If there were ever a town tailor-made for ringing in the New Year, it’s Las Vegas! Already renowned as a 24-hour adult amusement park, Las Vegas has something for every night crawler. From the flashy production shows to punk nightclubs to yuppie singles bars to the flashback dance hops, it’s all here, basking in neon, blinking until dawn.
On New Year’s weekend, party-goers will be able to choose from about 65 different hotel shows plus another 70 lounge acts (see our Show Guide). The shows range from star-studded productions such as MGM Grand’s EFX to awesome stage spectaculars like Siegfried & Roy’s space-age fantasy at the Mirage to Cirque du Soleil’s surreal Mystere at Treasure Island.
If you plan to attend a hotel production show, be prepared to pay a slightly higher ticket price on New Year’s Eve. For instance, Mystere’s ticket prices will increase from $80 to $100, though the latter includes champagne, party favors and a souvenir program. Also be prepared to wait in lines or, better yet, book in advance.
In lieu of their production shows, many hotels offer other forms of entertainment. At the Stratosphere, for instance, there will be a party held in the showroom from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with the live band, Sin Sity Suitz, plus a lavish dinner buffet and open bar. For your $200 you get favors and can dance the night away.
Note that many of the casino parties are private affairs, elaborate shindigs for the hotel’s best players. Typically, there’s no charge to attend, but you must be an invited guest of the casino. If you’re a regular player, check with a casino host or the marketing department about getting an invitation.
As an alternative to the stage extravaganza, some hotels book celebrity headliners. Among the big-name stars to appear on Sunday (New Year’s Eve is outrageous comedian Don Rickles (Paris-Las Vegas), Kool & the Gang (Fremont Street Experience), country star Neal McCoy (Sam’s Town), jazz artists Boney James and Jonathan Butler (Texas Station), and Wayne Newton (Stardust).
On Saturday night (Dec. 30), you can travel back to the ”˜60s with America (Flamingo Las Vegas), or enjoy the unsinkable Debbie Reynolds (The Orleans). Rockers will line up for Journey and REO Speedwagon (Mandalay Bay Events Center).
Casino lounge shows may be one of the better bargains over New Year’s. The talent is typically the high end (for lounge shows), while cover charges and drink minimums are reasonable.
The nightclubs and dance halls around town will surely be packed on New Year’s. The Hard Rock Hotel is a hot spot for jet setting in its ultra chic, Baby’s nightclub. A slightly more mature spot is Drai’s at the Barbary Coast. The nightclub meanders through troves of rooms that flow into one another through French doors and twisting hallways.
For more private encounters, climb aboard Cleopatra’s Barge (Caesars Palace) for dancing to live bands, usually rock or rhythm and blues.
No celebration would be complete without fireworks, and this year the Strip will feature a combined display that will ignite at Mandalay Bay and work its way north over a 10-second span, culminating at the Stratosphere. In those 10 seconds, fireworks will explode at 12 different properties. It should be spectacular.