Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Events in LA

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Chances are New Year’s Eve looks a little different these days—parties and staying up until midnight are probably out while entertaining the kids is most definitely in. So if you’re looking for some festive fun for the whole family this New Year’s Eve, we’ve got you covered. From oogling millions of colored lights at the L.A. Zoo to catching a movie at the iconic El Capitan Theater, there’s something for everyone on the last day of 2021.

Ruby H. via Yelp

Grand Park & The Music Center's N.Y.E.L.A.

NYC has their ball drop, but LA is hot on their heels with a New Year’s Eve celebration to rival the Big Apple. And while you won’t be able to join in on the festivities in person this year (this year’s celebration is only open to frontline and essential workers), you can watch it all go down on the city’s YouTube channel from the comfort of your own living room. That means pajamas, hot cocoa, and a restful way to ring in the New Year in your own style. It will be a hit with the older kids who want to try their luck at staying up until midnight.

When: Dec. 31, 11 p.m. to 12:01 a.m.
Cost: Free
Watch: youtube.com/grandparklosangeles

Anthony F. via Yelp

L.A. Zoo Lights

See the zoo like you’ve never seen it before: at night and totally lit up. The entire place is filled with wildlife-inspired displays, dynamic lights and projections, immersive interactive experiences, and fabulous photo ops. Keep an eye out for some of the zoo's more nocturnal animals who might make a special appearance. The highlight of the night is definitely the spectacular 200-foot tunnel of twinkling and dancing lights.  

When: Dec. 31; 6-10 p.m.
Cost: $24 for adults and $17 for children (2-12), $15 for members

L.A. Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr.
Los Angeles
Online: lazoo.org

Belle B. via Yelp

Encanto at El Capitan Theatre

Catch a showing of Disney’s Encanto at the iconic El Capitan Theatre where the visit is just as exciting as the movie. There’s just one showing that day, at 9 a.m. which is perfect for early birds. The movie follows the magical Madrigal family that lives in the mountains of Columbia. Come early for live organ music before each screening and stay afterwards for fun Encanto photo ops.

When: Dec. 31; 9 a.m.
Cost: $18 & up

El Capitan Theatre
6838 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood
Online: elcapitantheatre.com

Sarah W. via Yelp

Santa Monica Playhouse NYE Show


The 50th Annual All-New One-Time-Only New Year’s Eve Revue is a treat for the entire brood! The internationally acclaimed Actors’ Repertory Theatre puts on a family-friendly musical revue with prizes, sing-a-longs, dancing, and comedy. The evening ticket also includes a complimentary buffet, party hats, tiaras, noisemakers, streamers and surprises. The 6 p.m. show is ideal for little ones who like to party down and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. The 9 p.m. show features a meet ‘n’ greet with the cast. Advanced reservations are required and can be made online.

When: Dec. 31, 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Cost: The 6 p.m. show is $49.50 for adults and $29.50 for kids 12 and under. The 9:30 p.m. show is $69.50 for adults and $39.50 for kids 12 and under.

Santa Monica Playhouse
1211 4th St.
Santa Monica
Online: santamonicaplayhouse.com

Janae M. via Yelp

Universal Studios Hollywood EVE

Spend the day enjoying the rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood then spend the night partying down from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. at Universal’s “Eve” event which includes multiple celebration areas that will featuring dancing, music and a midnight countdown with fireworks.

When: Dec. 31, EVE celebration is 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Cost: $134 general admission, “Eve” event is included with admission.

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City
Online: universalstudioshollywood.com

John E. via Yelp

Echo Park Swan Boats 

Spend the last evening of 2021 on Echo Park Lake in an icon swan boat. Take an illuminated ride, when the boats are a glow with holiday worthy lights, after 5 p.m. Watch the sun set with a breathtaking view city skyscrapers and palm trees. Up to five people can fit in one boat.  Be sure to bundle up. It can get very chilly on the water. Reservations required.

When: Dec. 31, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: $11 per adult (18 & up), $6 per child

Echo Park Lake 
751 Echo Park Ave.
Los Angeles
Online: wheelfunrentals. com

Don B. via Yelp

Holiday Road 

Enjoy thousands of lights and larger than life displays at Holiday Road’s immersive walk-through event. Scope out a Christmas tree forest, mosey down Gingerbread Lane, visit the Elf Village and finally meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the North Pole. The trail is two thirds of a mile long and you can go at your own pace. If you’re hungry, head on down to one of a dozen food trucks parked at the end of the trail. Thirsty? Grown-ups will love the seasonal cocktails available at the holiday bar. 

When: Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Cost: $35, 2 and under free

King Gillette Ranch
26800 West Mulholland Hwy.
Calabasas
Online: holidayroadusa.com

Karen R. via Yelp

Santa’s Speedway Christmas

Get the chance to drive on an actual Nascar track, as the Irwindale Speedway becomes Santa’s Christmas Speedway this holiday season. Drive through eight show stopping themed areas including a record breaking 110 foot tall tree of lights! One lap around the track should take you about one hour. Be sure to tune your car’s radio to the event station to hear Christmas tunes and more. 

Good to know: There will be bathroom breaks and concession stands about 10 minutes into the ride. 

When: Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: $75 per vehicle with up to 8 people per car

Irwindale Speedway
500 Speedway Dr.
Irwindale
Online: santasspeedway.com

LEGOLAND California

NYE Celebrations Worth the Drive

LEGOLAND Brick Drop
Midnight arrives early in Carlsbad as Legoland recreates the famous Times Square ball drop with a Kids’ New Year’s Eve LEGO drop! At 6 p.m., a gigantic Lego brick plunges 22 feet, culminating in crowd-pleasing pyrotechnics display that the whole family can watch while wearing party hats, special fireworks glasses and listening to music from kids’ bands. Event details.

New Year's Eve at Disneyland
With the park decorated to the nines for the holiday season, there’s no more magical place to celebrate New Year’s Eve than Disneyland. Mickey and his pals will ring in the new year with an all-new holiday themed parade, fireworks and more. All of the restaurants inside the park will also feature special events and NYE menus for the occasion so be sure to do some research and book a reservation ahead of time. Event details

Knott's Berry Farm NYE
Knott’s Berry Farm has something for the entire family this New Year’s Eve with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, festive dance music, DJ’s, bands, a family- friendly comedian, party hats, noisemakers, yumtastic food and special extended hours. After you spend the day the exploring the park and riding Knott’s rides, be sure to stay for the Midnight Fireworks Spectacular to usher in 2021 with a bang. Event details.

Pretend City Noon-Year’s Confetti Countdown
With sparkling streamers, noisemakers and festive party hats, Pretend City Children’s Museum will host its Annual Noon-Year’s Confetti Countdown that even the littlest revelers adore (and you’ll love that they can still sleep through the night). The event celebrates the new year across four different time zones throughout the day with midnight in Bangladesh, Dubai, Athens and London. Event details.

– Jennifer O’Brien & Christina Fiedler

feature image: Knotts Berry Farm

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