New Year’s Eve, while usually exciting, has the potential to be one of the most overhyped party nights of the year. Something about the promise of a New Year and a corresponding, symbolic clean slate elevates expectations for an amazing night out that really, when it’s all said and done, is just another night out, but with a background of sparkling lights and party favors in hand. If played right, however, New Year’s Eve can in fact be an amazing night, just by the fact that everyone usually steps up their game a bit — maybe it’s the spiffier outfits, dinner at a restaurant you don’t normally frequent, or running into people you have not seen in a while.
This year, there are plenty of reasons to get off the couch and out and about in Pensacola and Pensacola Beach. No matter your style, one of these celebrations likely has something to offer you at a venue familiar or different to your normal routine. There are plenty of opportunities to make this New Year’s Eve your own kind of epic.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
ELBOW ROOM 4 p.m. It’s a Pensacola tradition. Whether you stop in for one beer or stay until 2013 is just a memory, bathing yourself in the red light of the Elbow Room is a highly suggested New Year’s Eve activity. A $5.00 cover gets you inside one of Pensacola’s signature establishments where party favors and champagne abound. With one of the best full bar menus in town, it’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat. It’s the one place (and one night) where drinking from a shoe is generally socially acceptable — the bar passes around a champagne-filled shoe as part of the midnight toast, which is probably one of the most unique ways to say ‘Happy New Year!’ 2213 W. Cervantes St. 434-0300.
VINYL MUSIC HALL PRESENTS FREE NEW YEARS EVE BASH 5 p.m. In the midst of the Pelican Drop excitement, Vinyl Music Hall provides ‘80s hair metal fans a free respite from the common sounds of pop and dance music. The lineup of cover bands includes The Kings of Hollywood, Appetite for Destruction, Poison’d, Red, White & Crue and Def-Steria. All ages are welcome, but anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult guardian. 2 S. Palafox. Free. 607-6758 or vinylmusichall.com.
PENSACOLA PELICAN DROP 5:30 p.m. With the Pelican Drop party growing each year, there is no reason to sit at home on New Year’s Eve. Family festivities begin early in the evening, followed by the Raising of the Pelican at 8 p.m. and musical performances by Antoine Knight, Blend & DJ, Mojeaux, Big Jim Brown and the Speed Kings, Dew Pendleton & UR Friends and Timberhawk. Be part of the entertainment by jumping into a flash mob planned for 7 p.m. (visit the Pelican Drop website to learn the moves). It all culminates with the 14-feet tall illuminated pelican descending from its perch at Palafox and Government streets to mark the start of the New Year. pensacolapelicandrop.com
DINNER AT THE FISH HOUSE 6 and 9 p.m. The Fish House will have two seatings of its fixed-price New Year’s Eve dinner. For $125 a person, diners will be treated to a five-course dinner complete with wine pairings and complimentary favors. The Fish House and Atlas Oyster House will also accept reservations beginning at 5 p.m. for service from their regular dinner menus. 600 S. Barracks St. 470-0003 or goodgrits.com.
PENSACOLA SYMPHONY: CELEBRATE THE NEW YEAR! 7 p.m. The Pensacola Symphony can help you ring in the New Year with an exciting mix of popular and jazz hits performed at the Saenger. Peter Rubardt, conductor, and Chris Vadala, saxophone. The Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox. $22 -$84. 595-3880 or pensacolasaenger.com.
SEVILLE QUARTER’S NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY 7 p.m. If you like a large but contained party, Seville Quarter may be the place for you on New Year’s Eve. Live music will be provided by a number of Seville favorites, including Gretsch and the Modern Eldorados, Hotel Oscar, Scofield and the Rosie O’Grady’s Dueling Piano Show. DJs will keep dance music going throughout the night in Phineas Phogg’s and on the street. Party favors and a champagne toast at midnight after a complex-wide countdown are part of the special NYE swag. $35 in advance and $40 on the day of gets a guest one 2014 Membership Card along with admission to the NYE party, or those just want to dance the New Year in $20. 130 E. Government St. 434-6211 or sevillequarter.com.
NEW YEAR’S EVE AT JACKSON’S 7 and 9 p.m. Just down Palafox Street from the Pelican Drop, Jackson’s will offer two seatings of a fixed-price, three course meal with bottomless champagne for $125 a person in the President’s Room. The price includes complimentary favors and valet services. Jackson’s will open at 5 p.m., and will also feature service from the fall/winter dinner menu all evening long. 400 S. Palafox. Call 469-9898 to make reservations.
NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS ON THE BEACH 8 p.m. and midnight. Two fireworks displays will light up the sky over Pensacola Beach, the first at Portofino Boardwalk at 8 p.m. and the last at Gulf Pier at midnight. It’s a great opportunity to have a beach-side New Year’s Eve, with maybe dinner on the boardwalk. 932-1500 or pensacolabeachchamber.com.
NEW YEARS EVE BLOWOUT AT EMERALD CITY 9 p.m. Free champagne and party favors are just as small part of the fun during Emerald City’s New Year’s Eve party, which will feature a Top 13 of 2013 Countdown by DJ JAY-R and performances throughout the night by the Jewels of the Emerald Coast. A balloon drop at midnight with $500 in cash and prizes is just one more reason to stop by EC’s NYE extravaganza. 406 E. Wright St. 433-9491 or emeraldcitypensacola.com.
NEW YEARS EVIL AT THE HANDLEBAR 9 p.m. For the metal fans of Pensacola, The Handlebar has a party planned with you in mind. Featuring Slowpoke Rodriguez, Avail Aternal, Death Before Dying, Vithial, and more bands to be announced, H-bar promises theirs will be “The Most Metal New Year’s Celebration Around.” The Handlebar, 319 N. Tarragona St. 434-9060 or pensacolahandlebar.com.
THE SANDSHAKER CELEBRATES NEW YEAR’S EVE 9 p.m. Sandshaker favorite Something Huge will perform at the beach bar’s New Year’s Eve party, complete with party favors and a change to win diamond earrings. Free champagne at midnight, guests can watch both of the beach fireworks displays from the Shaker’s Observation Deck.
THE CABARET BALLOON DROP 12:01 a.m. Immediately following the Pelican Drop, head over to Jefferson Street for The Cabaret’s prize-filled balloon drop and champagne toast. It’s the perfect place to keep your downtown party going.101 S. Jefferson St. 607-2020 or cabaretpensacola.com.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
FIRST DAY HIKE 12 — 2 p.m. To begin your New Year by connecting with nature, or just getting a breath of fresh air, travel to the Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. Park Rangers will conduct a leisurely 1.3 mile guided hike along the Tarkiln Bayou Trail, sharing information about the native plants found along the way. The walk is both wheelchair and stroller accessible, and staff recommends guests bring along drinking water, insect repellant, walking shoes, binoculars and a camera. $3 per vehicle entry fee. 2401 Bauer Road 492-1595 or floridastateparks.org/TarkilnBayou.
POLAR BEAR PLUNGE 2 p.m. Snap out of your New Year’s stupor by taking an icy plunge into the Santa Rosa Sound behind Paradise Bar and Grill. Afterward reward yourself with a bowl of black-eyed peas, live blues and maybe even a tasty beverage at the bar. Adults and children can dive in and also receive a T-shirt for $10, and children 5th grade and under can join “The Polar Bear Cub Club” and participate for $5. Entry fee benefits the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce. Paradise Bar & Grill, 21 Via de Luna Drive 932-1500 or pensacolabeachchamber.com.