The World Welcomes 2012

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On December 31st, billions of people across the world celebrated the end of 2011 and the start of 2012, with fireworks, balloons and even grape eating.

In the UK, thousands of street parties were held up and down the country. The biggest by far was held in London where 250,000 people gathered along the River Thames to watch a massive firework display at the London Eye. Triggered by the Big Ben bell striking midnight, the 11 minute display had an amazing 12,000 fireworks. It had an Olympic theme, and mayor Boris Johnson enthused: "Our New Year fireworks were a brilliant start to a spectacular year. This is just the beginning - as the eyes of the world turn to London for the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, also saw tens of thousands of revellers turn out for the city's historic and world famous Hogmanay street party. As 5.5 tonnes of fireworks lit up the night sky, more than 20 music acts performed to the crowds over seven stages.

The Rest of the World

Elsewhere in the world, Sydney was at the forefront of the global celebrations (as it is every year), with an estimated 1 million (!) people watching the spectacular fireworks at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Although the first major city to celebrate the New Year, Sydney was beaten this year by Samoa, which was the first place in the world to reach 2012, after bizarrely skipping December 30th. For trade reasons, as the clock struck midnight at the end of December 29th, the island went straight to New Year's Eve.

The famous celebrations in Times Square New York were led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Lady Gaga, as the transitional ball descended a pole during the count down to midnight. Meanwhile in Tokyo thousands of helium balloons were released at midnight with notes attached revealing the people's hopes for the coming year. However, it was Spain that may well have seen the oddest tradition, as revellers ate 12 grapes one by one in time with the striking clock in Madrid.

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