New Year revellers in Paris held fireworks and cheered
From New York to Baghdad to Sydney, New Year's revelers welcomed 2008 with parties, fireworks and hopes for peace and prosperity.
Baghdad witnessed something Iraq had not seen since the 2003 invasion — people publicly partying to welcome in a new year. The ballrooms of several hotels were full of people for New Year's Eve celebrations.
Several European countries rang in the new year in new ways.
The smoke-filled cafe became a thing of memory in France. Cigarettes were prohibited in all indoor locations such as dance clubs, restaurants, hotels, casinos and cafes from Jan 1, 2008.
President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the first traditional New Year's greeting of his presidency, with a "message of hope, faith in life and in the future."
In Russia, Vladimir Putin delivered the last New Year's Eve address of his eight-year presidency, boasting of economic improvements and claiming to have restored a sense of unity among Russians, who are likely to see him stay in power as prime minister after he steps down in a few months.
In Moscow, thousands gathered in Red Square, watching a concert beneath the onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, and fireworks above.
Along with the innovations, old traditions were maintained.
More than a million revelers in New York's Times Square cheered at the 100th drop of a giant ball. A century ago the tradition began with a 700-pound ball of wood and iron, lit with 100 25-watt incandescent bulbs. This year's event featured an energy-efficient sphere clad in Waterford crystals, with 9,576 light-emitting diodes that generated a kaleidoscope of colors.
In London, people gathered in Trafalgar Square and along the banks of the River Thames to watch a fireworks display and hear Big Ben welcome the New Year with 12 resounding bongs.
China started its Olympic year with a New Year party including fireworks, singing and dancing put on by the organizer of the Summer Olympics.
In Sydney — one of the first cities to celebrate the New Year — one million revelers cheered as fireworks sprayed from the iconic Harbor Bridge on the New Year's Eve.