15 ways to ring in the new year in Las Vegas

15 ways to ring in the new year in Las Vegas
Fireworks light up the Strip as the clock strikes midnight in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve, 2013. (Las Vegas News Bureau)

The presents are unwrapped so it's time to start thinking about New Year's in Las Vegas. Here are 15 lively ways to welcome 2015 Vegas-style:

The hottest ticket for New Year's Eve is the concert featuring the combo of old-time crooner Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, who was still just a twinkle in her father's eye when Bennett was performing in Las Vegas showrooms. Tickets for the Dec. 31 show at the Cosmopolitan sold so quickly that a second performance on Tuesday was added. Tickets were still available on Ticketmaster and StubHub when I last checked.

The biggest show in town is the free fireworks display that erupts at midnight from atop seven resorts along Las Vegas Boulevard. ( the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and the MGM Grand.)  About 80,000 pyrotechnic devices will be fired during the 7-minute, 11-second performance, which can be seen from throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

The newest spot from which to view the fireworks is the High Roller Ferris wheel, which opened earlier this year. The world's tallest Ferris wheel will stop moving for the show and guests will be treated to unobstructed views. Various packages are available starting at $2,500 per cabin. (The cabins can hold as many as 40 of your closest friends.)


The Stratosphere tower offers the loftiest view of the show in the sky. Consider dinner at the Top of the World restaurant more than 800 feet above the Strip. A five-course meal costs $299 per person. Guests will be seated in two-hour blocks from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Reservations: (800) 998-6937.

Partyers wanting to chant "Happy New Year!" a bit early can stop by Tacos & Tequila at the Luxor, where the countdown to 2015 will coincide with the ball dropping in New York's Times Square at 9 p.m. Vegas time. Complimentary shots of tequila will replace the usual champagne.

A bit away from the sea of humanity on the Strip, 35 Steaks + Martinis at the Hard Rock Hotel will serve a prix-fixe menu with tempting offerings such as macadamia-crusted scallops, loin of venison and two-pound lobsters stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat. The price is $120 or $140, depending on the seating time. Add $40 for wine pairings. Info and reservations: (702) 693-5500.

Singer/songwriter Robin Thicke will perform inside one of the Strip's newest nightclubs, Foxtail at the recently opened SLS resort. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Tickets start at $50 for women and $100 for men and include an open bar until 12:30 a.m.

DJ and Grammy-winning rapper Lil Jon will provide the entertainment inside Surrender, the upscale nightclub at the Encore. General admission is $52 for women and $77 for men, but if money’s no object, consider one of three Ultimate VIP packages priced at $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000. That, of course, includes the best seats in the house, bottle service for 10, a meet-and-greet with Lil Jon and more. Info: (702) 770-7300.

The entertainment is first-rate and on the house at Le Bistro Lounge at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. Singer, songwriter and pianist George Bugatti, whom Tony Bennett once called "one of my favorites," is to perform from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Guests must be 21, but there's no cover charge.

As New York's Times Square drops its glittery ball at 9 p.m. Pacific Time, the revelry gets underway on the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York Hotel & Casino. The free "Bridge Bash" is to feature a live DJ, dancing and, of course, the midnight fireworks. Inside the resort, there will be all-you-can-drink champagne for $40. The offer is good at four bars from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m.

New Year’s Eve is the one night of the year when there’s an admission charge at the Fremont Street Experience. The “Downtown Countdown” runs from 6 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. and features various tribute bands (think Led Zeppelin, Queen and Van Halen) and a rollicking block party. Tickets are $30 if purchased online by Friday. Otherwise, they’re $40 both online and at the gates.

Enjoy unlimited drinks while watching the activities on Fremont Street with the deal offered by the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino. From 9 p.m. to midnight, hotel guests and non-guests can get well cocktails, domestic beer and wine at three venues for just $29. Wristbands will be available for purchase starting at 3 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

People seeking New Year's Day nourishment can enjoy a jazz brunch at Country Club, a steakhouse at the Wynn. From 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., guests can enjoy the sounds of a Dixieland band as they sample dozens of dishes including eggs Versailles, shrimp and grits, and creole gumbo. The brunch price of $75 includes tax and tip.

New Year’s Day is appropriately designated as “National Hangover Day,” and those who aren’t too hung over themselves can witness the unveiling of the new “Hangover Room” exhibit at Madame Tussauds. A likeness of “Alan,” the character played by Zach Galifianakis in “The Hangover,” will join the existing wax figure of “Phil” (Bradley Cooper) at the 3 p.m. launch of the exhibit, which includes the notorious hotel room in which the guys stayed and, of course, a wedding chapel.

For those lingering a while in Vegas, Justin Timberlake takes the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 8 p.m. Jan. 1 and 2 for the final dates of his "20/20 Experience World Tour." Tickets start at $89.50, not including fees.

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