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.
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.
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?
That $200,001 tab translates to 1,400,007 francs, or 139,120 pounds...a lot of shekels in any language, to be sure, but, good Lord, you've had the New Year's Eve of a lifetime. Call 303-572-9100 to beat the rush.
You've climbed all of Colorado's Fourteeners (ten times each), you've walked the Colorado Trail, you've biked to Nebraska and back, you've skied from hut to hut. What's left?
A big dip in the Boulder Reservoir on New Year's Day, officially known as the Polar Bear Plunge. The Boulder Polar Bear Club has been getting in the January 1 swim for two decades, and so far, not a single member has turned into an ice cube (although there have been some complaints regarding shrinkage). Last year, several hundred people joined the club -- at one point the world's largest Polar Bear Club chapter -- for the plunge into 36-degree water, and several thousand more watched. But the big chill lasts only seconds. After that, participants get to loll in one of several hot tubs, located near the boat dock that is Plunge Central. You can register at the reservoir; the plunge is free for spectators, $15 for participants.
Another tradition that's almost as adventuresome -- but much more exclusive -- is the New Year's Eve climb up Pikes Peak sponsored by the AdAmAn Club. Since 1922, the club has scaled the fourteener every New Year's Eve, adding a man -- hence the name -- every year. Since 1997, the climb has been open to women, too, but you still need to be invited by one of the club members in order to join in the fun.
And it's all aboard! for the Moonlight New Year's Eve train. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a spectacular ride at any time, but its December 31 run promises to be a real turn-of-the-century treat. To commemorate the start of the 21st century, revelers are asked to wear the dress of the start of the last century -- which means Victorian attire. The evening's $75 per person (you're on your own getting to Durango); call 888-872-4607.
By now you are sick to death of cheery songs about jingle bells and sleigh rides. If you hear one more chipmunk chirping, you're going to go postal. So here's the good news: While Christmas's good tidings may bring with them the obligatory shmaltzy music, you are free to ring in New Year's Eve with whatever kind of music you like.
And you like rock and roll.
On December 31, Denver's concert clubs will host a marathon of music that should appeal to fans of all kinds of rock fare. If you prefer to stick to homegrown strains and enjoy a sophisticated environment, hit the glorious Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson, where Big Head Todd & the Monsters make another triumphant hometown return and ring in the new year with their rustic, high-elevation stylings (Ticketmaster, 303-830-TIXS). While you're at the Fillmore, don't forget to check out the gallery of rock-and-roll memorabilia on the west wall or scope the free apples that linger, Bill Graham style, in the lobby. Before the show, you can knock down a cold one (or a hot one -- your choice), play some pool and chill with the family at Sancho's Broken Arrow, the Dead-centric good-vibes tavern across the street. And just down the street, the glorious Cramps will present their bad music for bad people, aided by the Jewws, at the slightly less clean but no less endearing Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax, 830-2525. A browse through the bins at Independent Records, a new urban record store that adjoins the theater, should kill some time before the big countdown. Or, since you're in the neighborhood, you can simply cruise down Colfax: Hit the Lion's Lair, 2022 East Colfax, 303-320-9200 (where Dim and AWOL are slated), the Bluebird, 3317 East Colfax, 303-830-6700 (for Blister66, Rocket Ajax and Vox Demonna), and Quixote's, 9150 East Colfax, 303-366-6492 (for Stir Fried with Pete Sears).
Remember: An ounce of hangover prevention is worth a pound of Advil in the morning, so you might want to stop for some food during your bar-hopping. Colfax has a slew of choices: The Satire Lounge & Mexican Restaurant, Pete's Kitchen, International House of Pancakes, Famous Pizza and Enzo's End, to name a few. If you're feeling really adamant about this year's New Year's resolutions, you can have them tattooed on your person at the Temple of Being/Bound by Design tattoo and piercing studio, at 1336 East Colfax.
Downtown, the choices are equally plentiful. The 15th Street Tavern, 623 15th Street, 303-572-0822, will host the Crazy Classy New Year's Ball, featuring music from Fast Action Revolver, the Bottle Rockers and DJ Flip. And though you normally wear your jeans and leather to the divey punk bar on Welton Street, tonight you'll need to doll it up just a bit: This event is formal dress only. Also downtown, The Cat, 2334 Welton Street, 303-296-2899, will host a mint-centric evening of live sounds with the Tarmints, the Dinnermints and the Unsound Burst. We suspect good breath will be in abundance. In LoDo, the Soiled Dove, 1949 Market Street, 303-299-0100, will offer a fine package that includes a gourmet dinner buffet, a champagne toast, party favors and live music from Carolyn's Mother and Tinker's Punishment for $50. Don't forget to tip your bartender.
