Activities to Make the Most of a Virtual NYE
Pictured: Kew Gardens Dog Park
Struggling to find inspiration for a virtual NYE? Below are a few suggestions to make your NYE and New Year’s Day a little bit more exciting. Personally, I am looking forward to a quiet New Years in, but still want it to feel a little bit special. Naturally, my priority will be great, unfussy food, delicious drinks, and maybe a comedy show. New Years Day will surely include brunch and a meander through a (hopefully) snowy trail. So read on, and get inspired to spend your New Year’s in the Middle of Somewhere, even if you can’t leave your house.
New Year’s Eve
Food & Drink
I’ve never been one to love going out for dinner on NYE – I find it too fussy, cramped and high-pressure. I’d much prefer to cook at home or order in, and am thankful that through all of the pivoting that restaurants have done in 2020, they’ve opened my eyes to the glorious meals you can order in. Read here for how quarantine changed my delivery habits.
There are plenty of special NYE options available – below are a handful of my favourites.
- Craft Brewery Brewmasters Dinner: Enjoy a four-course dinner and beers or wine, and join Craft for a virtual tasting session over Zoom between 7:30-10PM. The Brewmaster kits will be available for pick up on Thursday, December 31st from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. Order here until Dec 31st ($75+ pp).
- Il Covo Meat & Seafood dinners ($50 pp) – see their menu on Instagram
- Wynona ($150 for 2) – pre-order by Dec 29th. They just added two new pickup timeslots – order before they sell out!
- Rodney’s Oyster House ($110) – Oysters & Champagne box & virtual class (includes both the materials and the lesson you need to shuck your own oysters!).
- Chotto Matte Party Kit ($180 for 2) – includes ingredients to make 5 of their signature dishes and 1 dessert, a bottle of sake and a bottle of prosecco. Place orders 24 hours in advance. Delivery radius is 7km.
- Tanto’s New Years Eve dinner ($75 pp)
- Avling Brewing Cheese & Charcuterie Kit ($120 for 2)
- Founder Bar Cocktail Kits (prices vary) – order one of their stunning cocktails, featuring unique ingredients to make your NYE feel a little bit fancier.
- Salty Paloma NYE Cocktail Kit ($110 for 9 cocktails) – includes ingredients for 2 types of cocktails. Order by 2PM on the 30th for pickup on the 31st.
- Maison Selby’s Sparkle & Gin Celebration Kit ($100 for 25 cocktails) – includes booze & syrups to make 25 cocktails (!!) – French 75, Merry Cranberry Fizz and Hot Gin Toddy!
See here for a previous post on cocktail kits – many are still offering pickup or delivery!
Although you may not be able to go out this New Year’s, there are still ways to celebrate and support local from home.
- Kensington Brewing Co. Trivia: Join Kensington Brewing Co. for their Thursday night trivia (note – they actually run this event weekly, so you can always join another week if you are busy on NYE). The trivia is run virtually and features prizes for everything from responses to Zoom backgrounds. Order tickets here (the fee is structured as pay-what-you-can). Alternatively, you can purchase the trivia package directly from the Kensington Brewing Company’s website, along with ordering a 4- or 6-pack (call ahead to ensure you can pick it up in time!).
- Dwayne Gretzky live YouTube special (free!). Watch one of Toronto’s most popular cover bands present its coveted annual New Year’s Eve Party virtually this year. The live streaming event will run from 10:15PM – 3AM EST on YouTube and can be accessed for free. Their annual NYE event typically sells out quickly, but will be accessible coast-to-coast this year. The experience will include music, the ability to up-vote songs you want to hear and conversations with the band and other fans. You can also support the band via a virtual tip jar.
- SaveHospitalityCA’s Big Night In: In collaboration with Crow’s Theatre and Front Row Centre, Big Night In is an at-home, cross-country celebration featuring an eclectic Canadian lineup of performances by Broken Social Scene, Ruby Waters, Moscow Apartment, Shantel May (and more) that is meant to help support the hospitality industry. The virtual event is hosted by Paradise Theatre in Toronto. It runs from 8-11PM EST and tickets can be ordered here ($19.95 per household – $5 from each ticket goes to the participating restaurant of your choice).
