2020 welcomed at New Year’s celebrations around the world
The ’20s entered with a roar across the planet as Tuesday night became Wednesday morning.
The world began ushering in 2020 as revelers around the globe said hello to the new year.
Rio de Janiero hosted one of the world’s biggest New Year parties, with about 3 million people gathered along Copacabana Beach. Many revelers dressed in white, symbolizing their hope for peace.
One tradition includes partying until sunrise and then taking a dip into the Atlantic Ocean.
In Sao Paulo, about 2 million people gathered to celebrate along Paulista Avenue.
The Champs-Elysees was filled with Parisians and tourists alike as the French capital welcomed the arrival of 2020. They were treated to a fireworks show at midnight as well as colorful lights on the Arc de Triomphe.
The Paris celebration was hampered by transit strikes, with metro rail lines shut down and only a few bus lines operating.
Pope Francis made a New Year’s Eve appearance in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, delighting tourists as he shook hands and patted the heads of children. At one point, a woman held the pontiff’s hand a little too long, prompting Francis to slap her hand twice to release her grip.
At St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope urged people to “build bridges, not walls,” as part of his New Year’s message.
Fireworks erupted at midnight from Mount Vaea, overlooking the capital of Apia. The end-of-the-year celebration was a time of sadness and remembrance.
A measles epidemic in late 2019 claimed 81 lives, mostly children under 5. More than 5,600 measles cases were recorded in the nation of just under 200,000 people.
With the epidemic now contained, the Samoa Observer newspaper named health workers who fought the outbreak as its Person of the Year.
Tens of thousands of revelers in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta were soaked by torrential rains as they waited for New Year’s Eve fireworks, while others in the country were wary of an active volcano.
Festive events along coastal areas near the Sunda Strait were dampened by a possible larger eruption of Anak Krakatau, an island volcano that erupted last year just ahead of Christmas Day, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 430 people.
The country’s volcanology agency has warned locals and tourists to stay 1.3 miles from the volcano’s crater following an eruption Tuesday that blasted ash and debris up to 6,560 feet into the air.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
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.
The New Year’s Eve display at the 2,716-foot-tall skyscraper was just one of seven different fireworks shows. Tourists, especially from Europe and Russia, flock to the sunny beaches of Dubai at this time of year to escape the cold, dark winter.
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.
Dubai this year will be hosting Expo 2020, a world fair that brings the most cutting-edge and futuristic technologies.
Thousands of South Koreans filled cold downtown streets in Seoul ahead of a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to send off an exhausting 2019 highlighted by political scandals, decaying job markets and crumbling diplomacy with North Korea.
Dignitaries ringing the old Bosingak bell at midnight included South Korean Major League Baseball pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Pengsoo, a giant penguin character with a gruff voice and blunt personality that emerged as one of the country’s biggest TV stars in 2019.
People flocked to temples and shrines in Japan, offering incense with their prayers to celebrate the passing of a year and the first New Year’s of the Reiwa era.
Under Japan’s old-style calendar, linked to emperors’ rules, Reiwa started in May, after Emperor Akihito stepped down and his son Naruhito became emperor. Although Reiwa is entering its second year in 2020, Jan. 1 still marks Reiwa’s first New Year’s, the most important holiday in Japan.
Stalls at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo sold sweet rice wine, fried noodles and candied apples, as well as little amulets in the shape of mice — the zodiac animal for 2020. Since the Year of the Mouse starts off the Asian zodiac, it’s associated with starting anew.
Revelers, as well as pro-democracy protesters, flocked to sites across Hong Kong to usher in 2020.
The semi-autonomous Chinese city has toned down New Year’s celebrations amid the months-long demonstrations. The protests have repeatedly sparked pitched battles with police and have taken their toll on Hong Kong’s nightlife and travel industries.
A fireworks display that traditionally lights up the famed Victoria Harbor was canceled amid safety concerns, while some roads were closed and barriers set up in the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district to control crowds.
Thousands of revelers gathered at Cape Town’s Waterfront area to ring in the New Year with music, dancing and fireworks in front of the city’s iconic Table Mountain.
In past years, residents of Johannesburg’s poor Hillbrow neighborhood would celebrate the New Year by tossing furniture, appliances and even refrigerators from the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings. Police have issued stern warnings, and it appears the dangerous tradition has declined.
In a somber statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “While our economy created jobs, these have not been nearly enough to stop the rise in unemployment or the deepening of poverty.”
South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka was deported from Uganda, where she was to perform at a New Year’s Eve event. Ugandan police cited visa issues, but Ugandan media reported it was because she had voiced support for Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine, the most potent opposition challenger to President Yoweri Museveni.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.