 2000 Today Highlights". Youtube. ABC. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Fast Facts". 20 June 2017.