Last week on “The 7” we started the weekend on Wednesday. This week, we’re pushing it right to Monday because that’s New Year’s Eve, what hardcore partyers call “amateur hour.” In Long Beach there are lots of options, dining options, fireworks options, cruising options, kids options, still other fireworks options and let-someone-else-drive options.
We know the cornerstone of New Year’s Eve celebrations, for those who actually make it to midnight, is the countdown, the kiss and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.” The lyrics for that song are taken from a poem by Robert Burns. If you wondered what the hell it means, it’s something like “days gone by” or “long, long ago,” though, in a modern context, it more accurately communicates “Can we please go home now?” and/or “Is he gonna be alright?”
Oh, and remember to make your New Year’s resolutions. Mine? To resist the urge to tell people what to do with their free time over the weekend. I really need to work on that.
OK, party time …
NEW YEAR’S EVE
New Year’s Eve is tough if you have kids. They want to stay up to midnight, you want access to a time machine so you can educate Pre-Kid You about “choices.” But, we live in the now and on New Year’s Eve LB Littles is going to make things better for your family with its Noon Year’s Eve celebration at the Expo Arts Center in Bixby Knolls.
The celebration has the “ultimate family dance party” if it does say so itself. There will be DJs, interactive art and music stations. When the clock strikes 12—noon, that is—there will be a balloon drop and a milk and cookies “toast.” It’s just like how the grownups celebrate the new year, minus the lawlessness and regret.
Admission for kids 12 and under is free, for those 13 and older, it’s $14. That not only gets you admission and access to all activities, but a raffle ticket for giveaways as well as complimentary snacks. A portion of all sales go to support the Bixby Knolls Community Foundation.
Expo Arts Center is located at 4321 Atlantic Avenue.
Long Beach admires two things: exceptional parallel parking skills and fireworks. As for the latter, we just can not get enough of the boom-boom. We don’t have one but TWO fireworks celebrations for the fourth of July. We shoot off fireworks to signal the beginning of the holiday season; who the hell does that? And when New Year’s Eve comes around we double up on New York, Sydney and all the rest by doubling up on the picturesque explosions.
You probably are aware of the one that happens at midnight over the Queen Mary, but you may not know that there is a first fireworks display at 9 p.m. to coincide with the new year coming to the East Coast.
New Year’s Eve at The Waterfront is organized by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, held near the Pine Ave. Pier and is a free public event that provides an opportunity for people to celebrate the coming New Year with friends and family.
Downtown’s waterfront amphitheater comes alive with a flurry of activities suitable for the whole family. Entertainment is sponsored by The Pike Outlets features live performances by Long Beach Unplugged, DJ Joey C, and The Aerial Butterflies who will perform aerial silk performances.
Food, beer and wine will be served by Q Smokehouse all night with special pricing from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The kids’ zone will host free face painting, two dance party bounce houses and an arts and crafts area.
And then, at 9 p.m., the sky will light up for an East Coast countdown with a 10-minute fireworks spectacular from Rainbow Harbor co-sponsored by Gladstone’s Long Beach and Shoreline Village.
But this one is on a boat, so, you know, there’s that. You see, you were thinking (hoping?) that because it’s New Year’s Eve it precludes family time. Not true, Papa Smurf! Head down to the water and on to Harbor Breeze’s Family Fireworks Cruise.
You’ll shove off (boating term) at 7:30 p.m. and cruise around Long Beach Harbor, a narrated tour, where you might learn a thing or two. The city will be all lit up and lovely and, who knows, you may get close enough to spy some of the revelers get all lit up as well.
Then, at 9 p.m., you can watch that first batch of fireworks from a perfect spot, on the water, looking back at the city framing the fireworks. Nice.
For the third straight year, Aquarium of the Pacific is getting into the New Year’s Eve spirit—if that’s a thing—with its New Year’s Eve Night Dive. Much of the aquarium will be open to revelers, with live bands playing in the Great Hall and DJs spinning in the galleries.
You can dance, you can eat, you can drink and, if you’re in the mood, you can stroll around and communicate with your fish friends, though, don’t be surprised if they are less than friendly, fish are notoriously stand-offish.
At midnight there will be a confetti drop in the Great Hall. If it all gets too much for you, you can head to the Ocean Theater which will be converted into the “Chill Zone” where chill music will be played while “trippy visuals” are projected on the screen. It’s like a Tuesday at Matthew McConaughey’s.
Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way.
If you can pull yourself away from the water, head inland a bit and over to Que Sera for its Totally ‘80s New Year’s Eve celebration. DJs Dave Bats, Andy Smith, Jak Syn and Ralphie Nigma will be spinning music from what that decade was famous for, New Wave, Ska, Punk and, it says here “alternative.” Look, I was alive in the ‘80s, there was no “alternative” music then, we called it “college radio” music and it usually sounded like someone doing their REM imitation. Speaking of which, DJ, can I request “Pretty Persuasion?” Oh, and speaking of requests, what’s the over/under on how many times “Love Will Tear Us Apart” will be requested? I’d put it at an easy half-dozen.
Frankie Says Go!
Que Sera is located at 1923 E 7th Street.
Now whether it’s the 9 p.m. fireworks, or the midnight fireworks or, perish the thought, no fireworks at all we must cop to loving the view from Fuego at the Hotel Maya. The Maya sits next door to the Queen Mary and Fuego is the Latin-infused restaurant that has wonderful patio dining that looks directly back over at Long Beach across the harbor back toward the city. You can get a different, spectacular view of the city and are in a great position to watch the fireworks from a respectable distance.
Now, it so happens to be sitting on the patio on New Year’s Eve you’ll have to take part in the restaurant’s five-course meal, a meal that includes Crema de Langosta, Wagyu Filet Mignon, Chilean Sea Bass and Chocolate Indulgence that includes dark chocolate sabayon mousse and raspberry jam, so that you can break your New Year’s resolution even before it began. Congrats!
Hotel Maya is located at 700 Queensway Drive.
Once again, Long Beach Transit will be offering free rides starting at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and extended as late as 2:35 a.m. No special coupons or tickets will be required, just jump aboard. The annual promotion is aimed at encouraging New Year’s revelers to make responsible plans and take public transit to and from festivities to avoid drinking and driving.
Frankie Says Do It!
Oh, and Happy New Year!
Steve Lowery is the Long Beach Post's Arts & Culture editor. You can follow him @SteveLowery12.
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