We're as excited about the New Year as anyone—though we thought 2015 was pretty great. But you know what we're not looking forward to? New Year's Eve parties that charge $20 at the door. Prix-fixe dinners at restaurants that don't care if you ever come back again. Sure, we want to send off 2015 in style, but we also don't want to break the bank. So let's all take up an early resolution: to take advantage of the amazing, free New Year's and New Year's Eve events in L.A.
RECOMMENDED: New Year's Eve in Los Angeles
Free things to do for New Year's in L.A.
Grand Park promises to be one of the most family-friendly—and affordable—NYE destinations in the city for the third year in a row. Flanked by the Music Center and City Hall, every inch of this three-block greenspace will be covered in culture, including City Hall, which will be used as a 22-story canvas for projections of photo-booth pics taken onsite, 3-D projections and a countdown.
The first Rose Parade in 1890 was staged to show off California’s sun-kissed climate. The tradition is still going strong, complete with elaborate floral floats, musical performances and marching troupes (not to mention the crowning of the fresh-faced Rose Queen and her court), but the celebration now draws more than a million spectators who line the streets of Pasadena. Bleacher seats are available for over $50, but you can grab a spot on the sidewalk for free. People traditionally camp out overnight, but if you'd rather show up the morning of, head east of Lake Avenue and you'll have an easier time.
You might expect this Griffith Park museum to be a kitschy exploration of the life and works of famous singing cowboy Gene Autry. However, though there's often some sort of Autry memorabilia on display in the foyer, it's actually a very engaging exploration of the West, outlining its history and detailing the myths that came to surround it. And lucky for you, admission is free every year on New Year's Day.
Ring in the new year at Angel City Brewery with limited-edition brews on tap, live entertainment and a special toast at midnight. Grab dinner from trucks like Kai Kai Dumplings, Market Burgers and Peaches’ Smokehouse & Southern Kitchen. Re-live all the best brews of 2015 on tap and enoy live music by Dirty Lingo, J.U.I.C.E and Naked Walrus. And if you're one of the first 150 guests, you'll nab a free party favor.
Swimmers across the city will take to the not-so-icy waters for the annual Polar Bear Plunge. Water and air temperatures on New Year's Day typically hover around 60 degrees, which is Arctic enough if you ask us. Spectate or dive in during meet-ups at Cabrillo Beach, Hansen Dam, Venice Beach and Huntington Beach, among others.
There are firework shows taking place all across L.A. on New Year's Eve. Some require a ticket, but not all of them. And even the ones that do (like Disneyland), can be seen from outside the ticketed area. Check out our list of firework shows and recommended viewing spots.