The West has all kinds of fun—and socially distanced—ways to close out 2021, from dropping potatoes to skiing by torchlight.

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

The first two years of this decade have felt like a decade unto themselves. At this point, we really need a celebration. Thankfully, New Year’s Eve will soon be upon us, and we’ll be able to set aside an emotionally and physically draining year for one night with festivities, music, and, yeah, plenty to drink

New Year’s Eve activities may already be decided already, but you still have to pick where to spend the evening. Celebrating with friends and family at home is always fun, but sometimes you just want to get out. 

Across the West, theme parks, ski resorts, and more are holding their own New Year’s Eve celebrations with own attractions and activities in addition to music, drinks, and fireworks. From mountainside light shows to community get-togethers, there are plenty of events to choose from depending on how you want to spend the holiday. You can carve ice, wander from live performance to performance in a decorated theme park, or watch a city flip the script on a traditional ball drop. Each of these events are hosted outdoors, and hosts say they are following local and federal mask requirements.

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Whether you’re nearby or looking for a holiday trip, any of these events would be a great place to raise a glass of Champagne and ring in the new year.

Fireworks at Pikes Peak

If you’re in the Colorado Springs area on New Year’s Eve, you can witness the end of a tradition that’s been going on since 1922. Every year, a group of climbers spend Dec. 30 and 31 climbing the Barr Trail up the east face of Pikes Peak. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, the climbers launch fireworks from the 14,110-foot summit, creating a spectacular show that can be seen for hundreds of miles.

Big Bear Torchlight Parade

For the last 57 years, Big Bear Mountain has been zig-zagged with red light on New Year’s Eve as a parade of more than 200 torch-bearing skiers and snowboarders make their way down the slopes. The parade viewing area is completely free to access and will also host a party featuring a live DJ, lots of colorful lights, and plenty of drinks.

EVE at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood will transform into a giant New Years celebration called EVE on Dec. 31. This event features three live music stages: “Latin Beats” near the Jurassic World ride, “Electric New Year” in Springfield, USA, and “Rock the Night” in Universal Plaza. Plus, there will be midnight fireworks, themed photo opportunities spread throughout the park, and plenty of specialty cocktails, Champagne, and other drinks to complete the celebration.

First Night Missoula

First Night Missoula is all about showcasing the talent of Missoula residents. The music and art festival features a full schedule of events at multiple locations, including an ice carving demonstration and competition, fireworks, and free skating. In the evening, the festival holds Spotlight, an annual vocal competition among local high school students.

A City Different New Year’s Eve

Santa Fe is referred to as “a city different,” so its New Year’s Eve celebration is, too. Rather than a ball drop at midnight, the city will instead raise a handcrafted Zia, the emblem on New Mexico’s flag, in Santa Fe Plaza. This will be followed by a fireworks display over the historic La Fonda on the Plaza hotel. Ahead of the midnight festivities, there will be live music and free hot chocolate and cookies in the plaza.

Idaho Potato Drop

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least one drop on this list. What better one to include than Idaho’s Potato Drop? Starting at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31, downtown Boise will come to life with live music, food vendors, a beer garden, a ski and snowboard exhibition, and a wrestling competition. At midnight, the potato will drop in front of the state capitol building, alongside a firework show.

Taos Ski Valley Torchlight Parade

Spending the holidays in the mountains away from normal life can be very special, and this Taos tradition only makes it more so. In the early evening, skiers make their way down the mountain, using only flares to light their way, and create streaks of light for onlookers to marvel. Then, in traditional New Year’s Eve fashion, the parade is capped by a fireworks show.


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