Thousands across the world have celebrated the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year by lighting incense sticks and praying at temples to wish for an auspicious start to the Year of the Dog.

People perform dragon dances on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year of Dog, in Mianyang, Sichuan province, China, February 16, 2018.
People perform dragon dances on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year of Dog, in Mianyang, Sichuan province, China, February 16, 2018. (Reuters)

Major landmarks around the world were lit up to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year on Friday.

Thousands celebrated the beginning of the Year of the Dog as the first day of the year which is seen as the most important.

Many Chinese began by praying to their gods in a tradition that nobody would miss.

Performers take part in the re-enactment of a Qing Dynasty ceremony, in which emperors prayed for good harvest and fortune for the Chinese New Year, during the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth in Ditan Park in Beijing, China, February 16, 2018.
Performers take part in the re-enactment of a Qing Dynasty ceremony, in which emperors prayed for good harvest and fortune for the Chinese New Year, during the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth in Ditan Park in Beijing, China, February 16, 2018. (Reuters)

The Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is the country's most important traditional festival and sees many Chinese returning to their hometowns for family reunions and engaging in traditional activities.

A man releases birds, which is believed to bring good luck, during celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog at a temple in Chinatown in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 16, 2018.
A man releases birds, which is believed to bring good luck, during celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog at a temple in Chinatown in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 16, 2018. (Reuters)

In Beijing, people have ushered in the New Year with a bang during early hours of Friday by ringing bells and beating drums to bring good fortune for the year ahead.

A man prays during celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog at a temple in Chinatown in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 16, 2018.
A man prays during celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog at a temple in Chinatown in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 16, 2018. (Reuters)

Meanwhile in Taipei, people prayed for health, peace and fortune at the Longshan Temple.

Indonesian ethnic Chinese light incense sticks during the celebration of Lunar New Year at a temple in the China Town in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 16, 2018.
Indonesian ethnic Chinese light incense sticks during the celebration of Lunar New Year at a temple in the China Town in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 16, 2018. (AP)

This year, a large number of people travelled to Beijing's Badachu Park in a western suburb of the city to ring a bell that dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and to beat a traditional drum.

A diver dressed in Fortune God costume greets to visitors after he fed fish as part of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at Aquaria KLCC underwater park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 16, 2018.
A diver dressed in Fortune God costume greets to visitors after he fed fish as part of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at Aquaria KLCC underwater park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 16, 2018. (AP)

"I came from Washington, DC to wish happiness and health for all Chinese people. Overseas Chinese like me hope China can be strong forever," said one returning tourist.

Giant panda cubs play with decorations during an event to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Dog, at Shenshuping Panda Base in Wolong, Sichuan province, China February 14, 2018
Giant panda cubs play with decorations during an event to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Dog, at Shenshuping Panda Base in Wolong, Sichuan province, China February 14, 2018 (Reuters)

"I work abroad, so this year I brought my mother here to ring the bell and beat the drum. I wish my family and country could be better and better," said another.

Temple visitors play with the lion dance troupe during its performance on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 16, 2018.
Temple visitors play with the lion dance troupe during its performance on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 16, 2018. (AP)

In Russia's St. Petersburg, the Rostral Columns lit a flame especially for the Spring Festival marking the first time that the columns, which were built in the early 19th century, have been lit for a foreign festival.

A fire-eater performs on the street in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year, February 16, 2018 at Manila's Chinatown district, Philippines.
A fire-eater performs on the street in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year, February 16, 2018 at Manila's Chinatown district, Philippines. (AP)

Egypt's 187-metre Cairo Tower was also illuminated in red to celebrate the new year.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Australia's iconic Sydney Opera House also turned red for the celebrations.

Performers dressed in costumes dance for spectators as part of celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year and marking the Year of the Dog in Sydney, Australia, February 16, 2018.
Performers dressed in costumes dance for spectators as part of celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year and marking the Year of the Dog in Sydney, Australia, February 16, 2018. (Reuters)

A giant dog-shaped lantern also proudly took its place next to the opera house and was painted in the style of a Chinese traditional Qipao dress, bringing good wishes to local citizens and visitors for the Year of the Dog.

Spectators look at a large dog-shaped lantern as part of celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year and marking the Year of the Dog in Sydney, Australia February 16, 2018.
Spectators look at a large dog-shaped lantern as part of celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year and marking the Year of the Dog in Sydney, Australia February 16, 2018. (Reuters)
Source: AP