AP PHOTOS: In a flash, 2021 gives way to 2022

December 31, 2021 GMT
Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
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Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
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Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

With flashy fireworks displays and subdued celebrations, with some in masks to protect against the coronavirus and others in light-up glasses, the world slipped from 2021 into 2022. As the fast-spreading omicron variant’s stranglehold grows tighter, many are clinging to hopes that the New Year will bring better days.

Partyers in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, descended on luxury hotels outside Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, during a fireworks and laser light show.

“If you don’t celebrate, life will pass you by,” said Lujain Orfi, a 26-year-old tourist from the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Large crowds gathered in the Serbian capital of Belgrade for outdoor concerts, fireworks and a light show where, unlike elsewhere in Europe, mass gatherings were allowed.

In Japan, masked revelers packed temples and shrines, dined and drank in downtown Tokyo and jam-packed shopping areas.

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“I hope the holidays will be blessed for us all,” said Naoki Matsuzawa, a writer who lives in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo. He plans to spend the next few days volunteering to cook and deliver New Year’s food to the elderly.

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