Around the World in Celebration – 2016 Zone by Zone

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With 2015 coming to its end it’s time to look ahead to the dawn of 2016.  And what better way to kick it off than with a firework festival?  That’s what countries around the world will be doing when the International Date Line rolls over at the stroke of midnight into the New Year.  Here’s a quick guide to when it’s New Year where.

UTC +14:  Christmas Island and Samoa

Ringing in the New Year first are the tiny pacific island country of Samoa and Christmas Island, a coral reef atoll that is part of the republic of Kiribati.  Approximately fourteen hours into the future from London these islanders will already be living in the far off year of 2016.

UTC +13:  New Zealand

New Zealand is next to ring in the New Year.  Though its Chatham Islands will have already crossed into 2016, the country as a whole including its capital of Wellington won’t follow until thirteen hours ahead of London time. 

UTC +12:  Easternmost Russia

Russia is the world’ biggest country.   At UTC +12 the very eastern most part, Kamchatka starts to celebrate the New Year.   It will take another eight hours before the entire country has entered 2016.  But if you think that’s a while to wait, consider that Russian’s won’t be celebrating Christmas until the 7th of January!

UTC +11:  Australia – Sydney

The iconic Sydney Opera House is the back drop for one of the finest fireworks celebrations in the world when the eastern parts of Australia enter the new year 11 hours ahead of London.  Those wanting to watch can catch it live at 

UTC + 9:  Korea and Japan

While Japan enters the New Year at UTC + 9, Korean new year celebrations officially wait until February when the new year begins.  Japan used to have this tradition too, along with China and Vietnam, but during the Meji Restoration period in the 1870’s Japan adopted the western Gregorian Calender as part of the reforms that would make it a world power in the 20th Century.

UTC + 8: China

While some Chinese may be taking advantage of the excuse to have another party, the real celebration comes on the 8th of February when the Chinese New Year arrives.  Celebrated not just within China but in neighbouring countries and by the Chinese diaspora around the world, Chinese New Year is a colourful festival of parades, fireworks and revelry.  This year is the Year of the Monkey taking over from 2015 which was the Year of the Goat.

UTC + 5:30:  India

Over a billion people will enter 2016 when India enters the New Year.  However India is a land of many traditions many of which won’t be celebrating their traditional new year until April. 

UTC +4: Middle East

It may not be the traditional Muslim new year (that’s in October), but Dubai, capital of the United Arab Emirates is sparing no expense in its celebrations for 2016.   The city is big on its festivals, setting the world record for detonating 479,651 fireworks shells in a single night in 2014 and there’s every reason to suspect they may well try to top that for 2016.

UTC +3: Easternmost Europe, Westernmost Russia. 

It will have been a long time coming but finally Russia’s westernmost parts, including the capital of Moscow will ring in the New Year.  This coincides with the most easterly European countries including Belarus and Greece.

UTC +2 to UTC +0  Europe

By this point European celebrations will be in full swing with celebrations from Belgrade to Lisbon starting every hour.  Even Iceland and parts of Greenland will be involved.  Most African countries too will be celebrating New Year during this time.   

 UTC -2  Brazil

Crossing the Atlantic, the huge South American country of Brazil celebrates the New Year 2 hours after London.  Given that the country, with its magnificent carnivals is a byword for party, visitors can surely expect something spectacular on the day.  

UTC -3: South America

Much of the rest of the South American continent from Chile up to Suriname on the north coast greet the new-year at this time.   In Argentina, a tradition is to eat beans which will supposedly protect you in your current job, or open up new opportunities in the coming year.

UTC -4: Easternmost Canada and more South America

Canada stretches further into the Atlantic than it’s southern cousin so these parts of the country see the new year before there more easterly relatives.

UTC -5: East Coast of North America

The Eastern parts of North America including Canada and the USA begin to ring in the New Year at this point.  Major celebrations can be found in New York and other large cities near the Atlantic.   

UTC -6: Mexico and the last of South America

As the New Year spreads through North America, parts of Mexico enter the New Year.  6 hours after London time, the last few countries in South America, including Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica enter 2016

UTC -8: Western United States and Canada

By the time the New Year is being celebrated in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Tijuana almost all of the main continent of North America has passed into 2016 with the exception of Alaska which is on UTC -9 and Hawaii which is UTC -10

UTC – 11:  Pacific Ocean

The last inhabited islands in the Pacific Ocean greet the new year nearly a full day after the first.  American Samoa and the island country of Niue are the last human inhabited lands that will see 2016 begin.

UTC – 12: Last Place on Earth for 2015

A few places in the Pacific Ocean such as Baker Island will until be lingering in 2015 after everyone else has moved on into the New Year.   For one brief hour, anyone still in UTC -12 will be literally living in the past. 

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