Say goodbye to 2020 (finally) with virtual raves, old traditions reworked for the pandemic, and performances from Patti Smith, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, and more
It goes without saying that most of the world will be glad to put 2020 behind them, if only to find out what fresh hell 2021 has in store. Coronavirus lockdowns, social distancing, and vaguely-defined tier systems have (literally) defined our lives for much of the year, with just a glimmer of hope from the gradual rollout of vaccines in the last month.
The pandemic isn’t over yet, though. COVID cases are surging in the UK with the rise of a new, faster-spreading variant, while fresh lockdowns are being enforced across Europe. In the US, party plans have sparked backlash as the CDC strongly advises against travel and gatherings. It’s safe to say that traditional New Year celebrations are off the cards.
Luckily, many musicians, clubs, and festivals have found innovative ways to carry on amid the pandemic, facing events cancelled en masse and insufficient government support. Gorillaz have performed new songs on Animal Crossing, and artists including Billie Eilish, Christine and the Queens, and Charli XCX have treated fans to livestream shows. While the UK’s illegal rave scene has flourished IRL, virtual raves have kept us dancing in our kitchens.
So, while you might not be able to spend New Year in the club, or Times Square, or basically anywhere but the comfort of your own bed, you won’t be short of ways to ring in 2021. Here, we’ve gathered a few of the best ways you could spend New Year’s Eve in quarantine.
ATTEND A VIRTUAL RAVE
Despite the obvious risks, millions of people are expected to attend illegal raves at New Year, according to the Night Time Industries Association, which has predicted more than 5,000 gatherings to take place between December 31 and January 3. If you’ve not got a PPE rave suit handy though, a much safer option is to attend one of the many virtual parties and club nights running this NYE.
Covid Room, an online collective and Zoom event, has been bringing people their isolation music fix throughout the year. Participants come together in a “collective mosaic”, making the group’s December 31 event (aka “the last rave of the year”) the perfect place if you’re sick of being alone this New Year.
Manchester’s legendary club The Haçienda has also been keeping up with the virtual party scene in 2020, and will pay tribute to the godfather of house music Frankie Knuckles with its 24-hour NYE house party, via United We Stream.
If you’re looking for more of a spectacle, EDM festival Tomorrowland has pulled together 1,200 virtual fireworks, 184 virtual lasers, 2,750 virtual lights, and over 950,000 virtual visitors for its (yes, virtual) NYE show. Taking place across every time zone, the event’s lineup includes DJ sets from Snoop Dogg, Diplo, and more.
Club Quarantine has become one of the hottest destinations in 2020, seeing the likes of Charli XCX, Lady Gaga, Caroline Polachek, A.G. Cook, Kim Petras, and Laverne Cox connect with fans via Zoom. The queer online dance party teases a NYE event on Instagram (where fans can relive its 2020 highlights) though details are yet to be announced.
SPEND IT WITH YOUR FAVE ARTISTS
Without a doubt, new records from some of our favourite musicians helped us through a difficult year (view Dazed’s list of 2020’s best albums here). Luckily, many of those same artists are set to ease the transition into 2021, too. On YouTube, for example, you’ll be able to watch performances from Dua Lipa, AJ Tracey, and more, in the UK’s Hello 2021 livestream (beginning 10:30pm, UK time). There will also be guest appearances from I May Destroy You creator Michaela Coel, RuPaul, and Naomi Campbell.
Alternatively, Patti Smith will be taking to the giant electronic billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus at midnight. The punk icon will perform a tribute to the NHS and other healthcare workers, as well as a new poem for Greta Thunberg, available to watch on a simultaneous livestream. Run by the digital art platform Circa, the broadcast will also showcase a commission by the artist Anne Imhof.
Big Hit will also be hosting a New Year celebration, featuring BTS and others from the label’s roster, including many of the artists behind this year’s top K-pop tracks: ENHYPEN, TXT, GFRIEND, and Nu’Est. Halsey will also make an appearance, saying in an announcement video: “This year has made me miss performing and playing concerts so much, so getting to connect with everyone – even if it’s from far away – is still very special.”
In the US, meanwhile, ABC’s annual NYE celebration, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, will feature performances from a huge lineup including Miley Cyrus, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, and J.Lo, joining Cyndi Lauper and Billy Porter from 8pm ET (1am UK time).
TAKE A MORE TRADITIONAL ROUTE
The usual NYE celebrations are mostly closed to the public this year. There will be no firework display in London, or crowds in Times Square (although dozens of frontline workers and their families will be offered private spots near the stage). That doesn’t mean you can’t take part in traditions from home, though.
The Times Square ball drop will be available to watch on TV and via a dedicated webcast. Jennifer Lopez, Billy Porter and Cyndi Lauper will pop up again for performances, as well as Gloria Gaynor (singing “I Will Survive”, which feels pretty apt). If that’s not enough, you can also download an app for an augmented reality experience.
Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay celebration has also gone entirely online for the first time, with dedications for NHS staff and appearances from actor David Tennant and poet Jackie Kay. Watch the nightly shows on the Hogmanay website or via YouTube.