By Melanie Sun
The world has celebrated the arrival of 2024 with fireworks, concerts, and messages of hope in anticipation for what we will make of the gift of a new year.
At midnight along the eastern seaboard, thousands of Americans came together under the heavens to awe at New Year’s Eve fireworks displays, as the rest of the nation readied to welcome in 2024 with their own displays of light, loud noise, and sparkle.
Tens of thousands came together in New York’s Times Square to be showered with confetti and hugs and kisses as New Year’s Day arrived with the descent of the colorful ball marking the birth of 2024.
“It’s beautiful,” Corin Christian of Charlotte, North Carolina, said seconds past midnight as Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” blared from speakers in the square known as the Crossroads of the World.
“It’s going very well so far,” said Jacob Eriksson of Salt Lake City, Utah, with the earliest assessment of the new year.
Tyrell Jacobs, 27, and Sarah Crayton, 26, arrived in Time Square from New Orleans 15 hours before midnight and got engaged in streets packed with tens of thousands of people counting first the hours and then the minutes until midnight.
Around the World
There were snapshots of joy from country to country as the new year was welcomed with optimism as to what its days will bring.
New Zealanders were among the first in the world to celebrate the arrival of 2024 with a fireworks display in Auckland on Monday, which was 6 a.m. ET. The fireworks illuminated the cloudy night sky and were accompanied by a laser light and animation show. Islanders in the small island nations dotted across the Pacific, like Tonga, Fiji, and Guam, were also among the earliest to usher in the new year.
Australia welcomed in 2024 with dazzling fireworks displays across its various cities. The famous Sydney Harbour fireworks featured silver and gold pyrotechnics to mark the 50th anniversary of its iconic Opera House. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in his new year’s message acknowledged the financial squeeze felt by many Australians in 2023, saying that the government’s top priority in 2024 will be to reduce cost-of-living pressures.
In Asia, revelers enjoyed fireworks at their landmarks, like the National Monument of Indonesia in Jakarta and the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taiwan. Celebrations continued with concerts and various events and traditions. Shrines and temples across Japan sounded their bells to mark the arrival of 2024.
However, not everyone was able to enjoy a fireworks display. Despite origins in China, fireworks were banned in most major Chinese cities for safety and reducing pollution. But locals gathered for dance performances in Beijing and other cities, while a crowd released wish balloons in Chongqing. Those in Hong Kong enjoyed the city’s famous fireworks on Victoria Harbour.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping attempted to reassure the nation about China’s economic situation in a televised speech marking the new year, saying that the Chinese Communist Party will consolidate and enhance the “positive trend” of its economic recovery in 2024, and sustain long-term economic development with deeper reforms.
Chinese state media reported that he had exchanged new year’s greetings with U.S. President Joe Biden, as well as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Moscow canceled its new year’s fireworks display and Red Square concert for the second year in a row amid its war effort in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the government banned new year celebrations, calling on Pakistanis to “show solidarity with the oppressed people of Gaza.”
Indians in New Delhi enjoyed fireworks but also the haze of pollution that may linger through the morning due to its poor air quality. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his new year’s wishes for “happiness and lots of success” to his fellow compatriots in a post on X.
Celebrations were muted in Gaza. Gazans sheltering in Rafah near the territory’s border crossing with Egypt expressed hope to return to their homes in the new year.
“In 2024, I wish to go back to the wreckage of my home, pitch a tent, and live there,” said Abu Abdullah al-Agha, a middle- aged Palestinian man whose house in Khan Younis was destroyed and who lost a young niece and nephew in an Israeli air strike.
Meanwhile, Israeli President Isaac Herzog in a message on the X platform urged world leaders and people around the world to demand Hamas immediately return all hostages taken from Israel who are still being held in Gaza.
“As we enter 2024, I call on the entire family of nations, on all world leaders, to demand and work for the immediate, unconditional release of our 133 hostages. Babies, the elderly, women, men, are being held in brutal captivity by Hamas, without vital medication or visitation from the Red Cross. Their immediate release is at the core of our battle with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. May the light dispel the darkness, and may the New Year bring peace, hope, and healing for all.”
The United Arab Emirates was illuminated as its fireworks display was reflected off the sleek glass walls of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in its most populous city Dubai.
Stunning fireworks displays bloomed at the iconic Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
In Germany, German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz noted the difficulties facing the world. “So much suffering, so much bloodshed. Our world has become a more unstable and harsh place. It is changing at an almost breathtaking speed,” Mr. Scholz said.
But he was optimistic about how we can overcome any obstacles. “Our strength lies in our willingness to compromise—in the efforts we make for each other,” he said.
In Paris, over 1.5 million people gathered on the Champs-Elysees for fireworks and video projections on the Arc de Triomphe showcasing the history of Paris and sports on the menu for next year’s Summer Olympics in the city. In his new year’s message, French President Emmanuel Macron predicted that the 2024 European Parliament elections will be crucial to Ukraine’s future and the fate of democracy across Europe.
Thousands in London gathered along the banks of the River Thames to watch the city’s new year fireworks display. The 12-minute extravaganza illuminated the London Eye and Big Ben. Fireworks also drew in a crowd of thousands in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a video from 10 Downing Street that his new year’s resolution was to “keep driving forward.”
“We’re going further to grow our economy by reducing debt, cutting taxes, rewarding hard work, building secure supplies of energy here at home, backing British business and delivering world class education,” he said, while thanking the British Armed Forces, NHS staff, tech experts, scientists, and innovators.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his new year’s address to his warring country praised his army and repeated his pledge that 1 million drones would be built in the war effort. “Next year, the enemy will feel the wrath of domestic production,” he said.
Ahead of 2024 arriving across the United States, billions to the south celebrated the arrival of 2024, including those in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro who were gathered on Copacabana beach to watch 12 minutes of fireworks.
Many outlying islands of the United States will be among the last places to celebrate the new year, along with Hawaii and American Samoa.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.