Vegas rolls out stars, fireworks for New Year’s Eve parties

Before you start worrying about 2012 resolutions, make sure you ring in the New Year in style – in Las Vegas.

With Dec. 31 falling on a Saturday, there’s a great opportunity to say farewell to 2011 in the city that best knows how to throw a party.

“So many hotels are planning events throughout the entire week, tons of evening events and tons of events going Thursday through Saturday,” said Tao Group partner Jason Strauss. “To spend New Year’s Eve in Vegas [this year] is going to be that much better.”

This year, fireworks will be launched from eight casino rooftops. File photo. STEVE MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN

This year, fireworks will be launched from eight casino rooftops. File photo. STEVE MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN

New Year’s Eve in Vegas has been termed “America’s Party” by the Las Vegas Conventions and Visitors Authority and with a title like that, they aren’t playing around. The citywide celebrations include a fireworks spectacular on the Las Vegas Strip, live concerts and fireworks under the canopy at the Fremont Street Experience and tons of nightclub parties.

On the Strip, fireworks will be launched simultaneously from eight different hotels: MGM Grand, Tropicana, Aria, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, The Venetian and the Stratosphere. No matter where you stay, you’ll have the chance to see the fireworks show.

Booking early is essential – New Year’s brings a bigger crowd to Vegas than any other event, and with clubs and restaurants having special events, resorts will have more people going through them than they would on a fight night. A solid option is to book at a hotel with all the dining and nightlife options you enjoy, so you can stay within the same area for the night without heading into the crowds.

But for some, the crowds are part of the excitement. More than 320,000 visitors are anticipated to be in Vegas for the New Year’s celebrations, and the collective excitement and energy of so many people celebrating cannot be denied.

“There’s just a certain electricity and vibe in the air,” said Gallery Nightclub General Manager Phil Licata. “There’s nothing like being surrounded by the neon lights and all the people celebrating to ring in the New Year.”

If you want to hit a club and still catch fireworks, you should go for one with a patio or a high view: Chateau, Pure, Ghostbar, Lavo and VooDoo Lounge are among some of your best picks. If you aren’t interested in the club scene, try Eiffel Tower at Paris and the bridge at New York-New York.

Strauss suggests clubgoers arrive early and take advantage of all-access passes.

“It’s pretty much a seamless experience with earlier you get there,” he said. “Buy in advance, since tickets are allocated at various prices as they start selling out.”

Kim Kardashian is just one part of the Kardashian invasion of Las Vegas this New Year's Eve.

Kim Kardashian's Tao appearance is just one part of the Kardashian invasion of Las Vegas this New Year's Eve.

Nightlife venues are pulling out all the stops this year. Tao Group includes some of the hottest venues for New Year’s Eve, with Marquee at The Cosmopolitan featuring electronic dance music star Kaskade, and Tao at The Venetian featuring Kim Kardashian. Lavo at the Palazzo has a yet-to-be-announced special guest. Guests can purchase access passes that include access to both Lavo and Tao.

“Kaskade puts on the most unbelievable show. There’s nothing better than seeing a top DJ with a 30-foot LCD screen,” Strauss said. “And Kim Kardashian – she’s always energetic, she’s got a mass appeal to all of America, so it’ll be a special night for sure.”

Lavo offers a plus for the partygoers: An outdoor patio, one of the few nightclub spots offering a view of the evening’s fireworks.

If Kim’s appearance at Tao isn’t enough, you can keep up with the rest of the Kardashians on New Year’s Eve too. Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick will be at Chateau and Rob Kardashian will appear at Tryst.

Light Group’s The Bank nightclub at The Bellagio hosts Bruno Mars. The ever-elegant club will have a midnight champagne toast to celebrate the occasion.

The Palms is a hot party destination and the resort’s four nightclubs and concert venue are a great place to kick off the New Year. John Legend will bring in the New Year at The Pearl and host an afterparty at Moon, while Paul Oakenfold spins at Rain, and parties rage on at Ghostbar and Playboy Club, which provide some of the most stunning views of Las Vegas.

