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Fireworks before midnight? Sydney kicks off New Year party early

David Gray / Reuters

Fireworks explode on the rooftops of buildings during a 9 p.m. show prior to the new year celebrations in Sydney on Dec. 31, 2012.

Brendon Thorne / Getty Images

People watch fireworks under The Sydney Harbor Bridge during New Year's Eve celebrations on Dec. 31, 2012.

Rob Griffith / AP

Fireworks explode around the Opera House during the pre New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney on Dec. 31, 2012.

Eager revelers camped Sunday night on the shores of Sydney Harbor to get the best vantage points as 1.5 million were expected to gather to watch the fireworks show centered on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, The Associated Press reports.

The shores were packed when an eight-minute preliminary show for young children exploded over the harbor three hours before the main event in Sydney and as the clock struck midnight in Samoa and other South Pacific islands to the east, ushering in the new year there.

Read more about New Year celebrations around the world and take a look at the slideshows below.

Mariana Bazo / Reuters

We may have different calendars, customs and beliefs, but most of us mark the arrival of a new year. Take a look at the ways cultures around the world celebrate and bring good luck for the year ahead.

Brendon Thorne / Getty Images

From Sydney to Siberia, revelers prepare to celebrate the dawn of a new year.