By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Happy New Year! The Beijing skyline is lit up by thousands of firework displays across the city as festivities get off to a cracking start
The Chinese New Year of the Rabbit got off to a fire-cracking start on Wednesday as these spectacular images from festivities all over the Chinese-speaking world show.
And not content with one day of celebrations, the Chinese New Year lasts for more than two weeks, coinciding with new moon on the first day and culminating with the full moon 15 days later with the Lantern Festival.
New Year is a national holiday in China and it is by far the biggest, brightest and most important celebration in their annual calender.
All together now: Thousands of worshippers gather to light joss sticks at the Xingtian Temple in Taipei as the Year of the Tiger comes to an end
The Year of the Rabbit promises to be a placid year of calm reflection following the ferocious year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese zodiac which attributes animal characteristics for each year.
According to tradition, it is also destined to be a year characterised by good taste and refinement, when people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force.
International relations and diplomacy will be conducted with congeniality - which will be music to the ears of Western nations currently trying to cash-in on China's booming trade and increasing prominence as a super-power.
Chinese communities across the UK are set to continue the celebrations tonight. Although party-poopers in Scotland are trying to prevent revelers from releasing traditional lanterns.
Party time: Performers were celebrating with amazing displays of Kung Fu in Longtan Park in Beijing. But revelers in the UK have been asked not to light the popular Chinese lanterns are they can cause harm to livestock
Light up light up! The Singapore skyline blazed with fantastic firework displays as they ushered in the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit on the banks of the River Hongbao last night
Farming organisations say the lanterns, which are made from very fine pieces of paper held in a balloon shape by a thin metal wire or piece of bamboo, can cause serious harm to livestock if they are ingested or become entangled.
They also present a risk to dry standing crops, trees and farm buildings if they land while still alight and are calling for a blanket ban on the use of sky lanterns, as is the case in German and Lithuania.
Meanwhile, coastguards in Scotland have warned that the lanterns can be mistaken for distress flares.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said there had been a 25 per cent increase in Scotland of incidents where rescuers have been called out after the public have mistaken the colourful lanterns for distress flares.
Celebration: Performers dance for the huge crowds that gathered to see in the Chinese New year in Singapore where almost 75 per cent of the population are Chinese
Blaze of glory: Revelers on the streets cover their ears as fire crackers are set off throughout Singapore as part of the New Year celebrations
Traditions: The Chinese Year of the Rabbit signifies are year of sophistication and sensitivity. The Chinese believe that people born in the year of the rabbit are sociable and cultural people who are also reserved by nature
The colourful party lights - which hang in the air - can be almost identical to red emergency flares.
'We would appeal to people not to let off these lanterns without telling us in advance. We don't want to spoil people's fun but these lanterns can cause us a big problem,' said a spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The Chinese lantern bill for just launching the lifeboats last year has been put by the RNLI at nearly £150,000. The organisation estimates that it costs £5800 each time an all-weather lifeboat is launched and £2,200 for an inshore craft.
Some worried callers have also mistaken the lights for UFOs.
Many happy returns: The celebrations lasted well into the night and was very much a family occasion as Singapore put on a spectacular display to usher in the new year
Going global: Chinese residents in the Indian city of Koklata celebrated in typically colourful style, performing a dragon dance at the 'city gates'
Chinese new year @ Beijing
Hangzhou Chinese New Year fireworks 2011
Chinese New Year 2011 in Beijing