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City ends the year in blaze of colour.

Byline: Robert Weatherall

NEWCASTLE said goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011 with a carnival full of colourful sights and sounds.

As people in different time zones around the world, including Sydney, awaited the stroke of midnight families in Newcastle welcomed in the New Year a little bit early.

Thousands of people flocked to the city's Grey's monument and Northumberland Street in the afternoon to witness the Winter Carnival parade. A procession of dancers, drummers, unicorns, golden chickens, acrobats and a majestic Ice Queen kept crowds enthralled as they made their way from the monument to the Civic Centre.

The fun started at the monument shortly after 2.30pm with dancing from various groups including Newcastle based Bollywood dancers Sarita Dance.

Choreographer Sarita Kalele, 29, said: "It was a fantastic event. We have worked a long time on this and to perform in the city centre with thousands of people looking on was a big thrill. We all dressed up to fit in with the Winter theme of the event so some of us are snowflakes and others icicles."

The parade was commissioned by Newcastle Gateshead Initiative and produced by outdoor arts company Walk the Plank.

The Ice Queen covered the crowds in fake snow and lit up the sky with shooting flames.

The snow and flames were intended to represent the cold climate of the city and the warmth of its people.

Liz Pugh, producer of Walk the Plank, said: "The event has gone really well. I think we have had more people here than last year.

"The weather has been good to us. Compared to the temperatures we were getting a few weeks ago it is positively balmy.

"Apart from having more people in the crowd this year we have also doubled the number of community groups wanting to take part in the event.

"It is a great idea for getting families into the city centre. By having a New Year's celebration with fireworks at 6pm it means that youngsters can join in.

"It also allows those who don't want to be with lots of drinkers to get into the city centre and celebrate the New Year."

Among those to attend the parade were Chester-le-Street couple Clare Foreman, 23, and Andrew Robinson, 27, along with their five-year-old son Elliot. Andrew, an insurance adviser, said: "We have had a great time. It is the first time we have been but an aunty came last year and recommended it. Elliot has really enjoyed seeing the Ice Queen and he has really enjoyed all of the colour and loud bangs."

The evening culminated with a 20 minute fireworks display at the Civic Centre shortly after 6.15pm.

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SPECTACULARA procession of dancers, drummers, acrobats and a majestic Ice Queen kept crowds enthralled from the monument to the Civic Centre
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:469
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