FIRST NIGHT ST. PETE. The great creative stew that is St. Pete bubbles over on New Year’s Eve with the annual First Night celebration, a volunteer-run non-profit event dedicated to art in unexpected places. There’ll be music and art in over 12 venues throughout downtown St. Petersburg from 4 p.m. until midnight, with fireworks at 8 p.m. and midnight presented by The Annex, 400 Beach Seafood & Taphouse and Parkshore Grill. Many of the venues require a First Night Button for entry; they’re very cool objects, though (designed this year by Jennifer Kosharek), the sales support the artists, and you can buy them at the button sales tents in Straub Park or at one of the participating venues. From activities for kids and kids at heart (the First Night Bubblestomp!) to all kinds of music (Urban Gypsies, Mouth Council, One City Chorus) to an interactive arts park (Derek Donnelly, Zulu Painter, Creative Clay) to dance and cirque and silent disco, a scavenger hunt and a labyrinth, and best of all, the Resolution Bonfire, it’s an all-around joy. firstnightstpete.com
“MID-CENTURY MAGIC” at the MFA. Located right in the midst of all the First Night festivities, the Museum of Fine Arts is throwing a New Year’s bash of its own, inspired by its current exhibition of fabulous jewels by famed mid-century designer Jean Schlumberger. Get gussied up in something Audrey or Jackie or maybe even Mrs. Maisel might have worn, and enjoy a dinner-and-party combo ($350 per person, includes a special seated dinner at 7:30 p.m.) or a party-only option for $175 per person. Both ticket options include museum access (you’ll get to gaze at those jewels) and a party at 9:30 p.m. with open bar, savory bites and desserts, midnight champagne toast and St. Pete’s best view of First Night fireworks. Musical entertainment through the evening includes a dinner piano bar and American songbook cabaret performance by local favorites Paul Wilborn and Blue Roses, as well as DJ music. The party runs until 1 a.m., and valet parking is included. mfastpete.org.
TAMPA THEATRE NYE WRAP PARTY: AUSTIN POWERS. The folks at Tampa Theatre don’t just throw any old NYE party; they throw a film-tastic NYE party. This year’s theme is positively shagadelic: you’re invited to celebrate with Dr. Evil, Mr. Bigglesworth and Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery! There’ll be heavy hors d’oeuvres and desserts, live music courtesy of Underground Pilot , the ball drop LIVE on the big screen at midnight, and an open beer-and-wine bar all night long… all for “one meeeeellion dollars.” (They kid — tickets are $99 for general admission and $89 for theatre members). Austin Powers-themed signature cocktails (Mini-Me-mosas, anyone?) and a cash liquor bar will also be available. tampatheatre.org
ARMATURE WORKS TAMPA NYE EVE GALA. What? You haven’t been to Armature Works yet? Not possible, but whether or not you’ve missed out on the biggest phenom to hit Tampa’s riverfront in years (that is, until Water Street and Sparkman Wharf came along), then here’s your chance to enjoy it in style. What they’re calling “Tampa’s most exclusive New Year’s Eve Party” will feature top-notch hors d’oeuvres, top-shelf open bar, live music, DJ, entertainment, and dancing. You can’t beat the location, with its sweeping views of the river and downtown Tampa, and the building and its environs ain’t too shabby, either. And, of course, there’ll be fireworks. Tickets $225, $250 at the door, with special couch and table seating available for, um, lots more money. nyeaw.com.
NYE REVERSE HAPPY HOUR AT HAVEN. Looking for something a little more budget-minded for the big night? How about this? From 10 p.m. to midnight South Tampa’s excellent Haven restaurant (one of the Bern’s/Elevage/Epicurean family, with stellar executive chef Chad Johnson) is offering a reverse happy hour throughout the entire restaurant: $6 bites, $5 wine, $4 cocktail, $3 beers and $2 oysters, with a complimentary Veuve Clicquot toast at midnight. If you’ve ever been to a Haven happy hour, you know this is a gift from the culinary/cocktail gods. haventampa.com