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Europe celebrates New Year amid heightened security

by editor

The first major city to see 2024 was Auckland, in New Zealand, w where fireworks were let off from its tallest building, the Sky Tower


People across Europe are welcoming 2024 against a backdrop of heightened security concerns. 

Ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and tensions in parts of the world, have affected this year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations in a myriad of ways.

Many cities in Europe were deploying extra security, and some places cancelled New Year’s Eve events altogether.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis recalled 2023 as a year marked by wartime suffering. 

During his traditional Sunday blessing from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, he offered prayers for “the tormented Ukrainian people and the Palestinian and Israeli populations, the Sudanese people and many others.”

“At the end of the year, we will have the courage to ask ourselves how many human lives have been shattered by armed conflict, how many dead and how much destruction, how much suffering, how much poverty,” the pontiff said. 

“Whoever has interest in these conflicts, listen to the voice of conscience.”

Ramed up police presence in France

In France, 90,000 law enforcement officers were set to be deployed, domestic intelligence chief Céline Berthon said on Friday.

Of those, 6,000 will be in Paris, where French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said over 1.5 million people are expected to attend celebrations on the Champs-Elysees.

Darmanin cited a “very high terrorist threat” because, in part, of “what is happening in Israel and Palestine,” referring to the Israel-Hamas war.

New Year’s Eve celebrations in the French capital will centre on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, including DJ sets, fireworks and video projections on the Arc de Triomphe.

Other planned events include “the largest Mexican wave ever performed” and a “giant karaoke.”

In Berlin, some 4,500 police officers are expected to keep order and avoid riots like a year ago. 

Police in the German capital issued a ban on the traditional use of firecrackers for several streets across the city. 

They also banned a pro-Palestinian protest in the Neukoelln neighbourhood of the city, which has seen several demonstrations since the 7 October attack by Hamas. 

New Year’s celebrations called off in Russia

In Russia, the country’s military actions in Ukraine have overshadowed end-of-year celebrations, with the usual fireworks and concert on Moscow’s Red Square cancelled, as last year.

After shelling in the centre of the Russian border city of Belgorod on Saturday killed 24 people, some local authorities across Russia also cancelled their usual firework displays, including in Vladivostok. 

Millions throughout Russia are expected to tune into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s address.


Sydney and Auckland were the world’s first major cities to ring in 2024, with more than a million revellers cheering spectacular fireworks displays that lit up the skies over Sydney Harbor and New Zealand’s tallest structure, Sky Tower.

“It’s total madness,” said German tourist Janna Thomas, who had waited in line since 7:30 a.m. to secure a prime waterfront location in the Sydney Botanic Garden. “It’s not so easy to find a good place to sit, but the view is incredible.”

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