Fireworks, protests and notes of hope bring in new year around the world


The world has welcomed the new year with spectacular firework displays from Sydney to Tokyo, but this year, the festive mood has been overshadowed by deadly bushfires and ongoing protests.

Across the globe, iconic buildings and landmarks exploded in colour and light as fireworks displays marked the end of a decade that will be remembered for the rise of social media, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement and, of course, US President Donald Trump.


Hundred of thousands of people celebrated New Year’s Eve in Berlin. (AP: Christophe Gateau/dpa)

Auckland was one of the first cities to welcome 2020 with a fireworks display launched from the city’s Sky Tower.

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Wishing everyone a bright 2020 from Auckland, New Zealand!

About a million revellers gathered in Sydney Harbour and nearby districts to watch more than 100,000 fireworks explode above the city, even as thousands of people along Australia’s eastern seaboard sought refuge from the bushfires on beaches.

Controversy overshadowed the iconic harbour celebrations amid calls for the display to be cancelled in solidarity with fire-hit areas in New South Wales.

Video: Australia welcomed 2020 with fireworks display lighting up the skies around the country (Image: Bellinda Kontominas)

(ABC News)

Elsewhere, protests and tear gas rang in the New Year. Thousands of Hongkongers welcoming 2020 on neon-lit promenades in the picturesque Victoria Harbour broke 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.


Hong Kong authorities cancelled the main midnight fireworks display for the first time in a decade, citing security concerns. (AP: Vincent Yu)

A Symphony of Lights took place instead, involving projections on the city’s tallest skyscrapers, while smaller-scale pyrotechnics were launched from waterfront rooftops.

Pyongyang, the capital of isolated North Korea, welcomed the new year with fireworks displays, while in Seoul, thousands gathered for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony and hung notes of new year’s wishes.


North Korea celebrated with an elaborate fireworks display at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. (AP: Jon Chol Jin)


A woman hangs a paper note bearing her New Year wishes to a wire at Jogyesa Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea. (AP: Ahn Young-joon)

In the Philippines, people set off firecrackers in the belief that this will drive away bad spirits and bring good luck.

During New Year’s Eve, Filipinos gathered for a midnight feast that symbolises their hopes for prosperity and an abundant year ahead.


Filipinos welcome the new year with noise and firecrackers in the belief that this will drive away bad spirits and bring in good luck. (AP: Aaron Favila)

Thousands of Indians ushered in the New Year by demonstrating against a citizenship law despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to dampen protests that have run for nearly three weeks.


People celebrated the New Year in front of the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai. (AP: Rajanish Kakade)

In Pakistan, children held a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to victims of terrorism in 2019.


Pakistani children hold a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to victims of terrorism in 2019. (AP: KM Chaudary)

Russians began the world’s longest continuous New Year’s Eve with fireworks and a message from President Vladimir Putin urging them to work together in the coming year.

Mr Putin made a short speech broadcast on television just before the stroke of midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones.


Fireworks explode over the Kremlin during New Year’s celebrations in Red Square. (AP: Denis Tyrin)


Russia’s 11 time zones celebrated the world’s longest continuous New Year’s Eve. (AP: Alexander Zemlianichenko)

For nearly 10 minutes, fireworks lit the sky over Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as hundreds of thousands gathered downtown to watch the spectacular display.

To keep the massive crowds safe, police created walkways around the Burj Khalifa tower for male-only groups to separate them from families and women.

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من #دبي إلى العالم.. كل عام وأنتم بخير #رأس_السنة_في_دبي

Celebrations have now begun across Europe with fireworks exploding above iconic buildings and statues.

Londoners were making their way to the banks of the River Thames to jostle for position to watch a spectacular fireworks display launched from the London Eye and barges near Parliament.


Fireworks light the sky above an illuminated Christmas tree at the Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania. (AP: Mindaugas Kulbis)


In Paris, fireworks lit up the Arc de Triomphe along on the Champs Elysees. (AP: Christophe Ena)

In New York, crowds gathered early in anticipation of the famous 60-second ball drop that will count in the new year at midnight local time, as 1,360 kilograms of confetti falls on Times Square.

While Samoa is one of the first places to mark the new year, neighbouring American Samoa — about 100 kilometres away but on the other side of the International Date Line — is one of the last, celebrating 25 hours later.

But the party is subdued in Samoa as the country recovers from a measles epidemic in late 2019 that claimed 81 lives, mostly children under 5.