New Year celebrations have kicked off as the clock struck midnight on remote Pacific islands, with huge firework displays planned in countries across the world to mark the end of 2019 and the start of a new decade.
People on the Polynesian islands of Kiribati were the first to turn their calendars over to 2020, before those in New Zealand kicked off New Year celebrations there.
Sydney, in Australia, launched its family fireworks display at 9pm despite calls for the show to be cancelled amid raging wildfires – ahead of the main display at midnight.
The party will then sweep east to west across the globe with North Korea, Thailand, India, the UAE, Russia, UK, Brazil and America among those putting on a show. Hawaii will be one of the last to mark the end of the year.
New Year’s Eve fireworks explode from the top of the SkyTower in Auckland as New Zealand became the first major country to mark the start of 2020
Waitemata Harbour in Auckland was illuminated by fireworks as the city marked New Year’s Eve in style
Crowds watch the fireworks from the SkyTower during Auckland New Year’s Eve celebrations
Women in Auckland join in with the New Year’s Eve celebrations as cities across the world prepare to ring in the change
Sydney also began letting off fireworks at 9pm as Australia prepares itself for the main display at midnight. There was talk of abandoning the world-famous fireworks due to wildfires, but organisers ruled it would go ahead
Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour during the Family Fireworks as part of celebrations to mark the end of 2019
Sydney’s Luna Park funfair (bottom left) and Harbour Bridge are illuminated by fireworks during the 9pm family display, head of the main show which will go ahead at midnight
The 9pm Family fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia prepares to mark New Year
Crowds watch fireworks display during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Brisbane, Australia
Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during early New Year’s celebrations in Australia
People watching from the Roof of the Sydney Opera House as fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House
Entertainers during New Year’s Eve celebrations in New Zealand’s biggest city of Auckland
Dellasey and Divene, age five, head out to watch the fireworks during Auckland New Year’s Eve celebrations with their parents
Toxic smoke haze has shrouded Sydney for weeks and a petition to cancel the celebrations out of respect for fire victims – with the death toll currently sitting at 10 – attracted more than 280,000 signatures.
Fireworks displays were scrapped in Australia’s capital, Canberra, and Sydney’s western suburbs due to elevated fire danger and extreme weather conditions but fire authorities said it was safe to go ahead over the water.
Critics wanted Sydney to use the Aus$6.5 million spent on the display to fight bushfires ringing the city, but officials say the event is worth $130 million to the economy and cancelling it would not help those hit by the fires.
‘We have committed to harnessing the enormous power of the event to raise more money for drought- and fire-affected communities,’ Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
More than 100,000 fireworks are scheduled to light up the skyline for 12 minutes to about one million spectators who usually throng foreshores and parks.
Crowds have been warned to take care as strong winds gusted in the harbour, forcing the cancellation of a boat display that would have blasted water into the sky – just hours before the fireworks were due to start.
As the clock ticks past midnight, major cities in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas will embrace the celebrations, but in many places the festivities will be marked by turmoil and political upheaval.
After more than six months of near-daily demonstrations, Hong Kong will usher in 2019 with a series of pro-democracy rallies planned for New Year’s Eve.
Mizuki (L) and Tsubasa take a selfie as they wait to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks at Southbank in Brisbane, Australia
There was talk of cancelling firework displays across Australia amid terrifying bush fires, with events in the capital Canberra cancelled, but organisers in Sydney and Brisbane ruled their shows could go ahead
Up to 13 people have been killed with another four missing and dozens of homes destroyed amid wildfires that have torched an area larger than the Netherlands across five Australian states
Riot police officers detain an anti-government protester during a demonstration on New Year’s Eve outside Mong Kok police station in Hong Kong
A man is detained by riot police outside of a police station ahead of countdown on New Year’s eve in Hong Kong
2019 marked a huge period of unrest in Hong Kong spurred by pro-democracy activists, and New Year’s Eve was no exception
Protesters are set to form human chains across the city, stage demonstrations at major shopping malls and hold ‘suck the eve’ gatherings at major countdown attractions including the city’s famed Victoria Harbour.
In Paris, 250,000 to 300,000 people usually gather on the Champs-Elysees to welcome the New Year, but turnout could suffer amid a gruelling transport strike that has caused weeks of misery for commuters.
Midnight in London will be marked by the chimes of Big Ben, which has been silent during a long restoration, as traditional fireworks are set off over the Thames for the last new year before Brexit.
It follows a year of political wrangling that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May and culminated in Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledging to leave the European Union on January 31.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin is set to deliver his annual New Year address, 20 years after he was elevated to the presidency by Boris Yeltsin’s shock resignation in his 1999 end-of-year speech.
Russia will celebrate the new decade over several time zones, with Muscovites flocking to the centre of the capital for fireworks over the Kremlin.
As partygoers embrace the festivities, attention will turn to 2020 and whether it will be as tumultuous as the previous year, which saw an explosion of demonstrations as people demanded an overhaul of entrenched political systems and action on climate change.
Students cheer as they release balloons during celebrations to welcome the New Year at a school in Ahmedabad, India
A vendor decorates his gift shop ahead of New Year’s eve in Kuwait City
Shinto priests leave the inner shrine after concluding a ritual to mark the end of the year and prepare for the new one at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan
Members of the indigenous Gurung community wearing traditional attire perform as they take part in a New Year celebration ceremony known as ‘Tamu Lhosar’ in Kathmandu
Members of the indigenous Gurung community wearing traditional attire perform as they take part in a New Year celebration
People queue to buy traditional Dutch oliebol – fried dough sprinkled with sugar which is eaten on New Year’s Eve – in The Hague, Netherlands
Filipinos choose from an assortment of round-shaped fruit sold at a market in Quezon City, Philippines, which they believe will bring them good luck in the year ahead
Many Filipinos believe that round-shaped fruit bring good luck for the coming New Year and flock to markets to buy various kinds to have in their homes on New Year’s Eve
The protests in Hong Kong, sparked by a now-abandoned bill to allow extraditions to the authoritarian mainland, have since morphed into a popular revolt against Beijing’s control.
The city’s biggest crisis since the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997 appears set to spill over in 2020, with protesters already preparing the year’s protest schedule and the government showing no sign of backing down.
Anti-government protests also swept Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East in 2019, including mass demonstrations that brought down leaders in Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan and Bolivia.
Climate change sparked rallies worldwide calling for action, initiated by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, as temperatures soared above records, Iceland lost its first glacier to climate change, and Venice was swamped by flooding not seen in decades.
US President Donald Trump again dominated headlines in 2019, culminating in his historic impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on two counts of abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.
The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to convict Trump in a trial expected to begin in January but the controversy over claims he pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a rival in his 2020 re-election bid, will linger until the November poll.