Hollywood lights twinkle in tandem with Christmas tree strands on New Year’s Eve, as January’s resolutions and post-holiday quiet loom. But until the clock strikes 12 on the final day, there’s still delight to be had.
If you’re looking for things to do in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve, the city has its own special charm. The wintry desert, blustery streets, and chilly beaches still hold memories to uncover before the countdown ends and the thrill of the impending calendar shift wears off.
Friendly gatherings and private reflection no doubt have their place. But turn this year’s after-holiday sprint into a celebration of its own. Here’s where to spend your time in Los Angeles this New Year’s.
New Year’s Eve is fun, but the buzz wears off as soon as the ball drops. Extend the dance party with holiday events that will carry you from Christmas to January.
1. L.A. Zoo Lights
The L.A. Zoo comes to life after dark, aglow with thousands of sparkling lights. A sight to behold, the L.A. Zoo Lights transform the park into a stunning blend of natural and electric wonders.
Here, massive stags and giant tigers lounge in the wintry darkness. Visitors journey through celestial tunnels of light, gleaming in vibrant shades of blue, red, and green. Herds of glowing zebras and disco-ball-strung trees are spectacular sights in this otherworldly wonderland.
Snug in cozy coats and hats and nursing sweet hot chocolate, it’s near impossible not to feel festive while you’re here.
2. Holiday Ice Skating
Put on your ugly sweater, and lace up your skates because it’s time to hit the ice. There’s nothing like zooming across a frigid rink, wind whipping past your face. As noses redden from the chill, light-wrapped trees set the tone for a splendid season.
Ice rinks abound, even in the L.A. heat. The Pershing Square Holiday Ice Rink pops up in the heart of Los Angeles every year, allowing skaters to glide along beneath the famous skyline. The LA Kings Holiday Rink makes outdoor excursions cozy. Here, you’ll twirl around a giant star-topped Christmas tree.
3. Christmas Markets
Christmas shopping hits differently when you’re strolling through stalls of artisan goods, surrounded by fresh air with a hot coffee in hand. Luckily, Los Angeles crafters don’t take the holiday season lightly. Christmas bazaars take root here all winter — perfect for weekend outings.
Makeshift Muse is a market that brings an entire community of creatives together. Makers gather here to spread their imaginative creations with the greater Los Angeles area. Handmade jewelry, art prints, and artisan olive oil make extra special gifts for a loved one or yourself.
The Craft Contemporary marketplace is another platform for local designers. Peruse the selection here for unique finds you won’t see anywhere else.
4. Visits With Santa
Counsel with the big man himself is a tradition for every child. Whispering a Christmas wish into Santa’s ear enchants little ones, creating fond memories of the season in years to come. To secure this experience, you’ll need to track down the holiday icon.
Santa’s workshop pops up at The Grove every year. There, he sits on a golden throne flanked by twinkling trees. Santa Monica Place also hosts visits inside a winter wonderland. Furry friends are also welcome for a commemorative photo that tugs on the heartstrings from all angles. Turn Santa hangouts into shopping excursions to make some of those wishes come true.
5. Holiday Concerts
Classic Christmas tunes provide the soundtrack for the season. Campy choruses and head-spinning high notes put even reluctant listeners into the holiday spirit. The euphoric sound of a soulful carol is heightened when you hear it live, making Christmas concerts one of the best activities for LA NYE.
Experience seasonal shows, from Halloween events in Los Angeles to Christmas classics with the LA Phil. Here, trumpets honk out swinging takes on soft carols while sing-along symphonies invite audience engagement. Home Alone in Concert brings the movie to life with a live orchestra. Like your holiday hits with a lively pop bounce? Try the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball.
Here, the day’s biggest pop stars serve up festive melodies with their signature flair. For a harken of reinvented classics, 'Twas The Night Before offers the perfect preface to the New Year.
Dare to Be Dazzled!
Adventure awaits in Los Angeles with high-energy Cirque du Soleil shows. Dive into a world of acrobatics and wonder.
New Year’s Celebrations
Quiet, tasteful New Year’s parties somehow don’t feel festive enough. These celebrations bring the energy you need to greet the new you with flair.
6. Grand Park + The Music Center’s N.Y.E.L.A.
When it comes to New Year’s Eve events, Los Angeles knows how it’s done. Extravagance and pomp are the attitudes that welcome January — especially at N.Y.E.L.A. The West Coast’s largest NYE party, N.Y.E.L.A. draws giant crowds, rain or shine.Grand Park’s 12-acre space is awash in laser beams during the soiree’s signature light show, bathing the peak of City Hall in strobing rainbows.
Revelers dance the night away at the whims of local bands. DJs spin classic club tracks for partiers of all ages to get down to. Here, appetites are a must. Dozens of food trucks line the lawn for easy access to warm morsels. No matter what you're craving, from tacos to chocolate chip cookies, you’ll find it here.
7. Prohibition NYE at Union Station
A Los Angeles New Year’s isn’t complete without an homage to the city’s golden age. Travel to the 1920s at Prohibition NYE. Hosted in the hallowed halls of Union Station, this annual fete beckons partygoers into a world of intrigue, luxury, and booze.
