Several ways to celebrate New Year’s holiday weekend near Bradenton and Sarasota

The clock is running out on 2023, and Bradenton and Sarasota are getting ready to celebrate the arrival of 2024, Florida style. Local holiday happenings to mark New Year’s Eve on Sunday include street parties in Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota’s famous pineapple drop. The fun will continue on Monday for New Year’s Day with the annual Shamrock Shiver charity plunge on Anna Maria Island and other family-friendly holiday activities. Here’s a look at options for a festive New Year near you. 

BRADENTON ALIVE NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION A New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Bradenton will bring live music and family fun to Old Main Street on Sunday night. Sarasota country songwriter Derek Lersch and his band will perform. The event will also have food trucks, vendors, kids activities and party favors. A fireworks show will wrap up the party and start the new year with a bang. Details: 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Sunday. 450 Old Main Street, downtown Bradenton. Free admission. More info: Facebook.com/BradentonsAlive.

SARASOTA PINEAPPLE DROP Another option for local New Year’s Eve fun is downtown Sarasota’s annual street party, which famously features a pineapple drop at midnight. The mega block party includes live DJs, food and drink, arts and crafts vendors, kids activities and more. Amusement rides and games will be offered at Selby 5 Points Park, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. TOP VIDEOS Music begins at 8:30 p.m. at the corner of Main and Lemon streets, with performances by top 10 country artist Chas Collins, pop, rock dance and alternative band 22N and live DJ squad SRQ Beats. The illuminated pineapple drops at midnight, and then the party keeps going with a fireworks display over Sarasota Bay. Details: 1 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. New Year’s Day. Intersection of Main St. and Lemon Ave., Sarasota. Free. Carnival ride wristbands: $30. More info: DestinationDowntownSarasota.com. Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch.

NEW YEAR’S EVE AT WATERSIDE PLACE IN LAKEWOOD RANCH A New Year’s Eve celebration at Lakewood Ranch’s community gathering spot will include food, beer, a live DJ, games for all ages and a countdown to midnight. A drone light show will highlight the night’s entertainment. Offsite parking will be available at The Out-of-Door Academy, 5950 Deer Drive, Lakewood Ranch. Shuttles will be provided between ODA and Waterside Place approximately every 20 minutes. Details: 6 p.m. to midnight New Year’s Eve. Waterside Place, 1560 Lakefront Drive, Lakewood Ranch. Free admission. More info: Facebook.com/WatersidePlace.

