2012 is right around the corner. It’s almost time to put forth resolutions that we know won’t ever stick, look at the calendar with cautious optimism, and send off 2011 in a variety of ways ranging from fond remembrance to let-us-burn-the-calendar-and-never-speak-of-it-again coldness. No matter how your disposition causes you to view the past twelve months, one thing’s for sure: the transition from the old into the new is something to be celebrated. In Orange County, there are quite a few eclectic options to help you revel in this special night/morning, ranging from family-friendly early-bird functions to sleek shindigs that adhere just as much to style as they do substance. As the following examples show, if you find yourself not having any kind of fun on New Year’s Eve, it is pretty much your own fault.
OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party
The OC Fairgrounds
Celebrate the future by partying in the past, as Orange County’s sprawling fairgrounds come to life with over a dozen of tribute bands to choose from re-creating the sounds of the ‘60s through the ‘90s. We’re talking a wide range of simulated talent, ranging from re-creations of The Beatles to U2. The casual event also features carnival rides and games, a casino, a slew of food trucks and pop-up watering holes to help get your eat and drink on.
7:30 PM – 1:30 AM
$40 for individual tickets, $36 for groups of 10 or more. $10 for parking, $20 for preferred parking.
“$11 Million Dollar Murder” Murder Mystery Dinner Show
Tustin Ranch Golf Club
Those looking to celebrate the last night of 2011 for a night of intrigue and suspense will want to gravitate toward this interactive event blending comedy, intrigue, and a rich dead guy. Would-be sleuths will also be able to enjoy a four-course gourmet dinner while they try to figure out whodunit, and they also have the chance to participate in a special ‘80s themed costume contest for fabulous prizes. If you’ve ever wanted to show up at a party looking like Magnum P.I., this may be your calling.
8:15 PM – 12:15 AM
First Night Fullerton
Quick history lesson: Back in 1976, Boston rung in the bicentennial by hosting this special happening called First Night; a special communal gathering that focused on the wonders of visual and performance arts instead of downing copious amounts of liquour. This year marks the 21st time Fullerton has taken this family-friendly Beantown creation and made it their own, with eclectic acts ranging from traditional Japanese drumming to special pyrotechnics. And who doesn’t love pyrotechnics?
Time: 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Disneyland/Disney California Adventure Park
The legendary parks are known for creating magic. It’s kind of their thing. So it stands to reason that the chance to spend New Year’s Eve within the hallowed walls of these whimsical theme parks would be a rather groovy shindig. Guests will not only be able to spend the day walking the grounds and riding the rides, they will also get the chance to spend the first hours of 2012 hanging with Mickey and the gang while listening and dancing to all kinds of special music.
10:00 AM – 1:00 AM
One Park: $80 Adults; $74 Children
Both Parks: $105 Adults; $99 Children
Great Night! A Great Park Family New Year’s Eve
Experience all of the fun and revelry of New Year’s Eve without that pesky problem of trying to actually stay up to midnight, which may or may not be a couple of hours past your normal bedtime. This family friendly, alcohol-free event will have a host of vintage cars and military rides on display, gourmet vittles, creative activities for the kids, and plenty of music to help you dance the early night away. At 9:00 PM – that’s midnight on the East Coast, don’t you know – the park’s iconic balloon will drop in time with a televised feed of the famed Times Square ball, allowing you to usher in 2012 at a decent hour.
5:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Free park admission; parking $10
Lemondrop 40 + Singles Party
Are you entering 2012 without a person to smooch at midnight? Are you also of the age where you want to go out and revel in New Year’s dancing and music without having to deal with the club scene and all of its electronic dance noise and silly youth-fueled drama? Where you can dance to, say, Duran Duran and pay no attention to how bad their lyrics really were? (Seriously, have you ever seen the words to “Hungry Like the Wolf”?) This gathering for singles 40 and older, held at the Embassy Suites in Santa Ana, is right up your alley. Come on down, enjoy a five-course dinner, raise a glass of champagne, and maybe even meet someone special, so the two of you can denounce that whole dubstep music genre.
8:00 PM – 12:00 AM
$85 if purchased before December 24; $100 if purchased after December 24
Black Tie Gala at the Balboa Bay Club
Because true style never goes out o style, there is always room to ring in the New Year in a most refined fashion. This elegant waterfront event, featuring a luxe five-course wine pairing dinner and live music, speaks to our desire to be classy, smooth, and slightly dangerous – the kind of vibe that only a black-tie affair can coax. Besides, black tie affairs are sexy, and what’s wrong with being sexy?
8:00 PM – 1:00 AM
Rich Manning is a writer in Orange County who publishes the blog Foodie a Go Go.