Auckland, New Zealand, became the first major city on planet Earth to welcome the year 2018, reports the Mirror. Tens of thousands of New Zealanders took to streets and beaches, as fireworks boomed and crackled above city centers and harbors, and party-goers sang, hugged, danced, and kissed. Tens of thousands gathered around Sky Tower as five minutes of nonstop pyrotechnics exploded from its upper decks. Per the AP, a look at how people around the world are ringing in 2018:
- Australia: Fireworks lit up the sky above Sydney Harbour a few hours before midnight Sunday, where around 1 million people were expected to gather to watch the festivities. Security was tight, but officials said there was no particular alert. During the midnight fireworks display, a rainbow waterfall off the Sydney Harbour Bridge was planned to celebrate recently passed legislation legalizing gay marriage.
- China: Those willing to brave the cold in Beijing will join a countdown at the tower at Yongdingmen Gate, a rebuilt version of the Ming dynasty-era landmark gate. Bells will be rung and prayers offered at temples in Beijing, but the Gregorian calendar's New Year's celebrations are typically muted in China compared to the Lunar New Year. President Xi Jinping sent a New Year's greeting to Vladimir Putin, saying Beijing is ready to boost cooperation with Russia in 2018.
- Japan: Many Japanese are celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Dog in the traditional way of praying for peace and good fortune at neighborhood Shinto shrines. At Tokyo's Zojoji Temple, people take turns striking the giant bell 108 times at midnight, an annual practice repeated at other Buddhist temples throughout Japan.
- South Korea: After an exhausting year that saw a presidency toppled and North Korea firing missile after missile, South Koreans enter 2018 in need of a happy distraction. The upcoming Olympics just might do it. The dignitaries picked to ring the Seoul's old Bosingak bell at midnight includes Soohorang and Bandabi—the mascots for the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
(Read more New Year's Eve