Famous landmarks like Liverpool's Liver Building should boost tourism
Liverpool's much-anticipated year as European Capital of Culture began as the bells at the city's Anglican Cathedral tolled for 2008.
The run-up to the event has led to controversy with flagship schemes like the Fourth Grace for the waterfront and the tram system being scrapped.
Senior figures like Artistic Director Robyn Archer and Chief Executive David Henshaw also resigned.
But Liverpool City Council still says the year will be "very successful".
More than two million additional tourists are expected in the city to see some of the 300 events that are due to take place.
The bells at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral were rung as part of a special service to welcome in the new year.
As part of the cathedral's celebrations, fireworks spelt out '2008' followed by a huge firework display.
The Liverpool Nativity was staged in the city in mid December as part of a series of events to herald 2008.
During the year itself the city will stage a special concert headlined by Beatles legend Paul McCartney, the new £146m King's Dock arena will be opened and Liverpool will play host to the MTV Europe music awards.
Despite the reported failures leading up to Capital of Culture - like the collapse of the Mathew Street Festival, and the resignations of the artistic director Robyn Archer and the head of events Lee Forde - the council said it was sure that 2008 would be a great year for Liverpool.
Lib Dem council leader Warren Bradley said he remained confident they would deliver a fabulous event that was "special and unique to Liverpool" and put the city on the map.
But Paul Brant, deputy leader of the Labour Party in the city, said: "I remain confident that we will have a successful 2008 but it will be despite the actions of the Lib Dem leadership rather than because of them."
Clare McColgan executive producer of 2008's culture programme, said: "There's over 300 different events coming up next year, including things like the Tall Ships.
"So we are hoping that throughout that year there is something that will just make everyone kind of really fall in love with the city and fall in love with the whole Capital of Culture programme."