Top 25 News Photos of 2021

As we approach the end of the year, here is a look back at some of the major news events and moments of 2021. The breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 set the stage for a contentious year in the United States, and COVID-19 variants and regional surges slowed worldwide efforts to return to pre-pandemic life. The delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were finally held, even though stadium seating was empty. The United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of war, leading to a chaotic evacuation and one of the largest airlifts in history. And natural disasters took the world stage once more, as record-setting wildfires and floods affected millions. Here, we present the top 25 news photos of 2021. Be sure to check back throughout the week for more comprehensive stories, presented as “2021: The Year in Photos, Parts 1-3.”

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  • NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

    The Dust Devils of Mars

    Beautiful images from another world, of a delicate, ephemeral phenomenon

  • Leon Neal / Getty

    Scenes From Glastonbury 2022

    Images from this year’s Glastonbury Festival—back after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus

  • Peter Zay / Anadolu Agency / Getty

    Photos: Protests Against the Overturning of Roe

    Images of protest from Houston, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Raleigh, St. Louis, Portland, New York, Nashville, and many other locations

  • Cesar Manso / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Stonehenge Solstice, Boxing Record, Torch Battle

    Seahorse collection in Brazil, a heat wave in Texas, bison-watching in Yellowstone National Park, a swimming competition in Budapest, an earthquake in Afghanistan, and much more