This was a year like no other. In 2021, we saw glimpses of hope as the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots became available to all adults in the country, but the current surge of the omicron variant has put schools, restaurants, and other businesses at risk of virus-related shutdowns daily.
And while this New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day both seem a little more “normal” than last year — thanks to the return of in-person events such as fireworks over the Delaware River — the celebrations are also met with safety reminders as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.
In any event, we deserve to (safely) celebrate the end of this year and the start of a new one. Here is our guide to New Year’s 2021-2022 in the Philadelphia region, including where to watch the fireworks on the Delaware River waterfront, which sparkling wines to buy for your night at home, and more.
New Year’s Eve is expected to be pretty warm with a high of 58 degrees. New Year’s Day is expected to be even warmer, but rainy.
The Rivers Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront certainly bring a festive atmosphere to the city for both the 21-plus set and kids alike. So, end the holiday season with the free fireworks shows happening at both 6 p.m. and midnight on Dec. 31 near the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest section of the Delaware River.
This year’s fireworks display features a range of musical hits: songs by composer John Williams for the 6 p.m. show and tunes from the ‘70s for the midnight show.
Where to watch the fireworks
The fireworks can be viewed for free from numerous vantage points along the Delaware River, including:
There are also ticketed fireworks watch parties happening at:
Dinners and brunches
For now, indoor dining in Philadelphia is open to all — both vaccinated and unvaccinated diners, although some individual restaurants require proof of vaccination. Beginning Jan. 3, all indoor dining venues in Philadelphia (restaurants, cafes, bars, and indoor sports venues like the Wells Fargo Center) will require proof of vaccination. On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, be sure to check with individual restaurants before heading out to ensure you follow their health and safety guidelines.
If you’re looking to go out for dinner or brunch to celebrate the new year, see our full guide to New Year’s Eve dinners and brunches.
With the rising omicron variant contributing to COVID-19 cases throughout the region, it’s no secret that attending an indoor party where you do not know the habits, health risks, or vaccination status of the other guests is questionable. It’s important to follow all safety guidelines, wear a mask, leave if you feel uncomfortable, stay home if you feel sick — and tip servers and bartenders extra. If you feel comfortable attending a New Year’s party, we have a full guide to both kid-friendly and 21-plus events happening on Dec. 31.
Raising a glass of something bubbly (whether champagne, sparkling wine, or sparkling cider) at midnight on New Year’s Eve is a quintessential way to celebrate the start of a new year. Our food team has a guide to the best sparkling wine for your holiday celebrations. There are wines ideal for rosé drinkers, special sparkling wines for the adventurous, and even locally available bottles for those looking to support mom-and-pop shops this season.
Cities and towns in Pennsylvania have a lot of traditional ball drops, some stranger than others, including a Hershey’s Kiss, a Peep chick, a pickle, and even a giant pair of pants. Some ball drops are canceled this year because of COVID-19, but others are happening in all their one-of-a-kind glory. Plus, these ball drops are outdoor events, which are much safer than indoor events in terms of coronavirus spread. Here are some ball drops happening in the Pennsylvania region this New Year’s Eve.