World welcomes New Year with fireworks and prayers

At his Sunday prayers at the Vatican, Pope Francis wished everyone a peaceful end to the year

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A fireworks display in Auckland, New Zealand welcomed in the New Year as the first country in the world celebrated the arrival of 2024.

The fireworks illuminated the cloudy night sky and were accompanied by a laser light and animation show.

Other countries soon followed in bidding farewell to 2023 and welcoming the New Year.

Sydney, Australia hailed 2024 with a dazzling fireworks display featuring silver and gold pyrotechnics to mark the 50th anniversary of its famous Opera House.

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.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing an election in March, made only passing reference in his New Year address to his war in Ukraine, hailing Russia's soldiers as heroes but emphasising unity and shared determination.

China's President Xi Jinping, speaking 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.

In North Korea, Kim Jong Un vowed to launch three spy satellites, build military drones, and increase its nuclear arsenal in 2024, with the leader saying US policy is making war inevitable.

UAE marks the new year with fireworks and drone displays - video

UAE marks the new year with fireworks and drone displays

UAE marks the new year with fireworks and drone displays

President Emmanuel Macron vowed on Sunday that 2024 will be the year of French pride and hope, marked by the Paris 2024 Olympic Summer Games and the re-opening of Notre-Dame cathedral after a devastating fire.

"Only once in a century does one host Olympic and Paralympic Games, only once in a millennium does one rebuild a cathedral," Mr Macron said.

"2024, a year of determination, choices, recovery, pride. In fact, a year of hope."

For India, thousands of revellers from the financial hub of Mumbai watched the sun set over the Arabian Sea.

In New Delhi, fireworks raised concerns that the capital — already infamous for its poor air quality — would be blanketed by a toxic haze on the first morning of the new year.

Across Japan, people gathered at temples, such as the Tsukiji Temple in Tokyo, where visitors were given free hot milk and corn soup as they stood in line to strike a massive bell.

Updated: January 01, 2024, 1:02 AM