Flappers grace the dance floor in exquisitely apt attire. Jazz ensembles get the crowd moving as an open bar serves up champagne for toasts and holiday spirits. At the night’s end is a ball-drop ceremony unlike any other.
This massive, 60-foot globe is a fitting symbol of the glitz of the Roaring '20s and a unique piece of Los Angeles architecture. Clad in prohibition-era accessories and swaying to a swinging tune, the new year has never looked rosier.
8. Marina del Rey New Year’s Eve Fireworks & Glow Party
The booming burst of fireworks is a must for any momentous celebration. Ring in the new year at Marina del Rey for a dazzling display of fire in the sky. Each explosion bathes the harbor in light and color, visible from Fisherman’s Village and nearby Burton Chace Park. Surrounding restaurants offer tasty meals beneath the spectacle.
The park also hosts the neon-draped family-friendly Glow Party. This family-friendly affair is the place to boogie down as the calendar starts fresh. House DJs keep the dance floor bumping for attendees dressed up with face paint, and bustling food trucks serve up no-frills fare that delivers on flavor.
9. The Queen Mary’s New Year’s Eve
Where better to spend NYE Los Angeles than on the water? Every year, the historic Queen Mary hosts a marvelous New Year’s bash. All dolled up in festive lights, the ship transforms into a strobing hub of music and confetti.
Every deck gets in on the fun. In-house bars serve up holiday drink specials and bite-size treats. A series of dance floors blare music of every genre, from Latin pop to EDM. A live jazz trio keeps crowds tapping their feet as they test their luck at the casino tables. Backdropped by panoramic harbor views, this soiree is steeped in the history of the beloved cruise liner.
New Year’s Eve Dining at Top Restaurants
Year-end celebrations call for a mouthwatering feast. These restaurants bring the flavor, no matter the size of your budget.
10. Michelin Star Mojo
The Los Angeles restaurant scene reflects a city with inherent diversity. A worldly blend of culinary backgrounds means this foodscape has heat. Michelin critics regularly award praise on LA fare, and there’s no tastier place to spend a New Year’s dinner.
The ocean’s proximity makes this city one of the best for seafood. Sushi Ginza Onodera serves up fish in its simplest, most delectable form. A 20-course omakase feast screams celebration with ingredients plucked from the earth hours before.
For Michelin-starred takes on classic favorites, head to Citrin. Juicy roast chicken crusted with breadcrumbs, fresh oysters topped with cucumber, and the local favorite: lobster bolognese crowned with truffle foam. This is comfort food on another level.
11. Dinner With a View
Los Angeles is brimming with visual delights. Whether you’re facing the city skyline, the Hollywood sign, or the sand-rimmed Pacific, few cities boast as many breathtaking sights. Feast your eyes and taste buds at view-blessed restaurants.
Put on the Ritz at Geoffrey’s, a Malibu eatery with oceanside panoramas. Geoffrey’s menu is seafood-forward. Sample rich crab cakes, paella, and crispy-skin salmon. Reserve a spot at sunset for an evening draped in romance.
Sant’olina is a chic rooftop lounge with a gorgeous view — if you can take your eyes off the food long enough. Vibrant Mediterranean fare is on the menu here, with minty lamb chops, saucy kebabs, and cheese-stuffed puff pastry just waiting to be devoured.
12. Festive Menus
End-of-year food is worth anticipating all year long. Warm spices and delicate textures are a comfort in the cool weather. If you're craving festive flair without the personal effort, one of these eateries is sure to fit the bill.
Celebrate the season at Ardor, beloved for its inventive use of vegetables. The holiday menu features rich cuts of meat cooked to perfection. But the real stars here are the desserts. Basque cheesecake and passion fruit apple pie are December treasures.
For Italian cuisine done right, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is the place to go. A traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes-themed tasting menu serves up rounds of handcrafted pasta, all paired with a chef-selected wine.
13. Beach Bonfires
For a quintessentially Southern California NYE experience, hit the beach at dinnertime. As a bonfire blazes against the setting sun, you and your loved ones will enjoy a tranquil moment to reflect on the coming new year.
Stake your firepit on Dockweiler Beach. This long, sandy expanse also boasts walking trails and volleyball nets. Bring your fixings here for a cookout, complete with marshmallows to toast over the flames. The picturesque Cabrillo Beach is also a solid bonfire spot. Before the sun sets, pop into the nearby aquarium for a soothing glimpse at friendly fish.
Ring in the New Year with a Life-Changing LA Experience
Music, fireworks, and special meals all pay tribute to the beauty of change. After all, entering another year of life is something to celebrate. Why not mark the occasion with a few memorable experiences?For more wondrous ways to wow yourself this New Year’s, draw inspiration from the minds that run our circus. Our extraordinary shows in Los Angeles are seamlessly packaged with whimsy and thrills. From the moment the theater lights go down, you’re in for a wild ride of high-flying adventure, touching stories, and breathtaking visual spectacles.
Set against emotionally electric musical scores, these shows are full-sensory masterpieces that will leave an impression on visitors of every stripe.