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A list of fun things to do on New Year’s Eve in L.A.

Grand Park's fountain glows with a gleaming City Hall in the background.
Past New Year’s Eve celebrations at downtown’s Grand Park have been crowded affairs. This year, the party, or intentional transition, is coming to you.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” in a crowded living room. Clinking champagne flutes. A shouted countdown, a packed dance party, a kiss at midnight.

No, that will not be how 2020 ends and 2021 begins.

Crowded anything is out of the question as Southern California reels from its worst stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic yet. But with thousands of people being vaccinated now and more to come throughout 2021, this may be a unique year of New Year’s Eve parties and traditions moving online or taking on new forms.

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You won’t be gathering at Grand Park to dance the night away and watch the countdown projected onto City Hall. But Grand Park will come to you with a virtual event broadcast on Fuse and online.

Julia Diamond, the director of downtown L.A.’s Grand Park, said the decision to take this year’s event online was a safety imperative. About 65,000 people attended last year, and there was no way to responsibly host an in-person party, she said.

But the park run in conjunction with the Music Center wanted to preserve and broaden the audience for a tradition that has been growing since 2013.

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L.A. artists and voices will be front and center, Diamond said, with music from Steve Aoki, Bia, Aquihayaquihay and others. You can dance in your living room like no one’s watching, because no one is.

For those familiar with past New Year’s Eve celebrations at Grand Park, expect some changes. Diamond said organizers were able to get creative, with one musical performance on top of a building and a performance stage in the park’s signature fountain.

Diamond said she hopes Angelenos — and those watching around the world — will see the city’s sense of community and be able to reflect on a difficult year. And maybe even feel some optimism for the future.

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“I hope this night, New Year’s, feels like a unifying force,” she said.

The park purchased billboard space in New York City’s Times Square, Diamond said, where this year’s celebration is also virtual, and is “enjoying starting a little West Coast-East Coast rivalry.”

For those whose taste in music is less electronic and more acoustic, another livestream option is Lucinda Williams’ tribute to the Rolling Stones. She has broadcast several live performances in recent weeks to support independent music venues, and her last one in the series is Dec. 31.

For a drive-in concert (you stay in your car during the event), the Queen cover band Queen Nation will perform in a parking lot at the Montclair Place mall.

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I don’t pressure myself to be a world-class meditator. If all I do is set the timer for five minutes, good enough — even if my mind races the whole time. Then 2020 came along.

If you’d prefer to let the stressors of 2020 melt away with an interactive meditation and sound bath, consider a virtual mindful transition into 2021.

Shayna Hiller of Venice, a yoga instructor who also teaches meditation for Unplug Meditation in Santa Monica, will lead you through conscious movement to stillness starting at 10 p.m. Pacific time Dec. 31. (To sign up, look for the Dec. 31 schedule on the Unplug website. No experience is necessary, Hiller said. Just wear loose-fitting clothing.)

Hiller has led similar events in person for several years and thinks people can benefit from it especially after a difficult 2020. 2021 can be a year of hope, light and gratitude, Hiller said. Right now, she said, it’s “tempting to bring focus to what’s lacking and uncertain. But this is an opportunity to come together.”

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If you want to be together virtually with far-flung friends and family, The Times’ Jessica Roy has ideas for how to have Zoom parties that are actually fun.

And there’s really no shame — this year or any year — in staying in with a good book, some new music, or a great movie or TV show.

That way you’re ready to wake up early and watch whatever the Rose Parade has planned for the morning of Jan. 1, 2021.


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