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Look back at 2023

2023 2024

2023 has ended, and 2024 beckons. Whilst you may be busy creating new resolutions for the year to come, let’s look back at 2023 by rounding up some of the prominent moments of the year.

Local Top Moments

The Sycamore Gap Felling

The iconic tree was sadly felled in September 2023, and we still don’t know why. The tree was a signature of Northumberland, with locals and tourists alike enjoying the tree. The nature of the cut and the evident sharpness of the saw led police and park rangers to conclude it had been done by someone with considerable skill. But the tree will live long in our memories and hearts and has been commemorated in artwork, poems and more.  

Go Northeast Strike

After seven weeks on strike, buses from Go Northeast resumed after both the union and the workers accepted a pay rise of 11.2 per cent. This strike saw devastating effects across the region, with some areas being entirely cut off from public transport and having to fork out money for taxis to get to work. It is estimated that the strike cost the region an estimated £10m.

Spectacular sights of the Northern Lights and Rainbow Clouds

People in the region have had the fortune of seeing some wonderful sights in the skies this year. There have been several Northern Lights sightings, with the sky lit up in wonderful greens and purples. More recently, in December, locals got the chance to see rare rainbow clouds. Otherwise known as nacreous clouds, the formation takes specific conditions, including air at approximately -80c with minuscule ice crystals reflecting the sunlight.

Culture Moments 

Culture and the celebrity world had a wild year. Turbulent moments include a BBC presenter accidentally flipping the bird to the audience, a host of celebrity divorce announcements and musician Sir Karl Jenkins having to confess that he was not Megan Markle in disguise. Let’s get into three more moments – which are a bit more serious.

Historic Strikes for the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA)

SAG-AFTRA and WGA went on strike, the former for 118 days and the latter for 148, before reaching new deals with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. It highlighted the need for in-person teams instead of relying on AI (more on which will come later in this article), and both actors and writers teamed up on the picket line to receive better conditions.

Finally, actors and writers were able to get back to work, but the effects of this strike will be felt in 2024, with many releases receiving delays.

Historic conflicts – the Israel-Hamas war.

The 2023 Israel–Hamas war began on 7 October 2023. As of 26 December 2023, the death toll neared 21,000 in Gaza, 241 people were killed in the past 24 hours, and 382 were injured according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

There was a focus on the history of this conflict, and no matter what side you favour, the fact remains that many are dying either directly through airstrikes and terror or through the effects of war, such as starvation. 

Although these facts are dire and may be triggering to some, it is important to highlight that we need a ceasefire and an end to this war.


In July 2023, Barbenheimer transformed from a silly meme to a box office juggernaut. Movies that are opposites released on the same day have occurred for years, but this time Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer took the world by storm.

Barbie was full of delightful moments, including the defining performance by Ryan Gosling in his rendition of I’m Just Ken and America Ferrera’s monologue, and the film broke the first-weekend record for a film directed by a woman. Whilst some hated it, this movie captured the hearts of children and adults alike.

Oppenheimer, however, was its opposite in terms of theme. With an equally star-studded cast, it reflected on man’s hubris and the bleak realisation that humans are their own worst enemies. Oppenheimer’s success at the box office surpassed all expectations, grossing nearly a billion and becoming one of 2023’s most successful movies.

All in all, the unlikely duo’s combined powers culminated in one of the biggest box office weekends in history.

Top Marketing Moments

Twitter Turns into X

Twitter was rebranded into X by Elon Musk in July 2023. Since then, Twitter’s success has been debatable, with many deciding to no longer post on the platform. Elon Musk’s takeover meant several changes to the social media platform, including subscription services, losing the iconic blue bird of a logo and more.

The Power and Dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

ChatGPT was popular before 2023, with AI making it easier to write just about anything. But since then, AI has only gotten better – and more unnerving. Now, most image editing software has built-in AI. For example, Adobe Photoshop has AI generative fill, with basic images being able to be transformed with just a few clicks.

And whilst it’s fun to play around with photos, turning everyday images into fantasy lands, it brings into question the validity of images, and creating deep fakes (the manipulation of facial appearance through deep generative methods) is easier than ever before. The dangers of using people’s work and likeness without their consent are ever present, and questions of whether we should rely on AI are more prominent.

Those are just some of the highlights of 2023. 

2023, it has been a blast. What will 2024 bring? If this year’s taught us anything, it’s that there’s no point in making predictions.

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