When ABBA sang “the history book on the shelf is always repeating itself,” I doubt they imagined we would all be scrambling to make socially distanced New Year’s Eve plans for the second year in a row.

Despite the wide availability of the vaccines, 2021 did not bring the end of the coronavirus pandemic like many hoped this time last year.

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With breakthrough cases surging nationwide and indoor celebrations seeming likely to come to a halt, here are five entertaining activities that can help you ring in the new year with your loved ones while keeping some of your coronavirus concerns at bay.

Walnut Creek: ‘The Last Hike of the Year’

The East Bay Regional Park District invites locals to take a final hike of 2021 at Diablo Foothills Regional Park. (Photo courtesy Michael Short/East Bay Regional Park District)

If you would like to start New Year’s Eve day off with some fresh air and physical activity, East Bay Regional Park District offers a “last hike” at the Diablo Foothills Regional Park in Walnut Creek. You can register to join a group led by park staff at 10:30 in the morning or plan a visit yourself between 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. to admire the scenery and catch breathtaking panoramas of the sunrise or the sunset at your own pace. Find more information about directions, parking, accessibility and RSVP for the guided hike at https://www.ebparks.org/parks/diablo-foothills#events.

Oakland: ‘Annual Balloon Drop Celebration’

Looking for a kid-friendly outing to celebrate the new year during the day Friday? Chabot Space and Science Center at 10000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland will continue its 21-year-old tradition and host its annual balloon drop hourly between 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Children can watch hundreds of colorful, biodegradable balloons cascading from above, and celebrate the end of the year as the clock strikes midnight in other corners of the world. All guests above the age of 2 will be required to wear masks to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Purchase tickets at $10 apiece at https://chabotspace.org/calendar/annual-balloon-drop-celebration/.

San Jose: ‘New Year’s Eve Celebration’

The Houserockers will perform live at the New Year’s Eve celebration outside at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in Downtown San Jose. (Photo courtesy Richard Kerris Photography)
Magician Robert Strong (Photo courtesy Christmas in the Park)

Head over to the Plaza de Cesar Chavez in Downtown San Jose for festivities starting at 7 p.m., including a family magic show featuring Robert Strong and David Martinez, live music from The Houserockers and a beer and wine garden. The Christmas in the Park New Year’s Eve event will feature an “East Coast Countdown” at 9 p.m. and a “West Coast Countdown” at midnight to celebrate the final moments of 2021. Find out more about the event, free and open to public, at christmasinthepark.com.  

San Francisco: Misfit Cabaret glam rock bop

Kat Robichaud, host of the Misfit Cabaret variety show, and her cohorts will ring in 2022 with “Deco Disco: A Glam Rock New Year’s Eve Bop.” (Photo courtesy Leah Marie Photography)

A delight for the eyes and the ears, Misfit Cabaret’s “Deco Disco: A Glam Rock New Year’s Eve Bop,” emceed by Kat Robichaud, will help San Franciscans welcome the new year at the Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary St. in San Francisco. The show features various performance arts, from burlesque to drag to circus and magic, along with some ’70s glam rock and top hits from the past year. Doors will open at 8 p.m. Full vaccination and proof of identification will be required to watch the show. Purchase tickets starting at $20 at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/misfit-cabaret-presents-deco-disco-a-new-years-eve-bash-tickets-187466305767.

Marin County: New Year’s Eve tea, zazen and bell ringing (online)

San Francisco Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm, off Shoreline Highway in Muir Beach, will host an online, silent broadcast to ring in the new year. At 8 p.m., a formal tea offering will be made in the zendo by tea teacher and senior priest, Meiya Sōju Wender. Following the tea offering, Furyu Nancy Schroeder, the Abiding Abbess and a resident of the Zen Center since the 1970s, will lead periods of zazen, or sitting meditation, until midnight. At midnight, the Green Gulch great bell will be rung 108 times in closure of 2021 and in joyful welcoming of 2022. Learn more about the event and how you can watch the free livestream at https://www.sfzc.org/calendar/events/green-gulch-farm/new-years-eve-green-gulch-farm-online-1231-11.