Ring in the New Year with Family: Celebration Ideas Everyone Will Love

This December 31st, ring in the new year with your little ones in tote! Whether you celebrate Noon Year’s Eve, keep the kiddos up past bedtime to witness a sparkly ball drop at midnight, or simply pop a bottle for yourself while the kids sip on black light lemonade, there are ample opportunities for magical memories and fun adventures. Check out our favorite Bay Area spots for virtual events, in person adventures, and at-home party ideas. Cheers to 2022!

Editor’s Note: Please check with event organizers to confirm vaccine/mask requirements before you head out. 

photo: via iStock

Local Events

First Night Monterey
Ring in the New Year with a First Night first!  This special program for New Year’s Eve will feature music, art, dance, and poetry in historic downtown Monterey.  Built around the four pillars of First Night (Art, Celebration, Community, and New Year’s Eve), this will be a historic event for the entire family to enjoy. 3:00 p.m.-midnight PST Event details
Location: Historic Downtown Monterey

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown
Join the Schulz Museum for this annual New Year’s Eve festivities and spread the joy of celebrating together. Celebrate with Peanuts-themed crafts, special appearances by Snoopy and Woodstock and a countdown to the Museum’s annual up-down balloon drop at Noon and another one at 3:00 p.m. Tickets required. 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. PST Event details
2301 Hardies Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Chabot Space & Science Center
Celebrate midnight around the world as hundreds of colorful, biodegradable balloons drop from above at 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm! 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. PST Event details.
10000 Skyline Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94611

BADM's Noon Year's Eve
BADM's annual Noon Year's Event celebration is back in person! Join us for a live DJ, a dance party, a festive countdown and ball drop at 12 noon and so much more! 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. PST Event details
Fort Baker
557 McReynolds Rd.
Sausalito, CA 94965

City of Piedmont’s Noon Year’s Eve
Celebrate with music, crafts, a countdown at noon and a balloon drop! 11:00a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PST Event details
Piedmont Veterans Memorial Building
401 Highland Ave.
Piedmont, CA 94611

"Noon" Year's Eve by Hiller Aviation Museum
Music, activities, face painting and TWO giant balloon drops at noon will are sure to bring excitement into the new year. 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. PST. Event details.
Hiller Aviation Museum
601 Skyway Rd.
San Carlos, CA 94070

Gilroy Gardens
Ring in the new year at Gilroy Gardens! Ice skating under the stars, sparkly light displays and festive food are found throughout the park. Bring the entire family and make Gilroy Gardens a new year’s tradition! 4:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. PST. Event details.
3050 Hecker Pass Hwy
Gilroy, CA 95020

Noon Year's Eve at 3Below Theaters 
***this event has been cancelled***
Join the San Jose Playhouse at 3Below theater for games, a short film and dessert buffet to ring in the new year in this family-friendly event. Event details. 



photo: via iStock

Virtual Events

Noon Year—Countdown to 2022!
Celebrate the new year with child-focused activities and a dance party! Balloons, decorations and festive attire encouraged! 11:30 a.m. PST. Event details

New Year’s Rumpus
Kid-friendly, parent-friendly and grandparent-friendly—dance the night away with those you love most! Countdown, toast, Auld Lang Syne and an interactive read aloud. Perfect for families with kiddos aged 2-8. 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. PST. Event details.

New Year Bell Ringing Storytelling Program
Tune in and watch San Francisco Asian Art Museum’s storytellers share Japanese folklore. 10:00 a.m. PST. Event details.

36th Annual Bell Ringing Ceremony
Celebrate the new year with San Francisco's Asian Art Museum. In addition to the traditional blessing by Reverend Akiba, the chanting of the Heart Sutra, and the purifying 108 rings of a Buddhist temple bell, this year’s event also includes a look behind the scenes of the preparation activities at Kojin-an. We will learn about the meditative process of cleaning the temple, special seasonal decorations and foods and New Year tea practices. 11:00 a.m. PST. Event details

Yule Ball: Olivander's Wand Decorating
Kids ages 9 and up can decorate their wands and test them with some basic spell-practice just in time for the Yule Ball at this virtual class. You’ll need a blank wand (a chopstick or interesting stick will do) and paint or magic markers. 11:00 a.m. PST. Event details

New Year’s Eve Bingo
One last chance to win BIG in 2021! Register early and get your Bingo card via email. Prizes include gift cards to Target, Starbucks and more! 6:00 p.m. PST Event details.

Rockin' Rockfish Noon Year's Eve
Celebrate the beginning of a new year with the Seattle Aquarium's Rockin' Rockfish Noon Year's Eve! Gather the family to enjoy the full New Year's Eve experience without staying up past bedtime. Join in this free virtual event featuring music from Mikey the Rad Scientist, a dance party, fun facts about how the animals in our care are spending the holiday, a count down at noon and more. 11:30 a.m. PST. Event details

DJ Squirm-a-Lot's New Year’s Eve Bash
Your favorite Story Pirates DJ is planning a huge party to ring in 2022! Unfortunately, his old nemesis Yorma the ice dragon is trying to spoil the fun with her icy dragon magic. Will DJ Squirm-a-Lot, Peter, Meghan, Rachel, Nimene, Eric, and the rest of the Story Pirates be able to foil Yorma's plans? With your kids' help, they just might have a fighting chance! 12:00 p.m. PST. Event details

New Philharmonic New Year’s Eve Concert
College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center is ready to help you ring in 2021 with New Philharmonic and Maestro Kirk Muspratt. Introduce the kids to Strauss waltzes and polkas, arias, light classical, pop tunes and movie music via a live-streamed concert. 2:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. Event details

Times Square's NYE Live
Let’s face it—New Year’s Eve in Times Square is iconic! While we know there will be hourly countdowns and live entertainment, we don’t know yet which superstars will perform on the big night. We do know, though, that just like every year, someone will press the Waterford Crystal button that signals the start of the 60 second New Year’s Eve lighted ball drop. Tune in from 3:00 p.m.-9:15 p.m. PST. Event details

New Year's Eve FREE Family Comedy Show Fundraiser
The lineup is stellar, and if you have not seen Host ComedianDWissh aka CarolinaKingofComedy from Durham NC, you are in for a treat. Get ready to LOL with your kids and even your teens out of 2021 and into 2022. 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. PST. Event details

Kids New Year's Eve ZOOM Party
Let’s have fun celebrating New Year's Eve. We will sing a few songs, have a dance party, do a craft and have a Kids Countdown! December 30th at 8:15 a.m. Event details

New Year's at the Needle
New Year’s at The Space Needle offers North America’s largest structurally launched firework display. While we are still waiting for more details about the 2022 celebration, stay tuned—this event is sure to bring new surprises as we ring in the new year. Event details.

photo: via iStock

Party at Home

Want to stay in but not interested in a pre-planned virtual event? Make your own party! You don’t need much: balloons, party hats, some noise makers and maybe a little Netflix.

Here are some fun ideas to add to your evening:

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy time with your little ones and make it a night to remember!

Happy New Year!

—Nicole Findlay and Kate Loweth

featured image by iStock


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