Next to Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve is one of the area’s biggest parties and 2019 is quickly approaching. From downtown Mobile to Gulf Shores, thousands of people will take to the streets to bid 2018 farewell and greet the new one with hopes of a brighter future.
In return, celebrants will be met with a vast assortment of special events and celebrations. However, those venturing out to mark the occasion might wonder what would be the best event to attend. Fortunately for both locals and visitors, Lagniappe is here to assist.
MoonPie Over Mobile serves as the centerpiece of local New Year’s Eve celebrations. Eleven years ago, City Councilman Fred Richardson realized his dream for a celebration anchored by a giant descending MoonPie. The event has since grown and moved but still draws thousands of attendees to experience a variety of activities geared at creating a positive, hopeful attitude for the upcoming year.
This year’s installment will build upon its legacy of fun beginning at 8 p.m., with a pop-up beer garden on the Dauphin Street side of Bienville Square. The square will also host a number of food trucks and the Alabama Bicentennial Resolution Wall will be open for attendees to record their wishes for 2019.
At Renaissance Riverview Hotel, David Brinston will fill the air with smooth, seductive blues and soul before 8:30 p.m., when the “World’s Largest MoonPie” will be unveiled and later cut up and divvied among the crowd. The Port City Secondliners will take control of the festivities at 9 p.m., leading a procession from the Riverview to the event’s main stage.
There, Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Councilman Fred Richardson will shower the crowd with well-wishes for the upcoming year and welcome the opening act, Everybody’s Here. This army of talented local musicians will pay homage to the legendary band Tower of Power. Afterward, Sister Sledge will usher in 2019 with a repertoire spanning the decades. The evening will reach a climax with the MoonPie drop at midnight followed by fireworks and lasers dancing across the city’s skyline.
The area’s year-end celebrations are not limited to Mobile. Those wanting to avoided the crowd at MoonPie Over Mobile should consider the city of Fairhope’s annual New Year’s Eve Celebration. One aspect making this event unique is the opportunity to rent tents that will be raised on the streets of downtown, where both individuals and groups can host their own private gatherings. Interested parties should call 251-929-1466 for more information.
The corner of Fairhope Avenue and Church Street is the place to be at 8:30 p.m., where party band Fly-By Radio will be on hand to play all manner of crowd favorites. At midnight, a ball covered with bright, beautiful lights will drop to welcome 2019. Afterward, fireworks will light up the night sky with the event concluding at 12:30 a.m.
While both MoonPie Over Mobile and Fairhope’s New Year’s Eve Celebration are family-friendly, many parents might have little ones who can’t stay up that late. Lucy Buffett had them in mind when she created the annual Noon Year’s Eve at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. This trop-rocking party is for parents who want to ring in the New Year with their children and still be home before sundown. All of the Noon Year’s Eve’s offerings are intended to be kid friendly and fun for the entire family.
Noon Year’s Eve will feature face-painting and balloon animals galore. LuLu’s staffers are on hand to help children of all ages create themed arts and crafts that provide a one-of-a-kind souvenir of the occasion. One of the most beloved events would have to be the annual sandcastle contest, where amateur and experienced artists erect fantastic architectural wonders of sand before an awe-filled crowd.
As for live music, LuLu’s will host Azalea City country rockers The Red Clay Strays. The ragtag group of musicians will entertain the crowd with original cuts as well as classic country and rock hits. Noon Year’s Eve will climax with the Beach Ball Drop at noon.
At 3 p.m., The Hangout will welcome visitors for its annual Last Sunset Celebration. This family-friendly, beachside event will invite attendees to create resolutions and arts and crafts for the upcoming year. Footloose folks will have the opportunity to show their moves on the dance floor with a dance-off. Art will meet baking with a session dedicated to cookie decorating. The Last Sunset Celebration will conclude with a “family-friendly toast” as the sun disappears in the Gulf of Mexico.
Up the road a bit, The Wharf has become a source for shopping and entertainment in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area. For New Year’s, The Wharf will showcase its Reelin’ in the New Year street party. DJ Ramsey will get the party started at 5 p.m. and The Wharf will be featuring a number of activities for children, including a rock climbing wall. Attendees can also test their skills on a mechanical bull and a surf simulator.
