Where to Party Artsy in Pinellas on New Years Eve

 
Practically every bar, lounge, venue, gallery, brewery, and hot dog stand in Pinellas County is having some sort of party on New Yearäó»s Eve. But not all New Yearäó»s parties are created equal äóñ here are our picks for the best events for arts-lovers of various tastes, budgets, and styles.
But wherever you end up, donäó»t forget the biggest rule of a successful New Yearsäó» äóñ spend it with friends.
 

First Night St. Pete

This is the Big Kahuna, the most creative New Yearäó»s extravaganza in the entire Bay. Much more than a single party, First Night is a collaboration among nearly every major arts organization in St. Petersburg, hosting a variety of events under a single banner. Fireworks kick off at 8 p.m., a great starter for families, then it all wraps up with the traditional midnight display.
In between, here are some of the highlights:
Wahh! Indian fusion band (featuring Rayzilla, host of WMNFäó»s excellent Step Outside), throughout the night at the Ale and the Witch.
Jazz at the First United Methodist Church, 212 3rd Street North
Salsa Dancing at the Museum of Fine Arts
First Night Poetry at the Studio@620 (Free with First Night Admission)
Improv Comedy at Unscripted Theatre (Free)
First Night Buttons $10 advance, $15 night of the event. Required for admission to most events.
Full Event Details Here
 

Light It Up Clearwater

Picked by US News as one of the top five family-friendly ways to celebrate New Yearsäó», Light it Up extends the normal sunset celebration at Clearwateräó»s Pier 60 into the wee hours. Nearby restaurants will offer New Yearäó»s specials, and sponsor Frenchyäó»s seafood restaurant will host its own celebration with live music. And, of course, itäó»s all topped off with one of the areaäó»s biggest fireworks displays.
Free
Clearwater Beach, 333 South Gulfview Boulevard
 

New Yearäó»s Eve Dance Party at the Bends

For the younger, edgier, and lower-budget set, DJs Big Chris and Sugarbear will spin dance-friendly pop, rap, and R&B, at a venue thatäó»s home base (and frequent gallery) for many area artists. Catered BBQ available.
The Bends
Free Admission, Info Here

Havana Nights New Yearäó»s at the Birchwood

The Birch and Vine complex is one of the most tasteful upscale joints in Pinellas, and this bash promises to be a grown-up alternative to your typical NYE debauch. It will feature a DJ on the roof and a band in the ballroom, and itäó»s close to the First Night festivities, if you want to catch a bit of both. This party also comes with a glitzy dress code, and men are encouraged to match the Cuban theme.
$183 with tax and fees. Includes open bar and dinner buffet.
Tickets Here
The Birchwood, 340 Beach Dr. NE
 

Shephardäó»s Beach Resorts NYE

Just to round things out, this looks like the party for true ragers. Itäó»s billed as the largest party on the Gulf of Mexico, with two venues, one featuring a DJ and one with a live band. The ball dropping from NYC will be played on a huge video screen.
$35, Tickets Here
Shepardäó»s Beach Resort, 619 South Gulfview Boulevard, Clearwater
 
Worth Crossing the Bay:
Krew of Sea SaveYours Steampunk New Yearäó»s Eve Bash
For those of a certain persuasion, Steampunk will never die. Dress up and enjoy the company of the Brandon-based, Steampunk-themed Gasparilla Krewe.
$75 advance, $90 at the door, includes hors däó»ourves, one drink and champagne toast
 

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