Welcoming 2020 in Grand Style

It’s time to say goodbye to 2019. It’s been a hectic 12-month period that saw plenty of change in Downtown — from major groundbreakings and openings to changes in leadership at artistic institutions. A number of venues and organizations are throwing year-end bashes, with no event bigger than Grand Park’s, which is preparing for its seventh annual New Year’s Eve Los Angeles celebration. The event at the 12-acre park has become one of the main end-of-the-year parties in the city, with projections on the side of Los Angeles City Hall.

This year, the park’s staff anticipates more than 50,000 people will make their way through the space, on Tuesday, Dec. 31. As with past years, it’s free to attend and will include more than 40 food trucks, multiple stages and all-ages activities, including photo booths. The event will run from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The party’s organizers aren’t planning major changes this year, but there are a few new additions to the programming, according to Marty Preciado, program manager for Grand Park. That includes a “boogie down” section of the park for kids to play in on the corner of Broadway and Second Street, as well as reorganizing the food trucks into groupings based on culinary themes.

The entertainment is centered around two stages. The first, the “Countdown Stage”, will feature a mix of live acts from across L.A., including Banda Las Angelinas, Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the R&B sounds of Thee Sinseers. The second spot, the “Get Down Stage,” at Hill Street is focused on reggaeton and hip-hop, with DJ sets from the party groups Cherry Poppin and Gasolina. Music runs from the start of the event to closing.

“This year is going to be representative of sound from all over L.A. County,” Preciado said. “From jazz and soul to banda, we’re being intentional in how we can cover all of these sounds.”

The centerpiece of the night is the countdown to the new year. Instead of fireworks or the dropping of a big crystal ball akin to New York’s Time Square, Grand Park does a major 3-D video projection show curated by Los Angeles-based digital art studio yU+Co. starting five minutes before midnight. Images are broadcast on the Grand Park-facing-side of Los Angeles City Hall, with the theme of the project being “Who is L.A.?” and features images of people from across the city.

Grand Park staff did advise that people take Metro rail lines to the park, given the expected traffic and the fact that Grand Park is a stop along the Red and Purple lines.

“There’s no prescribed way for how we want people to experience the party,” Preciado said. “If you want to come and dance, if you want to just be there for the countdown, you can. It depends on your mood.”

The park will also be incorporating its ongoing Winter Glow art exhibition. The series of light installations around the park and the recently renovated Music Center Plaza will still be up during the show, albeit rearranged in certain locations to make room for the stages and programming. Although it will not directly be integrated into the New Year’s countdown or other programming, the park said it’s also an attempt to show Los Angeles’ artistic diversity to the people who are coming to the event.

New Year’s Eve Los Angeles is at Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave. or nyela.grandparkla.org.

nslayton@timespublications.com.

Where to Celebrate the New Year

The biggest New Year’s Eve event is in Grand Park, but it’s not the only one. The end of 2019 means parties and concerts across Downtown. Here are some of the best and most unique ways to ring in the new year in Downtown.

Golden Gopher

This Eighth Street staple is starting its party early. Doors open at 3 p.m., meaning you can drink and dance while the sun is still up on 2019. There will be a complimentary midnight toast, plenty of drink specials and a loose Prohibition theme. As an added incentive, start 2020 with happy hour running from midnight to closing.

At 417 W. Eighth St. or goldengopherla.com.

Death & Co.

The celebrated New York City bar’s West Coast outpost is using New Year’s as its grand opening party. Head into the basement space and enjoy affordable, sippable beverages in the Standing Room bar, or head into the proper Death & Co. space for intricate and boozy concoctions.

At 810 E. Third St. or deathandcompany.com.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Not every event is in a smoky bar. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is welcoming Tony and Emmy award winner Kristin Chenoweth for a night of songs spanning her Broadway career and her solo country and showtunes recordings. She’ll also be bringing guests on for her two shows, the first at 7 p.m. and the second at 10:30 p.m.

At 111 S. Grand Ave. or laphil.com.

The Varnish

One of Downtown’s strongest cocktail bars is throwing an intimate party. For $150, Angelenos can dress up and enjoy a 1933-themed evening (the year Prohibition was repealed), with classic, whiskey-based cocktails and snacks. It’s all of the glitz and glamor without the overwhelming crowds.

At 118 E. Sixth St. or the varnishbar.com.

Prohibition NYE

Speaking of Prohibition, that’s the name of the now-annual party at Union Station. Throw on a retro-glam outfit, get the $175 ticket, and enjoy a 1920s-themed evening with live jazz, burlesque, and a DJ set from RAC. Plus, it’s at Union Station, so public transit is easy to use.

At 800 N. Alameda St. or prohibitionnye.com.

The Mermaid

This Little Tokyo den of drinking is hosting a “Roaring 2020’s NYE Party,” with no cover. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the first hour is all at happy hour prices. The bar also promises free party favors, so go get some swag.

At 428 E. Second St. or themermaidla.com.