By E.C. Gladstone
New York may have Times Square, Sydney may have the Harbour Bridge, London may have the Eye, but possibly no other city in the world grabs onto New Year’s Eve with such gusto as Las Vegas. Las Vegas hotels hosts lavish celebrations in their restaurants, lounges and nightclubs, competing with the big multi-site fireworks display over the closed-to-traffic Strip at midnight.
Though certainly all of the top restaurants at Las Vegas hotels will be hosting lavish special meals on this special night (if you need inspiration, check out In Vegas, chefs are the stars of the Strip ), I would lean towards several with exquisite views. My picks include Alize at Palms, miX at THEHotel, Paris Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower Restaurant …
Binion’s Ranch House downtown, and of course, Top Of The World at Stratosphere (which has a very good creative new menu). Capital Grille in the Fashion Show Mall and Voodoo Steak at Rio would also be solid New Year’s Eve choices.
This will be a big NYE for the club world: several new opulent outlets debut tonight, each competing for your drink dollar. One of the newest Las Vegas hotels, CityCenter’s Aria, will host DJ Tiesto in its technologically advanced new Haze club as well as debut the Elvis-inspired Gold lounge; Hard Rock Hotel opens Vanity in its new suite tower (rumors are that Diddy will be there), while hosting a final blow-out at Body English, where Eric Cubeechee DJs the pioneering club’s closing night (it’s being remodeled, reportedly, as an after-hours venue).
Elsewhere, celebrity-studded New Year’s Eve events are happening at plenty of Las Vegas hotels, including Palazzo’s Lavo, where Nicole Ritchie hosts and hubby Joel Madden DJs; TAO (Venetian) where Christina Aguilera hosts, LAX (Luxor), where 50 Cent hosts and performs, ditto for Pete Wentz at Jet (Mirage) and Shwayze at Christan Audiger The Nightclub (TI). And Eva Longoria Parker, naturally, is hosting at her new club, Eve, in CityCenter’s Crystals mall.
A couple other clubworld highlights: The nightclubs at Palms will again offer special wristbands for admission to all their clubs — Ghostbar, Moon, Playboy Club, and of course, Rain, where Paul Oakenfold will spin. And, though it’s “just” a lounge, the 23rd floor skylobby bar at Mandarin Oriental in City Center will definitely be a new coveted destination for a great Strip view in elegant surroundings.
Some of the more significant New Year’s Eve concerts at Las Vegas hotels include the John Mayer Trio at Hard Rock Hotel’s Rogue Joint, Maroon 5 at Palm’s The Pearl … Righteous Bros.’ Bill Medley and Prince tribute Purple Reign (separately) at South Point, Merle Haggard at the Star of the Desert Arena in Primm, and cult faves the Dan Band at Dick’s Last Resort (Excalibur).
The night before (12/30), Barry Manilow will be playing the last show of his five-year run at the Hilton (fear not, Fanilows … he moves to the Paris Las Vegas hotel in March).
But even if you can’t decide which event to attend in Vegas, fear not. As with every New Year’s Eve on the Strip, you will find that the party is literally anywhere you are.
Insider Tip: Fremont Street Experience will be hosting a huge party with tribute bands on two stages and other entertainment all night long, $20 for visitors but free to local residents!
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Veteran entertainment and travel writer E. C. Gladstone writes regularly for Las Vegas Magazine and the Las Vegas Weekly, also interviewing top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for other local and national publications and Web sites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.