IN PHOTOS: World welcomes 2019 with fireworks and festivities

Agence France-Presse
IN PHOTOS: World welcomes 2019 with fireworks and festivities


Here's how the world celebrates the new year

PARIS, France – Revelers welcomed 2019 with fireworks displays and festivities as a celebratory wave swept westward across the globe from Asia to Europe and the Americas at the conclusion of a tumultuous year.

AUSTRALIA. New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House during the fireworks show. Photo by Peter Parks/AFP

Monday, January 1’s celebrations kicked off with Sydney hosting its biggest-ever pyrotechnics display and lighting up its harbor-front skyline for a full 12 minutes.

More than 1.5 million spectators gathered to enjoy the spectacle that also featured a ceremony to celebrate Australia’s indigenous culture.

HONG KONG. Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour during New Year celebrations in Hong Kong. Photo by Anthony Wallace/AFP

In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of party-goers packed the streets on either side of Victoria Harbor for a spectacular 10-minute show that burnt through $1.8 million worth of fireworks.

INDONESIA. Indonesians welcome the New Year as they gather around the Welcome Statue at Thamrin-Sudirman Street in central Jakarta. Photo by Goh Chai Hin/AFP

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, more than 500 couples tied the knot in a free, mass wedding organized by the government to mark the arrival of a new year.

Fireworks shows, however, were cancelled out of respect for victims of a December 22 tsunami that killed more than 400 people.

JAPAN. Floyd Mayweather beat Japanese kickboxing phenomenon Tenshin Nasukawa by a technical knock-out in the first round of a New Year's Eve "exhibition" bout that brought the US boxing superstar out of retirement. Photo by Handout / 2015 RIZIN FF / AFP

In Japan, locals flocked to temples to ring in 2019, as US boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather came out of retirement to beat Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in a multi-million-dollar “exhibition” bout outside Tokyo.

Security concerns

UAE. Fireworks explode over the Atlantis Hotel at The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

In Dubai, fireworks lit up the sky over the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, to the delight of onlookers, while nearby Ras al-Khaima sought to enter the Guinness Book of Records with the world’s longest fireworks show.

RUSSIA. People look at fireworks exploding over the Kremlin in Moscow during New Year celebrations. Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP

Russia saw in the new year progressively over several time zones starting in the far east, with concerts and light shows planned for Moscow city parks, and more than 1,000 ice rinks opened for merrymakers.

But a tower block gas explosion that killed at least 4 people and left dozens missing cast a shadow over New Year’s celebrations.

In his New Year’s address to the nation, President Vladimir Putin urged people to work together to “increase well-being and quality of life so that all citizens of Russia… feel changes for the better in the coming year.”

FRANCE. Fireworks explode over the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees for New Year's celebrations in the French capital Paris on January 1, 2019. Photo by Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP

In Paris, fireworks and a light show with the theme “fraternity” were scheduled for the Champs-Elysees despite persistent “yellow vest” anti-government protests.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a televised address, acknowledged the French government “can do better” by citizens complaining of shrinking spending power.

GERMANY. Fireworks explode behind the quadriga of Berlin's landmark the Brandenburg Gate to usher in the New Year. Photo by Monika Skolimowska / DPA / AFP

In Berlin, music lovers partied at a concert at the Brandenburg Gate, while Britain’s capital London opted to usher in the new year by celebrating its relationship with Europe, despite Britain’s impending departure from the European Union.

UNITED KINGDOM. Fireworks explode around the London Eye during New Year's celebrations in central London just after midnight. Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP

London’s fireworks display would seek to show Europe that the British capital would remain “open-minded” and “outward-looking” post-Brexit, said the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan.

Looking ahead

In Portugal, dozens of people, some in costume, will brave the winter for a traditional New Year’s ocean dip near Lisbon, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo, election officials will be counting votes after a presidential election Sunday, December 30.

NIGERIA. Motorists drive past an illuminated billboard on a highway just after midnight on New Year's Day in Lagos. Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP

In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari used his New Year’s address to promise a free and fair election in 2019, while Ivory Coast leader Alassane Ouattara vowed the creation of a new, independent, electoral commission for polls planned for 2020.

USA. Journalists will press the button at the New Year's ball drop at Times Square in New York. Photo by Maria Ressa/Rappler

USA. Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa is with Committee to Protect Journalists executive director Joel Simon at the Times Square celebrations. Photo by Maria Ressa

When the celebrations reach the Americas, Rio de Janeiro’s famous hilltop Christ the Redeemer statue will be brought to 3D life with special light projections before fireworks illuminate the city’s Copacabana beach where around two million people are expected to party till dawn.

As the world celebrates, many are wondering whether the turmoil witnessed in 2018 will spill over into the next.

The political wrangling in Westminster over Brexit was one of the key stories of this year, with a resolution yet to be reached ahead of Britain’s scheduled March 29 departure.

US President Donald Trump dominated headlines in 2018, ramping up a trade war with China, quitting the Iran nuclear deal, moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, and meeting his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un.

North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization will remain a major political and security issue into next year, as will Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s reassertion of control after Trump’s shock announcement of a US troop withdrawal from the country.

The war in Yemen, which has killed about 10,000 people since 2014 and some 20 million at risk of starvation, could take a crucial turn in 2019 after a ceasefire went into effect in mid-December.

Numerous countries go to the polls in the coming year, including India, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, Argentina, and Australia.

Major sporting events on the calendar include the Rugby World Cup in Japan, the cricket one-day international World Cup in England, and the athletics World Championships in Qatar. –

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