APTOPIX Australia New Year

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (Brendan Esposito/AAP via AP)

Fireworks, concerts, spiritual services and political addresses abounded to mark the transition to 2019 as revelers around the globe bid farewell Monday to a year filled with challenges.

The Pacific island nation of Kiribati was the first in the world to welcome the new year, greeting 2019 with muted celebrations after spending 2018 on the front line of the battle against climate change.

An estimated million people crowded Sydney Harbor as Australia’s largest city rang in the new year with a spectacular, soul-tinged fireworks celebration.

After an eventful year that saw three inter-Korean summits and the easing of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program, South Koreans entered 2019 with hopes that the hard-won detente will expand into a stable peace.

Thousands of South Koreans filled the streets of the capital, Seoul, for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall.