After a few pandemic-dampened years, many will be looking to cut loose this New Year’s Eve, setting aside pinched budgets and a virus that is increasingly forgotten, but not gone. While COVID-19 continues to cause death and dismay, particularly in China, which is battling a nationwide surge in infections after suddenly easing anti-epidemic measures, authorities are now treating the virus as a threat people are living with.
Dozens of cities in Croatia, including the capital Zagreb, cancelled New Year fireworks after pet lovers warned about the damaging effects of noise and gases on animals and people, calling for more environmentally-aware celebrations.
Here are the latest updates of the new year celebrations from across the world.
- Cultural parade in Indonesia
- New Year celebrations begin in New Zealand
- New Year countdown celebrations in Thailand
- Revelers throng to New Year’s parties after COVID hiatus
- New Year Eve spurs hope in China even as censors target online COVID content
- New Zealand is one of the first cities to welcome 2023
- South Korea welcomes 2023
- Kiribati is the first country to greet 2023
- Australia to welcome 2023 with a bang
- Malaysia cancels its new year countdown
- Russia will welcome 2023 in the backdrop of its conflict with Ukraine
- Security beefed up, special trains to run as Mumbai gets ready for New Year’s Eve revelry
- New Year preparations in the U.S.
Cultural parade in Indonesia
New Year celebrations begin in New Zealand
New Year countdown celebrations in Thailand
Revelers throng to New Year’s parties after COVID hiatus
With countdowns and fireworks, revelers in major city centers across the Asia-Pacific region were ushering in the first new year without COVID-19 restrictions since the pandemic began in 2020.
While COVID-19 continues to cause death and dismay, particularly in China, which is battling a nationwide surge in infections after suddenly easing anti-epidemic measures, countries had largely lifted quarantine requirements, restrictions for visitors and relentless testing that had limited travel and places people can go to.
Celebrations are being held at the Great Wall in Beijing, while in Shanghai authorities said traffic will be stopped along the waterfront Bund to allow pedestrians to gather on New Year’s Eve. Shanghai Disneyland will also hold a special fireworks show to welcome 2023.
On the last day of the year marked by the brutal war in Ukraine, many in the country returned to capital Kyiv to spend New Year’s Eve with their loved ones. As Russia attacks continue to target power supplies leaving millions without electricity, no big celebrations are expected and a curfew will be in place as the clock rings in the new year. But for most Ukrainians being together with their families is already a luxury.
New Year Eve spurs hope in China even as censors target online COVID content
New Year’s Eve in China prompted an outpouring of reflection online, some of it critical, about the strict zero-COVID policy the country adhered to for almost three years and the impact of its abrupt reversal this month.
The sudden change to live with the virus has prompted a wave of infections across the country, a further drop in economic activity and international concern, with Britain and France the latest countries to impose curbs on travellers from China.
Three years into the pandemic, China this month acted to align with a world that has largely reopened to live with COVID, after unprecedented protests that became a de-facto referendum against the zero-COVID policy championed by President Xi Jinping.
The protests were the strongest show of public defiance in Xi’s decade-old presidency and coincided with grim growth figures for China’s $17 trillion economy.
On Saturday, people in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, expressed hope the new year would bring better fortune.
New Zealand is one of the first cities to welcome 2023
In Auckland, large crowds are expected below the Sky Tower, where a 10-second countdown to midnight will precede fireworks display to welcome the new year. The celebrations in New Zealand’s largest city are expected to be well-received after COVID-19 forced them to be canceled a year ago. Authorities expect revelers to gather at several vantage points across the city including Devonport, which enables a view of the festivities across the harbor.
Other features include a laser light and animation show, which will take in several landmarks in Auckland. -AP
South Korea welcomes 2023
Kiribati is the first country to greet 2023
The Pacific nation of Kiribati will be the first country to greet the new year, with the clock ticking into 2023 one hour ahead of neighbors including New Zealand. -AP
Australia to welcome 2023 with a bang
Sydney will be among the first major cities to ring in 2023, staking its claim to be the “New Year’s Eve capital of the world” after two years of lockdown and Omicron-muted festivities.
Organizers have said a rainbow waterfall will be a prominent feature of the New Year’s Eve party. More than 7,000 fireworks will be launched from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a further 2,000 from the nearby Opera House.
In Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, organizers have arranged for a family-friendly fireworks display along the Yarra River as dusk falls before a second session at midnight. -AP
Malaysia cancels its new year countdown
Malaysia’s government cancelled its New Year countdown and fireworks event at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur after flooding across the nation displaced tens of thousands of people and a landslide killed 31 people this month.
The country’s famous Petronas Twin Towers said it would pare down its celebration with no performances or fireworks. -Reuters
Russia will welcome 2023 in the backdrop of its conflict with Ukraine
In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, there seems to be a dulled appetite for grand celebrations.
Moscow has cancelled its traditional fireworks show after Mayor Sergei Sobyanin asked residents to vote on how to mark the occasion. -AFP
Security beefed up, special trains to run as Mumbai gets ready for New Year’s Eve revelry
As Mumbai gears up to ring in the new year without any COVID-19 restrictions after two years, the police on Saturday beefed up security across the city to prevent any untoward incident.
The police are anticipating large gatherings near the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Girgaum Chowpatty, Juhu beach, Bandstand in suburban Bandra and other prominent locations, and security arrangements have been made accordingly, the official said.
New Year preparations in the U.S.