After perhaps the strangest year of our collective lives, people around the world have celebrated the New Year with the hope that 2021 will regain something akin to normalcy.
We kept an eye out for the celebrations, starting with fireworks in New Zealand, before heading to its neighbors in Oceanic, Australia, where Sydney Harbor was traditionally lit up. From there to Asia, the Gulf and finally to Europe.
Happy New Year from all of us at Euronews.
New Zealand was one of the first countries to welcome 2021 with a 500kg fireworks show.
The celebrations in the island nation will more closely resemble the normalcy of years gone by than in most other places, as the country is currently free of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The recently re-elected government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has introduced a strict quarantine policy for those entering the country to try to prevent any new instances of the virus from entering New Zealand.
Sydney was next in line for the New Year festivities and the fireworks display over the city’s harbor, which is known around the world for being one to see, did not disappoint.
Rockets shot out of the Opera House’s famous sails and rainbow-colored sparkling fountains lit up the sky over the water.
But there were no scenes of revelers hugging like we saw in Auckland: the New Year fireworks display in Sydney had no people.
A new COVID-19 outbreak has forced the 1 million Sydney residents who typically fill the area around the harbor forced to watch the show on television.
Following Oceana, Taiwan was one of the first Asian countries to enter in 2021 and the country did so with a fireworks display in Taipei on the theme of “love.”
A total of 16,000 fireworks were used during the five-minute display, which featured red and blue hearts, to pay tribute to medical personnel from around the world for their efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
More than 25,000 fireworks lit up the skies over the Thai capital Bangkok as the clock struck midnight, fired from boats on the Chao Phraya River, which winds through the city.
The screen was set with live music from the Thai Philharmonic Orchestra and synchronized with messages of hope on a giant digital screen. The theme of the exhibition was optimism for the future; for Thailand and the rest of the world.
As with Sydney, all mass gatherings in Thailand have been banned, including New Year’s Eve countdown parties, except this year’s fireworks.
Masked crowds gathered along Jumeirah Beach and around downtown Dubai to watch fireworks displaying the emirate’s most famous landmark, the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
Fireworks shot out of the side and surrounded the skyscraper as a light show illuminated the building.
As the clock struck midnight in the Middle East, the Burj Khalifa had displayed the flags of countries celebrating the New Year before the United Arab Emirates, including India and Pakistan.
In all six emirates, 33 fireworks displays are taking place to mark the arrival of 2021, including on the Al Major waterfront and 8,500 kg of fireworks that lit up Ras Al Khaimah.
Due to its expansive size divided into 11 time zones, millions in Russia had already celebrated the New Year when the clock struck midnight in a Moscow fog.
Much of the dim display was obscured by a dense cloud hovering over the city’s Red Square, empty of revelers this year except for security and technicians due to local restrictions from the pandemic. The vast central square, with the onion-shaped domes of the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, is the traditional focus of New Year’s celebrations in the Russian capital.
And when the New Year moved to Western Europe, the Brandenburg Gate lit up even though there were no celebrations in Berlin. And further west, the Brexit spectacle coincided with the Western Continental New Year. At 11 p.m. in London (midnight CET), Big Ben sounded to signal the end of the transition period.
Big Ben was the focus once again, an hour after the Brexit chime, as the UK saw in the new year, but sadly, like Berlin, without official fireworks. Although some private rockets were heard in the night sky, the focus was on the famous clock tower, which is still shrouded in scaffolding.
As the New Year wears its way across the Atlantic, we wish you good night and a very Happy New Year.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism