KAMPALA – Kampala City and surrounding areas were filled with excitement as revellers ushered in the New Year 2023.
Hundreds of revellers flocked to different places that had been cleared by the police to display fireworks. The fireworks were displayed at worship venues, gardens, hotels and entertainment places.
This was the first time in two years to display fireworks following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions by the Government in 2022.
According to Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga, 1,597 places in the country were cleared to display fireworks.
Prolonged cheers and ululations engulfed Lubiri grounds where Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II graced the biggest Enkuka end-of-year party. Several Buganda Kingdom subjects from as far as Masaka and surrounding metropolitan areas of Entebbe, Wakiso and Mukono District thronged the grounds.
“I feel my happiness restored after two years of sadness caused by Covid-19,” Fiona Nangozi, a reveller at the new year crossover bash at Sheraton Hotel said.
Sylvia Namusoke, another resident who attended her new year crossover party at Watoto Church in Ntinda observed that it was a sigh of relief and joy to witness the fireworks as opposed to the old fashion of burning tyres on the streets.
Haruna Habib, a reveller who attended fireworks at the Freedom City expressed gratitude that new year’s eve was well spent following the two past years when the government imposed restrictions following the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic.
Security personnel comprising of UPDF, Police, and private security were heavily deployed along the roads and in the outskirts to man the surging crowds at night.
Several entertainment places also kept playing loud music while churches were also filled for overnight prayers.
Records by the police indicated an increase in the number of venues that displayed fireworks in 2020 from 500 to 1,430 venues, the majority of which are in Kampala.
At the time of this report, there were no major incidents reported by the police.
The world’s eight billion people began ushering in 2023 and bidding farewell to a turbulent 12 months marked by war in Europe, stinging price rises, Lionel Messi’s World Cup glory and the deaths of Queen Elizabeth, Pele and former pope Benedict.
Party atmosphere swept across major cities of the world the clock ticked past midnight, ushering in 2023.
Fireworks, concerts, spiritual ceremonies and political addresses were held across the globe as revellers marked the transition to 2023.
Australia were the first to celebrate, marking their maiden restriction-free New Year’s Eve after two years of Covid-19 disruptions, as the world began bidding farewell to a year marked for many by the war in Ukraine, economic stresses and the effects of global warming.
Revellers celebrated across Asia from China to the Philippines to Thailand.
Sydney, one of the world’s first major cities to welcome in the New Year, did so with a typically dazzling fireworks display, which for the first time featured a rainbow waterfall off the famous Harbour Bridge.
“This New Year’s Eve, we are saying Sydney is back as we kick off festivities around the world and bring in the New Year with a bang,” said Clover Moore, lord mayor of the city, ahead of the events.
Lockdowns at the end of 2020 and a surge in Omicron cases at the end of 2021 led to crowd restrictions and reduced festivities in Australia. However, curbs on celebrations were lifted this year after Australia, like many countries around the world, re-opened its borders and removed social distancing restrictions.
The display in Sydney featured thousands of fireworks launched from the four sails of the Sydney Opera House and from the Harbour Bridge.
In the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began three years ago, tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate amid a heavy security presence.
Barricades were erected and hundreds of police officers and other security workers stood guard on the night of the first large-scale spontaneous gathering in the city since nationwide protests in late November – soon after which Chinese authorities all but abandoned the zero-Covid-19 policy.
In Shanghai, many thronged the historic riverside walkway, the Bund.
“We’ve all travelled in from Chengdu to celebrate in Shanghai,” said Da Dai, a 28-year-old digital media executive who was travelling with two friends. “We’ve already had Covid, so now feel it’s safe to enjoy ourselves.”
It was the city’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in several years. The event was cancelled in 2019 due to often violent social unrest and was scaled down in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
Malaysia’s government cancelled its New Year countdown and fireworks event at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur after flooding across the nation displaced tens of thousands of people and a landslide killed 31 people this month.
Celebrations at the country’s famous Petronas Twin Towers were pared down with no performances or fireworks.
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin devoted his annual New Year’s address to rallying the Russian people behind his troops fighting in Ukraine.
Heavy rain and strong winds on Saturday meant firework shows in the Netherlands’s main cities including Amsterdam and The Hague – and the nationally televised display in the port city of Rotterdam – were cancelled.
The UAE and Oman have just had midnight and entered 2023. Afghanistan did the same half an hour ago. There is more than a little bit of competition among the emirates in the UAE over new year’s displays. In Dubai, there is a huge display which centres around the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, where people have been waiting.