January 1: Could not go out of India to attend a New Year’s Eve party? Don’t worry! Let’s take a glimpse of what exactly happened at midnight all around the world.
First country to welcome New Year
Although New Zealand is known to be the first major country to welcome New Year, Samoa and Kiribati, countries from Oceania are actually the first countries to start the New Year. Samoa, which lies south of the equator, was the first country to celebrate the New Year with an inevitable fireworks display.
On the other hand Kiribati, after spending 2018 on the front lines of the battle against climate change, welcomed 2019 in the capital, Tarawa, with church services and mostly quiet private celebrations.
It was officially 2019 in New Zealand, as cities including Auckland set off fireworks and spectators danced and cheered. The annual Wondergarden festival also took place, with revelers flooding to Auckland to enjoy the music and ring in the New Year.
Tens of thousands gathered around Sky Tower, in Auckland as fireworks exploded from the top of the 328-meter structure. Across this nation in the southern hemisphere, thousands took to beaches and streets for the first large-scale celebrations to welcome 2019.
Partygoers were allowed to make as much noise as they liked between 6pm and 2am, after the council in Auckland promised not to attend any noise complaints during those hours.
Australia rings in 2019 with a bang!
Millions of people crowded Sydney Harbor as Australia's largest city rang in the New Year with a spectacular, soul-tinged fireworks celebration. One of the most complex displays in Australia's history included gold, purple and silver fireworks pulsating to the famous tune of “A Natural Woman" made by Aretha Franklin. The display used 8.5 tons of fireworks and featured more than 100,000 pyrotechnic effects.
Next in line were Japan, Korea, China and Russia
Tokyo’s New Year celebrations turned to be jinxed this year when with an "intent to murder", a 21-year-old Kazuhiro Kusakabe drove a small vehicle into Takeshita Street in Tokyo's fashion district of Harajuku at 10 minutes past midnight, hurting nine people, one seriously, by deliberately ploughing his car into crowds celebrating New Year's Eve along the famous Tokyo street. Kusakabe was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Yet, Japan welcomed the year with their usual modesty.
After an eventful year that saw three inter-Korean summits and the easing of tensions over North Korea's nuclear program, Korea, North and South of the border, entered 2019 with hopes that the hard-won detente will expand into a stable peace.
Thousands of South Koreans filled the streets of the capital, Seoul, for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to usher in the New Year. Dignitaries picked to ring the old Bosingak bell at midnight included famous surgeon Lee Guk-jong, who successfully operated on a North Korean soldier who escaped to South Korea in 2017 in a hail of bullets fired by his comrades.
Although, New Year's Eve is not celebrated that widely in mainland China, where the lunar New Year in February is a more important holiday, countdown events were being held in major cities and some of the faithful headed to Buddhist temples for bell-ringing and prayers. The city of Beijing held a Gala for VIP guests to welcome the New Year.
Russians raised toasts to celebrate across the country's 11 time zones as President Vladimir Putin addressed the country with a hopefulness and excitement of the coming year. He stressed the need to rely on internal resources to improve living standards.
Countries in Asia welcomed the year with traditions in tow
While many celebrate New Year's Eve with fireworks, hundreds of Thais traveled to Takien Temple in a suburb of Bangkok to lie inside coffins for traditional funeral rituals in a ceremony symbolizing death and rebirth which helps them rid of bad luck and allows them to be born again for a fresh start in the New Year.
Philippines set off powerful firecrackers in one of Asia's most violent celebrations. Dozens of people are known to be injured by firecrackers ahead of New Year's Eve, because of the tradition despite a government scare campaign and threats of arrests.
In United Arab Emirates, hundreds of thousands of spectators enjoyed a firework display at Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. Exceeding last year’s celebrations, Burj Khalifa’s fireworks turned out to be magnificent than ever.
The first country to welcome 2019 in Europe was Greece. Parthenons in Athens were illuminated with impressive fireworks welcoming the New Year.
Pope Francis rounded out the most problematic year of his papacy by presiding over a vespers service and praying before the Vatican's giant sand sculpture Nativity scene in Vatican City.
Parisians and tourists gathered on the Champs-Elysees to celebrate New Year's Eve under heavy security. President Emmanuel Macron gave his traditional New Year address to briefly lay out his priorities for 2019 and ahead of midnight, a light show illustrating the theme of brotherhood took place on the Arc de Triomphe monument at the top of the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
People from around the world welcomed the New Year at a colourful street party, in the shadow of Edinburgh castle, in the "home of Hogmanay". The jubilant crowd counted down the 10 seconds to midnight before a fireworks display lit up the sky above the famous landmark, with the soundtrack provided by German band “Meute”.
The words "London is open" rang in the New Year as the capital city welcomed 2019 with a dazzling riverside fireworks display. Britons ushered in 2019 with the familiar chimes of Big Ben as it woke up again, in spite of the world famous clock has being disconnected for more than a year because of a conservation project. More than 100,000 spectators gathered for London’s breathtaking display to welcome New Year 2019.
More than 2 million people celebrated the New Year on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. The last evening of 2018 in Rio was a sticky 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and many Brazilians took a dip in the water and made their offerings to Yemanja, a sea goddess in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble faith. A 14-minute fireworks display ushered Brazil into 2019 only hours before far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro will be sworn in as president.
The major celebration in North America took place in New York with the historic Ball Drop at the Times Square at midnight. Even with a drenching rain, it couldn't keep crowds from packing Times Square for the traditional crystal ball drop and a string of star performances. Christina Aguilera pumped up the crowd, performing in a snow-white dress and coat while partygoers danced in their rain ponchos. Bebe Rexha sang John Lennon's "Imagine" just before the midnight ball drop.