China came alive with celebrations as the world celebrated the Spring Festival, welcoming in the Year of the Monkey. Chinese people throughout the country and across the world counted down to midnight with the CCTV Spring Festival Gala before going outside with family and friends to set off fireworks and firecrackers.

Igniting strings of firecrackers is an age old Chinese custom to celebrate the New Year. Traditionally it is believed that the noise of firecrackers can exorcize the beast named “Nian”(translated into “Year” in English) at the very beginning of a new year, and the cracking sounds can also bring good fortune and happiness.

Check out the photos to see how cities and people celebrated the New Year.

A bird’s eye view of Dahua Yao Nationally Autonomous County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

Fireworks display in Beijing

Fireworks display in Beijing

Fireworks above Sansha, a city of Hainan Province, look like the galaxy

Fireworks paint the sky over the Juzizhou Bridge in Changsha, Hunan Province