From wild street parties to black-tie galas and family-friendly events, the Los Angeles area has a New Year's Eve celebration to suit every taste and any budget. Come December 31, this always-lively city will be filled with over-the-top soirées and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, festivities that are totally free. So, where will you ring in 2021?
If you're looking for a classic club night, this one typically tops the list. The iconic Hollywood establishment has gone by at least a half-dozen names, but its reputation for hosting some of the most epic parties in town has stayed the same throughout. Avalon touts that it is the only club in Hollywood that stays open until 8 a.m. and offers multiple V.I.P. areas for an elevated experience. Tickets start at $60.
Jazzy flappers and modern-day Gatsbys will adore this '20s-inspired New Year's Eve party at Union Station, a historic landmark in itself. The annual party, aptly dubbed Prohibition, transforms the train station's main concourse and its surrounding patio gardens into a nostalgic celebration. Don your best fringe and feathers for this Art Deco extravaganza with world-renowned DJs, live jazz, an all-inclusive premium bar, burlesque dancers, and a custom 60-foot ball drop at midnight. Tickets cost $185.
Head to laidback, flip flop-friendly Hermosa Beach for a free outdoor dance party with Lou Giovannetti and his musicians playing big band standards and a double countdown for both the East Coast and West Coast New Year. Visitors are encouraged to come early for dinner at local restaurants along the pier.
If you're looking for something more kid-friendly or alcohol-free, Grand Park in Downtown LA hosts a totally sober New Year's Eve party every year in conjunction with The Music Center. You can expect live music, food vendors, and 3D projections on City Hall, all for free. To avoid getting stuck in traffic, consider taking the metro, which runs 24 hours and is free from 9 p.m. to 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
The beauty of Los Angeles is being able to ring in the new year in a swanky cocktail bar in Hollywood or barefoot with a toe in the Pacific. Marina del Rey puts on a spectacular fireworks display and kid-friendly programming at Burton Chace Park, including face painting, a Glow Party, food trucks, and more.
An annual staple for nearly 50 years now, this New Year's Eve ball must be doing something right to keep revelers coming back year after year. This black-tie gala is held on Southern California's ultra-luxe resort island, Catalina, which lies an hour's ferry ride off the coast. The party takes place in the ballroom of Avalon's Art Deco casino. There will be a full band, gourmet buffet dining, champagne, party favors, and a balloon drop at midnight. Tickets cost $189 per person.
Ring in the new year at sea (sort of) aboard the historic Queen Mary. This 1936 ocean liner—which doubles as a hotel—is permanently moored at Long Beach. At midnight, everybody heads to the deck to watch a fireworks display over the ocean. The wise few who booked rooms will be able to stay aboard the ship all night. Tickets start at $100.
Folks who will be counting down to midnight with kids or teens in tow will find a refuge from the heavy partying at Knott's Berry Farm's family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration. On December 31, the theme park will stay open until 1 a.m., celebrating the stroke of midnight with fireworks and music in Calico Square. The full lineup of Knott's Merry Farm activities will also be open, too, so you can go early and get the full park experience. Tickets start at $48.
The Lemon Drop Club—a group of partygoers that hosts shindigs at various venues every Saturday—is geared toward the over-40 crowd. This year's New Year's Eve celebration will include live music (likely with a '70s, '80s, or '90s leaning) and a buffet dinner at Hilton Irvine. If the free champagne toast doesn't do it for you, pay the $10 corkage fee and bring your own bottle of wine instead. Tickets start at $110 but an extra $55 will get you access to the open bar.
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure typically close at midnight, but they stay open late on this special evening, allowing visitors to ring in the new year with Mickey Mouse and friends. The park will put on a special midnight fireworks show in addition to its usual 9 p.m. Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, and exclusive entertainment and dancing performances to celebrate the holiday. Disney California Adventure will close at 1 a.m. and Disneyland at 2 a.m. Tickets start at $97.
New Year's Eve Pub Crawls
Why limit your New Year's Eve shenanigans to just one venue when a few popular pub crawls around town offer so much more? The ones held in Hollywood and Santa Monica are equally adored and perfect for tourists who are eager to make friends. The group bar hop allows you to sample a slew of local watering holes, each offering drink discounts to keep you from spending a fortune.