Sydney, Australia, will bid welcome to the New Year in about five minutes despite heavy rain battering the capital of New South Wales. But the poor weather has not dampened the spirits of celebrating crowds who were spotted cheering on the New Year countdown in Sydney Harbour. The downpour, accompanied by loud thunder and lightning, swept through Sydney in the afternoon from about 5pm local time or 6am in the UK (GMT). Sydney sits 11 hours ahead of the UK and will be among the first nations to greet 2019.
The first country to officially roll over into January 2019 today around 10am GMT was the Pacific island of Samoa, which is 14 hours ahead of the UK.
The New Year was met with cheers, as the Government of Samoa shared a message online, saying: “Samoa welcomes the New Year in style”.
New Zealand followed shortly after, with fireworks ringing out across Auckland and Wellington at 11am UK time.
But before clocks strike midnight over Sydney at 1pm UK time, the city has already begun to celebrate with fireworks.
Stunning photos captured from across Sydney Harbour show dazzling lights erupting over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The official New Year’s Eve event kicked off today at 9pm local time, giving Sydney’s residents plenty of time to get ready for the New Year’s countdown.
The early fireworks are also an opportunity for families with little children to partake in tonight’s festivities without trying to stay awake until midnight.