From a fireworks show to an evening with the animals, here are five things to do to ring in the New Year in Tampa Bay.
1. 615 Channelside Dr., Tampa. This free event starts at 1 p.m. with live music, entertainment, dining, nightlife and, of course, fireworks. The Spectacular Fireworks show will kick off when the ball drops at midnight. Live music and DJs will play in the courtyard all night. Viewing from the wharf area is limited to 3,000 people, determined by wristbands distributed at the Garrison Street gate starting at 9.30 p.m. Channelside Cinemas will have giant screens to watch the ball drop in Times Square, NYC, and invite you to their $1,000 Balloon Drop. No coolers or personal fireworks, please. Organizers recommend taking the TECO Line Street Car from downtown Tampa or Ybor City, or parking at the garage across from the Channelside shopping complex or in open lots between Channelside and the St. Pete Times Forum. The best spots to view the Fireworks Show are from the Channelside Plaza, the Florida Aquarium, the SS Victory Ship, Harbour Island, the St. Pete Times Forum, and along Bayshore Boulevard. For more information, visit channelsidebayplaza.com.
2. 110 W Gasparilla Plz. If the kids can't stay up untill midnight to celebrate the New Year, don't worry — the Children's Museum will celebrate at the top of every hour on Dec. 31, noting which countries across the globe are ringing in 2012 at that moment. Enjoy making party favors such as noisemakers and masks — and balloon drops at 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Admission is $15. For more information, visit glazermuseum.org.
3.at the Ritz Ybor, 1503 E. 7th Ave., starts at 9 p.m. Comedian Gary Cannon hosts this New Year's Eve party with performances by Pitbull Toddler and the Paper Stanleys. Enjoy free Budweiser beer until midnight and prizes all night. Must be age 21 or older to party. Admission is $25 in advance; $35 day of event. Buy tickets here.
4. 3605 E. Bougainvillea Ave. starts at 5 p.m. with DJ's playing party music throughout the theme park, live entertainment including Clint Wiley's None Other, and fireworks at midnight — not to mention thrill rides. Tickets are $79.99 per person for single-day purchase or for “Fun Card” good throughout 2012.
5. Cruise into the New Year with Yacht Starship Celebration Cruise. This three-hour event includes an open premium bar, gourmet food stations, a DJ, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight with a great view of the fireworks show at Channelside. Seating and attire will be cocktail style. Must be 21 years or older to cruise. Don't miss the boat, boarding is at 10 p.m. Tickets are $99.95 plus tax, port fee and gratuity. Call 813-223-7999 to make a reservation.