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Light shows, fireworks welcome the 2020s

December 31, 2019

People across the globe have not just rung in a new year, but a new decade. Germany has joined the world in welcoming 2020. DW tracked the New Year's festivities live.

USA Sylvester | Times Square New York
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Franklin II

Refresh the page for live updates. All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

— Germany and the rest of Europe have welcomed 2020

— Sydney, Australia renowned fireworks show went ahead despite controversy over wildfires

— NYE protests disrupted festivities in Hong Kong, India and Lebanon

Berlin fireworks display welcomes 2020
Berlin fireworks display welcomes 2020Image: AFP/O. Andersen

10:00 American Samoa is the last to ring in the New Year. It's official! 2019 is behind us and 2020 is just beginning. With Brexit drawing near and the US presidential election kicking into overdrive, it's bound to be interesting times. Stay tuned to DW as we cover the biggest stories across Europe and the world. Guten Rutsch!

09:45 Local German media reported confrontations between leftist activists and police in a quarter of Leipzig. One police officer was injured as some of the revelers appeared to have fired fireworks towards law enforcement.

Police in Leipzig surrounded by fireworks
One police officer was injured in the altercationImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Willnow

09:00 Hawaii and French Polynesia have celebrated the New Year. That brings us one hour out to the official end of 2019. Are you ready to leave the 2010s behind?

08:00 Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Calgary brought in the new year with massive celebrations. In the City of Angels, security was bolstered to "ensure the safety of all participants and provide public safety, police services, traffic, crowd control and monitor any threats." Los Angeles is home to one of the biggest public American New Year's Eve parties outside of New York.

07:45 Good morning Europe and welcome to our live blog! Despite Germany's renowned (some would say notorious) amateur fireworks displays on New Year's Eve, several cities banned their private use, citing security and environmental concerns. In Munich, restrictions were imposed in the city's pristine historic center.

Follow us live as we mark celebrations across the globe. Next up: Las Vegas!

07:00 Denver, Calgary and El Paso have brought in 2020 with celebrations and fireworks.

06:00 Chicago, Mexico City and San Salvador have ushered in the New Year with massive celebrations. Thousands gathered in the Mexican capital to watch Latin music artists and performers ring in the new decade. 

05:00 More than one million people were packed into New York’s Times Square to ring in the new decade. Some had waited more than 10 hours to see a 5,443 kilogram (12,000 pound) ball descend at the stroke of midnight. Music artists including K-pop group BTS and rap-pop star Post Malone performed throughout the evening. It was a stark contrast to the anti-Semitic Hannukah attack last week, which negatively colored New York’s festive period, but authorities promised extra security was in place for the New Year’s celebrations.

Much of the eastern US and eastern Canada also welcomed the new year, along with much of the rest of South America, including Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Cuba were among the Caribbean nations to celebrate midnight, while in Central America Panama welcomed the new year.

A lack of rainfall in Panama means that it is entering the new year with a conundrum: How to solve the problem of keeping its world-famous canal operational.

04:00 More of Canada ushered in the new year, along with many Caribbean countries, Venezuela and Bolivia and most of the rest of Brazil. The US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands also entered the 2020s, becoming the first parts of the US to do so.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is spending the holiday on the private Caribbean island of Mustique mere weeks after securing a landslide election victory for his Conservative party, according to British media reports. The UK has already celebrated what is almost certain to be its final New Year's Eve as part of the European Union before Brexit is due to happen on January 31.

Read more: Will Boris Johnson 'get Brexit done' in 2020?

The implications for citizens of British Overseas Territories such as those in the Caribbean — including Bermuda, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands — remain unclear as the next year of Brexit begins, not only in the UK but around the world.

3:45 Meanwhile, revelers in the US city of New York eagerly await midnight. Party-goers are out in force in the streets of Manhattan, waiting for the famous ball to drop in Times Square.

People in New York await 2020
People in New York await 2020 Image: Reuters/A. Alfiky

03:30 A new decade has now begun in parts of North America. Most of the small Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (population of around 500,000) is offset from other time-zones by 30 minutes, making it the first part of the North American continent to enter the new year.

03:00 Much of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay celebrated the new year. In Brazil, it is traditional to wear white clothing on New Year's Eve. The celebration is known as "Reveillon." White is said to bring good luck. In Rio de Janeiro, people gather at Copacabana beach to watch live music.

Two men watch fireworks at new year in Rio de Janeiro
Two men watch fireworks at new year in Rio de Janeiro Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/L. Correa

The Danish territory of Greenland also saw in the new year — for the second time. Greenlanders are "double-dippers" — they celebrate once when Denmark enters the new year, at 8 p. m. local time, and again when Greenland does so. Twice as much fun!

02:30 While it's still 2019 in certain parts of the world, the sun has already risen on a new decade for most of east Asia. In Hong Kong, which saw in the new year with large tear gas-choked clashes between protesters and the police, a further large demonstration is expected imminently. Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted a provocative image.

Thousands of pro-democracy activists plan to gather in the coming hours on the first day of the new decade.

02:00 2020 has officially reached the Americas: Some territories of Brazil and the tiny British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Isles, near Antarctica, welcomed the new year.

01:00 We're set for a quiet couple of hours as time zones that mostly cover oceans celebrate the new year. Cape Verde, parts of Greenland and Portugal's Azores Islands all entered 2020.

Smoke from fireworks next to trash in Berlin
Smoke from fireworks next to trash in Berlin Image: Reuters/M. Tantussi

In Germany, it's 2 a. m., and fireworks displays have mostly ended. With fatalities occasionally caused by personal fireworks misuse in Germany, there is now a nationwide discussion about whether they should be banned.

DW's own Rachel Stewart weighed in shortly after midnight with a light-hearted tweet.

00:00 January 1 2020 The UK, along with Portugal, Iceland and Ireland, was among the last European countries to enter 2020. In London, party-goers watched fireworks displays over the London Eye ferris wheel.

London fireworks display above London Eye
London fireworks display above London EyeImage: Reuters/T. Melville

In Scotland, where New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay, thousands flocked to Edinburgh for the UK's largest street party. Scotland's national poet Robert Burns is the composer of internationally well-known New Year's song Auld Lang Syne, which is traditionally played at midnight in many countries.

Much of the rest of western Africa, including Mali, Liberia and Ghana, also celebrated the new year.

Fireworks in Edinburgh, Scotland
Fireworks in Edinburgh, ScotlandImage: picture-alliance/PA Wire/J. Barlow

23:00 Frohes neues Jahr! Germany and most of Europe has entered 2020. People across Germany watched fireworks and celebrated the start of the new decade together. After confirmation that the 2010s was the hottest decade on record for Germany owing to the ongoing climate crisis and with the ruling coalition government facing new challenges, many people in Germany are entering the new year with trepidation, fear — and hope.

The fireworks display above the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is one of the largest in the country. In Paris, the huge light show ended and was replaced by a firework display above the Arc de Triomphe.

In Brussels, amid fears over safety and environmental concerns, the traditional fireworks display was replaced by a light spectacle using drones.

New year 2020 in Paris
New year 2020 in Paris Image: AFP/ M. Bureau

22:50 With ten minutes to go, another fun fact about New Year in Germany: Germans wish one another "einen guten Rutsch" — literally, a "good slide" into the new year.

You can have a look at Chancellor Angela Merkel's priorities for the new decade if you're still searching for last-minute inspiration for your resolutions.

22:30 In Germany, the new year is only 30 minutes away, but if you were hoping to scramble down to central Berlin for a last-minute glass of sekt you will be sorely disappointed. The famous street party at the Brandenburg Gate had its entrances closed to prevent overcrowding at 1900 UTC, according to the organizers.

Meanwhile, in France many celebrators had their travel plans disrupted by the ongoing transport strike. Only a limited service was available in Paris for those who wished to flock to see a light display on the Arc de Triomphe.

Preparations at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
Preparations at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Image: Imago Images/Photopress Müller

22:00 Much of eastern Europe, the Middle East and southern and eastern Africa welcomed the new year.

In Israel, Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashana was celebrated on September 30 2019, but many celebrations still took place across the small country. Many Israelis will be hoping for political stability in 2020 as Israel heads to the polls in March for a third time within twelve months.

In Greece, fireworks were let off over the Parthenon which is over 2,000 years old.

New year in Athens
New year in AthensImage: Reuters/C. Baltas

Meanwhile, in Muslim-majority countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, the Islamic New Year began on September 1 2019 — it is currently the year 1441. Nevertheless, many of these countries celebrated the new year in style, with fireworks displays and street parties. In Beirut, anti-government protesters took to the street along with party-goers.

In Ukraine, while January 1 is a public holiday, many Ukrainians prefer to celebrate "Old New Year" or "Orthodox New Year" which falls on January 14 2020 by the Gregorian calendar.

Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia and much of Africa including Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa also welcomed the new year. In South Africa, the government banned fireworks except under very strict conditions.

21:00 Western Russia, including the capital Moscow, is officially in 2020. With 11 time zones, Russians began the world's longest continuous New Year's Eve with a message from President Vladimir Putin urging them to work together. The message was broadcast on television before midnight in each of the 11 time zones. 

Dancers take to the streets in Moscow
Dancers take to the streets in Moscow Image: Imago Images/ITAR-TASS/S. Savostyanov

Countries in the Horn of Africa and East Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were among other time zones jumping into the New Year. In Saudi Arabia, a rare plan to have a New Year's celebration with fireworks and a DJ near Riyadh was reportedly banned because it was unlicensed. The ultra-conservative kingdom has in recent years taken steps to implement social and economic reforms, including allowing more entertainment.

Children celebrate new year in a slum in Nairobi
Children celebrate new year in a slum in NairobiImage: AFP/Y. Chiba

20:30 Iran is technically bringing in 2020, but most people in the country don't celebrate the New Year under the Gregorian calendar. Iran has its own ancient solar calendar that is the official one of the country. The Persian New Year Nowruz, literally "New Day," is usually celebrated around March 21 of the Gregorian calendar. 

Burj Khalifa in Dubai
Burj Khalifa in Dubai Image: Reuters/C. Pike

20:00 Tourists and locals in Dubai kicked off the New Year with one of the world's top fireworks shows at the Burj Khalifa skyscraper. The New Year's Eve display at the 828-meter-tall (2,716-foot-tall) structure was just one of seven different fireworks shows across the emirate. Before the show, 14 skydivers with flares looked like meteors flying through the sky. 

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Oman and parts of Russia also brought in the new decade. 

20:00 Pakistan, Central Asian states Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and parts of Russia have entered the New Year.   

18:44 Pope Francis gave a New Year's Eve homily at the Vatican calling on people to "build bridges, not walls." He also urged the church and people to become close again and listen to each other. "We are called to meet others and to listen to their existence, their cry for help," the pontiff said. "In this way, fresh air is actually spreading in the city and also in the Church, the desire to go back onto the streets, to overcome the old logic of opposition and borders, to work together and to build a fairer and more fraternal city," Francis said. 

Indien Neujahr New Year 2020
Fireworks explode above the Gateway of India monument in Mumbai, IndiaImage: Reuters/F. Mascarenhas

18:30 People across India greeted the New Year, but in some areas the festive mood was dampened by protests. Despite the second-coldest weather gripping New Delhi in a century, thousands of protesters there and in other cities joined demonstrations and protest parties against a new citizenship law they say discriminates against Muslims. The past year has also seen a crackdown in Indian-controlled Kashmir after the government downgraded its semi-autonomy and imposed a strict security and communications lockdown.

Indien Proteste gegen neues Staatsbürgerschaftsrecht in Delhi
Demonstrators listen to a speaker at a protest against a new citizenship law in New DelhiImage: Reuters/A. Abidi

18:00 Revellers in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are entering a new decade. 

17:50 Thousands of Indians angry about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new citizenship law they say discriminates against Muslims were preparing to ring in the New Year with street party protests. Protesters held readings from the constitution, listened to poetry and music, and staged candle-light marches at these gatherings. 

16:50 Residents of the Spanish village of Villar de Corneja celebrated New Year 12 hours early, the DPA news agency reports. Elderly villagers — most now over 80 years of age — have celebrated at midday every year since 2004 because they do not want to stay up too late. They celebrated in typical Spanish style, gathering in the village square to eat grapes with every chime of the town hall clock. 

16:00 Nations across Asia, including Hong Kong celebrated the start of 2020. The mood in Hong Kong was not as light as in other years, as protesters continued to flood the streets and chant pro-democracy slogans.

Hong Kong Marks New Year With Anti-Government Protests 2020
Image: Getty Images/A. Kwan

The annual fireworks display was canceled due to security concerns and replaced with a New Year's themed version of its daily light show, "A Symphony of Lights". The city has seen its most major protests this year, with ongoing demonstrations taking place since June.

People in the Philippines, however, started their New Year with a more jovial atmosphere. The Philippines plays host to a range of unique New Year traditions, including eating long noodles for good luck and trading round items to symbolize prosperity. Revelers often fill their pockets and drawers with round coins, and give round gifts to friends and family.  

15:00 Tourists and residents alike visited temples and shrines across Japan to recognize not just the end of the year, but also the first full year of the Reiwa era.

New Year 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
Celebrants release balloons as they take part in the New Year event in Tokyo, Japan, on Jan. 1.Image: Reuters/I. Kato

Former Japanese Emperor Akihito made history when he became the first Japanese emperor to abdicate the throne in 200 years. His abdication, and the subsequent accession of his son, Emperor Naruhito, marked the end of the nearly three-decade-long Heisei era. 

Japan Kyoto | Menschen besuchen den Yasaka Schrein vor dem Jahreswechsel
Revelers visit the Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto on December 31. Image: picture-alliance/AP Images/The Yomiuri Shimbun/I. Tsuchiya

The new monarch isn't the only exciting thing for Japan in 2020; Tokyo is also set to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Both North and South Korea are also celebrating their New Year. Last year, North Korea moved its time zone 30 minutes forward to match Seoul's. Northern leader Kim Jong-un is also set to make a New Year address Wednesday to share his plans in case the United States fails to meet his deadline to alter its stance on denuclearization.

Meanwhile, in Seoul, revelers gathered en masse for the Bosingak bell-ringing ceremony. The ceremony, which involves ringing a large bell, has brought tens of thousands of celebrants to the square since 2006. Multiple major fireworks displays also took place around the city. But it's not just the fireworks that people were waiting for. In South Korea, it's also popular to celebrate by watching the first sunrise of the year.

The last sunset of 2019 is seen above Hwaseong Fortress in South Korea.
The last sunset of 2019 is seen above Hwaseong Fortress, 46 kilometers south of Seoul.Image: picture-alliance/Yonhap

The first provinces in Indonesia, including Papua, the country's easternmost province, kicked off their start to 2020 as well. In August, Papua saw a violent wave of unrest after 43 students were arrested in Surabaya for alleged disrespect of the Indonesian flag. Mass protests and riots with thousands of participants ensued, leaving 30 people dead.

14:00 Russia's Sakha Republic celebrated its first of two New Years in 2020. Sakha people, or Yakuts, first celebrate with the rest of the Russian population in winter, then celebrate a second New Year, called Yhyakh, in the summer. The Yhyack festival is held on June 21, which is the start of summer in the region. During the celebration, women and children decorate trees and posts with bunches of horsehair, in addition to engaging in a traditional dance that includes singing and poetry.  

Otherwise known as Yakutia, the Sakha Republic is one of Russia's coldest regions, with winter temperatures sometimes dipping as low as -60 degrees Celsius.

Papua New Guinea, Australia's Queensland and the Federated States of Micronesia also rode into 2020 at 2 p.m. UTC.

13:45 Check out this photo gallery to find out what Germans are up to on New Year's Eve.

13:30 Police in Hong Kong said they found a stash of firebomb materials after suspects offered the location. Officers discovered 60 liters of petrol and 51 glass bottles -- enough to produce 100 firebombs. They believe the materials were intended for use during anti-government protests planned for New Year's Eve.