There are a few global events that look promising, so if you don’t feel like watching the ball drop to an empty Times Square, see below for some alternatives:
- Second City’s Happy Hour: This virtual show is part of their weekly Happy Hour specials and is described as: “Our certified laugh-tenders bring you into the action with a hilarious cocktail of interactive games, special guests, music, sketch comedy, and suggestion-driven improv that’ll have you howling so hard, you won’t even remember what never-ending year we’re living in.” Purchase here, and then you will be emailed a link to watch the stream, which runs Thursday at 8PM EST ($15).
- Since 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, I couldn’t resist but to include Snoop Dogg’s 2021 NYE Special. It promises to include a live performance from the one and only Snoop Dogg, conversations with his fellow #GoBigShow judges Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Nettles, Cody Rhodes and show host Bert Kreischer, a virtual dance party, a sword-swallowing stunt by #GoBigShow contestant Andrew Stanton, a tour of Snoop Dogg’s Compound and surprise cameos by Snoop’s friends. The event begins at 11PM EST, runs for an hour, is free and you can RSVP here.
- A virtual world means you can attend events from across the globe. Here is a list of some virtual comedy shows hailing from different corners of the world:
- #UPYOURS2020, hosted by some of UK’s best comedians. Buy tickets here ($20). The show runs from 4:30 – 6:30PM EST and is followed by a DJ.
- NYE Mega Comedy Show, hailing out of the US, with a special countdown for Central time zone and a quick one for Eastern time zone. Buy tickets here ($20 for Economy – giving you access to the YouTube live stream or $30 for VIP, giving you access to the Zoom room to be part of the live audience). Show starts at 11:30PM EST.
- Mike Birbiglia’s Working It Out: Tune in to watch an award-winning comedian, storyteller, director and actor perform virtually. The show runs from 4:30 – 5:30 EST & tickets can be purchased here ($25). Buying a ticket gives you access to the Zoom room.
- Greg & Gleib’s It’s A New Years Eve Thing: Looking for something a bit later or more intimate? Watch this virtual show, starting at 10:30 EST with Greg Proops of “The Smartest Man in the World“ podcast and “Who’s Line is it Anyway” and Ben Gleib of “Last Week on Earth” podcast and “Idiotest” for a night of improv comedy and games. Tickets are offered at different prices, with some including an hour post-show virtual meet-and-greet with the hosts, where they will teach you how to make their favourite cocktail. Buy tickets here!
- AirBnB also has many fun experiences offered by hosts around the world! One popular experience that still has availabilities for NYE is Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens – part drag show, part learning how to make sangria, this event came highly rated from a friend!
New Year’s Day
If you’re like me and avoid making any sort of New Year’s diet resolutions – start the year off with a delicious brunch from one of these spots:
- Emmy’s Country Kitchen ($65 for 2) – bennies & mimosas (Order by 2PM Dec 29th!)
- First & Last Coffee (various prices) – sandwiches & cocktail kits
- Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (various prices) – order all of the pantry ingredients to make their famous buttermilk blueberry pancakes at home or order premade brunch goodies if you don’t feel like cooking
- Farmhouse Tavern (prices vary) – hearty breakfast featuring burgers, scrambled eggs, brisket and more
Go For A Walk
There are plenty of places to go for a great walk in Toronto. Some recent favourites of mine include:
- Sir Winston Churchill Park & Nordheimer Ravine (near Spadina & St.Clair)
- Kew Gardens, Beaches Park & The Boardwalk (near Queen St E and Lee Ave.) – park on Queen St E, walk south through Kew Gardens and then either direction once you reach the waterfront boardwalk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could add on Glen Stewart Ravine, which is a nice trail north east of Kew Gardens. It’s shorter than it looks on the map, so I would couple the two together if you want a longer walk. You can park by Glen Stewart Ravine, walk the trails, and then drive over to Kew Gardens.
- High Park & Sunnybrook Park offer lots of trails that are great any time of year!
While pre-booking skating seemed like a nice idea, it seems that slots booked up really quickly in Toronto. And while most organized activities are shut down in Ontario through the new year, there are a few beautiful snowshoe trails worth exploring.
- Head out to Halton for hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Make sure you book a reservation slot in advance, online (and confirm the weather ahead of time if you are keen on snowshoeing or cross-country skiing – be sure to also bring your own equipment).
- Another option is via Highlands Nordic (while they are not currently offering cross-country ski rentals, they do offer snowshoe rentals – be sure to read their COVID procedures).
- Snowshoe in Toronto: Who knew you could snowshoe in Toronto? Here’s a list of spots great for snowshoeing (weather dependent) – I would probably opt for one of the golf courses.
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