by Jonathan Baker - 319 Reviews - 185 List
Ah, New Year's Eve in Atlanta, our favorite excuse to dress up, go out and practice our rarely used taxi-hailing skills. Picking a proper evening agenda can be tough with the vast number of Atlanta New Year's Eve parties. Never fear, we've got the dish on the 10 best ways to bid farewell to 2011 and ring in 2012, from formal all-inclusive bashes with famous bands to the legendary Peach Drop at Underground. (Photo credit: Citysearch Seattle)
Updated: December 12, 2011
This has been Atlanta's iconic New Year's Eve celebration for more than 20 years. Underground Atlanta again hosts the Peach Drop for 2012, a free, all-day celebration with family-friendly activities as well as local (Georgia Power Trio) and national (Kansas) performers. At midnight: the drop of the 800-pound peach.
For the sports fan looking for an excuse to get out of spending hundreds of dollars to dress up and party down with massive crowds, pray your team gets the invite to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. The annual game pairing two better-than-average SEC and ACC teams has risen in the ranks to become one of the better bowl matchups that's not in the Bowl Championship Series. And, yes, it's in our own backyard.
For those looking for more entertainment than there is time, look no further than the eighth annual Downtown Countdown at the Hyatt. Live frontman Ed Kowalczyk and Naughty by Nature headline the main stage; the Punchline is hosting a comedy room; and there are ballrooms for ball drops, a dance party room, plus multiple open bars and buffets. Tickets go from $109 to $159 for general admission and $175 to $225 for VIP.
Not everyone wants to get smashed and dance to pumping music with throngs of people. For the more sophisticated set, we give you the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. This year, the ASO is ringing in the New Year by channeling the golden era of top hats, tuxes and shimmering gowns. Expect big band classics by Cole Porter and George Gershwin, all conducted by Michael Krajewski. Tickets run $30 to $68.
Replacing the annual tradition of Widespread Panic playing two nights at Philips, the massive arena welcomes hometown alt-country sensation Zac Brown Band to usher in 2012. It'll cost you $45 to $87 to see the chart-topping Grammy winner, or you can go the VIP route and purchase one of the Gold Ticket Packages, which get you floor seats as well as access into the pre-party.
New Year's Eve doesn't mean a whole helluva lot for little kids who typically get tucked in before parents can celebrate properly. But, for those with families, try this on for size: Stone Mountain's man-made Snow Mountain (tubing!) is open until 9pm on Dec. 31. Bonus: a laser show.
Those in the mood for more intimate partying --and an activity that involves laughter rather than ear-drum blasting--should look no further than Vortex's Laughing Skull Lounge. For the third year in a row, San Francisco Comedy Festival winner Tom Simmons headlines, and those at the 10:30pm show can expect complimentary Champagne, party favors and a countdown. Admission is $45 to $50.
It isn't a complete holiday party list without the mention of Atlanta's yuppie party band de jour, the Yacht Rock Revue. The band takes over the Park Tavern, and you can expect the smooth sounds of the 70s along with more awesomeness--an open bar, a photo booth, a full gourmet spread including a carving station and sushi display (as well as other late-night favorites such as hot Krispy Kreme donuts) and a balloon drop for the all-inclusive price of $125.
If you're less interested in a bombastic experience or all-inclusive party and more inclined to have an elegant dining experience, look to Ron Eyester's (aka The Angry Chef) Rosebud. A special a la carte menu that celebrates the South offers everything from the traditional (Berkshire pork chop) to the unexpected but awesome (country fried ahi tuna). Those who dine also get in free to the party at Eyester's other bar, The Family Dog, conveniently located across the street.