On December 31, 2011, the Las Vegas Strip will overflow with about 300,000 people. New Year’s Eve is the city’s favorite celebration. The streets fill with revelers, parties are everywhere, and fireworks fill the air at midnight, all to make sure the new year gets off to a good start.
Are you thinking about celebrating New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas? If so, make reservations now. Hotels still have rooms available, but be prepared to pay very high rates for December 31. Rooms that face the Strip have a great view of the midnight fireworks, but they come at a premium. However, getting to watch this once-a-year spectacular from your warm, comfortable hotel room is probably worth the extra cash, provided it fits in your budget.
After you’ve secured a room, the next step is to decide what you’d like for New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas.
Visitors who don’t mind the near-freezing temperatures may want to bundle up and join the gigantic block party on the Strip. Las Vegas Boulevard is closed to vehicles at about 6 p.m., and a crowd of happy revelers fill the street. You’ll notice most of them are carrying really large drinks, which helps the happiness level (and occasionally fuels some rowdiness, thus the large police presence).
On the Strip, you’ll get to see a parade of free entertainment: people in costumes, freshly married couples, news anchors struggling to file their reports, and a variety of music and other street-side acts—like the 2012 Big Air Jump, a 11:59 p.m. motorcycle jump over a 747 airplane.
At the New York-New York, the Bridge Bash is almost at street level, but it’s still a private party. For $150 per person, you’ll get an open bar, live music, and a terrific spot to see the fireworks.
All Las Vegas nightclubs are offering special New Year’s Eve tickets. For the best view of the Strip’s fireworks, as well as an exclusive club experience, the Foundation Room’s NYE Gala at Mandalay Bay is $100 per ticket, and the club’s balcony view of the Strip is considered one of the best places to see the fireworks.
Just off the Strip, the uber-hip Palms offers three clubs with killer views: Moon, Ghostbar, and the Playboy Club. New Year’s Eve tickets start at $137, and go up depending on the club and package you want. A VIP ticket with access to all clubs (including Rain, on the casino level) is $400.00.
Downtown Las Vegas has its own party. The Fremont Street Experience will host Tribute Palooza, featuring cover bands like Fan Halen and Led Zepagain. Admission is $20-$30, with a discount for Las Vegas residents. Instead of a pyrotechnic display at midnight, Viva Vision bursts into a non-explosive LED fireworks show.
Along the Strip, the big event of the evening is the fireworks display set off from the hotels’ rooftops at midnight. Just before midnight, people start pouring out of the hotels, into the street, to look up at the colorful, carefully synchronized explosions designed by Fireworks by Grucci of New York. Eight hotel casinos will set off fireworks this year: MGM Grand, Tropicana Las Vegas, Aria – City Center, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, Venetian, and the Stratosphere.
Photo courtesy of Michael Asuncion