So the world didn't end—that's reason enough to go out and celebrate. On top of that, the wretched/glorious (people had different seats in the arena) span of time known as 2012 is coming to an end. Dancing, music, food, Champagne and balloons are custom, but there's some unusual ways to celebrate throughout the North Bay, too, for a variety of ticket prices. In case your savings went toward enough cans of Spam, evaporated milk and Cup-O-Noodles to last through the apocalypse, fear not! There are still plenty of affordable ways to party the year away. And midnight kisses are still free, right?
Children of all ages ring in the new year at the Schulz Museum's Charlie Brown New Year celebration, with two chances to toast with friends of the Peanuts gang. At noon (the "other" 12 o'clock), watch the up/down balloon drop and toast with root beer; at 3pm, ice cream is added for a root beer float toast. Why not do both? There's also plenty of hands-on crafts and more kid fun, free with admission.
How do rhinos toast at midnight? Reserve a spot at Safari West for a wild New Year's Eve adventure with KZST's Brent Farris as he hosts this year's Romp with the Beasts. For $100, guests can dine, dance, drink and encounter furry friends; or, for $500, two adults can do all of the above, and spend the night among wild animals and wake up next to Brent Farris to breakfast in a luxury safari tent.
You've got your dancing shoes strapped on tight, but where to guide them? Onye and the Messengers, a nine-piece Afro-worldbeat band, should get them kicking. A force for world peace and love between all peoples bring the year to an end at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa with DJs Loisaida, Broken Record, Kudjo, E Drum and Bankshot on the decks for $10–$15.
It can be tough (and expensive) to find a babysitter on New Year's Eve, but the Flamingo Hotel has you covered. Each $75 adult admission to their family NYE celebration includes one child's ticket, with additional child's tickets available for $20. Fiz-Nik Rick DJs, and there's a casino room for adults while kids can hang out in the movie room; there's even an infant and toddler room. Everyone who's not conked out by midnight can toast the new year, and an adults-only party gets swinging in the Lounge for $30 with Groove Foundation.
Choppin' Broccoli brings the '80s back in the best way possible, with tunes by Van Halen, Prince, Billy Idol and others at Russian River Brewing Company. No cover charge. Don't be suspired to hear some Beastie Boys right after a Duran Duran tune. Oh, yeah, and all that delicious beer. So much beer . . .
A chance to win $100,000? And a disco party? It's happening at River Rock Casino, with four wheel spins throughout the night for prizes between $10,000 and $100,000. What casino experience would be complete without a prime-rib buffet ($19.99)? If 2012 wasn't your year, maybe the final hours will bring good luck.
Poverty and strife have never been so funny with 'A Couple of Blaguards,' which follows the McCourt brothers' life in impoverished Ireland and their escape to America. Starring Tim Kniffin and Steven Abbott, the play opens New Year's Eve and runs through Jan. 20, with a special anniversary gala after the opening show. Tickets are $25–$35 for the play, $65-$75 for the gala.
Hoping for an early bedtime? Take in a classical concert of Beethoven and Brahms at the Petaluma Museum with players from the San Francisco Symphony accompanying pianists Marilyn Thompson and Elizabeth Walter beginning at the friendly hour of 7pm. True to form, wine and cheese will be served. $35–$45.
Pink Floyd tribute band House of Floyd brings back your favorite psychedelic memories with support from fellow trippers Moonalice at Guerneville's historic River Theater. Yes, there will be a laser show. Be ready; $40 includes "celebrities galore."
Let the vibes flow through your body with the legendary "Gimme No Crack" reggae-rap star Shinehead on the mic and on the turntables at Sebastopol's Hopmonk Tavern. With $3 Red Stripes all night long, try not to get cross-faded from second-hand (or first-hand) smoke. The party starts at 10pm and costs a reasonable $20. Over at Hopmonk's Sonoma location, Loosely Covered plays a special acoustic set of their heaviest tunes. Well, other bands' tunes, actually, hence the band name. Free.
Do the musicians in Wonderbread 5 ever get to celebrate New Year's offstage? Probably not, because their big-haired antics and classic cover tunes create the ultimate dance atmosphere. Find your groove with Wonderbread 5 and Pete Stringfellow at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa for $50.
Aubergine in Sebastopol hosts the Artists and Models NYE Ball with music by Free Peoples, David T. Carter and others, replete with exotic dancers, performers and famed rock artist Stanley Mouse. Cocktails and "good Champagne" available. $30–$35.
