Hopeful Images From 2021

This has been another difficult year, and moments of joy could be hard to find. Efforts to reopen festivals, businesses, and borders came haltingly during the ongoing pandemic, with some success and some disappointment. Yet there were still moments of happiness, fun, and love. I have made it an annual tradition, after rounding up the often painful “news photos of the year,” to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past 12 months—an effort to seek out and recognize some of the abundant joy and kindness present in the world around us, even during hard times. The following are images from the past year of personal victories, families and friends at play, expressions of love and compassion, volunteers at work, or simply small and pleasant moments.

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  • Dan Bartlett / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Salmon Blessing, Masquerade Games, Polar Night

    A figure-skating championship in Finland, a rugby tournament in Afghanistan, the Magh Mela festival in India, a soldier’s funeral in Ukraine, an ice storm in Texas, and much more

  • Andy Buchanan / AFP / Getty

    The Up Helly Aa Viking Fire Festival

    Images of the annual fire festival held in the Shetland Islands from the past 20 years.

  • Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty

    The Snow Monkeys of Nagano

    Images of Japanese macaques relaxing and staying warm in the waters of a mountain hot spring

  • Peter White / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Firefly Forest, Husky Club, Turnip Toss

    Frustration at the Australian Open, a light show in London, Republic Day parade rehearsals in India, snow cover in Yosemite Valley, anti-government protests in Peru, and much more