In November, the city of Houston announced the cancellation of New Year’s Eve Live, citing a shortage of corporate donations. The city’s official party, which had run for three years at Discovery Green, attracted more than 10,000 people downtown last year despite a heavy rainstorm. Now that NYE Live is off the table, how should Houstonians ring in the New Year? Here are a few suggestions:
Free Press Houston NYE!
With the cancellation of NYE Live, Free Press Houston—the organizers of Free Press Summer Fest—has stepped into the breach with a blockbuster outdoor show in Sam Houston Park featuring live performances by Girl Talk, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Big Freedia, and others. The music begins at 4pm on both the Pegstar.net Stage and the Fitzgerald’s Stage. And forget typical fair fare—the Free Press event features the “Houston Gastrodome,” a food pavilion offering choices from Uchi, Nara, Fluff Bake Bar, El Big Bad, Lowbrow, Prego, Boheme, and Radical Eats, plus eight of Houston’s favorite food trucks.
$50–215. 1000 Bagby Park. Gates: 4pm. Rain or shine. fphnye.com
Spend New Year’s Eve with one of the funniest and most versatile comedians working today. Journeyman D.L. Hughley first came to attention as the star of the ABC/UPN sitcom The Hughleys, in which he played a vending machine salesman who moves his family out of inner city LA into a nearly all-white suburb. Hughley went on to co-star in Spike Lee’s documentary The Original Kings of Comedy; host a late-night show for CNN; and land a recurring role on several sitcoms. But his first love has always been stand-up comedy. “From the minute I first walked onstage and picked up a microphone,” he has said, “I knew that it was what I was meant to do.”
$45. 7:30pm. Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Fwy, Space 455. 713-333-8800. improvhouston.com
4th Annual Royal New Year’s Eve Ball
A car dealership isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind in connection with New Year’s Eve, and it isn’t quite clear what the difference is between a “Royal” and a standard NYE party. But anyone willing to throw down $50–895 for entry into this bacchanal can expect to see an aerialist on stilts, a “snake enthusiast,” a Zumba performance, belly dancers, body paint models, celebrity impersonators, and 3 live DJs. 21 and up only.
$50–895. 8:30pm–2am. Momentum BMW Southwest, 10002 Southwest Fwy. royalnewyears.com
New Year’s Eve PubCrawl
Organized by Pubcrawls.com, which claims to be the “world’s biggest and most popular pub crawl,” this event kicks off at Midtown Drinkery, then makes its increasingly inebriated way to Tailgates, Little Woodrows, Double Cross Lounge, and other midtown destinations TBA. Each bar will offer $2 12-oz draft beers, $3 domestic bottles, and $4 mixed well cocktails. Must be 21 years old to participate. Register at Midtown Drinkery (2416 Brazos St) between 5 and 11pm.
$41.14. Event ends at 2am. pubcrawls.com
Evolve 2014 NYE
If your idea of NYE is getting blind drunk, making out with a stranger, and waking up covered in glitter, then this “conscious New Year’s Eve party” may not be for you. On the other hand, if you’re intrigued by a party that promises to raise awareness through meditation, dubstep music, and a “letting go fire ceremony,” by all means head over to The Rice Mansion, where you will also witness performances by aerial acrobats, acro yoga experts, and so-called flow artists.
$65. 9pm–2am. 1505 Hadley St. evolvehouston.com
13 Celsius "Midnight in Paris" New Year’s Eve and Fourth Anniversary Celebration
13 Celsius is equivalent to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just slightly warmer than it will be tonight. Fortunately you’ll be inside enjoying what Houstonia food editor Robb Walsh recently called “arguably the coolest wine bar in town.” To celebrate its fourth birthday, the bar will feature a glass painting by Houston artist Ebony Porter, as well as a balloon drop, party favors, and cake. Costumes encouraged. Groups of up to six can reserve sofa areas for $300 (including a magnum of champagne and a pairing menu). Tables and seats at the bar are $13 per person in addition to your bill.
Begins at 4pm. 3000 Caroline St. 713-529-8466. 13celsius.com
Other than Brazilians, no one enjoys carnivals like the Venetians, who have been holding balls in the Piazza San Marco since at least the 12th century. Ars Lyrica celebrates that tradition with a New Year’s Eve program of music from Venice, including works by Monteverdi and Vivaldi. A holiday gala will follow in the Hobby Center lobby, and carnival masks are encouraged.
9pm. $35–55. Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby St. arslyricahouston.org
House of Blues
This year, the HOB is hosting four simultaneous NYE parties. In the Foundation Room, between 5 and 11pm, members can enjoy a buffet prepared by the Foundation Room chefs ($100). In the music hall, singer-songwriter and Woodlands native Hayes Carll plays his signature Americana roots music ($30–45). On the Crossroads stage, the Thunderpants headline an '80s-themed throwback concert ($20–30). And in the Bronze Peacock room, the tropical dance group Bombón y Top Notch performs Moombahton music, hosted by Fat Tony y la Camadre Mel ($10–30).
Visit website for performance times. House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St. houseofblues.com