Get down with the Alameda All Stars at the Tradewinds Bar in Cotati for $15, including a midnight toast and party favors. . . . The French Garden in Sebastopol swings with the Susan Comstock Swingtet and luxurious dinner beginning at 5pm, $28–$78. . . . Tommy Castro and the Painkillers come back to the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma with Lost Dog Found, $51. . . . Santa Rosa's Sixth Street Playhouse features Sandy and Richard Riccardi in an All-Comedy Cabaret with 10 sexy new songs, $25. . . . Cynthia Carr and the Carrtunes play at Murphy's Irish Pub in Sonoma, free. . . . The Thugz play the Redwood Café in Cotati, $8. . . . ADD/C and Shotgun Harlot play at Spancky's in Cotati. . . . Enter the new year with Dances of Universal Peace at the Sebastopol Community Center Annex for $20. . . . Lucky 13 plays a disco party at Jasper O'Farrell's in Sebastopol for $13. . . . Rocker Oysterfeller's in Valley Ford is hosting a 1960s-themed four-course réveillon dinner for $75.
El Radio Fantastique rings in the new year at Dance Palace in Pt. Reyes, but don't be alarmed if it feels like New Year's 1923. This group is full of old-timey surprises and mischievous songs and stage antics. Horns, washboards, pots and pans are all fair game. Tickets are $55–$65.
The Best of the San Francisco Comedy Competition comes to the Marin Center in San Rafael. This year features Mike E. Winfield, Robert Duchaine, Sammy Obeid and Tommy Savitt, serving up the much-needed year-end laughs. $35.
The Tubes had a couple of hit songs, but they're much more than just some white punks on dope. They're one of those groups for which the magic is the entire live experience; theatrical shows are the norm for these one-in-a-million new wavers. They play at George's in San Rafael with Fee Waybill for $55–$65.
Comedians Michael Meehan, Bill Dwyer and Mark Cordes present an evening of poignant and funny observations about relationships in a Year-End Comedy Show at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael. Party and toast in the new year with the comedians after the show. Tickets start at $25.
Accordions are loud. Good parties are loud. This is not a coincidence. Party down Cajun style with the Zydeco Flames at Rancho Nicasio with party favors and a Champagne toast for $35–$45.
Get swept away with rock group New Monsoon at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. The evening also features an intriguing dinner menu built around the theme "Soiree from the Spice Route." Tickets are $37 for show only, $77 for dinner and show.
Singer-songwriter Joan Osborne burns down the house with two sets of her country, blues and folk stylings and Mark Karan opens the night with rock and roll at Phil Lesh's Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael. Tickets are $45.
Get down with the Monophonics and the Ironsides at 19 Broadway in Fairfax, $18–$25. . . . Brewnell plays at the Old Western Saloon in Pt. Reyes. . . . Stir it up for a reggae party at Smiley's in Bolinas. . . . Guitarist Bart Hopkin plays at Station House Café in Pt. Reyes. . . . Tom Finch Group takes the stage at the Sleeping Lady in Fairfax. . . . Petty Theft steals Tom Petty's best tunes at Hopmonk in Novato, $45. . . . Sausalito's Osteria Divino offers a Tuscan dinner with music by the James Moseley Quartet, and it's $10 if you want music only. . . . The Presidio Yacht Club in Sausalito hosts the Lonestar Retrobates with fireworks at midnight, $40.
If only every train were as elegant as that one in Harry Potter. Well, there is one that outclasses even that: the Wine Train. Spend New Year's Eve in luxury with caviar, bubbly, a gourmet meal and dancing, all on a moving train! Well, moving some of the time—it returns to the station at 11pm, but the party keeps rolling until 1am. Tickets are $237, $267 or $45 for the afterparty only.
Celebrate in Monaco, figuratively speaking, at a Monte Carlo-style Casino at 1313 Main in Napa. Dress to impress, the flyer says, .007-style. Hopefully that doesn't include fighting two hired goons in a Komodo dragon pit (James Bond wouldn't mind, but you might). Tickets are $40–$135.
Westin Verasa Napa and La Toque host a Red Tie Affair, which includes a five-course dinner at La Toque and dancing held at the Westin Verasa Napa. Tickets start at $75.
Blues Brothers tribute band Briefcase Full of Blues plays two shows at Silo's in Napa, $45 (early show) to $75 (late show). . . . Domaine Chandon in Yountville hosts a Carnival New Year's Eve celebration and dinner for $300. . . . Silverado Resort and Spa offers dancing, Champagne and a midnight balloon drop for $50. . . . Longmeadow Ranch Winery in St. Helena offers a four-course farm-to-table meal and live music for $85. See you later, 2012!