Hello 2021! How to Celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas

No, New Year's Eve isn't cancelled. But 2020 is.

The Plaza fireworks
Photo courtesy of The Plaza

Remember all those "Roaring Twenties" parties last year? Seems so long ago, doesn't it? Las Vegas usually has a hell of a party on New Year's Eve. The Strip shuts down and fireworks erupt from rooftops of the biggest resorts. Well, due to coronavirus concerns, most (but not all) fireworks shows are cancelled and the Strip is toning things down in a major way. But there's still fun to be had, whether masking up and hitting the town or celebrating on a virtual basis at home. Here's the rundown on how to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas and say goodbye to the 2020 shitshow once and for all.

The Strip
Photo by Brian Jones for Las Vegas News Bureau

Make the most of a night on the Strip

The Strip
Even though the fireworks are cancelled, the Strip will still be closed to traffic for New Year's Eve, although only from Russell to Spring Mountain this year. Bouncing around from casino to casino may be fun, but keep in mind—things won't be nearly as busy as usual, and most bars and restaurants will require table reservations to enter. Don't forget to bundle up. We may be in the desert, but it gets cold in late December.   
Cost: Free

To make up for the lack of fireworks, Las Vegas is putting together a virtual countdown this year. Log on to the LVCVA webpage, Facebook, or YouTube for a party live-streamed with a DJ and a "2020" sign that's demolished Vegas-style at midnight with confetti, streamers, and fireworks. Watch and celebrate from home with no need for a designated driver. 
Cost: Free

The Plaza
Photo courtesy of The Plaza

The only official New Year's Eve fireworks show erupts at the stroke of midnight from the rooftop of the Plaza hotel. To accommodate the crowds, a portion of Main Street out front will be closed to traffic during the show. For an even better view, book a hotel room with VIP access to the rooftop pool deck. Use code NYE2021. 
Cost: Free to watch.

sky jump
Photo courtesy of The STRAT

The Strat
The thrill rides near the top of The Strat are lots of fun, make for a great date idea, and will stay open on New Year's Eve from noon until 1 am. One person will be chosen to take the leap into the new year at the stroke of midnight on the bungee-like SkyJump—effectively being a human "ball drop" for Las Vegas and earning a bunch of other perks, including a free stay, food, and booze (enter the contest on Instagram). Otherwise, the Top of the World restaurant has a series of seatings for celebration dinners throughout the evening. The views from the restaurant or SkyPod observation deck are great for seeing the Plaza fireworks or whatever people are shooting off from their backyards throughout the valley.   
Cost: SkyPod admission $25 (10 am–6 pm) and $50 (7 pm–1 am) with add-on options for thrill rides; Top of the World dinners begin at $125 per-person minimum.  

Order bottle service at one of two Downtown parties

The Living Room inside the Gold Spike is hosting a New Year's Eve party with giant projection screens, a midnight countdown, and limited capacity. Table reservations include a premium bottle of liquor with mixers and a bottle of champagne. A similar party happens the same night a few blocks away at sister venue Inspire, with table reservations available on three floors. 
Cost: Tables begin at $500.

AREA15 party
Photo by Laurent Velazquez for AREA15

Off the Strip
One of the few good things about 2020 was the opening of the AREA15 art, entertainment, and dining complex. See what it's all about with an "Illuminate 2021" party at 8 pm where guests are welcome to wear white, neon, or anything else that brightens up the atmosphere and fits the theme. General admission includes a socially distant table reservation, bottle service, appetizers by Todd English, and unlimited access to AREA15 attractions. Upgrade to VIP admission for a seat inside The Portal with 360-degree projection mapping. Either way, you'll enjoy roaming performers, live music, and a toast at midnight. 
Cost: Reservations begin at $300 for two people.   

Have your own intimate New Year's Eve gala at home and let Piero's handle the catering. The Italian restaurant is teaming up with Secret Burger for a special takeaway package of four cocktails and seven appetizers (like oysters rockefeller, shrimp cocktail, and stuffed dates). Go bigger with filet mignon, lobster tail, truffle mashed potatoes, and other add-on options. Yet the ultimate add-on is a Louis XIII decanter with a virtual guided tasting experience. 
Cost: $99 per person with optional add-ons (Louis XIII decanter $575 to $3,250). 

Off the Strip
How familiar are you with the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack? The Front Yard at Ellis Island is throwing a '70s-themed New Year's Eve celebration with a steak and lobster dinner, all-you-can-drink packages, and all the disco and classic rock you can handle. Dress up in your best vintage outfit and book a reservation in 90 to 120 minute blocks. The 10 pm seating includes a midnight balloon drop and champagne toast. Email Ellis Island if you want to buy individual tickets but sit as a group.   
Cost: Tickets begin at $95.

XS Nightclub
Photo by Barbara Kraft for XS Nightclub

Pretend like it's the old days at a nightclub

The Strip 
New Year's Eve is traditionally a huge night for Vegas nightclubs with celebrity guests, open bars, and wall-to-wall crowds. Things are a little different this year. Some clubs remain closed, while a few have reopened in a lounge format with masks and table reservations required to encourage social distancing. Tao at the Venetian, Marquee at the Cosmopolitan, and XS at Wynn Encore all have live DJs, light bites, and a midnight champagne toast. Just keep the dancing confined to your table.    
Cost: Tables begin at $1,500 for Tao, $1,000 for Marquee, and $1,000 for XS. 

