Billions cheered in 2020 after a tumultuous year dominated by demonstrations calling for political dissent and action on climate change.

The midnight fireworks are seen from Mrs Macquarie's Chair during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, December 31, 2019.
The midnight fireworks are seen from Mrs Macquarie's Chair during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, December 31, 2019. (AFP)

Revellers around the globe bid farewell to a decade that will be remembered for the rise of social media, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement and, of course, President Donald Trump.

Here is a look at how the world ushered in 2020:

Anti-government demonstrators protest ensued during the 2020 countdown on New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong, China, on January 1, 2020.
Anti-government demonstrators protest ensued during the 2020 countdown on New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong, China, on January 1, 2020. (Reuters)

Hong Kong

Revellers and pro-democracy protesters flocked to sites across Hong Kong to usher in 2020.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city, nevertheless, toned down New Year's celebrations amid the months-long demonstrations. The protests have repeatedly sparked pitched battles with police and have taken their toll on Hong Kong's nightlife and travel industries.

A fireworks display that traditionally lights up famed Victoria Harbor was cancelled amid safety concerns, while some roads were closed and barriers set up in the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district to control crowds.

People stand under Christmas decorations as they wait in a long queue to enter Red Square to celebrate New Year in Moscow, Russia on December 31, 2019.
People stand under Christmas decorations as they wait in a long queue to enter Red Square to celebrate New Year in Moscow, Russia on December 31, 2019. (AP)

Russia

Russians began the world’s longest New Year’s Eve with fireworks and a message from President Vladimir Putin urging them to work together in the coming year.

Putin made the call in a short speech broadcast on television just before the stroke of midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones. The recorded message was followed by an image of the Kremlin Clock and the sound of its chimes.

State TV showed footage of extensive festive fireworks in cities of the Far East.

But one holiday tradition was notably missing in Moscow this year: a picturesque layer of snow. The Russian capital has had an unusually warm December, with temperatures in central Moscow at just above freezing as midnight approached.

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House (L) during the fireworks show on January 1, 2020.
New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House (L) during the fireworks show on January 1, 2020. (AFP)

Australia

More than a million people descended on a hazy Sydney Harbour and surrounding areas to ring in the new year despite the ongoing wildfire crisis ravaging New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

The 9 pm fireworks over Sydney’s iconic landmarks was briefly delayed due to strong winds, but revellers clearly enjoyed themselves in a desperately needed tonic for the state.

New South Wales bore the brunt of the wildfire damage, which has razed more than 1,000 homes nationwide and killed 12 people in the past few months.

Pope Francis (C) waves to faithfuls as he visits the Nativity scene in Saint Peter's Square, following the 'Te Deum' prayer for the year 2019, at the Vatican on December 31, 2019.
Pope Francis (C) waves to faithfuls as he visits the Nativity scene in Saint Peter's Square, following the 'Te Deum' prayer for the year 2019, at the Vatican on December 31, 2019. (AFP)

Rome

Pope Francis delighted tourists and Romans in St Peter's Square on Tuesday night when he took a stroll to admire the Nativity scene. Shouts of "Pope! Pope!" and "Happy New Year!" resounded as families rushed to catch a glimpse of him or thrust out their infant in hopes he would pat their heads or pinch their cheeks.

One woman grabbed the pope's hand and pulled him toward her to shake it. Francis, 83, exclaimed and then struck the woman's hand twice to free his hand.

At a New Year's Eve Vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica, Francis urged people to practice more solidarity and to "build bridges, not walls." Since becoming pontiff in 2013, Francis has preached openness – a reform-minded agenda that has irritated a small but vocal group of ultra-conservatives in the church.

Fireworks explode around the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, during New Year's celebrations in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on January 1, 2020.
Fireworks explode around the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, during New Year's celebrations in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on January 1, 2020. (Reuters)

United Arab Emirates

For nearly 10 minutes, fireworks lit the sky over Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as hundreds of thousands gather downtown to watch the spectacular display.

