Every year we're faced with the dilemma of choosing where we'll bring in the new year. If you're like me, then you find yourself overwhelmed by the plethora of options and admission fees and underwhelmed by the usual fare. In Charlotte, I've learned that choosing which New Year's Eve party to attend is a bit like playing a board game. Of course, with any game, we aim to win, but some are more about status, surprises, strategy, fun and creativity.
As I do every year, I've included some of the best choices of restaurants/bars/clubs/concert halls below. But to add an extra twist, these NYE parties and events have been grouped into categories based on classic games. However you spin the wheel, you really can't go wrong with any of the parties listed below. For the wishy-washy and those who want the full roster, check out our growing list at QCAfterDark.com. Here's to hoping you all have a happy New Year from us here at Creative Loafing!
*Details of these events are subject to change.
These events are the classics of Charlotte's New Year's Eve party game.
NYE PARTY AT THE WESTIN Screw the idea that "it's not about where you go, but who you're with." The Westin's annual New Year's Eve party is one of the most glamorous affairs in the Q.C. Held in the hotel's Venetian and La Rumba ballrooms, it offers cash bars, DJs, dancing and more. For more information, visit www.nyecharlottenc.com. $30 and up. 9 p.m. The Westin, 601 S. College St.
BACK TO THE FUTURE BASH Owner Jody Sullivan continually brings this tried-and-true theme back every year — what would the last day of the year be without the Ghostbusters car parked somewhere in Uptown? There will be '80s and '90s music all night long and the space has multiple dance floors, four bars and a patio. This means you can break out the hair crinkler, slap bracelets and any other items you have stowed away from those eras. Drink specials, a confetti blast and a champagne toast at midnight, too. Rad! $20-$25. Roxbury Nightclub, 116 W. 5th St. 704-375-8090. www.roxburynightclub.com.
RICH & BENNETT'S NYE BASH RockHouse Events' owners Rich Saner and Jeff Bennett share the mantra of "Work hard. Party harder." They've set this into motion with some of the largest parties and pub crawls in the Q.C. So you should expect no less for the duo's New Year's Eve bash. The annual party, held this year at Phoenix, includes three levels of spirited space, three DJs, a balloon drop and party favors. For more information, visit www.rockhouseevents.com. Ladies: $55-$75; men: $75-$100. VIP at 8 p.m., general admission at 9 p.m. Phoenix Nightclub, 300 N. College St.
JOHN TOSCO'S 4TH ANNUAL NEW YEAR'S EVE VARIETY SHOW Host John Tosco (founder of Tosco Music Party) comes to Knight Theater with another family-friendly variety show in the spirit of The Ed Sullivan Show. This New Year's Eve celebration will feature comedy, dance, music and other entertainment, including performances by Caroline Calouche & Co., Circus Stella, Hannibal, Moving Poets and more. $14.50. 8 p.m. Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. 704-372-1000. www.blumenthalarts.org.
NYE PARTY UNDER THE BIG TOP There's no clownin' around at this event, which features a special appearance from gay pornstar JR Bronson. With the body of a chiseled Greek god, Bronson is the, uh, bulk of the entertainment at this outdoor tented event. Go-go boys will be in full effect. $25 and up. The Bar at 316, 316 Rensselaer Ave. 704-910-1478. www.thebarat316.com.
NYE AT STRIKE CITY Why not bowl your way through New Year's Eve? Strike City's bash includes passed appetizers, music from DJ Magnum, a balloon drop, a champagne toast and a goody bag. Here's to hoping you have many strikes! For tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com and search StrikeCity. $30 and up. Strike City, 210 E. Trade St. 704-716-9300. www.strikecitycharlotte.com.
Like Guess who
It's anybody's guess how well these new venues will bring in their first NYE — but we're confident by the end of the night, everyone will be on a first-name basis.
NEW YEAR'S EVE GATSBY CHRISTMAS BURLESQUE SHOW Inspired by 1920s grandeur and F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, this burlesque show and NYE event gives you the opportunity to pull out the feather boas and gangsta suits. Admission price includes hors d'oeuvres, a champagne toast, the burlesque show and party favors. For tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com and search Barreled Speakeasy. For reserved seating, email firstname.lastname@example.org. $80. 8 p.m. Barreled Speakeasy at The Lift, 1600 E. Woodlawn Road. 704-626-8850. www.barreledcharlotte.com.