Multiple Locations
The local PT's Taverns chain really wants you to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Everyone will get noisemakers, party hats, and a free champagne toast at midnight, followed by happy hour from 12–2am with 50% off wines by the glass, premium spirits, and all craft and import beer. A Tito's Bloody Mary is just $3 on January 1 to help take the edge off all that drinking the night before. The offers are good at all 66 locations under the PT's umbrella
Cost: Free admission

All five blocks of the Fremont Street Experience are typically reserved for ticket holders on New Year's Eve, but there won't be any live entertainment this year. However, you can still take a ride (vertical or horizontal) on the Slotzilla zipline. The Viva Vision overhead video canopy is skipping the traditional midnight year-in-review presentation ('cause who really wants to re-live this year again?) in favor of a 25th anniversary show. Follow and tag the Fremont Street Experience when posting a photo on Instagram and it will appear on the canopy. The midnight fireworks at the Plaza are just outside the west entrance.  
Cost: Admission $25, Slotzilla rides begin at $29.

Join a bar crawl with live music at the Sahara, where your wristband is good for champagne at Paradise Lounge, Old Fashioned and Manhattan cocktails at the Tangier, martinis and gin & tonics at Casbar, and wine and desserts at Bella Bistro. It's all-you-can-handle from 7pm until your champagne toast at midnight. 
Cost: $59

Miracle Mile Shops
If you have a big appetite, a Brazilian steakhouse isn't a bad place to be on New Year's Eve. Pampas is putting a New Year's spin on its Holiday Rodizio with seatings from 4 pm to midnight. Feast on unlimited servings of fried shrimp, sides, and meats sliced tableside plus a lobster tail and one hour of unlimited beer, wine, or well drinks with a dessert and champagne toast. 
Cost: $119 per person ($79 for steak and shrimp rodizio only)

The LINQ promenade
Photo courtesy of The LINQ

The High Roller welcomes guests for a spin on the world's tallest observation wheel, beginning at 9 pm for a 30-minute ride that includes a champagne toast. For a more high-speed experience, hop on FLY LINQ, the only zipline on the Strip, which soars over the LINQ promenade from 2–10 pm. Refuel with a special Surf n' Turf at Off the Strip Bistro with a 16 oz ribeye and shrimp scampi with fingerling potatoes and other vegetables. 
Cost: High Roller $75 ($50 if booked by December 28), FLY LINQ $40, and Off the Strip Surf n' Turf $55. 

Celebrate at an LGBTQ-friendly bar

Multiple Locations
A couple of the most popular LGBTQ bars in Vegas will be partying late to celebrate the arrival of 2021. Doors open at 9 pm at Piranha Ultra Lounge with guest hosts, live DJs, and bottle service (call 702-379-9500 for reservations). The Garden is encouraging black tie at its NYE 2021 Ball in the Arts District. Request reservations by email.    
Cost: Contact venues directly for the latest prices and minimums.

The Nerd at the Neonopolis is a fun bar that celebrates geekdom and pop culture—and it has a bowling alley! Capacity is limited to ticket holders with a five-hour open bar of well drinks and a contest to raffle off a Sony PlayStation 5. 
Cost: $100

Zuma Las Vegas
Zuma Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan
If celebrating New Year's Eve is all about having a great dinner, indulge in omakase at Zuma. The premium selection includes sushi, sashimi, Alaskan King crab, Ribeye, pork belly, tuna tartare, and more. The Dom Perignon exclusive omakase adds in A5 Japanese Wagyu, Iberico pork, and other one-night-only dishes to pair with all that champagne. A room reservation at the Cosmopolitan is required to book a dinner reservation. 
Cost: Premium omakase $250, Dom Perignon exclusive omakase $400.

Off the Strip
During any other New Year's Eve, the tall floor-to-ceiling windows at Panevino would provide a great view for watching fireworks on the Strip. With the show cancelled this year, you can still enjoy killer views of the Vegas skyline and planes landing at the airport while playing around with party favors and munching down a four-course meal of Italian cuisine with a plant-based version available. 
Cost: $99 per person.

The Strip
Eat, drink, laugh, repeat. The Hard Rock Cafe has a dinner and comedy show, featuring Derek Richards, with seatings 7–9 pm and 10 pm–midnight. The event includes a three-course prix fixe meal and open bar.
Cost: $150 per person. 

Off the Strip
The Stirling Club is throwing a party with food stations prepared by Executive Chef Dan Rossi. Score seafood, caviar, hand-carved meats, sushi, and other bites while enjoying the entertainment of The Immersive Group and Cameron Dettman of The Voice. 
Cost: Tickets for non-members are $275 per person or $500 per couple.

cocktail set
Photo courtesy of Venetian Cocktail Collective

The Venetian Cocktail Collective of The Dorsey, Rosina, and Elektra, are serving up elevated bottle service options (featuring vodka, tequila, and/or champagne) in sophisticated settings. If you're more about the food than the booze, Venetian restaurants like Bouchon, Buddy V's, Chica, Matteo's, Sixth + Mill, and Yardbird will have special multi-course New Year's Eve menus available. 
Cost: Bottle service packages begin at $575, restaurant prices vary.

Miracle Mile Shops
Two-hour table reservations come with party favors, a midnight champagne toast, and a five-course meal of clam chowder or lobster bisque, caesar or wedge salad, grilled shrimp bruschetta or crab cakes, a main course of filet and lobster tail with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with creme brulee or lava cake as dessert. Think of the convenient outdoor location on the Strip as a bonus. 
Cost: $100 per person.

Most of the local news stations are keeping relatively quiet about their New Year's Eve coverage plans, but KLAS Channel 8 is broadcasting live from the Stadium Swim rooftop pool deck at Circa—not just to homes in Las Vegas, but 12 other West Coast markets. The presentation begins at 8:58pm with midnight countdowns in four different time zones, lasting well past midnight local time. Expect celebrity appearances and music by longtime Vegas favorite Zowie Bowie.
Cost: Free to watch on TV.

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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than six years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Modern Luxury, Leafly, and Luxury Estates International's seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelries.