What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Good question. Try these answers on for size.

Planning the perfect New Year's Eve is never easy. First you have to decide whether to go solo, as a couple or en masse, and then locate the appropriate party partners. Next, you must focus on what kind of festivities to pursue: intimate, loud, pot-lid banging or chandelier-hanging. After that, there's the problem of deciding how much money -- if any -- you want to spend, and then finding that money. And finally, many of you will want to chart your course in order to avoid the sobriety checkpoints that are sure to be scattered all over the metro area.

If coming up with your own New Year's Eve plan gives you a headache bigger than the one you anticipate suffering through on January 1, here are some handy New Year's Eve itineraries, tailored to type. Pick one, and we guarantee you won't find yourself all dressed up with nowhere to go on December 31.

CHEAPSKATE

Lucky you! The very best entertainment in town this New Year's Eve is absolutely free. After last year's Why 2K bust, Denver is making up for lost time by throwing the biggest party in the country, a daylong Millennium Celebration. For starters, the city's major cultural institutions -- the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Colorado History Museum, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (for purists, that's the institution known as the Denver Museum of Natural History for the last hundred years), and Colorado's Ocean Journey are offering free admission all day. If you haven't checked out the DAM's splendid Painters and the American West, an exhibit of Western art from the Anschutz collection, hurry and see it now before all of those Stock Show visitors start cramming the place.

But the fun really begins after dark, with the 16th Street Mall the center of activities. Entertainers take to the street about 7 p.m., with stages at Glenarm Place (the Pavilions) and Arapahoe and 17th streets, and plenty of acts in between. Music from a variety of bands starts at 8 p.m., ending just before 11:45 p.m., when the World Anthem debuts. The anthem contains snippets from more than a hundred national anthems, and while the concept's corny, this is the world premiere! And remember, it's free!

Besides, two minutes before midnight, the main event begins: Fireworks! Designed by Pierre-Alain Hubert, who helped with last year's fireworks show in Paris, the blastoff begins from the D&F tower. But there will also be fireworks shooting off of seven additional rooftops along the mall, and the finale will burst over the Platte Valley. For best viewing, smart cheapskates will stake out a place on the 16th Street Mall, looking west toward the D&F tower.

All in all, it's a great way to spend New Year's Eve -- and you haven't spent a nickel. Except, of course, getting downtown. Meter parking -- if you can find it, since several downtown streets will be closed -- isn't free until 10 p.m., and lots are certain to be charging a premium. Your best option is light rail or using RTD Park-n-Ride: Buses will be heading downtown from seventeen metro locations between 7 and 10 p.m.; they'll leave downtown between 12:15 and 2 a.m. The price is $4 per person (no passes), but it's a bargain. No parking tickets, no DUIs.

You're a free man.

MR./MRS./MS. MONEYBAGS

You bought Christmas presents for everyone you know -- diamond studs and new Sony PlayStations for all my friends! -- and somehow you still have a couple hundred thousand dollars just lying around, gathering dust. The Westin Hotel-Tabor Center is ready to help clean you out with its Across the Pond New Year's Eve Package.

Officially, the $200,001 -- but that's for two! -- package opens with two plum seats to the December 31 performance of The Scarlet Pimpernel at the Buell Theatre. But we suggest you get a head start on the evening by opening your wallet a little wider and stopping off at your favorite upscale wine shop for a bottle of non-vintage Billecart Salmon champagne. Sure, it will set you back another $500, but at 600 ml, it should last through the night. And what a night it will be! After the show, you'll enjoy dinner and dancing at the downtown Westin, where you'll also sleep it off in sumptuous accommodations, waking up just in time to catch your New Year's Day flight to London.

You and your companion will spend three days in England -- which should give you enough time to see the crown jewels and maybe even the Queen Mum herself -- before taking the Eurostar through the underwater Chunnel to France, where you'll waste away a few more days in Paris. Although you'll have just missed the yearlong sparkling spectacle of La Tour Eiffel, never fear: The boutiques and stores along the Rue St. Honor will certainly be open for business. Before you catch your plane home, stop by Fauchon or Hediard for some pâté and tapenade. But save them for your return: They'll be the perfect complement to the glitter of Baccarat crystal and bubbly champagne that await you back in Denver...along with two new Jaguars. Sure beats the airport shuttle home, doesn't it?

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