The New Year has officially begun, as midnight passed in Samoa, Tonga and Christmas Island/Kiribati, the first places in the world to welcome in 2018.
The last places on Earth to see in the New Year are minor outlying US islands like Baker Island and Howland Island – although these are uninhabited. The last inhabited island is American Samoa which will welcome 2018 when it’s 11am in London on January 1.
When major cities will welcome 2018
- 11.00 GMT Auckland, New Zealand
- 13:00 GMT Sydney, Australia
- 15:00 Tokyo
- 16:00 Beijing and Hong Kong
- 20:00 Dubai
- 23:00 Paris, Rome and Brussels
- 00:00 London
- 05:00 New York
- 08:00 Los Angeles
In the UK, Storm Dylan is set to bring a wet and windy end to the year, with howling gales in excess of 70mph hitting parts of Ireland and Wales and squally rain bearing down on the UK mainland. Forecasters have warned of severe gusts of up to 80mph.
New Year’s Eve 2017, in pictures
Across the pond, New Yorkers have been warned as they prepare for one of the coldest New Year celebrations on record.
Revellers have been told to bring handwarmers, wrap up warm and avoid alcohol as they flock to Times Square, which is due to hit a frosty 11 degrees celcius, which would tie for second place with 1962. The coldest ever recorded New Year’s Eve at Times Square was in 1917, when it was -17 Celsius at midnight.
Drinking alcohol is warned against because it causes body temperature to drop faster. Partygoers have been told to cover all exposed skin.
Dubai celebrated the start of 2018 with a spectacular New Year’s Eve extravagant light show in its usual impressive fashion.
“Light Up 2018” promised to be a dazzling experience that integrated music, visuals and the performance of The Dubai Fountain in a brilliantly choreographed show.
Hong Kong and Beijing count down to 2018
An impressive fireworks display lit up Hong Kong as partygoers counted down to 2018.
The musical fireworks stretched 1.1km along the harbourfront, during the 10-minute show which started at midnight.
The display includes a “Magic Stardust” firework, inspired by the idea of dancing fairies which scatter magical stardust over the harbour, a symbol of the New Year’s blessings to the city.
Members of the public were able to “make a wish” on the stars, with the various colours symbolising love, health, happiness and wealth.
Additionally, there were well-attended countdown parties across Hong Kong, with revellers enjoying a multitude of activities from karaoke to masquerade.
Beijing rang in the New Year at the same time, after Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech.
He said the year 2018 marked the first year of fully implementing “the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China,” also promising that by 2020 all rural workers will be lifted out of poverty.
The city was lit up by spectacular fireworks – it is known for its displays and China is thought to have invented them more than a thousand years ago during the Tang dynasty.
Balloons, fireworks and foxes: Tokyo rings in the New Year
Tokyo celebrated the New Year at 3pm UK time. The Japanese capital saw the first snow of the season on Sunday as people prepared to ring in 2018.
There were many countdown parties taking place across the city, with some celebrities in attendance.
Singer John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigan were in Japan in order to celebrate the New Year.
She tweeted earlier in the evening: “3 hours and 12 minutes left in this ridiculous year but who’s counting.”
During the celebrations, balloons were released at Tokyo Park and there was a fireworks display at Sea Paradise Aquarium in Yokohama.
A more unusual way to ring in the New Year is the Oji Fox Parade, at which revellers dress as foxes as they count down to midnight.
Spectacular fireworks fill Australia’s skies
Sydney, Australia rang in the New Year at 1pm UK time, after a family-friendly firework show earlier in the evening. The Opera House could be seen illuminated by the fireworks as an estimated 1.6 million people gathered to watch.
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the display would enforce the city’s position as the New Year’s Eve capital of the world
He said:”The most technologically advanced fireworks display I’m told.
“It’ll promote Sydney to the world. There’ll be a billion viewers out there watching.”
Melbourne also celebrated in style, with 14 tonnes of fireworks launched from the top of 22 city buildings.
New Zealand celebrates the new year
Record numbers were expected to show up to New Zealand’s new year celebrations as it became one of the first countries to celebrate 2018, at 11am UK time.
Good news. It’s 2018 in NZ already and it’s not bad so far.
Happy New Year!
— Jemaine Clement (@AJemaineClement) December 31, 2017
In Auckland, revellers were treated to reggae music from local bands at a block party and in Rotorua, there is a free festival featuring local entertainment, fireworks and the hedline act Elemeno P. There are quite a few festivals happening across the country – but alcohol has been banned in many parts of New Zealand including Queenstown, Frankton, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Hawea.
This came into effect on Wednesday and will be in place until the 6th.
The alcohol bans are put in place to avoid disruption and danger, but the elements caused some chaos, with a south-westerley wind hitting the beaches and sending towels and umbrellas flying. Police were also forced to deal with escaped sheep.
Big news coming out of Timaru. Cows were wondering on the road but were mooved off by a motorist. Our unit didn’t find cows but did find sheep. Ewe know what that could mean. #NZPCanterburyNYE
— CanterburyPoliceNZ (@NZPCanterbury) December 31, 2017
A local police department tweeted: “Big news coming out of Timaru. Cows were wondering on the road but were mooved off by a motorist. Our unit didn’t find cows but did find sheep. Ewe know what that could mean. “
First country rings in the New Year
Samoa became the first country to celebrate 2018 as midnight struck on the islands.
The most interesting thing about the New Year in Samoa is the fact that one can take an hour’s flight to American Samoa, which is on the other side of the dateline, and celebrate the New Year twice, twelve hours later as it is one of the last places to hit midnight.
Often, Samoans and visitors to the country celebrate with fireworks and traditional juggling and dancing.
People visit from all over the globe in order to be the first to see the New Year.
In 2011, officials in Samoa decided to move from the eastern side of the international date line to the western side, making it the first country to celebrate the New Year instead of the last.
This put the Pacific island nation on the same weekday as its neighbours to the west, including Australia and New Zealand, and was aimed at making trade with the countries easier and boosting the economy.