New Year’s Eve: Celebrate Your Way

Celebrate the New Year in downtown Los Angeles as City Hall is turned into a 3D canvas leading up to the countdown to midnight. Courtesy The Music Center and Grand Park.

New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate endings and beginnings. It is time to put the old year to bed, and welcome the promise and hope of a new beginning. With 38 different local times in use around the world, it takes 26 hours for the New Year to encompass all time zones.

The first locations to celebrate 2020 will be Samoa and Christmas Island at 2 a.m. PST on New Year’s Eve. Santa Clarita will be among the last grouping of time zones to enter the New Year. Baker Island and Howland Island, roughly halfway between Australia and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, will be the last locations to greet the New Year at 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

New Year’s traditions 

People around the world celebrate the coming of the New Year in a variety of ways. 

In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Each grape represents good luck for one month of the coming year. In bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people gather in main squares to eat their grapes together.

Residents of Denmark greet the New Year by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. They also stand on chairs and jump off of them together at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck.

During Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, “first-footing” is practiced across the country. The first person who crosses a threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck. 

To welcome the New Year, you’ll find round shapes all over the Philippines on New Year’s Eve as representatives of coins to symbolize prosperity in the coming year. Many families display piles of fruit on their dining tables, and some eat exactly 12 round fruits at midnight. Many also wear polka dots for luck.

An onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes on New Year’s Eve in Greece as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.

Where to party

There are many options for New Year’s celebrations and entertainment in Southern California. 

New Year’s Eve Los Angeles

Grand Park and The Music Center

200 North Grand Ave.

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Downtown L.A.’s favorite free New Year’s Eve party, N.Y.E.L.A. returns. The west side of City Hall serves as a 22-story canvas for 3-D projections, including a midnight countdown. The event also features fireworks, food trucks, photo booths and two music stages. Attendees are allowed to bring food that fits in a backpack or tote bags (no alcohol).

New Year’s with Kristin Chenoweth 

Walt Disney Concert Hall

111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles 


Emmy- and Tony-winning songstress Kristin Chenoweth offers two back-to-back shows on New Year’s Eve, 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The set list includes an eclectic mix from showtunes to gospel. Before the show, enjoy a cocktail party in the concert hall’s lounge. Tickets $84-$221.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Glow Party

Burton Chace Park

13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey


Marina del Rey rings in the new year in style, starting with a free family-friendly glow party with fireworks at 9 p.m. and midnight. The party will be held 7 p.m.–midnight, with face painting, DJ music, dancing and food trucks. Watch live broadcasts of the east and west coast countdowns to the New Year. Fireworks will be set off from Burton Chace Park and you can see the show from surrounding restaurants with harbor views if you decide to forgo the free party. 


Universal Studios Hollywood and
Universal CityWalk

100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City


Spend New Year’s Eve at Universal Studios Hollywood and party until 2 a.m. with music, dancing, photo-ops and a special midnight countdown celebration with fireworks. Join family and friends for a special countdown celebration to midnight as you ring in 2020 with three synchronized fireworks displays throughout the park. Party areas are set up around the park with desserts, beer, wine and champagne available for purchase at each. 

If you choose the “Ultimate EVE Party Package” you will receive park admission starting at 6 p.m., access to an exclusive lounge area including private dance party with DJ, gourmet buffet dinner, private cash bars with unique specialty cocktails and exclusive photo-ops, reserved fireworks viewing area, midnight champagne toast and other perks.

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