Organizers said about 90,000 people gathered in a large field Yangon, Myanmar, for their first chance to do what much of the world does every Dec. 31 - watch a countdown. The reformist government that took office in 2011 in the country, long under military rule, threw its first public New Year's celebration in decades.
"We feel like we are in a different world," said Yu Thawda, a university student who went with three of her friends.
Parts of Europe held scaled-back festivities and street parties, the mood a bit restrained - if hopeful - for a 2013 that is projected to be a sixth straight year of recession amid Greece's worst economic crisis since World War II.
London, the often soggy British capital, was dry and clear, as the familiar chimes of the clock inside the Big Ben tower counted down the final seconds of 2012 and a dazzling display of fireworks lit the skies above Parliament Square. People cheered as the landmarks were bathed in the light of the display, which included streamers shot out of the London Eye wheel and blazing rockets launched from the banks of the River Thames.
Elsewhere, the atmosphere of celebration was muted with concern.
Hotels, clubs and other sites in New Delhi, the Indian capital, canceled festivities after the death of a rape victim on Saturday touched off days of mourning and reflection about women's safety.
In Times Square, some revelers checked their cellphones to keep up with news of lawmakers' tentative deal to skirt the fiscal cliff combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending cuts that threatened to reverberate globally. And the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., and Superstorm Sandy mingled into the memories of 2012.
"This has been a very eventful year, on many levels," Denise Norris said as she and her husband, the Rev. Urie Norris, surveyed the crowd jamming Times Square for the countdown show with Ryan Seacrest as host.
Seacrest remembered Clark and his legacy, saying it was one that would be continued, and that Clark himself had told him, "Seacrest, the show must go on."
Elvis Rivera, of Manhattan, was taking photos in Times Square to capture the moment. He wasn't planning to ring in the new year there but went by to take pictures.
How did he feel about the end of 2012?
"Relieved," Rivera said, adding that there had been a death and job losses in his family this year.