New Year’s Eve is the ultimate excuse to party, and while many cities in the U.S. hold festivities, a few outshine the rest. With 2017 quickly approaching, now is the time to decide whether to stick around town or take a trip. New Year’s Eve is on a Saturday this year, making it the perfect time for a weekend adventure. So before you start your New Year’s resolutions, start your year off in style at one of these destinations.
Nashville is synonymous with country music and the town goes all out for New Year’s Eve. It hosts Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight with live music from Keith Urban, Styx, A Thousand Horses and more. At midnight, Nashville’s signature Music Note Drop, a 15-foot-tall red music note covered in lights, descends from a 145-foot structure in front of the Tennessee State Capitol building, triggering fireworks and confetti cannons.
A second fireworks show is held across the Cumberland River, with shuttles available for revelers to travel between the two locations. The annual event, located at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is free to the public, and opens at 4 p.m.
For a smaller venue, catch a performance from the Grammy-winning Old Crow Medicine Show at 10 p.m. at the Ryman Auditorium with tickets ranging from $50 to $80. The concert has become a Nashville tradition since 2009.
Other notable musical performances include Widespread Panic at the Bridgestone Arena, with tickets between $60 and $65, and John Prine & Jason Isbell at the Grand Ole Opry House, with tickets starting at $75.
New Year’s Eve in the Crescent City is a night to remember. The countdown to midnight begins at the Riverfront and Artillery Park, across from Jackson Square at 11:45 p.m. When the clock hits midnight, an 8-foot-tall fleur-de-lis drops from the roof of JAX Brewery, followed by fireworks on the Mississippi River.
Tickets to watch the event from the JAX Brew house start at $85 and include an open bar and champagne toast, or celebrate in Jackson Square for free. Music performances from Luke Winslow King, Cyril Neville’s Swamp Funk and special guest Big Chief Monk Boudreaux begin at the Decatur Stage in Jackson Square at 9 p.m.
If packed streets aren’t your style, head out to the river and take a New Year’s riverboat cruise on the Steamboat Natchez or the Creole Queen for some of the best fireworks views in the city, plus music, drinks and a buffet dinner. Boarding begins at 9:30 p.m. at the Toulouse Street Wharf and tickets only set you back $175 for this iconic New Orleans experience.
Whatever celebration you choose, after midnight be sure to take your drinks out onto famous Bourbon Street where live jazz reigns.
The quintessential U.S. party town gets one step crazier for New Year’s Eve festivities. The entire Las Vegas strip is closed to car traffic, becoming one giant block party with an expected 300,000 attendees. At midnight, a choreographed fireworks display launches from the tops of the casinos along the strip.
Downtown Las Vegas’ official New Year’s Eve party, the Downtown Countdown Celebration at Fremont Street Experience, hosts a midnight countdown and fireworks show synchronized with virtual fireworks on Viva Vision, North America’s largest video screen. Tickets for the 21-and-up event are $35 when purchased online before Dec. 25, and $40 after that. The celebration lasts all night – from 6 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. – and features three stages of rotating live entertainment.
If you are looking to ring in the New Year with musical performances, catch a concert by Bruno Mars at the new Park Theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino with tickets starting at $234 each. Or experience one of music’s most iconic performers at Caesar’s Palace where Elton John is playing a four-night stint over the holiday weekend. New Year’s Eve concert tickets begin at $155.
Manhattan (Times Square)
No New Year’s Eve article is complete without including Times Square. Counting down to midnight with the masses is a bucket-list experience for some. A literal ton-of-confetti is dropped onto the million-plus party goers, many of whom brave the cold of downtown Manhattan for hours just to catch a glimpse of the famous Waterford Crystal Ball dropped from the Times Square building. The 12-foot, 12,000 pound ball, covered in 2,688 crystals, is the worldwide icon for New Year’s Eve.
For music lovers, Jessie J is the headliner for this year’s live Times Square New Year’s Eve pre-drop show performances. Other celebrity performances include Wiz Khalifa, Carrie Underwood, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan and Daya, among others.
Live music starts at 3 p.m. with the NYPD closing the “first-come, first-serve” viewing sections as they fill up. Some spectators show up as early as 10 a.m., so if you do decide to brave the cold, arrive early and be prepared.
While Times Square is the typical example of New Year’s Eve festivities for many people, Chicago also holds an increasingly popular celebration, Chi-Town Rising. Instead of a ball drop, a large silver star rises 365 feet into the air, accompanied by a fireworks display along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, synchronized to music.
