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New Year's Celebrations Kick Off Across The Globe

Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia.
Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia.

Over 26 hours and across 39 time zones, the world is celebrating the end of 2017.

New Year's celebrations kicked off in Samoa, Christmas Island and New Zealand as those countries were the first where the clock struck midnight. Here in the U.S., many events are set to occur under heightened security, including in Las Vegas, which is still reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in the nation's modern history three months ago.

In Australia, revelers in Sydney Harbour already celebrated the new year with a rainbow display of fireworks and lights to honor recently passed legislation legalizing gay marriage in the country.

People across Asia rang in the new year, as many Japanese assembled at Shinto shrines to take part in traditional prayers for peace and good fortune. People at Tokyo's Zojoji Temple took turns hitting a giant bell 108 times at midnight, an annual practice conducted at other Japanese temples.

An entertainer performs during New Year's Eve celebrations in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the first major countries in the world to ring in the New Year.
Dave Rowland / Getty Images
An entertainer performs during New Year's Eve celebrations in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the first major countries in the world to ring in the New Year.

In Beijing, merrymakers braved frigid temperatures as they counted down to the new year at Yongdingmen Gate, a reconstructed version of the Ming dynasty-era gateway. Police in the Philippines reported that scores of people were injured by firecrackers in raucous celebrations hours before midnight.

The new year is still hours away in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of people have already started funneling through tight security in New York's Times Square, where police expect nearly 2 million people to gather for the New Year's Eve ball drop at midnight.

In Boston, organizers cancelled a parade and fireworks over the Boston Common as forecasters predicted temperatures to plummet below freezing on Sunday night.

Residents in fox makeup participate in the Oji Fox parade to thank the outgoing and welcome the incoming year at the Oji Inari shrine in Tokyo.
Toshifumi Kitamura / AFP/Getty Images
Residents in fox makeup participate in the Oji Fox parade to thank the outgoing and welcome the incoming year at the Oji Inari shrine in Tokyo.

Here are highlights from New Year's Eve celebrations set to occur across the planet:

  • In Scotland's capital, organizers of the popular Edinburgh Hogmanay New Year's celebrations say the event will go on as planned despite a major windstorm with gusts expected to reach 80 mph, according to the BBC.
  • Thousands of Ugandans are gathering at churches and along the shores of Lake Victoria to usher in the new year. Police discouraged partygoers from burning car tires in lieu of real fireworks, according to the Associated Press.
  • On Sunday, about 100 people gathered outside of an Istanbul nightclub, which was the site of an attack last New Year's that killed 39 people and wounded 79 others.
  • A man leaves a carnation outside Reina nightclub as people have gathered to remember the victims of a deadly New Year's attack a year ago, in Istanbul.
    Emrah Gurel / AP
    A man leaves a carnation outside Reina nightclub as people have gathered to remember the victims of a deadly New Year's attack a year ago, in Istanbul.

  • Moscow is preparing to celebrate the new year with fireworks and outdoor gatherings, despite rainy weather and cloudy skies.
  • In Berlin, thousands are expected to gallivant along what is known as "Party Mile" leading from Brandenburg Gate. Celebrations throughout Germany will occur under heightened security after the widespread sexual abuse of women in Cologne two years ago and a terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market last year that killed 12 people.
  • Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Corrected: December 31, 2017 at 12:00 AM EST
    A previous version of this story stated that 19 people were killed in a 2016 attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. In fact, 12 people were killed in that attack.