With the exception of Auckland and Las Vegas, many metropolises around the world are planning a subdued New Year’s Eve, planned mostly around virtual events.
For many people around the world, 2020 has been an exhausting experience, filled with boredom, terror and dismay, as we took turns observing what seemed to be the main news event of the year: the coronavirus.
So while we are happy that the year is almost done, let’s take a look at what New Year’s Eve festivities cities around the world are planning –– or more correctly, have mostly cancelled.
Sydney’s spectacular fireworks have not been cancelled. Instead, the duration has been shortened and people are advised to watch live on ABC Television: “There will be a short fireworks display from Sydney Harbour Bridge at midnight only. This will be broadcast live on ABC TV, allowing you and your friends or family to watch from home.” The authorities have cancelled the earlier 9pm fireworks display for families with younger kids.
According to ABC online, “the [Australian] government has banned crowds watching the fireworks from normally packed foreshores around Sydney.” Coronavirus restrictions because of a December 19 outbreak “remain in place” including people in Greater Sydney “only having up to 10 household visitors”.
In New Zealand, a country relatively unscathed by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, celebrations will take place as before.
According to the Auckland Council, “at midnight, Vector Lights on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Skycity’s fireworks will welcome in 2021 with a spectacular five-minute show.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says “Thanks to the incredible efforts of all New Zealanders to eliminate COVID-19, we’re in the fortunate position of being able to live our lives relatively normally. People can go to work and school, gather with friends, and our economy is one of the most open in the world.
“That’s worth celebrating, and this year’s spectacular display will be a perfect opportunity for Aucklanders to do that.”
Because of an increase in Covid-19 cases, many events in Tokyo, Japan, have been cancelled. TimeOut has put together a list of all that has been called off, including Shibuya New Year's Eve Countdown and a NYE concert called Keep on Fuji Rockin’ II. Keep on Fuji Rockin’ II will be broadcast online for those interested in catching the popular Japanese bands. All night trains have also been cancelled in the city.
The Hong Kong Traveller website informs the world that the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the island city will be called off once more: “Sadly, for the second year in a row, the dazzling fireworks display over Victoria Harbour to welcome 2021 has been cancelled this year due to the Covid pandemic and the need to uphold social distancing measures.”
The site tries to still remain cheerful as it tells readers that festivities have moved online, beginning at 11 pm local time, and “will allow us to participate from anywhere in the world from the comfort of our own homes!”
The Singapore Tatler recommends the ‘Shine a Light’ event in lieu of the New Year’s Eve fireworks at Marina Bay, which have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions: “a rather awe-inspiring three-minute display comprising formations of 60 beams of light projecting from The Promontory. The show is repeated every 15 minutes and is currently ongoing nightly (8pm to 10.30pm), and will end its run on 31 December (8pm to 11.45pm).”
According to Sky News, “Singaporeans can still catch [fireworks] at 11 other smaller locations.The People's Association (PA) fireworks displays will take place in Housing Board (housing association) areas and will be live-streamed on the community Facebook pages.”
The UAE capital is partying, but in moderation. While authorities have asked people to limit their parties to 30 people, and to not mingle with others if they are showing symptoms, the city is going ahead with some events, such as Kiss 2020 Goodbye, with the glam rock band live streaming their concert to their fans worldwide: “In true KISS fashion, they are bringing the biggest & baddest concert event and pyrotechnics show of the year, proving once again, that KISS never does anything small.”
The largest city in Turkey is going under lockdown starting at 9 pm on December 31, 2020, until 5 am January 4, 2021. It’s as if the authorities are saying stay put, wherever you are, and just hold tight until this pandemic is over.
Hotels will not be holding New Year’s Eve concerts this year, but will be allowed to provide live music for their guests until 10 pm on the 31st. After 10 pm there are no entertainment activities allowed, but guests will be allowed to mingle in the lobby or other areas.
According to Sky News, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has suspended all mass events and ordered late-night establishments to close until mid-January 2021. There will not be a traditional New Year’s Eve celebration in Moscow this year.
Famed French musician Jean Michel Jarre will perform a virtual concert at the Notre Dame on December 31, 2020 at 11:35 pm local time to entertain Parisians stuck at home due to a 8 pm curfew, and anyone else who would like to tune in to this free concert.
The city has banned fireworks and firecrackers in 56 zones, according to Berlin.de, “the Official Website of Berlin”. Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD), has asked Berliners to "Stay at home, welcome the New Year in a small circle and refrain from fireworks and firecrackers." Yet the city still lists many events, most of them virtual, to ring in the New Year.
The British capital has cancelled “the dazzling spectacle of pyrotechnics” of New Year’s Eve fireworks. But, as the Visit London official guide explains, there is plenty else to do.
“We simply can’t afford to have the numbers of people who congregate on New Year’s Eve, congregating,” Mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC.
The Scottish city’s famed street party Hogmanay has gone virtual as have most other New Year Eve’s celebrations around the world. According to the Edinburgh website, the plans include a breathtaking drone show: “Taking inspiration from Scotland’s land and air, the new work, titled Fare Well, will take viewers on a breath-taking visual journey with the help of 150 individual drones, creating Scotland’s first ever large-scale drone show and the largest drone show ever seen in the UK.”
Rio de Janeiro
Rio announced relatively early that it would not hold its fireworks display in the year, in August. According to the Brazilian Report, there will be a “virtual New Year’s Eve celebration, with an online broadcast of artists performing remotely all over town, and a light show that will be seen across the city’s skyline.”
The famous ball drop at Times Square that takes place every New Year’s Eve will still happen, but with no physical audience. The official website for Times Square beckons New Yorkers (and beyond) to “Celebrate with us virtually in an enhanced celebration that will bring Times Square and the Ball Drop to you no matter where you are.”
Las Vegas is a party town, and it looks like despite the pandemic, it will remain so this New Year’s Eve. While celebrations are more subdued compared to past years – no fireworks on NYE on the Strip, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal –, there will still be parties going on, albeit with social distancing warnings.
According to Visit Las Vegas, “the only official website of Las Vegas”, reservations are required at restaurants, but the website hints at a fun night ahead at New Year’s Eve, with cocktails, live music, all you can eat desserts and more.