DJ Sye Young will spin tracks throughout the night, along with a variety of musical performances from The O’My’s, The Heard, Kweku Collings, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, and more. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and live music begins at 7 p.m. The free public event will also be broadcast live on television in the region and on radio station KISS-FM from iHeart Radio.
No New Year’s trip to Chicago would be complete without enjoying the rides and attractions at Navy Pier along Lake Michigan, a great place to view the fireworks show close-up.
Seattle hosts one of the world’s largest structure-launched fireworks displays, with 72 launch points on the Space Needle in the heart of downtown. Kick off your New Year at the Observation Deck Dance Party, with music from DJ Michelle Myers playing until 1:30 a.m. The party begins at 9 p.m. and costs $115 per person.
Wine, dine and dance while you view the most spectacular view of the Space Needle fireworks though the glass ceiling at Chihuly Garden and Glass, an exhibit at the Seattle Center. Previous spectators describe the experience inside the Glasshouse at the Museum as being “engulfed in multicolored pyrotechnics,” according to Alisa Carroll, the director of public relations at Visit Seattle.
The 21+ event costs $225, which includes appetizers, desserts, live music from the Craig Lawrence Band and a champagne toast at midnight.
Or catch a performance from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the KeyArena from 3 to 6 p.m. or from 9 p.m. to midnight. The progressive rock band/symphony orchestra is stopping for their “Ghosts of Christmas Eve” tour, with tickets starting at $57.
Getting to and from downtown celebrations is a breeze on New Year’s Eve thanks to Seattle’s Sound Transit Link light rail. Check the Sound Transit's holiday schedule for details. An Orca pass is required.
Zoo Year’s Eve: Kids-only “Bunk with the Beasts at the Denver Zoo” gives parents the opportunity to enjoy a night out downtown while their kids celebrate the New Year in a safe, fun environment. Kids learn about animals with a pizza party and educational fun. Tickets for the night cost $75 and include dinner, an evening snack and breakfast the next morning.
Annual New Year’s Eve fireworks displays in downtown Denver take place at both 9 p.m. for families, and the traditional midnight hour. The outdoor pedestrian walkway boasts a wide array of magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt-walkers, comedians and more.
Noon Year’s Eve at the Children’s Museum of Denver provides all of the excitement and thrills of a classic New Year’s Eve party before bedtime: glittery ball drops each hour, rainbows of falling confetti and huge sheets of bubble wrap instead of fireworks for kids to stomp on. Children under 1 are free, with tickets costing $15 for participants ages 2-59, and $13 for those 60 and up.
During New Year’s Eve, Orlando is the destination for families. Area theme parks come alive to say goodbye to the previous year. With no additional charges on the typical admission prices, the New Year is a great excuse to finally bring the kids on that theme park vacation they’ve been wanting.
Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom features special presentations of the Main Street Electrical Parade and fireworks shows throughout the night. Or, celebrate “the New Year around the world” at the Epcot Center with live DJs and a special presentation of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” lights, lasers and fireworks display.
For movie lovers, head over to Hollywood Studios to enjoy a collection of Disney movies, music and a kid-friendly DJ dance party around the Sorcerer Hat Stage.
Ring in the New Year all before midnight at LEGOLAND’s Kids’ New Year’s Eve, with an exclusive dance party and unique LEGO brick drop. At the end of the night put on special viewing glasses and watch as fireworks explode into millions of tiny LEGO bricks.
If you are looking to stick around Montana, but still crave a travel getaway, take a trip up to Whitefish. The local ski area, Whitefish Mountain Resort, is celebrating the New Year with an on-snow bar, ski and snowboard rail jam and a torchlight parade down the mountain. The free event starts at 5:15 p.m., with live music from Brent Jameson and the Sordid Seeds starting at 6:45 p.m. in Ed & Mully’s, a bar and grill at the base of the resort. At the end of the night, be sure to catch the fireworks extravaganza.
After the mountain festivities, follow-up with late night partying at the local independently-operated bar the Bierstube for music, appetizers and a midnight champagne toast.
If you aren’t up for braving the cold on the mountain, the Great Northern Bar & Grill has live music from the Lil’ Smokies band. Music starts at 7:30 p.m. with $30 tickets and features special guests Moonshine Mountain.