Music will be provided by two great country acts, Kyle Daigle of Louisiana and Orange Beach native Wes Loper. Daigle is known for his swampy country and Loper’s Gulf Coast-inspired country music will be a perfect local accent. As the seconds of 2018 tick down, The Wharf will drop The Marlin in celebration of the birth of 2019.
Of all the New Year’s Eve celebrations across the area, The Flora-Bama hosts one that is not for amateurs. Those looking to immerse themselves in a party that will last well into the first hours of 2019 should consider The Flora-Bama’s New Year’s Eve Bash, an 18-plus, ticketed event that begins at 6 p.m. with an all-you-can-eat buffet available until 11 p.m. Along the way, attendees will enjoy champagne, party favors and a souvenir huggie to keep libations cold.
This beachside roadhouse’s three stages will also be filled with music, including performances from River Dan Band, Elaine Petty, Justin Jeansonne and many more. Of course, Flora-Bama regular Jack Robertson will be on-hand for the New Year’s Eve edition of “The Big Earl Show.” The Mullet will drop at midnight, but the party will be far from over.
The Flora-Bama will continue the 2019 festivities past daybreak for another special annual event. The annual Polar Bear Dip draws participants from all walks and locales. At noon on New Year’s Day, the public is invited to plunge into the wintry depths of the Gulf of Mexico for that first swim of the year. Afterward, participants are invited to partake of free draft beer as well as the traditional greens and black-eyed peas.
If you prefer to stay indoors, area venues are gearing up to host musical entertainment to celebrate the new year.
The Merry Widow (51 S. Conception St., Mobile) will welcome Flynt Flossy & Turquoise Jeep Records plus Blow House Brass Band. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts an hour later. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door and include a free champagne toast and a view of Mobile’s fireworks.
The Blind Mule (57 N. Claiborne St., Mobile) welcomes local bands the Shunnarahs, Scraepers Papers, the Hibachi Stranglers and the James Jeffery Experience. For a $5 cover charge, attendees can also participate in the “Rocket to Nowhere” dance party featuring DJ Clickbait, Scranton and Hot Lobster. Doors open at 9 p.m., show starts at 10 p.m. Mobile’s fireworks will be visible from the front of the building.
If dancing is your thing, relative newcomer Tilly’s Dance Club (7939 Cottage Hill Road, Mobile) may be the place for you. With music from the ‘70s, ‘80s and beyond, Tilly’s will have drink specials, a champagne toast and VIP accommodations available.
For the younger crowd or families, Lucky Irish Pub and Grill (3692 Airport Blvd., Mobile) is hosting an all-ages party headlined by Stereo Dogs, whose young members recently went their separate ways after graduating high school but who are reuniting for holiday shows. If you miss them on New Year’s Eve, you’ll have one other opportunity Jan. 4 at the Dauphin Street Blues Co.
If you’re looking to keep things Irish, O’Daly’s Irish Pub (564 Dauphin St., Mobile) is hosting the Harrison McInnis Trio beginning at 10 p.m.
In West Mobile, Pour Baby (6808 Airport Blvd.) promises a classy food and wine affair at its 5th annual New Year’s Eve party featuring four food stations and pass-around appetizers. Call 251-343-3555 for more information.
Back downtown at the MoonPie Drop, The Ruby Slipper (100 N. Royal St., Mobile) is welcoming all ages to its inaugural Kids NYE Celebration, a free event that will give kids confetti poppers, toast with sparkling punch and their own mini MoonPie Drop.
In Baldwin County, Fairhope’s TexarBama Barbecue and the Bone and Barrel (both downtown on Fairhope Avenue) will have entertainment. Along the beach, catch Phil & Foster’s NYE Party at Blue Water BBQ (780 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach). For those wanting an earlier celebration, Tacky Jack’s (240 E. 24th Ave., Gulf Shores) hosts its annual Bushwacker Drop at 8 p.m. The Barstool Surfers will provide music beginning at 6 p.m. and for a $25 cover charge, guests may enjoy a buffet and drink specials. Reservations are encouraged.
For a more upscale experience, consider the Perdido Beach Resort (27200 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach). For tickets ranging from $99 to $120, guests may partake in a full-course dinner in the Grand Ballroom or Voyagers featuring specialty dishes prepared by Executive Chef Brody Olive. At midnight there will be a laser light show, pyrotechnics and a complimentary flute of champagne.
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