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500 police to patrol Vienna for New Year

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New Year's Eve celebrations in Vienna. Photo: wien.info
10:14 CET+01:00
Security in Vienna will be high as residents and visitors gather to celebrate New Year's Eve, after police received a warning last week of possible terror attacks during the holiday season.

500 police will patrol Vienna's city centre where thousands of people are expected to gather for the annual ‘Silvesterpfad' - a New Year's trail through the old city with stands serving punch and food. Large fireworks displays will be held at the Rathausplatz and in the Prater park at midnight.

"Police task forces have been instructed to pay attention to particular situations, and to certain types of objects and behaviours - especially in areas with larger groups of people," police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said.

Special forces officers from the Cobra and Wega units will also be deployed on the streets, along with intelligence service officers.

New Year's revellers taking part in the Silvesterpfad are advised to only carry what is "absolutely necessary" with them and to leave bottles of beverages at home, Hahslinger said. Anyone carrying a large rucksack should be prepared to be stopped and searched by police. Police will also be patrolling major transport hubs outside of the city.

The terror warning remains vague but police said that in the lead-up to Christmas, a friendly intelligence service sent a warning to numerous European capitals saying potential bomb or gun attacks could take place in areas with large crowds between Christmas and New Year.

Tourism officials have said they do not believe that people will choose to stay at home because of security concerns. Last year, 620,000 people celebrated New Year's Eve in central Vienna.

The celebrations start at 2pm and will go on until 2am on Friday. The routes and program of the New Year's Eve Trail can be accessed directly via the app 'Oroundo Vienna' in 13 locations via beacons (little Bluetooth transmitters), without roaming costs.

Vienna's dance schools will be offering crash waltz dancing courses during the afternoon in the Graben area, turning it into an open-air ballroom

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The weather is expected to be crisp and chilly, at around -5C - which could mean people choose to go home earlier than usual.

New Year's Day in Vienna will be greeted with a morning "hangover cure" brunch - featuring the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert on a big screen - in front of the Rathaus.

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