NEW YEAR AROUND THE GLOBE
THE WORLD celebrated the New Year yesterday with fireworks displays from Sydney to London, although celebrations were clouded by deadly wildfires in Australia, protests in Hong Kong and India, and nuclear tensions with North Korea.
Large crowds gathered in European capitals for spectacular firework displays that lit up the skies over landmarks such as Big Ben in London, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Parthenon in Athens and the Kremlin in Moscow.
The traditional drop of a Waterford crystal ball on Times Square in New York capped a six-hour New Year’s Eve show. Intermittent rain did little to dampen the festivities as hundreds of thousands of people were treated to performances by Post Malone, the Korea-pop band BTS, and singer songwriter Alanis Morissette.
The ball has changed form several times since it first dropped at One Times Square in 1907 as an iron-andwood sphere and has now become a global symbol of the New Year.
In Australia, a million revellers thronged Sydney harbour and nearby districts to watch more than 100 000 fireworks explode above the city, even as thousands of people along the country’s eastern seaboard sought refuge on beaches from the bush fires.
Sydney decided to press ahead with its fireworks despite many calls by members of the public for the display to be cancelled in solidarity with firehit areas in New South Wales, of which the city is the capital.
Sydney Mayor Clover Moore said planning had begun 15 months ago and that the event also gave a boost to the economy.
Thousands in Hong Kong welcomed 2020 on neon-lit promenades in the picturesque Victoria Harbour, breaking into pro-democracy chants shortly after the countdown to midnight.
Hong Kong authorities cancelled the main midnight fireworks display for the first time in a decade, citing security concerns.
A “Symphony of Lights” took place instead, involving projections on the city’s tallest skyscrapers, while smaller-scale pyrotechnics were launched from waterfront rooftops.
About 6 000 police were deployed and Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam appealed for calm and reconciliation in her New Year’s Eve video message and Chinese leader Xi Jinping hoped “harmony” would return to the territory.
In Japan, people took turns striking Buddhist temple bells, in accordance with tradition.
Elsewhere, celebrations from Auckland, New Zealand, to Pyongyang, North Korea, welcomed the new year with fireworks.
Thousands of Indians ushered in the year by demonstrating against a citizenship law they say will discriminate against Muslims and chip away at India’s secular constitution.
The demonstrations came despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to dampen protests that have run for nearly three weeks.
More than three years after the UK voted to leave the EU, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in his New Year’s message to “get Brexit done before the end of this month”, saying uncertainty had dominated public life for too long.
Pope Francis addressed the crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square at the start of the new year.
“Last night we concluded the year 2019 by thanking God for the gift of time and all its benefits,” he said.
“Today we begin the year 2020 with the same attitude of gratitude and praise.”
“For the year 2020 the message is this: ‘Peace as a journey of hope’, a journey in which progress is made through dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion,” he said.
THE Christ the Redeemer overlooks a fireworls display during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. | FERNANDO MAIA
PEOPLE party with inflatable balloons on a bridge in front of the Lausanne Cathedral as they celebrate the New Year, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
NEW Year’s Eve fireworks fall across the London skyline in front of the London Eye during London’s celebrations.
REVELLERS take part in New Year’s Eve celebrations in Time Square, New York.
A NEW Year video is projected on to the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris during New Year celebrations. |
FIREWORKS explode over the Kremlin during New Year’s celebrations in Red Square with the Spasskaya Tower in Moscow, Russia. President Vladimir Putin urged people to work together in the coming year.
MIDNIGHT fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during New Year’s eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia. |
FIREWORKS illuminate the sky around the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, during New Year’s 2020 celebrations in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.