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Millions ready to welcome 2018

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01st-Jan-2018       
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AP :
Millions of people around the world are preparing to usher in 2018 with large celebrations and massive firework displays.
Australia will be one of the first countries to celebrate as the clock strikes midnight before moving across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and finally the Americas.
Fireworks lit up the sky above Sydney Harbour a few hours before midnight on Sunday, kicking off the city's New Year's celebrations. Samoa, Christmas Island and Kiribati were the first to celebrate the New Year. New Zealand quickly followed as tens of thousands gathered around Sky Tower in Auckland for five minutes of nonstop pyrotechnics exploding from the structure's upper decks.
But on nearby Waiheke Island, 30 kilometres away, authorities cancelled a planned fireworks display because of drought conditions and low water supplies for firefighters. Japan will be next to welcome in the arrival of the Year of the Dog in the traditional way of praying for peace and good fortune at neighbourhood Shinto shrines.
Food stalls had already been set up at Tokyo's Zojoji Temple, where people take turns striking the giant bell 108 times at midnight, an annual practice repeated at other Buddhist temples throughout Japan.
After spending an exhausting year that saw a presidency toppled by a corruption scandal and nuclear-armed North Korea firing missile after missile, South Koreans enter 2018 in need of a happy distraction. The upcoming winter Olympics just might do it.
Thousands of people are also expected to fill the streets near Seoul's City Hall for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony to usher in the new year. The group of dignitaries picked to ring the old Bosingak bell at midnight includes Soohorang and Bandabi - the tiger and bear mascots for the Pyeongchang Winter Games and Paralympics in February and March.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to eastern coastal areas, including Gangneung, the seaside city that will host the Olympic skating and hockey events, to watch the sun rise on 2018.
Meanwhile, revellers in the United States have been warned to dress in layers, lay off the booze and bring some hand warmers ahead of brutal weather conditions.
Those preparing to celebrate in New York City's Times Square have been warned to brace for what could be one of the coldest New Year's Eve ball drops on record.
City and state health officials are advising people to cover all exposed skin, and wear a hat, scarf and gloves. Drinking alcohol has been discouraged because it causes the body to lose heat faster.

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