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Dublin named one of top five places in world to celebrate New Year's Eve

Dublin has been named one of the top five places in the world to celebrate New Year's Eve.

The city was singled out as preparations get under way for a special extended festival to launch The Gathering.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said the endorsement, from travel guide Lonely Planet, was a great boost to the celebration which he said will be the best ever staged in the city.

"The 2013 New Year's Eve Festival in Dublin will be extra special as it marks the start of The Gathering Ireland," Mr Varadkar said.

"Lonely Planet has now come on board by selecting Dublin as one of its five recommended places to bring in the New Year."

Thousands of expats are expected to visit Ireland throughout next year, in what will be a year of celebrations to mark The Gathering.

Communities all over the country have been urged to stage homecoming events, following calls to the Irish diaspora to return to experience the country's cultures and traditions.

Dublin is ranked alongside Prague in the Czech Republic, the New South Wales coast of Australia, Chiang Mai in Thailand and the French Alps.

The Irish capital was singled out for its annual fireworks display and torch-lit procession of floats, firebreathers, stiltwalkers and, in particular, for this year's extended festival.

"With this positive message going out around the world, I would urge Irish people everywhere to join in the celebrations in Dublin or with their own local festival," Mr Varadkar said.

The main event is a New Year's Eve countdown concert at College Green in the city centre.

PA Media