Australia's biggest city, Sydney, was the first to host a major event to ring in the New Year, with pyrotechnics exploding over the harbor.
Jakarta remained on high alert after anti-terror police foiled detailed plans for an alleged New Year suicide attack in the Indonesian capital, while Brunei offered a sober evening after banning Christmas in a shift to hardline Islamic law.
At the heart of Europe, annual festivities and fireworks in Brussels were cancelled as the Belgian capital - home to NATO and the European Union - remained on high alert, with six people in custody for an alleged attack plot on New Year's Eve.
“Unfortunately we have been forced to cancel the fireworks and all that was planned for tomorrow [Thursday] evening” Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
The city of 1.2 million people has been on high alert since France stated that several men involved in the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris had links to Brussels.
Last year, some 100,000 people turned out to watch the traditional New Year's Eve fireworks display at the Place de Brouckere, a central square.
Moscow's Red Square, traditionally a place where people gather to ring in the New Year, was announced by city authorities on Dec. 28 to be closed to revelers on Dec. 31, amid mounting security concerns.
Meanwhile in Italy, smog is helping to put a damper on New Year's Eve celebrations throughout Italy, as Rome, Milan and other cities ban fireworks in a bid to avoid aggravating already high levels of air pollution.