New Year’s 2017 celebrations
As 2016 draws to a close, revelers around the world are bidding a weary adieu to a year filled with political surprises, prolonged conflicts and deaths of legendary celebrities.
How people are ushering in the new year:
Sydney sent up a dazzling tribute to 2016’s fallen icons with a New Year’s Eve fireworks display honoring the late singer David Bowie and late actor Gene Wilder, becoming the first major city to bid a bittersweet adieu to a turbulent year.
The glittering display over Sydney’s harbor and bridge featured Saturn- and star-shaped fireworks set to "Space Oddity," the classic song by Bowie, among the seemingly endless parade of beloved entertainers who died in 2016.
Wilder was honored as the bridge lit up in a rainbow of colors while a song from his film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" played.
More than 300,000 visitors were expected to descend on Las Vegas for an extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration.
Nightclubs were pulling out all the stops with performances from DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars. The city’s celebrity chefs crafted elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne toasts.
A brief fireworks show was kicking off at midnight, with rockets launching from the tops of half a dozen casinos.
Federal officials have ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square.
In Berlin, the mood was more somber than celebratory.
"I don’t like the way politics is going," Daniel Brandt said. "Fears are being fanned, and people are so angry with each other."
The tone of public debate in Germany has become shriller over the last two years with the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants.
Walking by the Reichstag, Germany’s Parliament building, Hamed Noori said 2016 had been a good year.
"I came to Germany from Afghanistan," he said. "Life is better here."
Nicole Durand-Nusser, originally from France but living in Berlin for almost 50 years, said 2016 had been a difficult year: "Brexit, Trump, Erdogan — it’s all getting worse."
"I’m a convinced European, and I hope Europe doesn’t collapse in 2017," she said.
Later, police said they arrested a man who shouted "bomb, bomb, bomb" at Berlin’s massive open-air New Year’s party.
New Year’s celebrations turned violent in Istanbul when at least one armed assailant believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at a nightclub.
At least 35 people were killed and dozens of others injured in the attack, according to Istanbul’s governor, Vasip Sahin.
Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus or street vendors.
Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted by several attacks in 2016 carried out by the Islamic State group or Kurdish rebels, killing more than 180 people.
Neslihan Dogruol, a restaurant owner in a chic Istanbul neighborhood, said she hopes for peace in 2017 following a year filled with "unrest and death."
"2016 affected everyone badly," she said.
Tourists and French revelers swarmed along Paris’ illuminated Champs Elysees Avenue on a frosty night, admiring the laser display from the Arc de Triomphe and lines of trees sparkling with lights.
"It’s so magical to be here in Paris, on what people say is the world’s most beautiful avenue," said Maureen O’Reilly, a visitor from Belfast, Northern Ireland. "At times like this, I do think about all those terrible things in Aleppo and how lucky we are here in Europe despite everything."
Some people were happy to say goodbye to 2016.
"It’s been such a horrible year, with all these (entertainment celebrity) deaths, Syria, Brexit and Trump. I say: good riddance," said Karine Dublot, from Lyon.
President Vladimir Putin invoked a bit of seasonal enchantment in his New Year’s Eve remarks to the nation.
"Each of us may become something of a magician on the night of the New Year," Putin said in a short televised address broadcast in the closing minutes of 2016 in each of Russia’s 11 time zones. "To do this we simply need to treat our parents with love and gratitude, take care of our children and families, respect our colleagues at work, nurture our friendships, defend truth and justice, be merciful and help those who are in need of support. This is the whole secret."
New Year’s Eve is Russia’s major gift-giving holiday, and big Russian cities were awash in festive lights and decorations. The Moscow subway offered a special holiday train, festooned with lights and artificial greenery.
Pope Francis has called on the faithful to help young people find a place in society, noting the paradox of "a culture that idolizes youth" but has made no place for the young.
Francis said during vespers marking New Year’s Eve that young people have been "pushed to the margins of public life, forcing them to migrate or to beg for jobs that no longer exist, or fail to promise them a future."
Temple bells echoed at midnight as families gathered around noodles and revelers flocked to shrines for the biggest holiday in Japan.
Kami Miyamoto, an economics student at Meiji University in Tokyo, traveled home in Hakusan, Ishikawa prefecture, for the holiday.
"The world is heading toward conservative, insular policies," she said of the U.S. election, Brexit and what she believes lies ahead for elections in Europe in 2017. "We learned about how valuable it is to get correct information."