SOUTHSIDE NEW YEAR'S EVE Formerly El Camino and before that the popular Andrew Blair's, Southside is a new Montford hot spot that's worthy of your presence. Why? The venue has been spruced up with a cozier lounge feel and features four bars with top-shelf liquor, beer and wine. For the NYE shenanigans, there will be three DJs spinning Top 40 hits, '80s and '90s music, EDM and house — now that's variety. There will also be a huge heated tent with appetizers, a midnight breakfast and a champagne toast at midnight. For questions, email email@example.com. To purchase tickets, visit www.ticketssoeasy.com and search Southside. $65 in advance. 9 p.m. Southside, 1600 Montford Drive. 704-525-8282. www.southsideCLT.com.
NYE AT BUBBLE The folks at Bubble, EpiCentre's new champagne bar and lounge, want you to ring in the new year in their chic quarters. Slender Barbies eyeing you from the walls might remind you that resolutions are in order, but otherwise the atmosphere is chill and you'll be able to bring in 2014 with music and a champagne toast at midnight (they've got the good stuff). Bubble, 210 E. Trade St. 704-733-9427. www.bubblecharlotte.com.
NYE MASQUERADE BALL Formerly Town Tavern, Sip has been renovated for a classier feel. Tickets cover beer, wine and liquor. There is also a complimentary buffet, a champagne toast at midnight, entertainment and more. VIP tables are available. To reserve a table with bottle service, email firstname.lastname@example.org. $75 and up. 9 p.m. Sip Charlotte, 200 N. Tryon St. 704-334-3315.
EPICENTRE COUNTDOWN NYE This New Year's Eve party at Studio Movie Grill, courtesy of The Sol Kitchen, King Entertainment and Roundtable, will feature music from DJ Deron Juan. $20-$75. 9 p.m. Studio Movie Grill, 210 E. Trade St. 704-972-1062. www.studiomoviegrill.com.
Like Chutes and Ladders
It's all a numbers game for these NYE events, offering a cover of $10 or less.
FIRST NIGHT CHARLOTTE The biggest family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration, presented by Charlotte Center City Partners and WBTV, is being held in the Q.C.'s brand-spankin' new Romare Bearden Park this year. You can expect a variety of entertainment, including a performance by Sol Fusion at 10 p.m. No booze, though. Free to attend. Kiddie events kick off at 12 p.m. Romare Bearden Park, 300 S. Church St. 704-332-2227. www.charlottecentercity.org.
NEW YEAR'S EVE AT THE BLIND PIG As much as we all love to sit around and drink ourselves silly, we also love to be entertained. That's The Blind Pig's forte, too. The NoDa bar offers games for us to play in our drunken stupor. Skeeball, Jenga, Connect Four and old-school arcade games are available for the inner child in you. In addition, there's no cover charge (ain't that something to squeal about?), drink specials, party favors and more. Free. 5 p.m. The Blind Pig, 453 E. 36th St. 980-819-9942. www.theblindpignoda.com.
HECTAGONS It's the perfect band name for a group of musicians that come at you from all sides. There's nothing linear in the wandering instrumentals of Hectagons — a quartet of talent formed by the combination of Wyley Buck Boswell's intricate guitar riffs, the driving rhythms of drummer Ricky Culp in coordination with the Maschine beats created by Justin Aswell Blackwood and the low-end life given by bassist Korey Dudley. The band has been together for years, but finally hit its stride with the addition of Aswell and the release of its debut album in January 2013 ... which makes it all the more sad that this is the band's final show. No doubt these four will go on to make great music in the future, but this is a "supergroup" worth catching one last time. With Gore Gore Luchadores, Modern Primitives, The Emotron, Dirty South Revolutionaries and Lil Skritt. $6. 9 p.m. The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Road. www.themilestoneclub.com. (Jeff Hahne)
NEW YEAR'S EVE AT TIN ROOF Tin Roof, a new, somewhat low-key EpiCentre establishment, offers live DJ sets from Bois Obscur and Dylan Deekay, and a champagne toast at midnight. VIP booths (with a bottle of champagne and snacks) available for $50. To reserve at VIP booth, email email@example.com. $5 cover at 9 p.m.; $10 cover after 10 p.m. Tin Roof, 210 E. Trade St., Suite 286. 704-910-1330. www.tinroofbars.com.
OVERBOARD Presented by Permanent Vacation, featuring the local music of Serfs, Hungry Girl, Ahuf, Little Bull Lee, Holy Roly Polies, Stranger Day and Elevator Jay. Yep — a diverse bunch for sure. Free. 8 p.m. Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. 704-942-7997. www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.
NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY AT FLYING SAUCER The most happening place in the University area, Flying Saucer is for beer lovers of all kinds. Its New Year's Eve party will feature a champagne toast at midnight and a DJ starting at 9 p.m., with special tappings of the following: Vintage 2012 Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks barleywine at 9 p.m., Founders Sweet Repute at 10 p.m. and Terrapin Wake 'N' Bake coffee oatmeal imperial stout at 11 p.m. $10 (includes party favors and champagne toast). 9 p.m. Flying Saucer, 9605 N. Tryon St. 704-717-8179. www.beerknurd.com.
LEVEL NEW YEAR'S EVE There will be three party levels, two DJs, a La Rumba dance level with salsa and merengue, special VIP group entourages and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. VIP exclusives include light hors d'oeurves. For VIP reservations, call 704-910-4754 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com and search Level. Advanced tickets start at $10. 9:30 p.m. Level Charlotte, 225 N Caldwell St. 704-910-4754. www.levelcharlotte.com.
NEW YEAR'S EVE AT PETRA'S PIANO BAR AND CABARET Petra's, a longtime Plaza Midwood venue for good reason, gives its New Year's Eve a twist. $5 gets you into see Leah Palmer-Licht perform an early set from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. After 10 p.m., the cover will be free, with music from DJ Phillip and a complimentary sparkling wine toast at midnight. Petra's Piano Bar and Cabaret, 1919 Commonwealth Ave. 704-332-6608. www.petraspianobar.com.
MASQUERADE NEW YEAR'S EVE AT ENSO The upscale Asian eatery is throwing a masquerade-style party with silver and gold decor. If the crowds get heavy, they'll be opening up the venue's new Silk Lounge to make room for rolling in the new year. No other party details at the time of press, so check Enso's website for more info to come. Free. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (serving food until 12 a.m.). Enso Asian Bistro I Sushi Bar, 210 E. Trade St., Suite A-108. 704-716-3676. www.ensocharlotte.com.
Like Hungry Hungry Hippo
Because the organizers of these events want you to eat, eat, eat.
BAKU: The upscale Japanese-themed restaurant in SouthPark opened this year and plans to celebrate its first New Year's Eve with a special dinner menu created by executive chef Michael Shortino. Seatings, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will include a menu with 12 "tastes" and a glass of Sokol Blosser's Evolution sparkling wine. After 8 p.m., guests can savor a set menu of 15 different "tastes," Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo sake paired with the sashimi course, and a Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial toast at midnight. $110 per person for dinner (plus tax and gratuity) between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.; $165 per person (plus tax and gratuity) after 8 p.m. Baku Robata-Bar-Sushi, 4515 Sharon Road. 704-817-7173. www.baku-restaurant.com.
5CHURCH: Folks with an appreciation for fine dining and atmospheric wonder will want to head to 5Church, which will be offering a special four-course menu (with choices for each course) prepared by chef Jamie Lynch and a glass of champagne. There's also a late-night option that includes music from DJ Stephen Warwick, a champagne toast at midnight, a live countdown of the ball drop, party favors, and an open bar and buffet from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. $65 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.; $85 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; $95 after 8 p.m.; pay an additional $30 for open bar (tax & gratuity not included). 5Church, 127 N. Tryon St. 704-919-1322. www.5church.com.
NAN AND BYRON'S: Another newbie on the restaurant front, Nan and Bryon's is the second child of 5Church owners. Tickets into this culinary pleaser include an open bar and buffet from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., music from DJ Clay Hefner, party favors, a live countdown of the ball drop and a champagne toast at midnight. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Levine Children's Hospital's Give Here For Kids Here. Limited $60 advance tickets available at www.ticketleap.com — search Nan and Byron's). 1714 South Blvd. 980-224-7492. www.nanandbyrons.com.
SOUL GASTROLOUNGE: The folks at Soul Gastrolounge want to make everything about your New Year's Eve special. This includes crafting a menu with new food features by Chef Jay — including kimchi-baked Kushi oyster, mmm — and cocktails by mixologist Andy Maurer. Of the latter, you'll see items like the "Black Tulip," a concoction of Laurent-Perrier champagne mixed with Left Hand Brewing Co. milk stout and some drops of Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate. The restaurant will also feature music from DJ Andy K and DJ Andy M and a champagne toast at midnight. Cheers! Reservations available online for NYE only. Soul Gastrolounge, 1500 Central Ave. 704-348-1848. www.soulgastrolounge.com.