Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Celebrate 2024’s arrival at these New Year’s Day events in L.A.

Kick off 2024 with these New Year's Day events, from ice skating to a refreshing plunge.

Michael Juliano
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Some of us will spend the morning after New Year’s Eve nursing a hangover or hiding underneath the covers. But for those looking to seize on the promise of another year, there are a handful of New Year’s Day events to get a jumpstart on 2024 (and the January events calendar). Whether you’re up for afternoon (or evening) at a botanical garden or some lingering Christmas lights displays, these are the best New Year’s Day events.

RECOMMENDED: Read more about New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles

New Year’s Day events in L.A.

  • Things to do

The first Rose Parade in 1890 was staged to show off California’s sun-kissed climate, and it’s still the best way to boast to your friends and family who are typically snowed in this time of year. The parade, and its floral floats, marching bands and equestrian outfits, steps off around 8am near the Norton Simon Museum; head to the eastern half of the route and you can easily find a spot with a decent view in the morning, no camping out required.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Interested in the floral floats but not a multi-hour parade? Watch the Pasadena tradition from home and then mosey on over to Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards to view the floats post-parade. Though the thick crowds can rival the parade itself, this is the best opportunity to view the floats close up. The stunning float showcase is a unique opportunity to see the intricate floral handiwork in person, from just a few feet away.

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  • Things to do
  • Quirky events

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. You can spectate or dive in during meet-ups at Venice Beach and Huntington Beach, among others, but the San Pedro plunge at Cabrillo Beach tends to be the most consistent one.

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating

L.A. doesn’t typically seem like much of a winter wonderland, until, that is, you create an ice skating rink right in the midst of Downtown skyscrapers. Come glide around and pretend there’s snow on the ground at Pershing Square’s outdoor holiday skating rink. Skate rentals are included in admission, though lockers and skating aids costs a few dollars extra.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Discovery and wonder once again inhabit the illuminated installations in Descanso Gardens’ holiday tradition. Each year, the botanical garden’s nighttime experience masterfully mixes hands-on art installations with atmospheric, luminescent forests, all against a background of uplit trees and shimmery sound effects.

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating

Located just blocks from the ocean, Ice in downtown Santa Monica brings a bit of winter to the comfortable coastal city. The 8,000-square-foot outdoor rink runs daily from November to mid-January on the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue (less than a 10-minute walk from the E Line). Tickets for an hour-long slot ($22) include skate rentals, and you can book private parties and cabanas if you’re looking for something a bit more premium

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  • Things to do

The L.A. Zoo is staying open after dark most nights through January during this delightful new take on its light-up holiday tradition. The event’s “Animals Aglow” edition has gone all in on oversized animal-shaped lanterns, and the result is a colorful, charming trail that celebrates the zoo’s natural inhabitants.

  • Things to do

Uplit trees and illuminated installations have once again dotted the roughly mile-long pathway at the third edition of Lightscape at the L.A. County Arboretum. For the 2023 season, the Arboretum has “reimagined” the event with a reconfigured route and a majority of new stops along the way. The light cathedral has, of course, made its return, as well as an iteration of the fire garden from Lightscape’s first year in Arcadia. But aside from those, everything else here is new.

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