Ladies and gentlemen, it's the year's biggest amateur night; starring tardy cab drivers, repressed yuppies on the loose and surly DUI enforcers!
Seriously, if you're not like me and don't prefer a low key gathering of friends over a night on the town, take heed of the below recommendations to ring in Lucky ‘13 with festive abandon. These were items submitted through our website and referred to us by word of mouth and researched online. Please let us know what we missed in the comments. Note: Leilani Polk will have more concert-oriented NYE happenings in Music, so don't freak if you don't see Bright Light Social Hour at the Ritz here, etc. Happy New Year!
The 20th Anniversary of First Night Take part in a Celebration of the Arts around the waterfront and Straub Park in downtown St. Pete, with street performers and live entertainment. New this year: You can climb on banyan trees by the waterfront (!) provided by Pathfinder education organization (starts at 8:30 p.m.). Parents, head there early for First Kids, which begins at 5 p.m. and ends with a procession to the Bubble Stomp on Bayshore Drive at 8:30. For more, visit downtownstpete.ilovetheburg.com.
Acoustic New Year's Eve Bash Celebrate the New Year with the acoustic sounds of Chris Nathan. A four course New Year’s Eve special will be offered to dinner guests — $30 for individuals and $50 four couples while Nathan entertains. Expect party favors and your very own bottle of champagne. No cover. Mon., Dec. 31. Gaspar’s Grotto, 1805 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa. 813-248-5900. gasparsgrotto.com.
Aqua New Year’s Eve Feel the need to splurge? Ring in the New Year at the Westin Tampa Bay’s modern hotspot for an evening of dinner, live music, access to the roof top private party for dancing, champagne and fireworks all capped off with deluxe room accommodations and New Year’s day breakfast. Visit aquatampa.com $399 per package (two people per) Mon., Dec. 31, 8 p.m. $399 per package. 813-281-0000. 7627 Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. aquatampa.com.
Bash By the Bay Whiskey Joe’s celebrates a new location and 2013 with an all-inclusive party featuring multiple DJs, bands, and dance floors to shake your groove thang all night long; plenty of tasty hors d’oeuvres will be served; most importantly there will be five bars serving top shelf liquor, beer, and wine all night long, including a champagne toast at midnight. Doors open at 8. $105 before Dec. 31, $120 at the door. 7720 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. 877-820-2582.
Blast Friday/Early New Year’s Eve Party Stroll, nosh, drink a beer or simply people-watch in beautified downtown Clearwater. The events spreads out with street entertainers and vendors selling food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. Downtown restaurants will be open for business with table service along Cleveland Street. The influential southern rock granddaddy, Jackonville’s Molly Hatchet will be “Flirtin’ with Disaster,” playing their hit from the album of the same title. Going strong for more than tree decades, Molly Hatchet influenced Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special. Free admission. Last Friday of every month, 5:30-10 p.m. Through May 31. rutheckerdhall.com.
Bogie’s Beach Bar New Year’s Eve Gala Head to the beach bar that’s not actually on the beach for a hot and cold buffet, party favors, widescreen TVs simulcasting New Year’s parties around the world and live music by the Southern Point Band, who play originals and hits by Southern/classic rock bands (think Skynyrd, Tom Petty, Stevie Ray Vaugnn and Hendrix). Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Band starts at 9 p.m. $10. Mon., Dec. 31. Bogie’s Beach Bar, 9201 66th Street N, Pinellas Park. 727-623-9086. bogiesbeachbar.com.
CinéBistro/Wesley Chapel Sock Hop At this unconventional New Year celebration at CinéBistro at Hyde Park, guests will rock around the ticking-down clock, receive party favors, enjoy some spiked punch and prize-filled balloon drop — in 1950s rock ’n’ roll inspired attire. Or if you prefer, end the night a bit earlier with the pre-party at CinéBistro at the Grove from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring raffle prizes, specialty cocktails, draft beer and chef-created selections. Mon., Dec. 31. CinéBistro at the Grove, 6333 Wesley Grove Blvd, Milwaukee. 813-514-8300. cobbcinebistro.com.
Channelside Lights up the Bay The 10th annual New Year’s Eve event begins at 4 p.m. The night includes live music and DJ’s in the courtyard, along with dancing, balloon artists and more. Only 2,700 free wristbands will be distributed for admission to see fireworks. Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. 813-223-4250.
Chic-a-Boom Room New Year’s Eve Dunedin’s sibling venues (Kelly’s Chic-A-Boom Room and Blur) unite to host a bash with the funk masters o’ fun, the Black Honkeys, plus DJs Gus and Truth, Champagne toast at midnight, party favors and a prize-filled balloon drop. Table reservations available. $15. Mon., Dec. 31, 8 p.m. The Chic-A-Boom Room, 319 Main St., Dunedin. 727-736-0206.
Ella’s New Year’s Eve with Have Gun, Will Travel and Nervous Turkey As per tradition, an all-you-can-eat buffet and Champagne toast are included for $35. Mon., Dec. 31, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, 5119 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa. 813-234-1000. ellasfolkartcafe.com.