People around the world ushered in 2013 with a fanfare of record-breaking fireworks displays and raucous revelry. However, the New Year was also a more somber occasion for some, overshadowed by the events of 2012.
Sydney's celebrations have set the tone for the first iconic images of the new year, which started sweeping across the Pacific with stunning displays of light shows. The biggest Australian city was lit by 7 tons of fireworks fired from rooftops and barges.
Fireworks splashed over Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour once the clock struck midnight on January 1, the largest display in six years.
Russia, from Moscow to its Far Eastern frontiers is engulfed in the New Year’s spirit, as President Vladimir Putin called for unity following the turbulent 2012.
In Rio de Janeiro, officials have promised a bumper 16-minute, 24-tonne display opposite Copacabana Beach.
At the height of the celebrations, the world focused its attention on New York’s iconic Time Square. An estimated 1 billion viewers tuned in to watch the city’s mayor release a giant crystal ball at the stroke of midnight to the exultant cheers of the attending crowd.
Londoners braved the rain to witness the London Eye lit up by a spectacular fireworks display. London Mayor Boris Johnson harked back to the successes of the 2012 London Olympics, celebrating an "amazing end to an incredible year" for the country.
Fireworks were a novelty for residents of Rangoon, the former capital of Burma, which played host to its first-ever public fireworks display, drawing thousands of revelers.
North Koreans witnessed ruler Kim Jong-un give a rare public New Year’s speech in which he called for an end to hostilities with South Korea. North Korea’s supreme leader extolled the virtues of the country’s military, and said that 2013 would be a year for radical changes that would see the isolated state transform into an "economic giant," raising the living standards of its impoverished population.
And in a far cry from mainstream New Year’s celebrations, Sri Lankan Hindus gathered to offer prayers at a temple in the capital Colombo.
New Year’s celebrations in India took on a more somber note, as the capital mourned a 23-year-old woman who died in hospital on Saturday after being gang-raped two weeks earlier. Thousands forsook end-of-year parties to hold candlelight vigils on the streets of New Delhi in a memorial for the young women and other victims of rape.
In Venezuela, street parties in downtown Caracas were canceled as President Hugo Chavez’s health has worsened recently following his fourth round of cancer surgery.
"Everyone should pray, sending strength to our Commander to overcome this difficult moment," Chavez appointee and top Caracas official Jacqueline Faria wrote on Twitter, announcing the cancellation of a concert.
Pope Benedict XVI used his New Year’s address to appeal for solidarity with the poor, and called on Catholics to pause and reflect occasionally in the rush of their day-to-day lives. "We have to know how to stop and think. This way our soul can find healing for the inevitable wounds of everyday life,” he said.
New Year’s celebrations in a number of countries turned ugly as a series of accidents and killings round the world brought misfortune and misery to many revelers.
In Ivory Coast 60 people were killed and 200 injured and in South Africa 3 people are dead and about 4,000 homeless after a series of fires swept through townships in the Cape Town area.