How to Have a Safe and Fun New Year’s Eve in Philly

Goodbye, 2020. We won’t miss you.

The time has come to bid farewell to the year we all thought would never end. While the challenges of the last 12 months won’t simply vanish at the stroke of midnight, we can still cut loose a little bit and feel optimistic about the light at the end of this dark pandemic tunnel. Sure, the grand fetes (and Mummers Parades) of years’ prior are very seriously out of the question right now, but you can have just as good of a time ringing in 2021 with a smaller affair. After the year you’ve had, you deserve it. So make sure your wi-fi is working for those live streaming events or get bundled up for those making the trek outdoors, and get ready for a different kind of New Year’s Eve in Philly.

Bid 2020 farewell with a visit from Cinderella

Germantown Garden
Another kid-friendly activity features a royal appearance. Northern Liberties’ Germantown Garden—and their fun outdoor dining igloos—welcomes Cinderella for brunch. Make reservations for the 11 am, 1 pm, or 3 pm seating (both igloo and outdoor non-igloo seating is available) and enjoy a visit and photo-op with Cinderella herself, plus warm beverages and sweet treats. 
Cost: $10-15 reservation, pay-as-you-go food and drink

Watch a virtual Philadelphia Orchestra concert

After the year we’ve had, you deserve a little whimsy heading into 2021. Stream a Philadelphia Orchestra concert, filmed live on December 17, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker led by the Orchestra’s assistant conductor, Erina Yashima, along with other holiday favorites. You’ve got until 11 pm to view the performance.
Cost: $15

Game your way into 2021

Thirsty Dice
Board game cafe Thirsty Dice is selling New Year’s Eve packages featuring hors d’oeuvres of spanakopita, Cubano spring rolls, crab stuffed mushrooms and mac and cheese bites, Prosecco, and a festive party game. You’ll be set for the next morning with cheddar-bacon-scallion and apple cinnamon scone kits, custom coffee blend from Herman's Coffee, and a quart of a bloody mary mix. Get your orders in before December 29 for a New Year’s Eve pickup.
Cost: $79-99

Let the pros do the cooking

Various locations
Instead of your usual fine dining New Year’s experience, turn your kitchen into the swankiest restaurant with takeout and catering from the best Philly has to offer. Place your order at Talula’s Table by December 28 for scrumptious brunch. Order from Forsythia, and you’ll get a five-course dinner served meal-kit style (meaning you do some of the prep yourself). The recently revamped Garces Trading Company serves up a meal of apps, family-style strip steak with veal short rib for the new year. Constellation Culinary offers a variety of holiday dining packages, from snacks, cheeses, and sweets to holiday brunch. Choose from the three available packages at Urban Farmer, featuring cheese and charcuterie, a four-course meal, and a caviar package. Pre-order a four-course dinner from or a take-home seafood tower for two in celebration of the New Year. Reheat a prime rib feast for two (and add some caviar if you’re feeling up to it) from Fork. Choose from a number of catering trays from Walnut Street Cafe—including raclette cheese fondue and cheese and charcuterie platter. Place your Di Bruno Bros. order by December 28 and enjoy a five-course meal plus a bottle of bubbly. Order dinner for two from Fiore for a hearty spread of lasagne, braised beef cheeks, and more.
Cost: Prices vary

Carboload your way into 2020

At Marc Vetri’s pasta bar Fiorella, hosts four outdoor New Year’s Eve seatings: 4 pm, 6 pm, 8 pm, and 10 pm (which includes a midnight toast). The prix fixe, four-course menu includes pasta specialities, dessert, and optional wine pairings. Each seating is limited to two to four guests of the same household and is maxed at an hour and 45 minutes. You’ll also have to pay up front when you make your reservation. 
Cost: $85 per person

Bundle up and marvel at holiday lights before they’re packed away

Wells Fargo Center
All season long, an illuminated winter wonderland has occupied the parking lots at the Wells Fargo Center and you can close out the year marveling at the spectacle. Open from 5-10 pm on New Year’s Eve, visitors can wander through a forest of light-adorned trees, glowing tunnels, and icicle paths and warm up with a spiked hot chocolate at the end. 
Cost: $27.50-32.50

Learn about the dark side of America’s birthplace

Independence Visitor Center
Local spooky historic walking tour group Grim Philly hosts New Year’s Eve tours spilling the tea on the Founding Father’s when it comes to espionage, murder, sexual license, and blackmail. The one-mile tour (which is completely outdoors, so dress appropriately) takes you from the Independence Visitor Center to the Liberty Bell and Merchants’ Exchange where your historian tour guide will inform you of all the salacious deeds that occurred there. Tours start at 7 pm, 8 pm, and 9:30 pm and you must wear a mask the entire time.
Cost: $25

Turn your living room into the club

Usually, Philly-based transcendental music producer Dave P. and his Making Time collective celebrate the end of the year with epic all-night dance parties. This year is no exception. Taking place online, with the help of Barcelona music festival Primavera Sound, Dave and other acts like Jessy Lanza, Moor Mother, and Zillas On Acid will live stream sets all night long, starting at 7 p.m. No crowds and overpriced open bars this year.
Cost: $12.90-20.37

Support the arts in Pennsylvania with a one-of-a-kind livestream

Local theater advocates can tune into a livestream benefiting the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester. Starting at 8 pm, a slate of performers, from jazz guitarists to flamenco dancers, will grace the digital stage for the two-hour livestream, providing entertainment you won’t find on the major network countdowns.
Cost: $100

Pop a bottle and cut the cheese

What’s New Year’s Eve without a little bubbly? Tria Wine Bar hosts a virtual sparkling wine and cheese pairing class led by Tria's wine director, Lauren Harris, and cheese director, Tenaya Darlington (aka Madame Fromage). Order your tickets before December 30 and then day-of, pick up your package of five bubbly wines, including Champagne, and seven cheeses. You’ll get the link to the online class, which starts at 9 pm, when you register
Cost: $200

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Allie Volpe is a Philadelphia-based contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter.