New Year's Eve With a Twist

Refreshingly different takes to help you count down to midnight

New Year’s Eve is more than just a countdown and ball drop. There are many alternative ways to celebrate the passing of 2010 and welcome the new year.

Maybe you’re tired of the standard New Year’s Eve bar parties or maybe last year’s transition to 2010 left you discombobulated and, after too much champagne, old acquaintances really were forgotten. Greater Cincinnati has some novel and memorable alternatives. Whether you find yourself at the zoo, the symphony or using a password to get into a Prohibition-era gin joint (our favorite party), you won’t find yourself bored.

The American in Paris Ball at Music Hall

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra hosts a celebration of the music of George Gershwin. Thomas Wilkins conducts and Michael Chertock leads a troop of dancers and vocalists on piano. Together, they’ll breathe new life into the composer’s work.

Post-concert, the grand ballroom is opened for the Ball, which includes a three-course dinner, dancing, live music by Randemonium and a silent auction. All proceeds benefit the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Black tie or costumes are optional, but why wouldn’t you dress up for this? Reservations are required.

Tickets are $160. Concert only is $10 and up. 7:30 p.m. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3300.

The Know’s Speakeasy

Rock back to the Roaring Twenties (only nine years and you won’t have to pretend) with Know Theatre of Cincinnati. Sponsored by CityBeat, the Speakeasy is the annual year-ending party from the city’s hippest theater troop.

The fifth annual incarnation of this Prohibition-era shindig is loaded with underground casino games, 1920s dancing (lessons provided), appetizers and a bartender versed in period cocktails. Flapper dresses, fedoras and early American slang encouraged. Free champagne toast at midnight. Proceeds benefit Know Theatre.

Tickets are $12 in advance and $20 at the door. 8 p.m. Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-300-5669 or


If a circus sideshow, an urban art gallery and a New Year’s Eve party were all cars and had a highway pileup, it might look something like this.

Think costumes, fire breathing madmen and general midway mayhem.

Mayday will host performances by Incendium Arts featuring Phoenix, Dante's Gypsy Circus, Carenza Bint Asya, Valkria, Big Gay Al & James Bondage of the Black Mondays and more. Costumes encouraged. Ages 21 and up.

Tickets are $10. 9 p.m. Mayday, 4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-0999.

Happy Zoo Year’s Eve

The Cincinnati Zoo extends its famous Festival of Lights into a family NYE party. The zoo's entirety has already morphed into the region’s best and brightest illuminated holiday display, and Happy Zoo Year brings the holiday cheer to a spectacular crescendo. The celebration of moving the calendar forward can be enjoyed by everyone because the zoo turns the clock back — midnight strikes at 9 p.m., which is perfect for kids.

Children will enjoy black light puppet shows by Madcap Puppets (6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.) and visits by the Baby Zoo Year and Father Time. Animal shows and fireworks make for an action-packed experience. And all the animal exhibits are open, too.

Admission is free for zoo members or $14 for adults, $9 for ages 62 and up and ages 2-12. 5-9 p.m. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, 513-281-4700.

Turfway Park’s Track Bash

If your experience last New Year’s Eve seemed light on vices, Turfway Park has you covered. With free general admission and two tiers of on-site parties, you can watch the horse races with hot dogs and beer or champagne and upscale hors d'oeuvres.

General admission gets you into the basic party, with live racing, $1 drafts and $2 champagne. For $55 a person you can move up to the Homestretch and Terrace rooms, both of which include a buffet dinner. Tables for six are available on the third floor for $100 per table. Party favors and a midnight toast are included. Reservations are recommended.

Races begin at 5:30 p.m. Hot dogs, draft beer and champagne available for purchase. Upscale buffet and cash bar also available. WEBN-FM remote broadcast and balloon drop at midnight.

Tickets are $100 for VIP tables, $55 for the buffet dinner, $5 for the Bubble Lounge and free general admission. Turfway Park, 7500 Turfway Road, Florence, 859-371-0200.


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