Hunter River celebrations go off in spectacular fashion

There were elaborate hats and sunglasses boasting the year 2016 as Maitland celebrated New Year's Eve on the banks of the Hunter River on Thursday.

Live music set the party atmosphere as families filled the precinct from 5pm and made the most of the free entertainment.

The kids disco pumped out popular tunes while the city’s biggest New Year's craft project  – the making of three large papier mâché rockets – took shape.

The rockets were lit on the river bank moments before the fireworks began.

Revellers, with chairs and drink coolers in tow, took their time to pick the best spot to watch the fireworks. Some turned up early on Thursday afternoon to make sure they secured the best spot.

Fireworks Factory senior pyrotechnician Chris Solomou and his team were busy working on the show from mid afternoon to ensure it kicked off when the clock struck 9pm.

And they did not disappoint.

The Thornton and Cooper families were among 8000 people who spent their New Year’s Eve in Maitland on the banks of the Hunter River on Thursday.

Grace Thornton, 7, and Ellie Cooper, 6, couldn’t wait to arrive at the event and start the countdown to the 9pm fireworks. 

The girls, decked out in festive hats and glasses boasting the year 2016, watched in awe when the fireworks soared into the sky. 

 It was the best moment of the year, they said.

“I like celebrating New Year’s Eve, it’s when we get to spend time with our friends and family and say Happy New Year,” Grace said.

“I love fireworks, when I was little I didn’t, but now I do.” 

Armed with a few new tricks, the fireworks display started with a big bang and wowed the 8000-strong crowd.

"That is unreal," one man said.

"I've never seen it this good here," another added.

A colour dahlia, with a green pistol, shot small multi-coloured balls into the air with green glitter between them.

It was the first time Maitland had seen that type of firework.

The aerial shells that lit up the sky in bursts of bright colours were a crowd favourite, along with a large gold waterfall that fell slowly towards the crowd.

Mr Solomou spent five days creating the show.

He wanted it to “ebb and flow from loud to soft and build up to the finale”.

Mr Solomou’s team also provided Newcastle’s 9pm fireworks at Honeysuckle.

Maitland City Council events co-ordinator Adam Franks said families lined the river bank from the Belmore Bridge to Horseshoe Bend to enjoy the festivities.

He praised the crowd for their good behaviour and said people were still piling into the CBD at 8.30pm.

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