We won’t beat around the bush: There were plenty of difficult and heavy world events that took center stage in 2023. But there was also a lot of good, and there’s a lot of good to come in 2024. 

Nice News is here to report on it, hopefully making Jane Goodall and Douglas Carlton Abrams, the authors of Book of Hope, proud. “The media devotes so much space to covering all of the bad, hateful things that are going on and not enough to reporting about all the goodness and kindness that’s out there,” the duo wrote in 2021. 

In that vein, we’ve curated a number of events to look forward to in the year ahead, from escapist delights coming to the movie theaters and the much-anticipated entrance of Mickey Mouse into the public domain, to key advances in the betterment of the environment and much more. Keep reading to kick your new year off on a positive note. 

We get an extra day

That’s right — 2024 will include a bonus day, namely, Feb. 29. Leap years take place every four years, serving the function of keeping our calendar aligned with the astronomical seasons. A simple summary: The Gregorian calendar includes 365 days, but a year of Earth’s orbit around the sun takes approximately 365.25 days, so leap years effectively even out that difference. The Farmer’s Almanac provides a more in-depth explanation here.

NASA will get humans a step closer to the moon

NASA illustration of the SLS for the Artemis moon mission

The uncrewed Artemis I mission was successfully completed in 2022, and in 2024, NASA’s goal to put humans back on the moon is moving another step forward. Per the space agency, the highly anticipated, crewed Artemis II mission will take off in November and fly around the moon. Artemis II is expected to confirm that the spacecraft’s systems operate as intended in deep space with a crew aboard. Its completion will pave the way for Artemis III in 2025, when humans will step foot on the moon for the first time in over 50 years.

Mickey Mouse enters the public domain (sort of)

A creation enters the public domain after its copyright protection has expired, and U.S. laws grant protection for 95 years. The earliest iteration of Mickey Mouse was first introduced to the world in the 1928 landmark animated short Steamboat Willie, so the iconic character enters the public domain in 2024 — a long-awaited milestone. 

Legally, this means that anyone can, in theory, copy and reproduce the 1928 version of Mickey Mouse without permission. But it’s by no means carte blanche, particularly given the voraciousness with which Disney is known to protect its intellectual property. It’s also important to note that any later iterations of the beloved cartoon are still protected by copyright — learn more in this article from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Some highly anticipated movies will hit the big screen

There’s nothing wrong with escaping into the confines of a movie theater for a few hours to temporarily forget your troubles, and those of the world at large. Fortunately, 2024 is looking like a banner year for new movies. There’s a veritable banquet of sequels (and prequels, and “new chapters”) being served from beloved franchises, including Beetlejuice,  Kung Fu PandaDuneGhostbustersGodzillaInside OutDespicable MeDeadpoolA Quiet PlaceSpider-Man, and Mad Max

For a more comprehensive list of 2024’s biggest theatrical releases, click here.

RELATED: Feel-Good TV Favorites: 12 Streaming Shows That’ll Brighten Your Day

… And TV shows will hit the small screen

With 2023’s actors and writers strike, it was a relatively quiet year when it came to new TV, but 2024 is looking promising. The latest True Detective installment starring Jodie Foster, BridgertonStranger ThingsWednesdaySquid GameYou, and a companion series to Band of Brothers are all delivering new chapters this year. Plus, new shows from the likes of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (the Game of Thrones co-creators) and potentially even Martin Scorsese promise lots of upcoming quality couch time for TV fans. Get the full scoop.

This Pacific coast marine refuge will likely earn federal protection

A key stretch of the Pacific Coast — roughly six times the size of Yosemite National Park, and what was once the territory of the Indigenous Chumash people — is well positioned to become a federally protected area in 2024. As Nice News previously reported, Chumash tribal chair Violet Sage Walker is among those leading the effort to have 156 miles of coastline designated as a national marine sanctuary. 

The area is currently in the midst of being evaluated through a multi-step designation process, the success of which would prevent new offshore drilling and bolster further marine research and education. The nomination process will conclude in 2024, and supporters believe the area has a strong chance of winning official sanctuary designation.

We’ll be treated to a total solar eclipse

Xinhua News Agency/Zhao Hanrong via Getty Images

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse (meaning the moon completely blocking the face of the sun) will pass over and darken the skies of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. Should you wish to catch a glimpse, don’t forget safety precautions: namely, the use of eye protection like specially designed eclipse glasses, a handheld solar viewer, or a telescope filter. Once you have the safety measures handled, it’s sure to be a spectacle.

An international agreement to end plastic pollution will come to fruition 

historic resolution launched by the United Nations Environment Assembly to end plastic pollution is scheduled to be finalized and formalized in 2024. Work began on the agreement in 2022, with the intent to complete a global, legally binding agreement by the end of this year. The agreement addresses the environmental implications within the full lifecycle of plastics, including production, design, and disposal.  

“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the U.N. Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” the assembly’s president, Espen Barth Eide, said in a statement when the resolution was reached in March 2022. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.” 

RELATED: New UN Report Says the World Can Cut 80% of Plastic Pollution by 2040 — Here’s How

The 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics will take over Paris

Paris 2024/Ph.Guignard/Air-Images.net

The 2024 Summer Games will take place from July 26 to Aug. 11, promising much excitement as more than 10,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians compete for gold medal glory in Paris. The iconic City of Lights hasn’t hosted the competition since 1924, and in anticipation of the momentous occasion, has been undergoing a series of renovations and rehabilitations, including a $1 billion cleanup and overhaul of the famous Seine river

Among the exciting events to look forward to: It will be the first time break dancing is included as an Olympic sport!

The Stonewall National Monument will get a history-making visitor’s center 

The Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 uprising that marked a pivotal point in the fight for gay rights, was designated as a national monument in June of 2016. And this year, which is the 55th anniversary of the uprising, the monument will also become the site of the first LGBTQ+ visitor center. The new visitor center will serve as a base for park rangers, and will include exhibitions and tours. 

Ann Marie Gothard, president of the Pride Live Board of Directors, previously told ABC that it “could help to really bring people of differing minds together to learn about the LGBTQ history, as well as culture.” The center will open in June of 2024, during Pride month.

Notre Dame reopens to the public

In 2019, a fire broke out in the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, destroying a significant portion of the centuries-old church, including its distinctive spire. Fortunately, its reconstruction has been underway ever since, and progress is on pace for a much-anticipated reopening on Dec. 8, 2024.

Though the deadline is important, retired French army Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, who is leading the project, has been clear that his team is committed to restoring Notre Dame the right way — meaning using the same methods as the original carpenters in the 1200s. “We want to restore this cathedral as it was built in the Middle Ages,” he previously told the Associated Press. “It is a way to be faithful to the [handiwork] of all the people who built all the extraordinary monuments in France.”