Lighting being tested at Flagstaff Gardens.

New Year's Eve lighting is tested at Flagstaff Gardens on Friday. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

IT'S TAKEN nine months and $2.8 million to prepare, but it will all be over in a 10-minute explosion of sound and colour.

At midnight on Monday, Andrew Howard and his team of pyrotechnics experts will set off 8.5 tonnes of fireworks at 25 city locations - including 18 rooftops - in what they promise will be the biggest New Year's Eve display Melbourne has ever seen.

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While not giving anything away about the ''surprise ending'' to the light show, Mr Howard, company director of Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics, said the display was designed to be visible from any vantage point with a view of the city skyline.

Preparation of New Year's Eve fireworks.

Drummers and dancers prepare at Federation Square. Photo: Ken Irwin

More than 550,000 revellers are expected to flock to the city for the show, and this year they can take in festivities at live sites at Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands and Treasury Gardens, with each site also set up with a light stage that will showcase special effects around a mirror ball.

The addition of the live sites is intended to ease congestion in the centre of the city.

''The show will be fantastic, it is the widest New Year's Eve fireworks show that we've ever put on in Melbourne and it doesn't matter where you are, whether you're at your favourite pub in the city, whether you're at a live site, whether you're sitting back at home, if you can see the Melbourne skyline you're going to see a great show,'' Mr Howard said.

Wiring up the NYE fireworks display.

Wiring up the fireworks at Docklands. Photo: Ken Irwin

The fireworks will be triggered by 25 computers linked to the control centre at the top of the Eureka Tower. A crew of 50 people have been working for the past week to get all the fireworks - which are individually hand-made - out to the 25 locations ready for showtime.

Time codes linked to a music track will be sent out to each computer, triggering thousands of different fireworks across the sites, which have increased in number from 16 last year.

''There's a lot of work that goes into this, and we've only got one chance to get it right,'' Mr Howard said. ''Everyone's on edge but it's a great night for us to work and it's a fairly high-pressure moment at midnight, but there's a lot of systems checks that go on beforehand to ensure that everything's going to go smoothly and I'm very confident everything will.''

Conditions look fine for the night, with only a slight breeze. Public transport will be free from 6pm but for those who prefer to avoid the crowds, popular alternative vantage points include Ruckers Hill in Northcote, Yarra Boulevard in Kew and Pipemakers Park in Maribyrnong.

 

Arthur's Seat

Soaring hundreds of metres above sea level, Arthur's Seat, on the Mornington Peninsula, is the perfect vantage point to take in views of fireworks lighting in Frankston, Melbourne and Geelong.

 

Footscray Community Arts Centre

On the banks of the Maribyrnong River, the centre is a fantastic spot to watch fireworks flare up above the Docklands. With shipping yards framing the foreground, this spot is sure to provide an apocalyptic edge.

 

Green Point, Brighton Beach

Arrive early with a picnic rug and plenty of gourmet goodies to enjoy fireworks displays from several private functions dotted along Port Phillip Bay. Docklands fireworks are also visible from this beachfront hill, with the iconic Brighton Beach Boxes proudly positioned on the shoreline below.

 

Memorial Cross, Mount Macedon

The Macedon Ranges offers a range of wonderful spots to catch glimpses of New Year's Eve fireworks in the big smoke. An especially great spot is the Memorial Cross at the summit of Mount Macedon, where views take in the entire southern plain towards Port Phillip Bay.

 

Mount Dandenong

Mount Dandenong's summit offers unsurpassable, sweeping views of fireworks displays in Melbourne's metropolitan areas and beyond. Forty five minutes from the city, the hike up the hill is well worthwhile for those taking stock on the bygone year.