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Eight unconventional ways to ring in 2020: Celebrate New Year’s Eve differently

fireworks show

New decade, new you. Right?

Well, whether you’re looking to make a change in the new year, or you’re just looking to ring in the new year in a more interesting fashion, there are plenty of alternatives to switch up your New Year’s Eve plans as you wrap up 2019.

So forget about that open bar ticket or the takeout you were going to order in front of the television on Dec. 31 while waiting for the ball to drop – there are plenty of alternative options (though there is nothing wrong with either of those).

And, if you would just as soon kick off the new year without the typical celebration, you could orient your New Year’s Eve celebration around exactly what you’re looking for in 2020 whether that be fitness, self-care, financial stability, globetrotting – the list goes on.

A New Year’s cruise

Want to ring in the new year dancing with a view? Rather than checking out a hot spot like a club or a bar, it may be worth looking into an evening cruise.

If you’re wrapping up 2019 in the Big Apple but don’t feel like watching the ball drop, you may want to look into New York Cruise Lines’ offerings for New Year’s Eve. Guests can enjoy a smaller celebration by booking their New Year’s cruise with Circle Line, New York Water Taxi or an evening with World Yacht Charters. Hornblower also offers multiple New Year’s Eve cruises around New York City.

New York’s not the only city where you can ring in the new year from the water. In Miami, Island Queen Cruises and Tours offers a dinner cruise and a fireworks cruise on New Year’s Eve.

Red and White Fleet in San Francisco offers a fireworks cruise that includes a live DJ, open bar, Champagne toast at midnight and more.

A midnight run

Each year, New York Road Runners puts on a midnight run that kicks off in Central Park as fireworks go off after a countdown to midnight starting at 11:59 p.m. As runners take their marks for the 4-mile race, a display of fireworks kicks off the race. (You can also use this race as credit toward running the marathon in November.)

For runners on the other side of the country, Phoenix hosts a Midnight Madness run, which has been ongoing for three decades.

If you like the idea of a New Year’s Eve race but plan to be in bed well before midnight, the Fairfax Four Miler in Northern Virginia starts at the more respectable hour of 6 p.m.

And in the Midwest, Chicago Sport & Social Club is hosting a 5K in Lincoln Park.

If you’re in North Carolina and would rather pound the trails than pavement, the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte is holding a New Year’s Eve Trail Run beginning at 11:45 p.m. You can choose to run a 5K or 10K.


If 2019 tuckered you out, then skipping the celebration is always an option, too. Free, easy and a very healthy choice, sleep is not a bad way to start off a new decade.

The Journal of Community Health found that one-third of Americans sleep less than seven hours per night, and this could be the year you stop being one of them.

Maybe self-care will be the new partying of 2020.

Make a budget

If you’re feeling completely done with 2019 and you’re ready to hit the next decade running (well, not literally – we already covered that option), then it may be a good night to do something productive.

Personal finance isn’t always the thing people think of when celebrating, but being conscientious and making personal financial gains are certainly reasons to celebrate. So sit down, reflect on your 2019 habits and move forward.

  • What were the bad habits?
  • How can you stretch your paycheck?
  • Would talking to a personal financial planner help?
The start of the new decade is the perfect time to give yourself a fresh start in terms of financial planning.

Plan a vacation

Having wanderlust? 2020 may be the start of a decade of travel for you.

Hunker down on New Year’s Eve and plan a trip to kick off a new year of exploration, curiosity and beauty. Look into international travel to hot spots such as Italy, Japan, Australia or the Czech Republic, or stay domestic and check out the most popular tourist attractions in the United States.

Skiing, snowboarding or tubing

Embrace your snow bunny side and ski into 2020 with a nighttime ski pass. Some resorts, including Whitetail Resort in Pennsylvania, are offering packages for skiing from 5 p.m. through 1 a.m. along with tubing passes.

Or if you’re already scheduled to be on a ski trip for the holidays, it may be worth checking into the surrounding area’s activities. At Breckenridge in Colorado, there will be a New Year’s Eve torch-lit parade starting at 6 p.m., and Heavenly Mountain in South Lake Tahoe has a full day of events scheduled for Dec. 31, leading up to a gondola ball drop countdown (8:50 p.m.) and fireworks show 30 minutes later.

Celebrate with a pup

What makes everything better, including a holiday? Easy answer: A dog.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with man’s (or woman’s) best friend. Some organizations are holding celebrations for 2020 that allow dog lovers to bring their furry friends alonge.

In Chicago, humans and their doggo pals can attend Ring in 2020 with Live Like Roo to count down to midnight. After all, what’s better than a sloppy lick on the cheek at midnight? Puppy kisses trump human kisses at this celebration.

Or, if you are planning to go out with your human friends, play with your puppy beforehand, either at home, at a dog park or a facility. Morris K9 Campus in Randolph, New Jersey, is offering an hour of free puppy playtime to help you tucker your pup out before heading out for the night yourself. After all, dogs deserve to celebrate the new decade, too.

You can also let your hound burn off a little excess energy while you enjoy a drink at the Dog Bar in Charlotte, North Carolina. The climate-controlled, off-leash dog park/watering hole is open from 2 to 8 p.m., leaving you plenty of time to get Fido home before fireworks start going off. (A $10 annual membership and is required.)

Speaking of fireworks, dogs generally do not like them so leave them at home if your celebration is anywhere near them. If your home is within hearing distance of a fireworks display, consider putting your fur baby in the basement for the evening or putting on the TV or radio to help drown out all the booms. Fireworks-heavy holidays like New Year’s and July 4th are the most common times for dogs to run off, so err on the side of caution and make sure your fence is secure and the dog has a properly fitted collar and tags with up-to-date info before leaving them.

Theme parks

Nothing sounds more magical than New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World. Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks all offer their own unique spin on celebrating 2020 with different drink offerings, fireworks and more. (But be warned: It’s not uncommon for the parks to get so busy during the week between Christmas and New Year’s that at least one of them reaches capacity and closes its gates to guests staying off property.)

Six Flags is also celebrating the new year at certain locations, including Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in New Jersey is hosting a celebration on New Year’s Day.

Or maybe you’re hoping to soak in the last bit of the holiday season as the year wraps up. All across America, there are light displays that are up for the holidays. Some will remain lit into the beginning of 2020.


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