NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – New Year’s celebrations have kicked off around the world, welcoming 2023 with countdowns and fireworks and marking the end of a year that brought war to Europe, a new chapter in the monarchy. British and global concerns about inflation.
The new year began on the tiny atoll of Kiribati in the central Pacific, then moved to Russia and New Zealand, crossing time zones, then to Asia and Europe.
In New York’s iconic Times Square, the ball kicked down as the crowd counted down to 2023, ending with loud cheers and a shower of confetti twinkling across giant screens, neon lights and the streets.
Two city police officers were taken to hospital after an altercation with a knife-wielding man not far from where the party was taking place. Officials said the officer was conscious and had non-life-threatening injuries while the suspect was taken into custody.
For a day at least, thoughts turned to possibilities, even the most elusive ones like world peace, and to the next set of resolutions—finally determined.
As a sign of that hope, a large number of children met Saint Nicholas in a crowded subway station in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
However, Russian attacks continued on New Year’s Eve. At midnight, the streets of the capital city of Kyiv were deserted. The only sign of the New Year came from local residents shouting from their balconies: “Happy New Year!” and “Glory to Ukraine!” And just half an hour after the start of 2023, air raid sirens were heard throughout Ukraine’s capital, followed by the sounds of explosions.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported an explosion in the Holosivskiyui district, and officials said fragments of a dropped missile damaged a vehicle in the center of that area.
In Paris, thousands celebrated on the Champs-Élysées as French President Emmanuel Macron made a televised New Year’s Eve speech to continue his support for Ukraine.
“Next year, we will remain unwaveringly by your side. We will help them win, and we will join together to build a just and lasting peace. Trust France and Europe,” he said.
The sound of Big Ben was heard as more than 100,000 people gathered on the banks of the Thames to watch a fireworks display around the London Eye. The show included a crown created by a drone and a coin floating in the sky with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in tribute to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who died in September.
Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach welcomed a small crowd of a few thousand for a brief display of fireworks, and several Brazilian cities have canceled festivities this year because of coronavirus concerns. Before the pandemic, the Brazilian capital’s New Year’s party attracted more than 2 million people to Copacabana.
Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul welcomed 2023 with street festivities and fireworks. At St. Anthony of Padua’s Catholic Church on Istanbul’s busy Istiklal Avenue, dozens of Christians prayed for the new year and mourned the passing of retired Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican announced that Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95.
New York was preparing to kick off New Year’s festivities with a dazzling extravaganza Saturday night in iconic Times Square, as festivities took place across the United States.
The night concludes with a countdown to the appearance of a glowing geodesic sphere 12 feet (3.6 m) in diameter and weighing approximately six tons from the top of the One Times Square building.
Officials said the surface of the sphere contains about 2,700 Waterford crystals that will be fan-illuminated in more than 16 million colors.
At the stroke of midnight, expect a ton of confetti to fall on the crowd, flashing amid giant screens and neon strobe lights.
Last year, a small crowd of about 15,000 people wearing face masks watched the sphere descend amid lights and merriment. Due to regulations related to the pandemic, the numbers were small compared to the thousands expected to come to the world-famous plaza.
“2023 is revival, revival of the world after COVID-19 and after the war in Ukraine. We want this to end,” said Arjun Singhsu, taking stock of the atmosphere.
In Australia, more than one million people packed Sydney’s waterfront to watch a multi-billion dollar celebration based on themes of diversity and inclusion. Over 7,000 fireworks were launched over the Sydney Harbor Bridge and over 2,000 from the nearby Opera House.
Kiribati, a Pacific nation, was the first to receive 2023 due to its time zone being one hour earlier than its neighbors, such as New Zealand.
In Auckland, huge crowds gathered in front of the Sky Tower, where a 10-second countdown to midnight began before a fireworks display. Celebrations in New Zealand’s biggest city went well after being canceled by COVID-19 a year ago.
In China, people were cautiously looking forward to 2023 as the easing of pandemic-related restrictions led to new infections, but it also signaled a return to normality.
Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report, including Liu Zheng in Beijing, Renata Brito and Hanna Ahirova in Kyiv, Yuri Kagayama in Tokyo, Grant Peck in Bangkok, Zeynep Bilginskoy in Istanbul and Thomas Adamson in Paris. in London and Robert Babsted in New York.