Happy 2020! At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2019, cities worldwide rang in both a new year and a new decade with dazzling fireworks shows. Here are some of this year's most spectacular displays from around the world.
Sydney, Australia, one of the first major cities on Earth to ring in the new year, is famous for staging two majestic fireworks shows annually. The first, a family-friendly display for Australian residents with young children, takes place at 9:00 pm local time, while the second, more extravagant show — broadcast live internationally to an eager audience of over a billion people — occurs at midnight local time.
The spectacle of light ushering in 2020 took 15 months to plan, cost $6.5 million, and comprised over 100,000 fireworks. The magnificent pyrotechnics display, which transformed the dark skies into a kaleidoscope of colors for 12 minutes, was launched from eight pontoons and four main barges off the iconic Sydney Harbour.
Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) welcomed 2020 with several fireworks and light shows across its seven emirates, or states. Though all were stunning, the one at the Ras Al Khaimah emirate captivated people worldwide. The 13-minute spectacle was witnessed live by hundreds of thousands of spectators, and billions more through online live feeds and telecasts. It also clinched two Guinness World Records titles for the "Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Launching Fireworks Simultaneously" and the "Longest Fireworks Waterfall."
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
As is the case each year, Brazil's biggest New Year festivities took place at Rio de Janeiro's beautiful Copacabana Beach. Over 3 million people, many dressed in white to signify their desire for peace, gathered on the sandy white beaches to watch the almost 34,000 pounds of colorful fireworks, which lit up the skies for an impressive 14 minutes! Some revelers extended the celebrations into the early hours of January 1, 2020, when they took a sunrise dip in the ocean to wash away all the troubles from 2019.
The Victoria Embankment and South Bank areas of the River Thames, were filled to capacity with 100,000 people eager to usher in 2020 with what London's mayor promised would be "the best display the capital had ever seen." They were not disappointed. The exciting show, which began against the backdrop of 12 powerful chimes from the iconic Big Ben, featured stunning fireworks set off from the London Eye and barges moored in a central location along the Thames.
The International Space Station (ISS)
The Expedition 60 crewmembers — NASA's Andrew Morgan, Christina Koch, and Jessica Meir, European Space Agency's Luca Parmitano, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Skvortsov — did not experience any fireworks on the space station. However, since the ISS circles the planet every hour and a half, they did witness 16 spectacular sunrises and sunsets on New Year's Eve. The explorers also welcomed 2020 — which marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first component of the floating Space Station — much earlier than the flight controllers at NASA's Mission Control center in Houston.
"The space station operates on Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT, meaning it will only be 7 pm ET when the orbiting astronauts' clock strikes midnight to ring in the new year," NASA officials explained in a Twitter statement.
How did you ring in the new year and the new decade? Be sure to let us know by writing your comments below.
Resources: Space.com, dailymail.co.uk, thenationalae,khaleejtimes.com, CNN.com