Spectacular fireworks to ring in the New Year lit up the night skies across continents. Cities, including Sydney, Dubai, London, and Shanghai, witnessed electrifying pyrotechnics costing millions of pounds.

Nearly 1.5 million onlookers witnessed the fireworks at Sydney's landmark bridge. Around seven tons of fireworks, costing £4.2 m provided a magnificent spectacle with 100,000 different colourful patterns.

The first major city in which the clock struck midnight was Auckland.

Tens of thousands of people turned up for an 11-minute exhilarating fireworks display on the banks of the Thames.

"What an amazing end to an incredible year," said Mayor Boris Johnson. "The London Olympics was watched by hundreds of thousands in the capital and millions around the globe. London has proved, yet again, that it can pull off spectacular world-class events in style." A light show was also arranged at the newly constructed The Shard, Western Europe's tallest building.

In Dubai, celebrations centred on the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

The North Korean capital Pyongyang also witnessed fireworks. Similar shows attracted millions in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing.

For the first time, Myanmar also celebrated the New Year allowing huge gatherings to take place. Around 90,000 people assembled in the former Burmese capital Rangoon to witness fireworks.

In Japan, bells chimed 108 times in a symbolic sign to foster prosperity.

Celebrations in the Indian capital New Delhi were toned down due to the recent death of the 23-year-old gang rape victim. Many government festivities and private celebrations have been cancelled as a mark of respect for the victim.

Similarly, Venezuela has called off parties due to concern over Hugo Chavez's health.