13:00 Australia's New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria celebrated rang in a dry New Year, with the country's worst bushfire season on record forcing residents who would otherwise be celebrating, taking refuge.

Australien l Silvester Neujahr 2019/2020 - Feuerwerk an der Sydney Opera
Sydney's world-famous fireworks show was one of the first across the globe to kick off the New YearImage: Getty Images/J. Gourley

Crowds thronged Sydney Harbor for the second round of fireworks (the first display was at 9 p.m. local time), despite widespread calls to cancel the event. 

As party-goers celebrated in Sydney, other Australians on the eastern coast took refuge on beaches under skies turned red by the blazes. Meanwhile, New Year's celebrations remained canceled in Canberra, summoning a quieter celebration than in years past.

The Solomon Islands, a nation of about 611,000, also kicked off 2020. This year, the small country dealt a blow to Taiwan's international image by severing ties with Taipei and establishing diplomatic relations with China.

12:30 Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave a three-minute address, highlighting her resolution to "restore order and harmony" in the city. "With our resilience and wisdom, I believe we can once again overcome our current challenges and rebuild Hong Kong," she said.

Protesters prepared to ring in the New Year by chanting pro-democracy slogans in shopping malls and other public spaces. Another pro-democracy march, which tens of thousands are expected to attend, is planned for Jan. 1. The annual fireworks display, which draws thousands every year, was also canceled, with officials citing security concerns. 

The fireworks will be replaced with a light show projected onto the city's skyscrapers at midnight. 

Read moreHong Kong kicks off huge NYE protests

12:00 Tuvalu, a small Polynesian island chain of just 11,000 people, celebrated the start of its new decade. This year, its capital Funafuti played host to what many called a failed set of talks at the Pacific Islands Forum.

Tuvalu has become one of the forefronts of the climate change discussion, as both residents and scientists fear that its nine islands, consisting of a total of just 26 square kilometers (10 square miles) could become completely submerged within the next 50 to 100 years.

The first Russian oblasts, or provinces, have also entered the year 2020. 

11:50 Turkish police detained five suspected Islamic State militants who were allegedly plotting New Year's Eve attacks in the capital of Ankara, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. Police said that the suspects were planning "solo" attacks at various points within the city, without giving additional information.

The detentions are part of a nationwide police sweep ahead of the New Year. The private DHA news agency reported that the suspects were Iraqi nationals and were trying to obtain firearms.  Almost 170 suspected IS militants have been detained over the past two days, according to the state-run news agency. 

11:00 New Zealand and Fiji kicked off their celebrations just an hour behind Samoa. Thousands gathered around Auckland's Sky Tower to watch the countdown to midnight fireworks in the New Zealand capital. 

This year marked one of the most challenging periods for the island nation. The Christchurch mosque shootings in March, which left 51 dead and 49 injured, shocked the nation of 4.8 million people, along with the world, and forced it to reckon with a new wave of hate and access to firearms.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won global praise for her swift response to the shootings and efforts to tighten gun ownership laws. Later in the year, on December 9, New Zealand was shaken again after the volcanic Whakaari/White Island erupted, leaving 19 dead and 28 injured. 

10:45 If you're wondering what the hottest global spots to ring in the New Year are, check out this list of the best places to party for New Year's Eve 2020.

10:00 December 31 2019 Samoa is the first country to ring in the end of a tumultuous decade marked by upheaval and protests around the world.

The Samoan capital of Apia was lit up with fireworks as residents and out-of-towners reveled in being the first to celebrate the start of 2020.

Eight years ago, Samoa moved west of the international dateline by removing December 30, 2011, from its calendar.

The Pacific island nation made the shift to match the time zones of its biggest trading partners, Australia and New Zealand. Its tropical neighbor Kiribati also rang in 2020 at the same time.

Three hours ahead of midnight, Sydney, Australia, lit its first fireworks display at 9 p.m. local time. The fireworks display in the New South Wales capital was an item of controversy in the weeks leading up to the end of the decade, amid a bushfire season that has ravaged the country, burning almost 1,000 homes and leaving at least 10 people dead.

lc,cw,ed/se (AP, Reuters, DPA)

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