The New Year's Eve display at the 828-meter-tall (2,716-foot-tall) skyscraper was just one of seven different fireworks shows across the emirate. Tourists, especially from Europe and Russia, flock to the sunny beaches of Dubai at this time of year to escape the cold, dark winter.

To keep the massive crowds safe, police have created walkways around the Burj Khalifa tower for male-only groups to separate them from families and women.

Dubai this year will be hosting Expo 2020, a world fair that brings the most cutting-edge and futuristic technologies.

People visit Kanda Myojin Shrine to offer New Year prayers in Tokyo on January 1, 2020. Millions of Japanese people will visit shrines and temples across the country during the first three days of the new year to pray for the well-being of their families.
People visit Kanda Myojin Shrine to offer New Year prayers in Tokyo on January 1, 2020. Millions of Japanese people will visit shrines and temples across the country during the first three days of the new year to pray for the well-being of their families. (Reuters)

Japan

People flocked to temples and shrines in Japan, offering incense with their prayers to celebrate the passing of a year and the first New Year's of the Reiwa era.

Under Japan's old-style calendar, which is linked to emperors' rules, Reiwa started in May after Emperor Akihito stepped down and his son, Naruhito, became emperor. Although Reiwa is entering its second year with 2020, January 1 still marks Reiwa's first New Year's, the most important holiday in Japan.

Stalls at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo sold sweet rice wine, fried noodles and candied apples, as well as little amulets in the shape of mice, the zodiac animal for 2020. Since the Year of the Mouse starts off the Asian zodiac, it is associated with starting anew.

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, an event that is creating much anticipation for the entire nation.

Fireworks explode over Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue during New Year's celebrations in Bali, Indonesia, December 31, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Fikri Yusuf/ via REUTERS
Fireworks explode over Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue during New Year's celebrations in Bali, Indonesia, December 31, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Fikri Yusuf/ via REUTERS (Reuters)

Indonesia

Tens of thousands of revellers in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta got soaked by torrential rains as they waited for New Year's Eve fireworks, while others in the country were wary of an active volcano.

Festive events along coastal areas near the Sunda Strait were dampened by a possible larger eruption of Anak Krakatau, an island volcano that erupted last year just ahead of Christmas Day, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 430 people.

The country's volcanology agency has warned locals and tourists to stay 2 kilometers (1.3 miles) from the volcano's crater following an eruption Tuesday that blasted ash and debris up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) into the air.

People attend a ceremony to celebrate the new year in Seoul, South Korea January 1, 2020.
People attend a ceremony to celebrate the new year in Seoul, South Korea January 1, 2020. (Reuters)

South Korea

Thousands of South Koreans filled cold downtown streets in Seoul ahead of a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to send off an exhausting 2019 highlighted by political scandals, decaying job markets and crumbling diplomacy with North Korea.

Dignitaries ringing the old Bosingak bell at midnight included South Korean Major League Baseball pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Pengsoo, a giant penguin character with a gruff voice and blunt personality that emerged as one of the country’s biggest TV stars in 2019.

People gather in front of Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate to usher in the New Year on December 31, 2019.
People gather in front of Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate to usher in the New Year on December 31, 2019. (AFP)

Germany

Hundreds of thousands of revellers rang in the New Year in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Several German cities including Munich and Hamburg have banned private fireworks amid concerns about the danger and environmental impacts from the increasingly powerful fireworks. A recent poll by the Forsa research institute found 59 percent of Germans would support a ban on private fireworks in city centres, while 37 percent were opposed.

Revellers await New Year's Eve in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York, US on December 31, 2019.
Revellers await New Year's Eve in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York, US on December 31, 2019. (Reuters)

New York

A Chinese dance performance, punctuated with red and gold pyrotechnics, ushered in a host of stars at Times Square’s six-hour New Year’s Eve extravaganza.

The throng of revellers in the heart of Manhattan will get to see rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette during the big street party.

While giddiness will likely prevail at the televised event, some important global issues will be driven home, as well.

High school science teachers and students, spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, will press the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to next year.

Then comes the 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti, accompanied by more pyrotechnics.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies