Tampa Bay New Year’s Events: 2018 Guide
Here’s your guide to fireworks, parties and other events.
TAMPA, FL – Love it or hate it, New Year’s Eve is happening again this year. Whether you plan to ring in 2018 at your favorite restaurant, a buzzing party with your friends or all cozied up in front of the TV, we’ve got you covered.
So pop the bubbly, come up with some resolutions you can actually stick to and get ready to celebrate the New Year. Check out listings below of New Year’s celebrations and events in and near Tampa Bay if you’re one to want to go out, plus a look at what television programming may make you want to stay in.
If you want to go out…
Downtown Tampa New Year’s Eve Fireworks
The Friends of the Riverwalk organization has arranged for use of Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park as a family-friendly, alcohol-free fireworks viewing area beginning at 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. In an effort to accommodate the maximum number of guests, the park will not feature food and beverage vendors or entertainment. Due to the ongoing construction at Channelside Bay Plaza which reduced visibility and access to the Channelside waterfront, public viewing access was not possible this year in that venue. The TECO Line Streetcar System will provide free rides on the streetcar from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. Blankets and chairs are allowed.
Sarasota’s Pineapple Drop Celebration
The free annual downtown Sarasota event attracts between 20,000 to 25,000 Floridians. There will be amusement rides, food & beer concessions, live music and a pineapple drop at midnight followed by a fireworks display on Sarasota Bay. A road-trip-worthy event, visit www.VisitDowntownSarasota.com for more information to plan your trip. The event begins at 1 p.m.
2018 Outback Bowl New Year’s Eve Parade
Celebrate college football and the New Year with the 2018 Outback Bowl New Year’s Eve Parade and pep rally on Sunday, Dec. 31 starting at 5:30 p.m. along Seventh Avenue in Ybor City. The parade will feature about 20 marching bands. No coolers, glass containers or open alcohol are allowed on the streets.
The Florida Aquarium New Year’s Aqua Eve
Ring in the New Year under the sea at The Florida Aquarium’s Aqua Eve. The event includes live entertainment, food and drinks, fireworks and a champagne toast at midnight. Cocktail attire is
recommended and all guests must be 21 or older to enter. The event will be held Dec. 31 starting at 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., rain or shine.
In addition to bubbles and Blue Tangs, each ticket sold contributes to the mission of The Florida Aquarium, including animal wellness, research, and conservation. All tickets include access to all exhibits, food and drink samples, fireworks and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.
Ticket prices range from $130 for general admission to $220 for a VIP ticket with a fireworks boat cruise. The Florida Aquarium is located at 701 Channelside Drive.
The Rooftop Eve
For revelers looking for an upscale evening, The Rooftop Eve is billed as the only New Year’s Eve party on top of a 10-story building in downtown Tampa, offering views of the skyline and fireworks. The party is set to take place on the top floor of the Fort Brooke Garage, 107 N. Franklin St, on Sunday, Dec. 31 at 9 p.m.
Tickets for the event are $185 or $225 at the door and include a premium open bar with top-shelf liquor, beer and wine, a premium champagne bar and live entertainment and desserts provided by Mini Doughnut Factory. This event sells out every year and prices will continue to increase as New Year’s approaches.
New Year’s Eve at Busch Gardens
Join Busch Gardens for a New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31. Enjoy thrill rides in the dark, like Busch Garden’s newest family spin-coaster Cobra’s Curse, North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, Falcon’s Fury, or Florida’s first triple-launch coaster, Cheetah Hunt. Jam out to music throughout the park and ring in the new year with a park-wide countdown and fireworks show in Gwazi Park. The park will be open until 1 a.m.
Shephard’s New Year’s Party 2018
Shephard’s New Years Party 2018 at Shephard’s Beach Resort will provide a great view of fireworks, a 20-foot LED screen to watch the ball drop in New York City, four bars, and more. The earlier you buy your ticket the more you save. Includes:
Great view of the Clearwater Beach Fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico
Live music from “New Divide” band and DJ Ray on the Tiki stage
High energy DJ’s and lightshow in The Wave Nightclub
Champagne toast and party favors galore
Guests must be 21 and up to enter. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 through Dec. 25; then $40.
Gulfport New Year’s Eve Gala
Tickets are now on sale for the 2018 New Year’s Eve Gala, a party that in recent years has become Gulfport’s go-to celebration of the New Year. The event is being held at the Historic Gulfport Casino Ballroom, 5500 Shore Boulevard South, Gulfport, on Sunday, Dec. 31. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and the party rolls on until 1:00 a.m. Tickets are $35.
A full cash bar will be available. Ticket price includes a complimentary gourmet dessert, party favors, a champagne toast at midnight, a free 4x6 photo (props included) and an unlimited amount of salty popcorn.
Apollo Beach New Year’s Eve
Plan on being at Circles Waterfront Restaurant this New Years Eve to listen to DJD2 as he spins from the outdoor stage overlooking Circles Tiki Beacht. Then, at midnight you’ll have a front-row seat for the official largest New Year’s Eve fireworks display in Florida for the fifth year in a row, according to organizers. Free/No cover. Security provided by the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Department. Smokin’ Bowls food truck for late night eats. Circles Waterfront Restaurant is located at 1212 Apollo Beach Blvd. in Apollo Beach.
New Year’s Eve At The Don CeSar
New Year’s Eve Party at the Rowe Bar will cost $99 per person, including food and drinks (not including tax and gratuity). The party hours are 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Dec. 31. Guests will sip cocktails by the oceanfront fire tables or dance the night away with one of Tampa’s live DJs. Gourmet hors d’oeuvres and chef-inspired buffet action stations are included, as are house cocktails, beer, and wine. At midnight, revelers ring in 2018 with a champagne toast and balloon drop.
Tickets are sold on Eventbrite or at the door on the day of the event for $125. Tickets here or by calling 727-360-1884
New Year’s Eve at the Maritana Grille includes a four-course prix fixe menu $120; with wine pairing $160 (not including tax and gratuity). Hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Dec. 31. Guests will select from a menu that includes saffron lobster salad, seared Georges Bank scallops with melted prosciutto and duck confit pasta.
Reservations here or by calling 727-360-1882.
New Year’s Eve Topgolf Tampa
Topgolf is holding a New Year’s Eve event with live entertainment, a chef-inspired menu, and a midnight celebration. A $225 ticket reserves a bay on the 1st Floor or 3rd floor for up to eight guests; there can only be six guests playing Topgolf at a time. The ticket includes unlimited Topgolf game play from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. New Year’s Eve party favors; food and beverage is not included and must be purchased separately.
A VIP Bay reservation on the 2nd floor costs $450 per bay for up to six guests with unlimited Topgolf game play from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.; exclusive access to the Signature Event Room for a premium dinner buffet inspired by the executive chef. (visit Topgolf.com/NYE for menu details). The VIP ticket also includes one bottle of Chandon Brut for guests 21 and older to share unlimited fountain soda, coffee and tea and New Year’s Eve party favors.
Jackson’s Bistro New Year’s Eve 2018 Celebration
Jackson’s Bistro, Bar & Sushi will be hold a New Year’s Eve celebration at the restaurant, 601 South Harbour Island Blvd. The party will be held from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., Dec. 31-Jan. 1. Ticket prices are $50 – $150. All party-goers at Jackson’s New Year’s Eve party will receive a complimentary glass of champagne for midnight toasts. Included: Prime views to watch Tampa’s largest midnight firework show and a balloon drop. The party also features waterfront party areas, the area’s hottest DJs and Tampa’s best waterfront and downtown views. VIP Plus all-inclusive admission tickets are also available and feature an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, dance floor, & DJ in the Waterfront Room. 21 and up only.
A ticket is required for entry: www.JacksonsBistro.com Call or Text: (813) 812-4950
Bahama Breeze’s New Year’s Eve Junkanoo Jam
Bahama Breeze customers can enjoy a Caribbean-inspired New Year’s Eve Junkanoo celebration featuring live music and giveaways while sippin’ on Legendary Island Cocktails starting at $2.18 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Legendary Island Cocktail menu with drinks starting at $2.18 includes the following: Gombay Smash, Painkiller, Yuka Hula Hickey Dula, Zombie and Dark ‘N Stormy. On New Year’s Day, Bahama Breeze will be open for New Year’s Day Recovery and the “What a Bloody Mary” – an island-twist to the traditional hangover cure – starts at $7.99 all day – only available on Jan. 1, 2018.
We’ll be adding new events to this post as they pop up, so be sure to check back as the big day nears!
If you want to stay in…
If your idea of the perfect New Year’s Eve is curling up on the couch with a hot toddy and watching the countdown in your pajamas, you’re in luck. These are the top two live TV specials people are already talking about. Here’s a peek so you can you can plan accordingly:
“New Year’s Eve Live” With Anderson Cooper And Andy Cohen
Where to catch it: CNN
Why you should watch: For the first time ever, Anderson Cooper will host CNN’s annual New Year’s Eve Live special with none other than “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen. As these two are best friends in real life, you can expect tons witty banter and hilarious moments from the pair. The Bravo mogul will replace Cooper’s former co-host Kathy Griffin, whom CNN fired after her controversial Donald Trump photoshoot.
“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2018” Hosted by Ryan Seacrest
Where to catch it: ABC
Why should you watch: Remember last year’s infamous Mariah Carey mic incident? Yes, it happened on Seacrest’s watch. So if that’s any indication, this could be a good one to tune-in to. And even if there aren’t any crazy celebrity snafus, you can count on crazy views of Time Square packed with people, as well as awesome musical performances.
We’ll be adding new events to this post as they pop up, so be sure to check back as the big day nears!