The year 2023 started first on an atoll in the southern seas: The people of Kiritimati, part of the Kiribati archipelago, were the first in the world to kick off the new year at 11:00 am CEST. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, tourists were able to celebrate again.
The borders of the Polynesian island nations have been mostly closed to foreigners since March 2020. Kiribati has only been welcoming international guests again since August. The 388 square kilometer atoll of Kiritimati has a population of just a few thousand.
Samoa, which canceled daylight savings time this year, followed suit for the first time an hour later — at the same time as New Zealand and Tonga. Huge fireworks over Samoa’s largest island, Savici, and in the capital, Apia, on Upolu, must accompany the end of the year. The island nation had pyrotechnics experts from New Zealand attend the spectacle.
In New Zealand, where most events were canceled last year due to the coronavirus, firecrackers were launched into the sky again for the first time. The highlight of the fireworks from the Sky Tower in Auckland. “It is an event that is being watched around the world, and we are proud to kick off 2023 from our city,” said Mayor Wayne Brown.
The Australian city of Sydney also started the new year with a huge colorful fireworks display. The highlight of the parade, which lasted nearly a quarter of an hour, was a rainbow of luminous objects raining down like a waterfall from the Harbor Bridge as a harbinger of Sydney WorldPride, which begins in the capital in February.
According to ABC broadcast, more than a million people were expected to witness the spectacle with their own eyes against the famous backdrop of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, as in pre-pandemic New Year’s Eve festivities. Many visitors have already moved to seats with a good view of the harbor early in the morning.
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