New Orleanians know how to party, and New Year’s Eve is a party squared. Jackson Square is the center of the fun and excitement with live entertainment kicking up several hours before midnight when the fleur de lis drops from the roof of Jax Brewery.
Following the drop is a spectacular, 15-minute fireworks display launched skyward from twin barges anchored in mid-river. Then it’s time to head over to Bourbon Street or Frenchmen Street for a lively bar or rockin’ music club.
There are plenty of activities to keep revelers well-fed and well-lubricated on New Year’s Eve:
• The Steamboat Natchez offers a cruise from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. with holiday food, a dance band and the best seat in town for the fireworks. Call for price, Toulouse Street Wharf, (504) 569-1401, www.steamboatnatchez.com.
• The Riverview Room in Jax Brewery has a black tie buffet, champagne, music by the Top Cats and magnificent views of the fireworks as well. $165/person, 600 Decatur St., (504) 525-3000 or (888) 236-8260, www.riverviewroom.com.
• A NOLA New Year’s Eve, sponsored by the Crescent City Countdown Club, takes place on Decatur Street in front of Jackson Square with a live simulcast choreographed to New Orleans music. Free, (985) 630-4604, www.crescentcitycountdown.com.
• Big Night New Orleans is the latest of the Big Night events held throughout the country — others are in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., San Diego and Miami — at the Hyatt Regency. Starting at 9 p.m., it boasts open bars all night, food buffets, multiple dance floors, 10 bands and DJs, balloon drop and midnight toast. Tickets start at $99.99, but are expected to increase; groups are discounted. email@example.com.
Derived from the French word for “awakening,” reveillon is a meal served after midnight Mass on Christmas Eve as well as on New Year’s Eve.
Most restaurants offer reveillon menus consisting of old New Orleans favorites such as turtle soup, French onion soup or gumbo, every kind of seafood, smoked or fried duck, mirliton casserole, les haricots verts, pork tenderloin, beef sirloin or rib eye, daube glace and pate de foie gras followed by bananas Foster, eggnog crème brulee, sweet potato bread pudding with pecan praline sauce and, of course, good, strong café au lait.
Prices range from about $40 to about $85 a person; contact your favorite restaurant to make reservations early.
Here are just a smattering of restaurants offering reveillon dinners.
• American Sector (946 Magazine St., (504) 528-1949) has shrimp remoulade.
• Antoine’s (713 St. Louis St., (504) 581-4422 offers crawfish bisque.
• Arnaud’s (813 Rue Bienville St., (504) 523-5433) has Rock Cornish hen.
• Bombay Club (830 Conti St., (504) 586-0972), has salmon with cranberry rice.
• Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter St., (504) 525-1486), ends with café brûlot.
• Muriel’s Jackson Square (801 Chartres St., (504) 568-1885), includes oyster chowder.
• Rib Room (621 St. Louis St., (504) 529-5333) has a fabled dessert cart.
• Tujague’s Restaurant (823 Decatur St., (504) 525-8676), is famous for its brisket.
For more, go to French Quarter Festivals, www.fqfi.org.
Children are not forgotten on New Year’s Eve. The Louisiana Children’s Museum, 420 Julia St., hosts its annual Countdown to Noon — a festive celebration featuring games and entertainment with the Count from Sesame Street.
There are also balloon and confetti drops, a soda-pop toast, festive hats and noisemakers.
Tickets are $10 ($5 for museum members), time is 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with the Lagniappe Brass Band starting at 11 a.m. Phone (504) 523-1357, www.lcm.org.
Audubon Zoo hosts a “Noon Years Eve” celebration from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with Super Stars music starting at 10 a.m. This event features games and prizes, jugglers, clowns, magicians and a jump rope exhibition, distribution of party hats, noisemakers and a countdown with non-alcoholic drinks.
The celebration is free with zoo admission and free for members. The zoo is at 6500 Magazine St., (800) 774-7394, www.auduboninstitute.org.
Take your vitamins, save some energy and stretch that liver: Coming up is the Sugar Bowl pitting the Louisville Cardinals against the Florida Gators on Jan. 2 in the Superdome.
The Joan of Arc Parade ends at her statue on Decatur and St. Philip Jan. 6 — which is also Twelfth Night, the start of the Mardi Gras season.