Revelers celebrate the new year in Times Square in New York City.
Revelers celebrate the new year in Times Square in New York City. - 

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Residents of Kiribati, a small island in the Pacific Ocean, were some of the first people to ring in 2011. But as many countries face a New Year of tough financial decisions and government cuts, how much are cities spending on their celebrations?

From London, the BBC's Kate McGough goes around the world for us.


KATE MCGOUGH: Despite Australia's worst flooding in decades, the country spent $5 million on New Year's celebrations -- the highest level of New Years spending down under in more than a decade. The spending included a fireworks waterfall from the Sydney Harbor Bridge. One and a half million people crowded around Sydney's picturesque harbor and famous Opera house. Many camped in parks overnight for the best view -- like this man:

CELEBRATOR: I've been here since three o'clock yesterday afternoon. It's pretty long but it's definitely worth it. Best spot in Sydney I reckon.

In London, while organizers expect a quarter million people will line the River Thames, but 2011 is set to be a year of cuts in British government spending, reflected in the low-key nature of the New Years Eve celebrations. The whole event will cost $3 million and like last year, Londoners have to make do with eight minutes of fireworks, down from the usual ten.

The cost of the revelry in Vietnam may well increase by the most of any country -- for the simple reason that this is the first year that the Vietnamese are celebrating New Years on January first. Vietnam typically saves their biggest celebrations for the lunar new year that begins in February, but this year Hanoi is going all out for the countdown -- with a light show and DJs playing music to the crowds.

From London, I'm the BBC's Kate McGough, for Marketplace