From New York's glittering Times Square, to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and Hong Kong's jostling harbour, crowds will gather to usher in 2012 in a blaze of light, sound and music.
In Australia, more than 1.5 million people are expected to mass at vantage points along Sydney Harbour to watch a pyrotechnic spectacular that has the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as its focal point.
By early afternoon thousands of revellers were already waiting in the summer heat for the seven tonnes of explosives that will light up the sky in the colourful midnight display attracting global attention.
"Every year we make sure our celebrations are bigger and better than the one before," Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
In London crowds will see in 2012, the year it hosts the Olympic Games, with fireworks bursting above the River Thames as Big Ben chimes out midnight in a display watched by more than 250,000 people on the river banks.
In Paris, tens of thousands are expected to gather on the illuminated Champs Elysees to mark the celebration known as la Fete de Saint-Sylvestre while in Stockholm fireworks will be seen across much of the city.
In Amsterdam, revellers are gearing up for the first "kiss" between two giant inflatable puppets representing a Dutch boy and girl, which will "walk" towards each other as the seconds tick down to 2012.
At the stroke of midnight, the puppets will kiss as fireworks explode in an event organisers hope will become a yearly tradition in the city.
In Rio, two million white-clad party-goers -- Brazilians and foreign tourists -- are expected to ring in the New Year on Copacabana beach, watching a spectacular "green" fireworks extravaganza.
And more than a million revellers are expected to flock to New York's Times Square where pop diva Lady Gaga and tenor Placido Domingo are among the star-studded lineup, where a crystal ball will drop at the stroke of midnight.
Horse-mounted police officers, bomb-sniffing dogs and police patrol boats were part of a massive security deployment to ensure the party passes off without a hitch.
New Zealand may be among the first places to see in the New Year but heavy rain over most of the country has put a damper on parties, with two major celebrations in the North Island cancelled due to the weather.
In Japan, a country still suffering the effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, families were gathering for trips to shrines to mark the New Year.
But refugees from the nation's nuclear crisis, which was triggered by the natural disasters, say they have little to celebrate after being relocated far from home and loved ones.
"I can't say Happy New Year as I don't feel happiness," said Yuji Takahashi, one of about 1,000 nuclear refugees living in a 36-storey Tokyo tower block.
"New Year holidays were so enjoyable as my family and relatives got together to celebrate another year, but they have dispersed and now live separately since the nuclear accident."
In the Philippines, where killer floods spawned by tropical storm Washi have swept away whole villages in the country's south, the normally festive New Year's day is expected to be a sad and sombre occasion.
"Our countrymen are still reeling from the effects of the storm, especially those who have lost family members," said civil defence chief Benito Ramos.
Traditionally, Filipinos welcome the New Year with firecrackers and parties but there are no celebrations planned for the evacuation centres housing more than 73,000 of the 465,000 displaced by the storm that hit two weeks ago.
Ramos said he hoped New Year's Day could still be a joyous occasion.
"Somehow, they will find a way to celebrate," he said.