Courtesy of MTV's SnowGlobe Music Festival

Make sure your NYE lives up to the hype with these toast-worthy events taking place from SoCal to the Rockies

Stephanie Granada  – December 24, 2019 | Updated December 26, 2019

Unless you plan to find yourself under the northern lights, hosting a killer bash, or hiking in a stunning national park at the stroke of midnight, it can be hard to find things to do on New Year’s Eve that meet the high expectations the holiday brings. There are few things worse than welcoming the new year at a ho-hum party or all dressed up with nowhere to go. That won’t be the case in these places where you can ring in 2020 skiing down a mountain with hundreds of powder hounds, dancing it out at a Tahoe festival, or running down the streets of Phoenix at midnight.

Tahoe’s SnowGlobe Music Festival

Girls at SnowGlobe in Tahoe
Courtesy of SnowGlobe Music Festival 

Looking for things to do on New Year’s Eve in California? If you’re into music and mountains, it’s a no-brainer. SnowGlobe’s lineup features EDM greats from Skrillex to Griz playing in the South Lake Tahoe area, near excellent ski conditions. The biggest outdoor NYE music festival in the nation also delivers on snowboard and ski demos and art installations. Plus, the organizers are working with Waste Free Earth to make the event sustainable, with aluminum (instead of plastic) bottles, vendors who compost, and a 50-person Green Team. Add on a few bucks to your tickets and you’ll help support sugar tree plantings in the area.

L.A’s Big Analog Countdown

Countdown L.A.
Courtesy of Grand Park/The Music Center

The midnight countdown is strong at this event that gathers thousands of Angelenos. Tapping into L.A.’s place as a hub for creativity, technology, and filmmaking, N.Y.E.L.A. employs 2D and 3D mapping for its analog ball drop that’s projected on the side of City Hall. Grant Park fills up with food trucks and other vendors for the occasion, and headliners keep people dancing into the wee hours. The musical spectrum is broad—ranging from big-band jazz to mariachi—but with various stages, you can pick the scene that’s more you. 

Alta, Utah’s Torchlight Parade

Courtesy of Discover Alta 
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Many ski areas host torchlight parades on New Year’s Eve, but Alta’s comes with tons of snow and a blazing bonfire. The famously powder-rich, slightly under-the-radar mountain is known to have one of the best flare runs in the area with hundreds of skiers taking their turn on the slopes with LEDs, headlamps, and flashlights. For those watching from the bottom, the scene is spectacular. Bright, red lights zigzag across the mountain as the skiers make their way down. Afterward, people stick around for fireworks, live music, and reveling into the new year.

Las Vegas Big Fireworks Show

Fireworks in Las Vegas for New Year's Eve
Franck Reporter/ Getty Images

It’s no small feat to match Las Vegas’ neon-fueled glow. That’s why the city pulls out all the stops to illuminate the skies to welcome the year with 80,000 fireworks. To celebrate its 20th anniversary of banging NYE celebrations, the light show comes accompanied by top hits from the past two decades (think: lots of Britney Spears, Pink, and U2). Hotels like Caesars Palace, Aria, MGM Grand, and others participate, serving as a launch point for the midnight explosion. The best place to watch depends on what you like: To be in the center of the (very-packed) action, get there early enough to claim a spot along the Strip. For some distance, park along Russell Road opposite McCarran International Airport. Or, to get high above it all, pay $150 for a ride on the High Roller, one of the tallest observation wheels in the country at 550 feet tall.

Cabos’ Sexy NYE Soiree

The Cape, a Thompson Hotel Los Cabos
Courtesy The Cape, a Thomson Hotel

Cabo’s The Cape, a Thompson Hotel draws some of the world’s most coveted DJs to spin its New Year’s Eve party. Dance the night away with a couple hundred other VIPs who show up to sip Champagne and revel in the sights from the hotel rooftop. The beats keep going until 4am, at which point you can walk down to the beach to catch an epic sunrise over the famous El Arco rock formation for an unforgettable holiday.

Phoenix’s Midnight Madness Run

Runner at night
FOTOKITA/ Getty Images

On the other end of the spectrum of things to do on New Year’s Eve, Phoenix takes a health-minded approach. Start the year on the right foot at the city’s Midnight Madness Run. Celebrating its 30th year in 2019, Midnight Madness is a two-prong race, with one 5k starting at 10:10pm and another taking off at 12:10am. Participants can double-up to bookend the turn of the year, or simply go for one. There’s a sparkling cider toast in between when the sneaker-clad set toast to a healthy January 1.