Today, many people around the world celebrate New Year’s Eve every December 31 and New Year’s Day on January 1. New Year’s Eve traditions include fireworks shows, parties, drinking champagne, counting down to midnight, and kissing someone at midnight. Read more about Seattle fireworks and other New Year traditions below.
Seattle Space Needle New Year’s fireworks
The New York City “ball drop” in Times Square typically hosts over one million people packing the square to chant the countdown as a mirrored ball descends from the One Times Square building at 11:59 PM, reaching the base at the stroke of midnight.
The West Coast’s biggest New Year’s celebration happens over the Seattle Space Needle as the clock strikes midnight. Listed below are ways to watch “New Year’s at the Needle”.
- In-person: The coordinated drone effects will be best seen from the Seattle Center campus grounds with festivities beginning at 8pm. Note: There are no public events atop the Space Needle for New Year’s Eve (the tower is open to the public from 9:30AM to 9:30PM on December 31).
- TV/Online: The New Year’s Seattle Space Needle fireworks show will be broadcast locally on KING 5 starting at 11:35pm PST and streamed online exclusively at king5.com.
- Listen: Tune-in to iHeart radio station HITS 106.1 to listen along to the show’s audio simulcast. The night will kick off with two musically-choreographed light shows taking place at 10:00 PM and 11:00 PM in anticipation of midnight.
More info: New Year’s at the Needle | Space Needle
Other New Year celebrations and traditions
As the saying goes, every day is essentially the start of a new year and the rest of your life. So, any day can be a time to celebrate with friends, to reflect on the past, and look forward to what comes next. The date January 1 is truly arbitrary. Other cultures celebrate the start of a New Year at other times.
- The Jewish New Year’s festival, Rosh Hashanah, uses the lunar calendar and pegs the celebration sometime in September or October.
- The Islamic New Year shifts several months over time since the Hijri Lunar Calendar is 354 days.
- Chinese or Lunar New year is celebrated by many cultures and occurs sometime in late January or early February. Read more about Chinese New Year on our Lunar New Year event page.
Two places in the central Pacific Ocean are the first and last to greet the New Year. The island of Kiribati | Britannica (about 1800 miles southwest of Hawaii) is an independent nation of over 100,000 people and the first to ring in the New Year. Baker Island, an uninhabited atoll less than 600 miles to the northwest of Kiribati, is the last—as a U.S. National Wildlife refuge, only the birds are there to mark the occasion.
Two common images of the New Year are the bearded “Father Time” and “Baby New Year.” Father Time is apparently based on the Greek God Chronos. He’s carrying a harvesting scythe and a lantern. The stories surrounding the meaning are murky at best. Baby New Year is usually adorned with a sash bearing the date of the New Year. Nobody knows when this kid started showing up.
For sports enthusiasts, New Year’s Day is celebrated by watching college football bowl games—often with friends, family, and of course lots of food!
Many people eschew parties and turn to nature and quite reflections:
- “Polar Bear Dips”—a short swim in icy waters—are a popular tradition in the Puget Sound region. “First Day Hikes” are popular with outdoor enthusiasts who celebrate a New Year by enjoying nature.
- Many people also use the time for reflection and to make New Year’s Resolutions or goals for coming year. Popular goals include those to change bad habits or improve aspects of one’s life such as lose weight, change jobs, or get organized.
Many people prefer to stay in on New Years and home movies are a tradition for many. Movies featuring New Year’s Eve scenes include the following list of chick flicks, beloved classic movies, as well as some grim tales. We aimed for at least a couple of movies from every decade in the last century. Most can be streamed or found on disc. Do your due diligence before selecting something to watch and consider your audience.
List of New Year Movies 1925-2013
- The Gold Rush (1925)
- After the Thin Man (1936)
- Bachelor Mother (1939) or it’s remake Bundle of Joy (1956)
- Junior Miss (1945)
- It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)
- The Passionate Friends (1949)
- Sunset Boulevard (PG, 1950)
- An American in Paris (NR, 1951)
- An Affair to Remember (G, 1957), or it’s remake Love Affair (PG-13, 1994)
- The Apartment (PG, 1960)
- Ocean’s 11 (NR, 1960) or it’s remake Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
- The Poseidon Adventure (PG, 1972), considered to be better than its remake Poseidon (PG-13, 2006)
- Godfather II (R, 1974)
- Diner (R, 1982)
- Trading Places (R, 1983)
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (G, 1986)
- When Harry Met Sally (R, 1989)
- Bitter Moon (R, 1992)
- Sleepless in Seattle (PG, 1993)
- Waiting to Exhale (R, 1995)
- Boogie Nights (R, 1997)
- Bridget Jones’s Diary (R, 2001)
- Better Luck Tomorrow (R, 2002)
- Rent (PG-13, 2005)
- The Holiday (PG-13, 2006)
- High School Musical (G, 2006)
- Two Lovers (R, 2008)
- New Year’s Eve (PG-13, 2011)
- Fruitvale Station (R, 2013)
A song is often played at New Year parties at the stroke of midnight is a Scottish poem set to music known as “Auld Lang Syne”. The meaning of the poem roughly translates to “times gone by.” The following YouTube video, sung by Dougie MacLean is a lovely rendition and includes some translation of the Scottish.
New Year dining options
Find a restaurant on OpenTable offering dine-in and takeout option for New Year’s Eve Restaurant Reservations
Event calendar for New Year’s Weekend
Events on our calendar for New Years Weekend, December 29, 2023 to January 1, 2024.
Friday, December 29, 2023
Saturday, December 30, 2023
Sunday, December 31, 2023
Monday, January 1, 2024
Space Needle, 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109