Of course, if you prefer to avoid the chaos of Colfax and the downtown crush, you can always head to Boulder, where the Yonder Mountain String Band will display its bluegrass prowess at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, 303-443-3399, in a New Year's Eve Extravaganza. Should you tire of all that plucking, though, and need a momentary reprieve, the sidewalk outside is always good for people-watching; no doubt the good boys and girls at the University of Colorado will be in the mood for a party that night. It should be a riot! Back in town (Englewood, to be exact), the gorgeous Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, 303-380-2333, hosts one of the evening's most compelling live offerings, with a double bill from Tarantella, an excellent new local outfit that features members of Slim Cessna's Auto Club and 16 Horsepower, Denver's undisputed prodigal sons. And just up the road, Herman's Hideaway, 1578 South Broadway, 303-777-5840, won't be able to keep its New Millennium Rock Fest, featuring Rubber Planet, the Sad Star Café, Love .45, Mean Old Man and the Good Sirs a secret; the event is capped with a champagne toast at midnight and music into the wee hours. Now, that's a happy new year!
ALL YOU WANNA DO IS DANCE
So it's New Year's Eve, and you've got dance fever. You're not in San Francisco, where it's a good bet you'd see a parade of naked ravers crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight. Nor are you in New York City, where the countdown at Times Square is just the beginning of a long and festive night of fabulous dance parties. Nope. You're in Denver. But that doesn't mean you're without options, especially if your idea of celebrating involves a crowded dance floor, a well-stocked bar and lots of bodies in motion.
Denver's club landscape grows more crowded every day, which means your chances of rubbing elbows with the city's movers and shakers is better than ever. But the influx of nightlife options creates its own small problem: How to choose? Luckily, many of the city's hot spots are nestled in and around LoDo -- which means you'll have time to stop for sushi (try Mori, Sonoda's or Tommy Tsunami's) and Starbucks before kicking into full dance mode. Of course, some clubs have created packages to entice you to stay all evening: Cosmo, at 1526 Market Street, 303-607-9270, is offering one such deal: For $100, clubgoers can enjoy food, a champagne toast, a raffle and games with door prizes, and music from DJs Sik, Double OO and Smiley. For the same price, local after-hours staple Amsterdam (2901 Walnut Street) has paired with new club Pure (2637 Welton) to offer an intriguing bargain called 3 Nights, 2 Clubs, 1 Price: A hundred smackers here will yield passes good for three days' worth of admission -- with no waiting in line -- to both venues. The New Year's weekend lineup makes the deal seem even sweeter: Pete Bones spins at Pure on Friday, December 29; Steve Olivieri appears at Amsterdam, after hours, the following night; and on Sunday, December 31, Matt Gonsola hits Pure, while Wayne Arnold keeps the kiddies up at Amsterdam. Of course, if you like your dancing with a little more spice, try the Spanish Dinner Feast at Sevilla, 1801 Wynkoop, where an admission package includes all the paella you can eat, as well as Latin-flavored dancing that will continue into the night.
Most of the clubs in LoDo are within walking distance from one another, but if you don't relish the thought of hoofing it, why not hire a driver and hit them all? (Better not to risk a run-in with Johnny Law after you've swilled all those Stoli martinis; DUIs are, like, so '90s!) Try The Sanctuary, 2040 Larimer Street, 303-296-2424; Bash, 1902 Blake Street, 303-298-7994; and Market 41, 1941 Market Street, 303-292-5641. While you're downtown, scope out the scene on the 16th Street Mall, then head down to the Golden Triangle, where The Church, 1160 Lincoln, 303-832-352, will be putting its multi-room club space to good use, and where the scene at Vinyl, 1082 Broadway, 303-860-8469, is likely to be fiery hot. After that, you can head north to Soma, at 1915 Broadway in Boulder, 303-938-8600; voted one of the best nightclubs in the country by Mixmag magazine, it's worth the drive.
Of course, you must be prepared to enter these hallowed halls looking your absolute best. What good is New Year's Eve, after all, if it doesn't provide an excuse to get glammed up? If you're running low on partywear, you can spend the morning shopping at some of the area's finer purveyors of club couture: Try Soulflower on South Broadway or any of the vintage stores further down the road. Imi Jimi, Hottie and several other baroque boutiques on 13th Street in Capitol Hill are also good bets. And remember, no matter what they're saying in Vogue these days, you can never go wrong with classic black. But you might want to shower yourself in some glitter, just to be sure.
Has all the excess spending and commercialism of the Christmas season left you with a bad case of the holiday blahs? Get a jump on your New Year's resolutions by engaging in some early do-good activities. For starters, gather up all those unwanted Christmas gifts, search your closets for those clothes you know you'll never wear again, and get all that no-longer-your-decor-style-but-perfectly-good furniture out of the basement. Then call 800-95-TRUCK, and the Salvation Army will stop by and snag your donations off the front porch. Doesn't it make you feel glad all over to know that someone will be putting that hideous (but warm) sweater your Aunt Myrtle knit to good use?
Now that you've got momentum, don't stop! Sign up with The Holiday Project, a group that plans to visit nursing homes, hospitals and juvenile facilities throughout the month, spreading cheer and conversation. The Project is particularly in need of friendly, chatty folks to make stops on Chanukah and Christmas Day; call 303-333-3747 to volunteer.