NEW YEAR’S EVE WEEKEND PARTIES Local restaurants and bars will host New Year’s Eve shindigs with live music, drink and dinner specials and other festivities on Saturday and Sunday. Here are some highlights: Joyland will host its New Year’s celebration one day early on Saturday. Country rockers Rye Road will perform, and entry includes a complimentary toast and ball drop at midnight. Details: 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday. Joyland, 8341 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota. No cover. Open bar special: $50-$80. JoylandSarasota.com. 88 Live Piano Bar’s New Year’s Eve party will have a Roaring 20s theme and include appetizers, champagne, festive decor, party favors and an electric guitar giveaway. The Fulcos, a classic rock band, will play. Details: 8 p.m. Sunday. 88 Live Piano Bar, 6640 Cortez Road W. Suite A, Bradenton. $50; advanced purchase required. Facebook.com/88LivePianoBar. Astro Skate of Bradenton’s New Year’s Eve Party will offer free skating for parents joining their kids in the rink, plus a free midnight toast and balloon drop. Details: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. Astro Skate of Bradenton, 3611 Third St. W., Bradenton. Skate rentals start at $12. Facebook.com/AstroSkateBradenton. Chef David Shiplett opened Cottonmouth Southern Soul Kitchen at 1114 12th St. W., in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts in 2020. James A. Jones Jr. [email protected] Cottonmouth Southern Soul Kitchen in the Village of the Arts will host “New Year’s Diva Party,” a night of live music featuring former Marvelettes singer Brenda Watty and jazz musicians James Varnado and Johnnie Barker, plus the restaurant’s menu of Southern delights. Details: 9 p.m. Sunday. Cottonmouth Southern Soul Kitchen, 1114 12th St. W., Bradenton. $10 advance; $15 day of show. Reservations recommended. Facebook.com/cottonmouthSOUL. Gulf Drive Cafe & The Kokonut Hut in Bradenton Beach will host a New Year’s Eve party with a prime rib buffet, open bar, live band and DJ, midnight ball drop, mini fireworks show and champagne toast. Details: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. Gulf Drive Cafe & The Kokonut Hut, 900 Gulf Dr. N., Bradenton Beach. $120 per person. Reservations recommended. Facebook.com/gulfdrivecafe. Mademoiselle Paris will host chef-crafted New Year’s Eve dinners at its locations in University Town Center and on Anna Maria Island. Live music will complement the five-course dinner menu. Details: 5 p.m. Sunday. Mademoiselle Paris UTC, 8527 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park and Mademoiselle Paris AMI, 9906 Gulf Dr., Anna Maria. $78 per person. Reservations required. MademoiselleParis.com. Mattison’s restaurants: All three Mattison’s locations will be open on New Year’s Eve with festive drinks and dining and live entertainment. Each location has its own music and special menu to offer for the holiday. The City Grille is an ideal spot to watch the Sarasota pineapple drop, and the Riverwalk Grille in Bradenton will have views of the fireworks show over the Manatee River. Details: New Year’s Eve party hours are 8 p.m. to midnight Sunday at Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille, 101 Riverwalk Blvd., Bradenton. Mattisons.com. Ortygia: Ortygia serves up authentic Sicilian fare in a cozy dining space in the Village of the Arts. The restaurant will host two seatings on New Year’s Eve with candlelight ambiance and a fixed-price menu. Details: Dinner at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve. Call 941-587-5678 for reservations. $80 per person, plus tax and gratuity. 1418 13th St. W., Bradenton. OrtygiaRestaurant.com. Pier 22/GROVE: Sister restaurants Pier 22 in Bradenton and GROVE in Lakewood Ranch will both offer VIP New Year’s Eve celebrations. A gourmet buffet, an open bar, live music and a midnight toast are part of the experience at Pier 22. GROVE will host a New Year’s Eve Masquerade with a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a complimentary champagne toast. In addition the the ballroom celebrations, both restaurants will be open for regular dining on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Reservations recommended. Details: New Year’s Eve celebrations starts at 7 p.m. at Pier 22, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton ($200 per person), and at 8 p.m. at GROVE, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch ($100 per person). Pier22Dining.com. GroveLWR.com. Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse will host an all-day New Year’s Eve bash full of live music and barbecue. Kettle of Fish and Steve Junotwill perform. Details: Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse, 19 East Road, Sarasota. Facebook.com/StottlemyersSmokehouse. Costumed participants plunge into the Gulf of Mexico off of Bradenton Beach during the 11th annual Clancy’s Shamrock Shiver charity event. Ryan Ballogg SHAMROCK SHIVER The 16th annual Shamrock Shiver on Anna Maria Island will kick off the new year with a day of fun and give local charities a boost going into 2024. Event participants dress up in costumes of all kinds and line up in the sand. Then, they plunge into the chilly Gulf of Mexico waters on behalf of pledge donors. It makes for a truly unique sight on Bradenton Beach. The event traditionally includes a costume contest. A post-plunge party at Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub in Cortez will include raffles, auctions and live music by local country/bluegrass/rock group, Dr. Dave Band. The event raises money for local charities that aid disadvantaged children in Manatee County. This year’s fundraising goal is $40,000. To find out how to plunge for pledges, or to donate, call Clancy’s at 941-794-2481 (extension 2). Details: The plunge happens at noon on Monday, New Year’s Day. Find it on Bradenton Beach off of Gulf Drive between Fourth Street South and 12th Street South. Post-plunge party starting at 12:30 p.m. at Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub, 6218 Cortez Road W., Bradenton. More info: ClancysIrishSportsPub.com/shamrock-shiver-charity-plunge. HOLIDAY EVENTS AND LIGHT DISPLAYS Lights of Palmetto: Opened in 2018, Lights of Palmetto is a free, drive-in Christmas light attraction that features over 500,000 color-changing lights synced up to holiday and popular music. The show happens nightly from Thanksgiving to early January on the 4-acre property of the Stallings family near Buffalo Creek Road. Simply pull in and tune your radio to 96.1 FM to enjoy music with the lights. Lights of Palmetto has grown every year since it opened with more lights and new props. Admission is free, but donations are accepted via the payment app Venmo at username @LightsOfPalmetto. Details: Runs nightly through Jan. 3. Hours: 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday through early January. Lights of Palmetto is located at 5220 69th Street East. Visitors can park and watch in their cars or walk up the sidewalk on nearby Buffalo Creek Road for another vantage point. Tune radio to 96.1 FM for music. Free; donations accepted. More info: Facebook.com/lightsofpalmetto. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ annual holiday light spectacle, “Lights in Bloom,” returns from Dec. 8 2023 to Jan. 4, 2024. Cliff Roles Provided Image Lights in Bloom: “Lights in Bloom” transforms Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota into an illuminated winter wonderland. More than two million lights are in place to illuminate Selby’s gardens and walkways. The event also includes arts and crafts, activities, entertainment and holiday photo ops. Food and drink will be available for purchase in the gardens. Details: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 26-30 and Jan. 1-3. Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Adults: $30. Ages 5 to 17: $15. Children under 5: Free. Early entry tickets available for an upcharge. More info: Selby.org. Enchant St. Petersburg: This popular annual event at Tropicana Field returns with “the world’s largest Christmas light maze,” a shopping village with vendors, ice skating, live entertainment, crafts and food. Details: Through Dec. 31. Tickets start at $34 for adults and $25.50 for children ages 3-17. Discounts for seniors and military. Private event rentals available. More info: https://EnchantChristmas.com/st-petersburg-fl-tropicana-field/

Christmas at Busch Gardens: Busch Gardens’ annual Christmas Town celebration puts a holly jolly twist on Florida theme park fun. The park is decked out in lights and decorations for the holiday party, and there are festive eats, shows, rides and music to enjoy. A $138.99 Fun Card allows unlimited entries to the Christmas Town event and free entry to the park through the end of 2024. Details: Through Jan. 7. Busch Gardens, 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa. Single-day ticket: $138.99. More info: BuschGardens.com/tampa/events/christmas-town.

SHOWS AND PERFORMING ARTS “A Brave New Wonderland” circus at UTC: This inaugural collaboration between tightrope walker Nik Wallenda and The Circus Arts Conservatory features “a blend of thrilling circus acts, mesmerizing aerial performance and uplifting holiday storytelling.” Details: 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday. Through Jan. 7. 195 University Town Center Dr., Sarasota. Tickets start at $45. More info: WonderlandCircus.com.

McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre will celebrate New Year’s Eve with a lineup of comedians, food and drink and a screening of the New York City ball drop. Club founder Les McCurdy will host the evening, with guest acts and a headline performance by Dean Napolitano. Details: 9:30 p.m. Sunday. McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. $75 per person. More info: McCurdysComedy.com. This story was originally published December 28, 2023, 11:00 AM.

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