(Reuters) – New Zealanders were among the first in the world to celebrate the arrival of 2024 with a fireworks display in Auckland on Monday. The fireworks illuminated the cloudy night sky and were accompanied by a laser light and animation show.
Here’s how some other places and people around the world were bidding farewell to 2023 and welcoming the New Year.
SYDNEY – Sydney hailed 2024 with a dazzling fireworks display featuring silver and gold pyrotechnics to mark the 50th anniversary of its famous Opera House.
GAZA – People in Gaza had little hope that 2024 will bring much relief after 12 weeks of Israel’s war to eliminate Hamas. In Rafah on Gaza’s border with Egypt, which has become the biggest focal point for Palestinians fleeing other parts of the enclave, people were more preoccupied on Sunday with trying to find shelter, food and water than with thinking about 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.
QUEEN MARGRETHE – Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II used her annual New Year’s speech on Sunday to announce that she will abdicate on Jan. 14 after 52 years on the throne and will be succeeded by her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik.
VLADIMIR PUTIN – Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing an election in March, made only passing reference in his New Year address on Sunday to his war in Ukraine, hailing his soldiers as heroes but mostly emphasising unity and shared determination.
XI JINPING – China President Xi Jinping, speaking on Sunday in a televised speech to mark the New Year, said the country will consolidate and enhance the positive trend of its economic recovery in 2024, and sustain long-term economic development with deeper reforms.
KIM JONG UN – North Korea vowed to launch three new spy satellites, build military drones and boost its nuclear arsenal in 2024 as leader Kim Jong Un said U.S. policy is making war inevitable, state media reported on Sunday.
Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to further develop relationship of cooperation between the two countries in New Year messages exchanged on Monday, South Korea’s Yonhap news reported, citing North Korea’s state radio.
POPE FRANCIS – At his Sunday prayers at the Vatican, Pope Francis said: “I wish everyone a peaceful end of the year, and please do not forget to pray for me”.
FRANCE – French President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address ahead of New Year celebrations said 2024 would be “the year of our French pride” marked by the Paris 2024 Olympic Summer Games and the reopening of Notre-Dame cathedral after a devastating fire.
GERMANY – Police on Sunday detained three further suspects in an alleged Islamist plot to attack Germany’s famed Cologne Cathedral on New Year’s Eve.
The alleged attackers had planned to use a car to attack the 800-year-old Gothic cathedral, Cologne police said.
(Compiled by the global news desk; Editing by David Holmes, Jason Neely and Mark Porter)