Your guide to the best virtual New Year’s Eve events to attend for free

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Aiden Wynn
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Your guide to the best virtual New Year’s Eve events to attend for free

This may not have been everyone’s favourite year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see it out in style. Here’s our edit of the best virtual New Year’s Eve bashes on this year that won’t cost you a penny. 

So 2020 hasn’t been the start to the new decade that we’d all hoped it would be, with coronavirus restrictions having brought massive changes to all aspects of our lives, from working days to social calendars.

New Year’s Eve certainly won’t look the same as usual, either, but that doesn’t mean that it’s nothing to get excited about. There are exciting virtual events you can attend, either in your best NYE attire or your dressing gown and slippers, with something to suit all tastes.

This year, you can forget waiting in line for half an hour just to get a drink and surge fares on your taxi home, because New Year’s Eve in 2020 is all about making the most of the occasion from the comfort of your home. 

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  • Times Square Ball Drop

    The Times Square Ball Drop is one of the most iconic events on the New Year’s Eve calendar, so much so that even Covid can’t stop it. However, this year, there won’t be the typical crowd of one million party-goers who usually flock to the dazzling, LED-lit New York square.

    Instead, the ball will drop as usual but without in-person spectators – although you can create your own avatar and explore a virtual reconstruction of the square through the Virtual New Year’s Eve app, which you can download from the 19 December. There will also be a performance from the legendary Gloria Gaynor who, quite fittingly, is billed to see the year off with a rendition of “I Will Survive.”

    The festivities will begin at 11pm GMT, and you can tune in for free either through the app or the the Times Square website

  • The Haçienda Twenty-Four Hour House Party NYE

    If you prefer an all-out party on New Year’s Eve then you can head over to the United We Stream Greater Manchester website, where they will be broadcasting a massive 24-hour line-up of non-stop DJ sets. Billed to appear are music legends such as Moby and Graeme Park, all performing to a virtual crowd in a reconstruction of the Haçienda night club.

    Featuring one-off performances and collaborations, this is a set not to be missed. Starting at 10am GMT on 31 December and finishing at the same time the following day, it is sure to be the closest thing to a proper NYE night out that you can get this year. And it’s free!

  • Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

    Hogmanay in Edinburgh is usually a street party that attendees don’t soon forget. This year, though, Scotland’s biggest and best New Year’s Eve event will be taking place (you guessed it) entirely online.

    Promising to continue its tradition of wowing spectators with multi-sensory experiences and a celebration of arts and culture, the event will feature performances by everyone from Doctor Who actor David Tennant to the Scottish Poet Laureate Jackie Kay, as well as a show of 150 drones creating a visual feast for the eyes in the night sky.

    It will run every night from 28 December until the 1 January, starting at 7pm each evening, and it’s completely free to tune in. 

  • Notre Dame Virtual Concert with Jean-Michel Jarre

    Another dance music spectacular here to help us say goodbye to 2020, this time set against the backdrop of the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Grammy nominated electronic music composer and performer Jean-Michel Jarre has partnered up with VR start-up VRrOOm to bring a to bring us an immersive and unmissable New Year’s Eve experience. 

    Jean-Michel’s avatar will play a set from inside a virtual rendering of the Notre Dame, while he himself performs it live at a nearby studio in Paris. And don’t worry if you don’t have a VR headset, because you can still join from any laptop or smartphone. 

    The concert kickstarts at 10.45pm GMT and will run for 45 minutes, which will give you an opportunity to pop the champagne and brush up on the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne” before midnight hits.

Images: Getty