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How the world welcomed in 2024

Published December 31, 2023last updated January 1, 2024

Countries across the world got out the fireworks to celebrate the New Year, with many hoping for better times despite conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine. DW followed the party around the globe.

Firework display on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil's Rio de Janeiro held a firework display on Copacabana beachImage: Bruna Prado/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Europe and Africa joined the party with fireworks, followed by North and South America
  • Parts of Asia and the Middle East welcomed the turn of the year, while Pakistan fell quiet in solidarity with the Palestinian people
  • Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced optimism that Germany can meet the challenges of a "more unsettled and harsher" world in 2024
  • Celebrations were muted in parts of the world amid a string of ongoing conflicts

This live updates article has been closed. Thanks for reading and happy 2024

Skip next section Starting 2024 with a (chilly) splash in European waters
January 1, 2024

Starting 2024 with a (chilly) splash in European waters

Thousands gathered as usual for the first outdoor dip of the new year on the beach of Scheveningen in the Netherlands
There were no shortage of orange bobble hats in Scheveningen as locals kept up what appears a slightly unpleasant annual traditionImage: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/ANP/picture alliance

Outdoor swimming enthusiasts started the new year with a shiver in several spots in Europe, including the huge crowd  gathered in Scheveningen, on the Dutch coast.

Local authorities estimate that around 10,000 people take part in the traditional New Year's Dive on a typical year. Swimmers had highs of 8 degrees Celsius (roughly 46 Fahrenheit) out of the water to contend with on Monday morning on the North Sea coast.

In Berlin, too, a far smaller group of outdoor swimming enthusiasts, known as the Berlin Sea Dogs, leapt into the Orakensee lake early on Monday while wearing party disguises.

Members of the Berliner Seehunde winter swimmers' associations bathing in the Orakensee lake in Berlin. January 1, 2024.
The Berlin Sea Dogs club braved similarly chilly temperatures around 7 CelsiusImage: Annette Riedl/dpa/picture alliance

And in Hamsphire in southern England, people participated in the Gosport New Year's Day Dip in the English Channel to raise money for the local inshore rescue service. 

People take part in the Gosport New Year's Day Dip in The Solent at Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hampshire, to raise money for Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service. Picture date: Monday January 1, 2024.
Those less keen on the braving the elements in Gosport had the opportunity to sponsor their more courageous compatriotsImage: Andrew Matthews/empics/picture alliance
Skip next section Pope emphasizes women's importance if the world 'to find peace'
January 1, 2024

Pope emphasizes women's importance if the world 'to find peace'

Pope Francis arrives to preside over a solemn mass on the occasion of the 57th World Day of Peace on the theme: "Artificial intelligence and peace" in St. Peter's Basilica at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.
This January 1 is the 57th World Day of Peace, with AI and peace the twin themes of Monday's Mass in St. Peter's BasilicaImage: Andrew Medichini/AP/picture alliance

Pope Francis led a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Monday by focusing on peace and emphasizing the importance of the role of mothers and women in the church and society as well as in securing a more peaceful world. 

"The world needs to look to mothers and women, to find peace, to break out of the cycles of violence and hate and to regain a humane perspective and a seeing heart," the pope said at the service, with January 1 also a day when the Catholic Church honors the Virgin Mary.

Francis, who was battling poor health in the second half of 2023, had also greeted people on the streets of St. Peter's Square on the evening of December 31. 

Pope Francis presides over a solemn mass on the occasion of the 57th World Day of Peace on the theme: "Artificial intelligence and peace" in St. Peter's Basilica at The Vatican, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.
Pope Francis was battling poor health in the latter half of 2023Image: Andrew Medichini/AP/picture alliance

January 1 is also the World Day of Peace, a tradition founded by the Vatican in 1967. The UN General Assembly also named the day International Day of Peace in 1981 by unanimous resolution. 

Francis told worshippers that our present era, beset by conflict, "needs a mother who can reunite the human family." 

He also said that the Church needed women and mothers too, in order to recognize its female face once again and to become a Church of caring and service as well as patience and maternal courage.

Francis, 87, has been trying to expand the role of women in the Catholic Church somewhat, amid considerable internal resistance

Skip next section Heavy police presence in Vegas as West Coast rings it in
January 1, 2024

Heavy police presence in Vegas as West Coast rings it in

Fireworks explode over the Las Vegas Strip during a New Year's Eve celebration Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in Las Vegas.
The casino city expected some 400,000 people to watch its lavish fireworks displayImage: David Becker/AP/picture alliance

Las Vegas held a large midnight fireworks display amid a heavy police presence in Sin City.

The Las Vegas Strip was closed to vehicle traffic and armed police lined the Strip as thousands of revelers gathered and street musicians played leading up to midnight. 

The city of Las Vegas said it expected more than 400,000 to attend. 

In San Francisco, the Ferry Building was lit up in the red and green of the Palestinian flag, and messages of support for Gaza were mixed with messages wishing a happy new year. 

Fireworks light up the sky as a projection reflected with messages on the Ferry Building during the new year celebrations in San Francisco, California, United States on January 1, 2024.
San Francisco's Ferry Building was lit up in the colors of the Palestinian flag at midnightImage: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section Regimented revelry in North Korea
January 1, 2024

Regimented revelry in North Korea

Neujahr in Pyongyang, Nordkorea 2024
People formed an orderly line in Pyongyang carrying flowers to place at the feet of a mural of deceased former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on January 1Image: Cha Song Ho/AP/picture alliance

Details of New Year festivities in North Korea were only published by state news agencies the following morning. 

Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly told his top military officers to be ready to use maximum force against South Korea and the United States if they initiate a military confrontation. 

The reclusive dictatorship also said on Sunday it planned to launch three new spy satellites, build military drones and boost its nuclear arsenal in 2024. 

Meanwhile, state news agency KCNA published images of Kim Jong Un attending a ceremony on Sunday evening in Pyongyang with his daughter.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second right, with his daughter and his wife Ri Sol Ju, left, attends a performance to celebrate the New Year in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023.
North Korean state media published comments from Kim Jong Un at military meetings on Sunday and pictures of him attending an evening performance with his daughterImage: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP/picture alliance

On January 1, people placed flowers at the base of a large mosaic in central Pyongyang depicting Kim's father and grandfather, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. 

Pyongyang citizens pay respect to mosaics depicting smiling images of their late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on the New Year day in Pyongyang, North Korea Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.
Pyongyang's New Year speeches, at least as fashioned to share with the outside world, were full of talk of the threat of war and of more military developmentImage: Jon Chol Jin/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section New York City welcomes the New Year
January 1, 2024

New York City welcomes the New Year

Times Square, New York City
Tens of thousands gathered in Times Square in New York for the traditional ball dropImage: Andrew Kelly/REUTERS

Tens of thousands of people in New York's Times Square cheered as they were showered with confetti marking the arrival of New Year's Day at midnight.

As the colorful, lighted ball dropped heralding the coming of 2024, people in the New York City square and up and down the US East Coast hugged and kissed, exchanging hope and optimism for the year ahead.

Revelers counted the hours and then the minutes until midnight at Times Square witnessing performances by musicians including Megan Thee Stallion and LL Cool J before the ceremonial ball drop.

"It's beautiful," Corin Christian of North Carolina, said a little after midnight as Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" played from speakers in the square.

"It's definitely a must-see," said Sarah Crayton from New Orleans surrounded by hordes of people in tall hats and blowing noisemakers. "At least go once, you know, just to experience the magic."

Skip next section Times Square in New York ready for a countdown
January 1, 2024

Times Square in New York ready for a countdown

Revelers in Times Square for the New Year's Eve celebrations
Confetti is test-fired in Times SquareImage: John Angelillo/UPI Photo/newscom/picture alliance

Thousands of revelers gathered in New York City to see the annual dropping of a giant illuminated ball in Times Square.

US President Joe Biden said in an interview ahead of the ball drop that he hoped celebrants realized "we're in a better position than any country in the world to lead the world."

New York Mayor Eric Adams said there were "no specific threats" to his city's annual bash. 

On New Year's Eve 2022, a machete-wielding man attacked three police officers a few blocks from Times Square.

Skip next section It is not all firework displays
January 1, 2024

It is not all firework displays

People watch the New Year sunrise at the seaside in Yantai, East China's Shandong province
Some people were eager to watch the sunrise on the first day of 2024, like those in Yantai, ChinaImage: CFOTO/picture alliance
People take part in the annual Allendale Tar Barrel Festival, in Allendale in the UK
The Tar Barl Festival has been a part of Allendale's New Year celebration for at least 160 years. Men carry burning barrels filled with tar, sawdust, and kindling on their heads to the town square for a bonfire in the northern England village's town square. Image: Lee Smith/REUTERS
A worshipper holds a candle during a New Year's prayer at the St. Joanes, Legio Maria of African Church Mission within Fort Jesus in Kibera district of Nairobi
In the Kenyan capital Nairobi worshippers attended a church service at the St. Joanes, Legio Maria of African Church Mission Image: Monicah Mwangi/REUTERS
Skip next section Fireworks light up London
January 1, 2024

Fireworks light up London

The United Kingdom celebrated the arrival of 2024 with the sound of Big Ben and a breathtaking fireworks show in London.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators were packed into an area alongside the River Thames for the best view of the 12,000 fireworks.

Mayor Sadiq Khan posted a short video clip of the celebrations on X, formerly Twitter, saying London was sending a message of unity, love & hope to the world. 

Skip next section Celebrations continue around the world
January 1, 2024

Celebrations continue around the world

A person wearing a hat and 2024 glasses reacts as revelers gather in Times Square
Revelers gathered in Times Square were in a festive mood long before the ball droppedImage: Andrew Kelly/REUTERS
People watch a light show projected on the Arc de Triomphe as they celebrate New Year's on the Champs Elysees in Paris
Over 800,000 people took to the Champs Elysees in Paris to greet the New YearImage: Aurelien Morissard/AP Photo/picture alliance
A couple shares a kiss as they celebrate New Year's Eve in central Istanbul's Taksim Square
Istanbul's Taksim Square was the place in Turkey to celebrate the start of the new year with loved onesImage: Emrah Gurel/AP Photo/picture alliance
People celebrate New Year's at a promenade in Mumbai, India,
New Year celebrations in Mumbai india went off without a hitchImage: Rafiq Maqbool/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section Macron calls for unity as Paris prepares for Olympics
December 31, 2023

Macron calls for unity as Paris prepares for Olympics

French President Emmanuel Macron called for unity in his New Year's Eve Address.

Paris is preparing for the 2024 Olympic Games.

The flags of the Olympic nations were behind Macron as he spoke from the Elysee Palace.

Macron promised a civic and economic "rearmament" of the country. He said voters would have to choose between "continuing Europe or blocking it" in elections to the EU parliament in June.

"We will have to make the choice of a stronger, more sovereign Europe in the light of the legacy of Jacques Delors," he said.

Delors, who had previously served as France's Finance Minister, was EU Commission President from 1985 to 1995. He oversaw the bloc's single market and the euro currency.

Around 1.5 million people were expected to attend celebrations on the Champs-Elysees in the French capital and around 90,000 law enforcement officers were deployed nationwide, officials said.

Skip next section Countdown to New Year in Berlin
December 31, 2023

Countdown to New Year in Berlin

With about an hour to go the big New Year's Eve party at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany's capital, Berlin, was well underway.

Around 4,500 police officers from the capital and other states were on duty in Berlin,  where celebrations last year were overshadowed by violent clashes, with revelers attacking the emergency services.

A general view of the illuminated Brandenburg Gate during New Year's Eve in Berlin
Plenty of revelers have turned up for the party in the German capitalImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

On Sunday night, there were some incidents reported near Alexanderplatz, where around 500 people threw fireworks at each other.

The police dispersed the group at the landmark Neptune Fountain and checked for fireworks, the police announced on X, formerly Twitter. 

A group of around 200 people then fired pyrotechnics at the police. Several people were arrested.

Skip next section Zelenskyy urges Ukrainians to craft their future, Putin skirts war mention
December 31, 2023

Zelenskyy urges Ukrainians to craft their future, Putin skirts war mention

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on his compatriots to shape the new year according to their own ideas and keep sight of the future of their homeland.

"We Ukrainians know better than anyone that a better tomorrow does not come by itself, because we defend each of our tomorrows with our own hands," he said in his video address on Sunday.

"The new year will be exactly what we want it to be and how we will shape it," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, called for unity and perseverance among Russians heading into 2024 in his New Year's message but made only passing reference to his war in Ukraine.

The pre-recorded address, being aired just before midnight in each of Russia's 11 time zones hailed Russian soldiers as heroes.

"To everyone who is at a combat post, at the forefront of the fight for truth and justice: You are our heroes, our hearts are with you. We are proud of you, we admire your courage," Putin said.

He did not even mention Ukraine by name.

Skip next section Celebrations on mute in Moscow
December 31, 2023

Celebrations on mute in Moscow

Moscow celebrated the turn of the year in a low-key fashion once again amid a backdrop of Russia's war in Ukraine and rising household costs.

As was the case last year, there were no fireworks at Moscow's Red Square and an absence of major public gatherings.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation in a televised New Year's Eve speech, and while he didn't explicitly reference Ukraine, he vowed that Russia would "never back down".

On the same timezone as Moscow is Turkey's largest city Istanbul, which saw in 2024 with fireworks on the famous Bosphorus Bridge, which links Europe with Asia.

Kenya's capital Nairobi was among the first African cities to chime the bells for the new year.

Skip next section UAE celebrates with fireworks, lasers and world record attempt
December 31, 2023

UAE celebrates with fireworks, lasers and world record attempt

Fireworks light up the sky by the landmark Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the world's tallest building, in Dubai at midnight on new year's eve on January 1, 2024.
The Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, was the focal point of Dubai's spectacular display.Image: RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images

Huge crowds assembled at the foot of the world's tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, to witness an extravagant display to ring in 2024.

The Burj Khalifa was the focal point of Dubai's celebrations, which combined lasers and a lot of fireworks.

In Ras Al Khaimah, the sixth largest city in the United Arab Emirates, there was an attempt to break two world records at their New Year's Eve show.

The display included over 1,000 drones and a "carpet" of aquatic pyrotechnics along 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) of beachfront stretching from Al Marjan Island to Al Hamra Village in Ras Al Khaimah.

The records the city attempted to break are: longest straight-line drone display and longest chain of aquatic floating fireworks.

It's the fifth consecutive year that the city has attempted to set new world records on New Year's Eve.

Skip next section Pakistan falls quiet this New Year's Eve
December 31, 2023

Pakistan falls quiet this New Year's Eve

In Muslim-majority Pakistan, the government has banned all New Year's Eve celebrations as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

In an overnight televised message, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar urged Pakistanis to "show solidarity with the oppressed people of Gaza" by beginning the new year with simplicity.

New Year's Eve is usually a boisterous affair in Pakistan, with Islamabad a focal point for celebratory fireworks and gunfire.

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