Kiribati welcomes 2023 first: Sydney starts the new year with mega fireworks

In Germany it still takes a few hours, in the South Pacific many countries have long since arrived in the new year.

Kiribati welcomes 2023 first: Sydney starts the new year with mega fireworks

In Germany it still takes a few hours, in the South Pacific many countries have long since arrived in the new year. Ahead of Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, a small atoll will be the first to greet 2023. When it comes to the cost of the fireworks, however, Sydney is likely to be ahead.

An atoll in the South Pacific welcomed the new year 13 hours before Germany: the residents of Kiritimati, which is part of the Kiribati archipelago, were the first in the world to start the new year at 11:00 a.m. CET. For the first time since the beginning of the corona pandemic, tourists on the other side of the world were able to celebrate again. The borders of the Polynesian archipelagos have been mostly closed to foreigners since March 2020. Kiribati has only been welcoming international guests again since August. The 388 square kilometer coral island of Kiritimati has only a few thousand inhabitants.

Samoa, which abolished daylight saving time this year, followed for the first time an hour later - at the same time as New Zealand and Tonga. Huge fireworks over Samoa's largest island Savai?i and in the capital Apia on the island of Upolu should accompany the turn of the year. The island state had had pyrotechnics experts flown in from New Zealand for the spectacle.

Many people in the Kingdom of Tonga are still suffering from the effects of the massive eruption of the submarine volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai. In mid-January, the mountain threw up a gigantic cloud of ash and gas kilometers high. The colossal eruption triggered tsunami waves and blanketed parts of Tonga in a thick layer of ash.

In New Zealand, where most events were canceled last year due to Corona, firecrackers were shot into the sky again for the first time. The highlight is the fireworks from the Sky Tower in Auckland. "It's an event seen around the world and we're proud to start 2023 from our city," Mayor Wayne Brown said in advance.

Two hours later, at 2:00 p.m. German time, the traditional giant fireworks display was ignited at the turn of the year in Sydney, Australia. A million people were expected to attend the light show against the iconic backdrop of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House. According to reports, half a billion people worldwide are expected to watch the spectacle. A rainbow waterfall is the focal point of the show of eight tons of fireworks - in the run-up to Sydney WorldPride, which starts in the metropolis in February. According to information in advance, costs totaling the equivalent of around 3.7 million euros were missed.

(This article was first published on Saturday, December 31, 2022.)

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