Eight billion people around the world are ushering in 2023, bidding farewell to a turbulent year marked by war in Europe, stinging price hikes, Lionel Messi’s World Cup victory, and Queen Elizabeth’s, Pele’s, and Benedict’s deaths.
A few pandemic-dampened years have left most ready to party on New Year’s Eve, putting aside pinched budgets and a virus that is increasingly forgotten but not forgotten.
Following two years of lockdowns and Coronavirus-mutated celebrations, Sydney reclaimed its title as the “New Year’s Eve capital of the world” in 2023.
Throngs of revelers gathered along Sydney’s sparkling harbor to watch 100,000 pyrotechnics light up the southern skies.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was illuminated for 12 minutes by a spectacular display that was expected to draw a crowd of more than one million.
The year has been fairly good for us; getting past Covid is great,” David Hugh-Paterson, 52, told Storyline’s correspondent, as he waited in a crowd near the Sydney Opera House.
Almost half a billion people were expected to view the festivities online or on television.
In 2022, Wordles, the Great Resignation, a new Taylor Swift album, an Oscar slap, and billionaire meltdowns dominated the headlines.
As well as Queen Elizabeth II, Pele, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jiang Zemin, and Shinzo Abe, former pope Benedict XVI also died on New Year’s Eve.
November marked the historic milestone of 8 billion people on this planet.
The year 2022 will be remembered most for the return of armed conflict to Europe, a continent that has been the crucible of two world wars.
2023: A Peaceful Sky
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that more than 7,000 civilians have been killed and 10,000 injured in Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine.
There are about 16 million Ukrainians who have fled their homes.
A 11pm to 5am curfew will be in effect for those who remain amid periodic blackouts and Russian missile barrages.
According to Ukrainian officials, Russian strikes on Saturday targeted several regions in Kyiv, killing at least one person and injuring several others.
Some Ukrainians will mark New Year with candlelit prayers, while others will party through the night.
Yaroslav Mutenko, 23, refused to let a shell hit the four-star Hotel Alfavito near his Kyiv apartment preventing him from going to a friend’s party despite the blast.
As he said, “Our enemies, the Russians, can destroy our calm, but they cannot destroy our spirit.”
“People used to stay with us until three or four in the morning in the past”, said Kyiv restaurateur Tetyana Mytrofanov.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, seemed to lack his appetite for grand celebrations.
After Mayor Sergei Sobyanin asked residents to vote on how to mark the occasion, Moscow’s traditional fireworks show has been canceled.
Irina Shapovalova, 51, a nursery worker from Moscow, said she wished for “a peaceful sky above our heads” in 2023.
As the country faces international condemnation over the war, Putin said that “moral, historical rightness” is on Russia’s side.
The Russian leader delivered his traditional midnight speech among soldiers who fought in Ukraine as Russia’s Far East regions rang in the New Year.
Around 100,000 ticket holders are expected to attend London’s official fireworks display for New Year’s Eve for the first time since the pandemic.
For the first time in three years, Edinburgh’s world-renowned Hogmanay celebrations were also returning.
In Vienna, some 1,850 guests were preparing for the Vienna Philharmonic’s traditional New Year’s Day concert in the Golden Hall.
Last year, attendance was limited to 1,000 guests because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Following his razor-thin victory in October, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva takes over as Brazil’s new leader on Sunday.
After removing restrictions to contain Covid, China is faced with a surge in infections in 2023.
In most parts of the world, vaccines have allowed life to return to semi-normal, but the virus continues to stall China’s recovery.
Following the decision to lift strict “zero-Covid” rules, hospitals in the world’s most populous nation have been overwhelmed with patients.
Many bars, theatres, and malls around the world are still celebrating New Year’s parties.
However, Shanghai’s authorities have said that there will be no formal activities along the city’s famed Bund waterfront.
According to Chinese President Xi Jinping, despite the outbreak, “the light of hope is right in front of us”.
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