By Rob Kachelriess | @rkachelriess
Ready to say goodbye to a terrible year? For most of us, the arrival of 2021 can’t come soon enough, but New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world are limited due to the coronavirus pandemic. Las Vegas is no exception, yet there is still much to enjoy, including parties, fireworks and even a few at-home options.
Where to See Fireworks on New Year’s Eve?
The traditional fireworks show above the Strip is cancelled this year. However, the Plaza Hotel & Casino is continuing with its annual presentation. Traffic will be temporarily closed on Main Street (just west of the Fremont Street Experience) as fireworks erupt above the resort at the stroke of midnight. The Plaza is hosting a VIP party at the pool deck as part of a room package to watch the display. If you need another option, some of the hotel rooms at the new Circa Resort & Casino next door will have some amazing up-close views. Ask for availability on the west side of the tower to literally see the fireworks right outside your window.
Otherwise, the nearest official fireworks show is Rockets Over the River about 90 miles away in Laughlin. Social distancing guidelines are being enforced with observers encouraged to watch the midnight spectacular above the Colorado River from vehicles or hotel rooms (with many Laughlin resorts offering great discounts right now). The show will be synchronized to music on 104.9 KISS FM.
Of course, Las Vegans will probably see and hear a few of their neighbors setting off fireworks from parks and backyards on New Year’s Eve. While it makes for a colorful sight around the valley, know that the personal use of fireworks is illegal in Clark County, even though they’re sold in Pahrump and on Native American territory in Moapa.
Where to Party on the Strip?
The Strip traditionally closes to traffic on New Year’s Eve, allowing revelers to gather and celebrate in the biggest block party of the year. Even with the fireworks cancelled, the Strip will still close to cars and other automobiles, but from a shorter-than-usual distance between Reno and Spring Mountain. Expect a more reserved atmosphere and as always, chilly weather. So think twice about leaving the house for the Strip. It won’t be quite the same this year.
Major resorts still have celebrations planned. The Strat is keeping its sky-high thrill rides open to 1 a.m. with one contest winner taking the SkyJump from near the top of the 1,149-foot tower at the stroke of midnight. The resort will also host special event dinners at the Top of the World restaurant, which should provide great views of the fireworks at the Plaza along with the SkyPod observation deck. Capacity is limited.
Most nightclubs are taking a break from celebrity guests and over-the-top parties this year. However, Tao at the Venetian, Marquee at the Cosmopolitan and XS at Encore will all have New Year’s Eve celebrations in a lower-key lounge-style format with food, dance music and a champagne toast at midnight. The dance floors will generally be off limits with table reservations required.
Take part in a VIP Cocktail & Dessert Extravaganza at the Sahara. Roam between three casino bars and the Bella Bistro restaurant from 7 p.m. to midnight for unlimited champagne, wine, beer, cocktails and desserts. The wristbands are a great deal at $59 per person.
The High Roller observation wheel at The LINQ is welcoming guests with a champagne toast 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with tickets at $75 per person (or $50 when booked by December 28). A full rotation is about 30-40 minutes, peaking at a height of 550 feet.
The Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip has seatings at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. for a comedy show featuring Derek Richards, a three-course meal and open bar for $150 per person.
Where to Party off the Strip?
Avoid the chaos of the Strip at The Stirling Club, just a block east on Paradise Road. Non-member tickets for the New Year’s Eve party are $175 per person (or $500 per couple) and include live entertainment from The Immersive Group and The Voice contestant Cameron Dettman. Food stations will serve caviar bumps, champagne, chilled seafood, carved meats, sushi, desserts and more.
Guests at The Front Yard at the Ellis Island Casino & Brewery can party the night away as part of a ’70s-themed bash. Dress in your vintage best for your chance to win a prize. The night also features a steak and lobster dinner and open bar packages. Tickets begin at $95.
🥂 Whether you’re recovering from festivities or keeping the party going, we’ve got you covered in The Front Yard! ✨ Weekend Brunch 10AM-3PM 📷: @local.livinPosted by Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery on Saturday, December 26, 2020
Topgolf is open until midnight on New Year’s Eve and while the party atmosphere will be toned down this year, guests can still reserve private driving bays while ordering food and drink. Try out the new Angry Birds game, that blends golfing skill with augmented reality.
One of the best places to be on New Year’s Eve is AREA15, which is throwing its first-ever Illuminate celebration. Choose general admission or VIP seating (at socially distanced tables) to enjoy food by Todd English, bottle service, a champagne toast, live music and roaming performers. Wear white or neon to help “illuminate” the party and enjoy unlimited access to select art and entertainment attractions. Tickets begin at $300 per couple.
PT’s Taverns, a popular bar for locals with more than 60 locations throughout Southern Nevada, will have a champagne toast at midnight with noisemakers and festivities. Stick around and enjoy a late-night happy hour menu from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Where to Party Downtown?
The annual New Year’s Eve party at the Fremont Street Experience is moving forward with less fanfare and stricter limitations. The five-block promenade is usually open to the general public, but will be restricted to ticket holders (at $25 per person) to limit capacity. No live performances this year, but guests can ride the Slotzilla zipline and watch a 25-year video retrospective of Fremont Street on the Viva Vision video canopy. Of course, you can also catch the Plaza fireworks just outside the west gate at midnight.
The Gold Spike and Inspire are also hosting New Year’s Eve parties with bottle service and tiered pricing in a lounge setting. The Nerd at the Neonopolis has a five-hour open bar of well and call drinks for $100. Guests can also enter to win a highly coveted PlayStation 5. If you prefer to maximize social distancing to the fullest, the Downtown Grand has a two-night penthouse deal that includes lavish accommodations, airport transportation and a drink package with champagne, vodka, tequila and mixers.
What if I Just Stay Home?
In an era of social distancing, it’s never been more convenient to enjoy New Year’s Eve from the comfort of home. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority is hosting a virtual livestream countdown on its webpage as well as Facebook and Youtube. The presentation begins at 11:45 p.m. and includes a live DJ, “epic sights” and the destruction of a 2020 sign that’s replaced with a new one for 2021.
For those watching on television, KLAS Channel 8 is going all-out for its New Year’s Eve coverage, broadcasting live from the new Circa Resort & Casino, beginning at 8:58 p.m. to include countdowns in four time zones across America. Viewers will see appearances from Vegas celebrities, music from Zowie Bowie and celebrations throughout the resort, including the Stadium Swim pool deck and the brand-new rooftop Legacy Club.
You can also throw your own at-home gala with food and cocktails by Piero’s and Secret Burger, beginning at $99 per person. The takeaway package includes hors d’oeuvres and cocktails with the option to add on meals, other treats and ultra-luxe Louis XIII decanters.
No matter what you do or where you go for New Year’s Eve, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing. It’s been a difficult year and we’re all looking forward to the promise of 2021. Do your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and hopefully, we’ll return to full-scale celebrations for 2022 and many years to come.