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1 Jan, 2012 07:03

New Year countdown: World celebrates arrival of 2012

The New Year has been welcomed around the globe with tonnes of fireworks and mass celebrations by billions of people. The dateline between 2011 and 2012 was being moving westwards - from New Zealand to Moscow, from Sydney to New York.

The celebrations kicked off in New Zealand as spectators packed into Auckland's harbor to enjoy the huge display. A stream of fireworks was fired from the 328-meter “Sky Tower.” The main event in Auckland went  with a bang, despite the heavy rain forcing the cancellation of several public events in other parts of the country. Then the party lit up the skies of Australia, where a twelve-minute show became a long-standing tradition. This time some seven tons of fireworks were fired from Sydney buildings and barges in the harbor. More than 1.5 million spectators crowded onto yachts and along the harbor shores to watch the shimmering pyrotechnic display.

Hong Kong staged a spectacular show in Victoria Harbor. Some 400,000 people gathered to watch a million dollars’ worth of fireworks shot from  ten skyscrapers. Check out our gallery for more pictures of New Year festivities worldwide. The celebrations in Japan went on without luxury festivities, as the county went through many trials in 2011. Still suffering the after-effects of the March earthquake, tsunami, and massive radiation leak from Fukushima nuclear plant, Japanese families spent New Year ‘s Eve offering prayers at shrines and temples.Russia's Far Eastern regions of Chukotka, Kamchatka and Magadan, became the first parts of the vast country to see in the New Year.President Dmitry Medvedev made his New Year address for the people of Russia's Eastern regions. Medvedev called on Russians to overcome their differences and work together in the next year to make Russia a great and prosperous country worthy of its great past.

In the UK, thousands of people have flocked to the riverside to watch London light up at midnight. Fireworks were set off from the London Eye, the giant wheel on the Thames, after Big Ben struck midnight.

And across the Atlantic, in New York's Times Square, thousands gathered for the traditional countdown to the New Year. New York's celebrations were focused, as always, around the slow descent of a six-tonne crystal ball with 32,000 lights.