Palms offers an all-access pass as well, which Palms Senior Vice President Jon Gray suggests for partygoers who want some variety.

“You’re going to be able to bounce around and not wait in line, go and experience house music [at Rain], Top 40, some celebrity sightings at Ghostbar and Moon, and see some Playmates at Playboy Club,” Gray said.

“You’ll be able to experience several different parties, it’s really something for everyone.”

Gray also suggests booking and arriving early. The Palms alone, he says, might see as many as 10,000 people moving throughout the resort during the night’s celebrations.

Among the other nightlife heavy hitters, LMFAO bring the power of “Party Rock” to Haze at Aria, Iyaz will be at Revolution at The Mirage, Chris Brown is the guest at Pure at Caesars Palace and B.O.B. will be performing at LAX at the Luxor.

The Hard Rock Hotel is an infamous Vegas party spot, and it’ll be hosting its fair share of New Year’s events during “Absolution – a Symphony of Sounds.” The weekend-long celebration sees Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour at Body English, local rock group Sin City Sinners at The Lounge, as well as the legendary Guns N’ Roses and hip-hop star Drake at The Joint.

“They get it,” said Hard Rock Hotel Entertainment Vice President Paul Davis of the weekend’s headliners.

“They know it’s a big weekend, that there’s nothing like New Year’s weekend in Vegas, and they’re excited to be a part of it. People will find that these artists will over-deliver, because they’re not just here to collect a check.”

Davis expects the night to be “packed, but not uncomfortable.”

Holly Madison will be making an appearance at Gallery.

Holly Madison will be making an appearance at Gallery.

Vegas icon Holly Madison hosts the evening at Gallery, proving herself as “the ultimate showgirl and Vegas local. She loves to have fun and she loves this city,” according to Licata. “There’s no one better to welcome 2012.”

With all the debauchery going on, it’s important to remember that New Year’s Eve is a time to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. This time around, the same principle applies to two of Vegas’ nightlife venues. RPM is set to debut in Club Nikki’s space at the Tropicana, while 1OAK opens at Jet’s spot in The Mirage.

At 1OAK, you’ll be able to celebrate the New Year with special guest host Fergie in a visually stunning setting, billed as “a sexy and unpredictable environment.” The club interior was designed by international firm Munge Leung and incorporates art from world-renowned artist Roy Nachum.

RPM opens on Dec. 30 and will feature international star Mary J. Blige on New Year’s Eve. The new venue will offer table games and roulette to add a gaming element to nightlife, and three bars serving specialty cocktails.

“Opening on [Dec. 30] gives people the chance to go to a new nightclub the night before they party on New Year’s, with the ‘who’s-who’ of Vegas showing up,” said Tropicana Nightlife Vice President Richard Wilk.

Tropicana will also be host to the New Year’s Eve Bacio Bash, with Executive Chef Carla Pellegrino’s classic Italian menu. The special night features champagne, surprise DJs, party favors, a special four-course prix fixe menu and private viewing of the Strip fireworks show. It kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

With Steel Panther at TributePalooza, it's like hair metal never died.

With Steel Panther at TributePalooza, it's like hair metal never died.

As is the case in Las Vegas, there’s always one more celebration: TributePalooza.

TributePalooza at the Fremont Street Experience will feature a midnight countdown with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, epic fireworks by Grucci in sync with virtual fireworks on the famous Viva Vision canopy. Admission on Dec. 31 runs $30 per person, with the party running from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“Instead of just standing in the street waiting for midnight to arrive, here you will party with two great bands and some of the world’s best tribute bands,” said Jeff Victor, president of Fremont Street Experience. “We will also be celebrating the entire weekend with free concerts [on Friday and Sunday].”

Steel Panther and Rock Sugar, plus 10 tribute bands perform throughout the evening.

The Viva Vision show also trends toward classic and ‘80s rock, so chances are you’ll get to enjoy “The Final Countdown” while enjoying the final countdown of 2011.