And since you've now caught the volunteer bug, it's time to make those resolutions. Promise to get involved in more do-good activities through 2001. Although charitable outfits across town are happy to take your money, most appreciate a donation of your energy just as much.
STUCK IN THE '80s
(OR JUST IN THE PAST)
The '80s were a complete washout for you -- too late for disco, too early for the punk revival, then Wham! -- over before you even got started. But if "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" has always been your favorite song, The Heartthrob, at 10175 E. Hampden, may be your stairway to heaven on December 31. Its New Year's Eve 2001 promises to be a '70s and '80s extravaganza, where nobody will look twice at your stone-washed jeans and rhinestone jacket. There's a balloon drop and midnight champagne toast...that is, if you haven't already left with whomever you want to wake you up on January 1 before they go-go. Call 303-755-3300 for details.
If you were a geek in high school -- whether in the '70s, '80s or '90s -- and still dream of lost days of glory, Heavenly Daze Brewery could put you into a school daze of your very own, with the New Year's Junior Prom. Now that your braces are off (and, presumably, you're of legal drinking age), it's time to drag out the old turquoise taffeta and order a carnation corsage. This may well be your last shot at being crowned queen (or king) of the festivities, and for just ten bucks, too. Call 303-715-1300, and remember: Be true to your school.
New Year's Eve is easy: You're going to spend it at home, burning incense, banging on a drum, chanting and cleansing yourself so that you'll be prepared to welcome the real start of the millennium.
That way, you'll have your chakra perfectly aligned (and have gotten enough sleep) to start the new year's spiritual journey off on the right foot at the very-early-morning (5 a.m. January 1!) Meditation and Prayer Service at the First Divine Science Church, 1400 Williams St. The hour-long inner journey coincides with like-minded events around the globe, which focus on peace and healing in 2001. Good karma's a good thing in any millennium.
You stuffed your face all through the holidays, but you're pretty sure you've got another fabulous feast in you. That is, you're pretty sure you could consume another fabulous feast, if you could just decide which one to go for.
If you're a lazy, social foodie, dial 303-322-1824 and book yourself a spot at one of the Fourth Story Restaurant's three New Year's Eve seatings and wine tastings. These culinary orgies include such dishes as lobster bisque, duck pâté and a chocolate hazelnut praline terrine; prices range from $30 to $100 per person, depending on which of the three seatings you choose. Go ahead, stuff yourself like that Christmas goose you just polished off. You'll still have a few hours to digest your wicked, wicked ways before you resolve to eat healthier in the new year.
If you're a homebody foodie, head over to the new Whole Foods in Cherry Creek, a true anomaly in Denver's vast supermarket wasteland. Pick out your own live lobster (but only if you're willing to put up with some dirty looks from animal lovers), add Brie and organic hazelnuts to your cart, and plan to whir up a delicious meal du maison. Just across First Avenue is Cost Plus's excellent wine room, with always-eager staffers who can help you choose the perfect complement to your home-cooked meal.
Procrastinators, take note: New Year's Eve is a Sunday, so you won't be able to buy liquor in stores that day. Plan ahead, or plan to go out to dinner -- or stay dry -- on December 31.
Your kids have been out of school for weeks, but you're not out of Purgatory yet. On New Year's Eve, babysitters are tougher to come by than a straight vote count in Florida. If you've surrendered to the inevitable -- or simply decided that there's no one with whom you'd rather ring in the new year than your own children -- the Denver area offers several options.
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The Denver Children's Museum will again host its Noon Year's Eve Celebration, which drops the ball on 2001 twelve hours early -- in the process allowing you to plan on a decent night's sleep. And remember, admission to the Children's Museum -- as well as the Denver Zoo and the Denver Botanic Gardens -- is free on December 31; if your kids can last long enough, that means that after you're done at the museum, you can take in the light shows (which are not free events) at the Zoo and the Gardens. Both "Wildlights" and "Blossoms of Light" shine on until 9 p.m.(Admission to Wildlights is $3-$6, children three and under admitted free; admission to Blossoms of Light is $5-$7, with children five and younger admitted free.)
In the 'burbs, the Westin Hotel Westminster's It's Midnight Somewhere is a festive afternoon alternative for the family, with a clown, face-painting, kid food, party favors and an early ball drop; the cost is $14.95 per child (adults free with a paying child). Call 303-410-5000 for details. Assuming your crew can last longer, consider the Sheraton Denver Tech Center's No Veggie New Year's Eve Package. On December 31, veggies will be replaced by pizza and ice cream, along with plenty of entertainment for the kids and a dance party for teenagers. Just $199 buys you all the fun you can deal with, plus two rooms, so the parents can get some privacy. Call 303-799-6200.
The price tag is considerably lower at Littleton's Tennies and Bubbles II party, packed with games, dancing and activities for the kids -- while Mom and Dad settle themselves in front of the big-screen TV to watch other (and likely more lavish) New Year's Eve celebrations around the country. Still, the adults will enjoy a champagne toast at midnight, and while it won't be broadcast around the world, it's a fine way to see in the new year en famille. This party's at the Centennial Tennis Bubble; call 303-794-4870 for more information.