NEW YEAR 2021
Which country celebrates New Year first?
Depending on where you are in the world, you will enter 2022 at a different time. This is our guide to learn which places will celebrate first and last.
The Pacific island of Tonga will be the first place to ring in 2022, at 10 am GMT on 31 December. The island will lead the world through New Year's celebrations that will follow all over the world.
Even though the big countdown happens just before midnight everywhere in the world, the time zone one lives in determines where in the sequence they lie.
In other news:
Following Tonga and pacific island nations, we move west. Australia and countries in Asia are some of the first to celebrate the new year, and many have their own unique traditions.
In Japan, many people prepare and clean their houses as a way to welcome Toshigami, the god of New Year's. At Buddhist temples, bells are 108 times representing the elements of bonō which are mental states that can lead to unwholesome actions being taken.
In Russia, the largest celebration takes place in Moscow's Red Square. When the Kremlin Clock strikes midnight, the Russian national anthem is typically played, followed by a fireworks show.
Where will 2021 arrive last?
After traveling all around the world, the New Year eventually comes full circle. The last place or place to ring in 2021 will be the tiny outlying islands of the US.
Baker Island will become the very last place on Earth to enter 2022 at 12 midnight GMT (7pm ET) on 1 January (check how your time compares). Second last will be American Samoa at 11am GMT – just 558 miles from Tonga, where locals were celebrating a full 25 hours before.
The Times Square Ball Drop in New York is one of the most iconic New Year's Eve events in the world and the ball will still be dropping this year, but the celebration, which usually welcomes tens of thousands into the famous LED-lit intersection, will be scaled back for the second year in a row, with organizers encouraging spectators to attend the virtual show.
In-person attendance, usually about 60,000 before the pandemic, will be capped at 15,000 due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. But the worldwide audience is expected to remain massive.
"We're going to have more than a billion revelers around the world joining us on TV and on the internet celebrating," said Strauss. "It's the one moment where we all come together, even if it's just for 60 seconds as we countdown towards 2022."
Stars scheduled to perform at this year's celebration include KT Tunstall, LL Cool J, Journey and Chloe.
Out of interest, New Waterford crystals will join over 2,000 sparkling triangles covering the ball for this year's drop.
Other big cities limit celebrations
Although stricter moves have been taken by some, Britain's government will not introduce new covid-19 restrictions for England before the new year, health minister Sajid Javid said this week.
"There will be no further measures before the new year," Javid told reporters. "We won't be taking any further measures. Of course people should remain cautious as we approach New Year celebrations."
Japan was poised for a rebound in coronavirus cases as travellers converged on to highways and airports ahead of New Year festivities.
The governors of the metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka urged residents to keep end-of-year gatherings small as more cases of the Omicron variant come to light, including a suspected cluster at an Osaka nursing home.