Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia are the first countries to enter 2023. New Zealand welcomed the new year with a five-minute stunning light show and fireworks display over the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Sky Tower, respectively.
Last year, the country, led by Jacinda Arden, was forced to cancel many of its celebrations due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Its westerly neighbor, Australia, entered 2023 two hours later with fireworks displayed on the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. It followed an earlier fireworks display inspired by the land, sea, and sky.
Over a million spectators gathered at the waterfront in Sydney to bring in the new year, with more than 7,000 fireworks launched from the Harbour Bridge. Also, about 2,000 fireworks were set off from the iconic Opera House nearby.
There were reports of chaos as crowds pushed through the gate of The Rocks, but police and security let them through over fears people could be crushed.
China and Japan were the next group of countries to leave 2022 behind.
They’ve continued to celebrate despite a new wave of coronavirus cases that have resulted in travel restrictions for its citizens abroad, including in the United Kingdom and the United States. There are events along the Great Wall in Beijing, while people were also permitted to gather along the Bund waterfront in Shanghai. Japan, however, has canceled its popular New Year’s countdown on the world-famous crossing of Shibuya in Tokyo for the third year in a row.
While it didn’t cite COVID-19 as the factor this year, Japan claimed the cancelation was due to various circumstances but its suspected organizers fear a spike in cases due to a large number of people.
Hong Kong entered the new year at 3:45 p.m. GMT and is going big following the announcement of the lifting of all COVID restrictions for inbound travelers upon arrival. The celebrations organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board [HKTB] feature cultural and sporting performances and a 10-minute pyrotechnic and multimedia light show against the iconic Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong skyline.
South Korea is the latest country to enter 2023 with its first bell-tolling ceremony in the capital for three years due to the COVID pandemic.
Cho Gue-sung, a footballer from the country’s World Cup Qatar team, was among ten honorary citizens to headline the event at the Bosingak Pavilion in central Seoul, which was spread over a much larger area this year to avoid overcrowding. Elsewhere in the city, Buddhist followers at temples attached name cards with wishes to erect fences, as is tradition, before lighting candles and saying prayers.
However, it comes as thousands are set to attend huge New Year’s events across Britain as many returns for the first time in three years following the pandemic.
People will reportedly flock to central London to watch the capital’s fireworks, with viewing areas designated along the Victoria Embankment, Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square, and elsewhere. Mayor Sadiq Khan will be present at the event, which will be the largest fireworks display in the UK before Big Ben rings in the new year with its iconic bongs.
The display will be shown on BBC One during its airing of a special NYE concert fronted by the UK Eurovision star Sam Ryder.
Elsewhere, thousands will also attend Edinburgh’s traditional celebrations. The event had been canceled for the last two years due to COVID-19. All events hosted in the Scottish capital to mark the traditional Hogmanay celebrations are sold out, organizers confirmed. The Pet Shop Boys will headline the concert in the gardens at Princes Street Garden, while those attending the annual street party will be treated to DJ sets.
AI Thompson, director of organizers Unique Assembly said the worst of expected bad weather should have passed but he urged party-goers to wrap up warm.
“It’s outdoors in Scotland in winter but I’m pleased that we’re coming to the tail end of some unsettled weather this week, so from Saturday right through to New Year’s Day, we have got a clear run. It’s going to be cold but it’s going to be dry and that’s the main thing. We’re just telling people to make sure they wrap up warm and dress for the weather before they come out because the majority of the events are outdoor,” Thompson urged.
In Manchester, there will be an official countdown party in Piccadilly Gardens in the city center but no fireworks.
Fireworks were canceled due to budgetary pressures. Council bosses, however, said there will be a big screen counting down to midnight alongside two separate areas, consisting of a bar space to purchase drinks and a family-friendly, alcohol-free viewing platform. In Cardiff, families can welcome in the new year at the Welsh capital’s Winter Wonderland, which will remain open until 12:30 a.m.