The end-of-year party rulebook demands fireworks – whatever the woes of the world – and as midnight ticked by in one timezone after another, 2012 was ushered in with a familiar bang and fizz.
A domino rally of displays starting in Samoa in the South Pacific and Sydney Harbour in Australia swept round the globe, via Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and Moscow. In London, fireworks lit up the London Eye, and in Times Square, New York, up to a million people were due to bid farewell to a year of tsunamis, revolution and economic turmoil.
But world leaders were cautious in their New Year messages. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, described 2012 as a "year full of risks", while German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that it "wouldn't be without setbacks".