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Fireworks and parties ring in 2024 - turn of the year overshadowed by conflicts

The new year was rung in with celebrations and fireworks all over the world. In the US metropolis of New York, thousands of people gathered in Times Square on Monday night to see 2024 begin with the traditional lowering of a colorful illuminated ball and a shower of confetti.

Confetti rain in New York's Times
Confetti rain in New York's Times

Fireworks and parties ring in 2024 - turn of the year overshadowed by conflicts

A few hours earlier, more than a million people had already celebrated New Year's Eve around Sydney Harbour and admired how eight tons of fireworks conjured up a colourful spectacle in the night sky. Cities such as Auckland, Hong Kong, Manila and Jakarta, as well as London, Paris and Berlin, also kicked off 2024 with a huge fireworks display. At the Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, the twelve-minute fireworks display was accompanied by live orchestral music.

In the UK, the turn of the year also marked an anniversary: one hundred years ago, the BBC broadcast the ringing of the Big Ben bell at Westminster Palace in London live for the first time at the turn of the year, thus establishing a tradition.

In Denmark, the popular Queen Margrethe II, the longest-serving monarch in Europe, used her New Year's address broadcast on New Year's Eve to announce her abdication. The 83-year-old intends to pass on the royal crown to her 55-year-old son Frederik on January 14, the 52nd anniversary of her accession to the throne.

The past year was dominated by many crises around the world. The Gaza war broke out at the beginning of October with the Hamas attack on Israel, and Russia continued its war of aggression against Ukraine.

On Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of conflicts around the world. "At the end of the year, have the courage to ask how many lives have been destroyed in armed conflicts," said the 87-year-old head of the Catholic Church at the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square. "And how much destruction, how much suffering, how much poverty? Whoever has an interest in these conflicts, listen to the voice of conscience."

In many countries, people will also have to contend with a significant rise in the cost of living in 2023. The effects of advancing climate change were reflected, among other things, in the fact that 2023 was the hottest year worldwide since weather records began and there were once again many climate-related extreme weather events such as heatwaves and flooding.

The coming year will be dominated by many important elections. Around half of the world's citizens will be called upon to vote in 2024. The EU parliamentary elections will take place at the beginning of June, while elections will also be held in India, the world's most populous country since 2023, as well as in Russia, the UK, Indonesia, South Africa, Mexico, Venezuela and other countries.

The presidential election in the USA at the beginning of November will attract particular interest. There, the 81-year-old Democrat Joe Biden is fighting for re-election, but a return of the Republican Donald Trump to the White House does not seem out of the question.

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