Brazil greeted the New Year with massively attended festivities in its principal cities, the standout being the celebration on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach attended by close to 2.3 million people.

For the first time in four years, Rio enjoyed a New Year's celebration without rain or extreme heat, which made people more enthusiastic and had them going en masse to watch fireworks displays, dance the samba and listen to electronic music until almost 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

Police estimated that some 2.3 million people gathered on the sands of Copacabana, while another 45,000 took part in the partying on a dozen cruise ships, yachts and sailboats anchored off Brazil's most famous beach.

The revels in Rio, which went off without any serious incidents, ended with 45 people hospitalized, mostly from too much booze along with bruises or cuts from bottles, according to information provided by the municipal Health Secretariat, cited in local media.

When the merrymaking was over, partiers in their tens of thousands had to walk several kilometers (miles) and go through a couple of tunnels to reach the bus stops organized by the city, which for the first time totally banned bus and taxi traffic in this seaside district surrounded by mountains.

New Year's celebrations in Sao Paulo again attracted close to 2 million people to the Avenida Paulista, the principal street of Brazil's largest city.

Crowded festivities were also enjoyed in all the country's major cities, including tourist destinations like Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador, all of them, like Rio, with beach parties, fireworks and free concerts.

In Porto Alegre, capital of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, New Year's festivities were interrupted at around 1:20 a.m., according to local media, when a powerful storm blew the roof off the VIP area where about 200 people were gathered, several of whom were injured. EFE