On the last day of the year, cultures around the world celebrate New Year's Eve with a variety of unique traditions. Mexico celebrates by eating 12 grapes during the midnight countdown, the United States watches the ball drop in New York City's Times Square, and Texans prepare special black-eyed peas recipes for a dish that represents prosperity in the coming year.
If you're traveling to Texas to ring in New Year's Day, there are fireworks, parties, and family-friendly events in cities across the state. No matter how you want to celebrate, Texas has at least one city or small town that is just right for celebrating the New Year with your friends and family. You can stroll the colorful Riverwalk in San Antonio, enjoy the fireworks at South Padre Island, or do the Electric Slide in Luckenbach. No matter where you go, though, you're sure to find a great party or event to attend this December 31.
Few places in the country party like Austin does on New Year's Eve, and Sixth Street, in particular, is second to none when it comes to finding a New Year's bash. However, there's a wide variety of parties and events happening across the city on December 31.
For one of the biggest parties in the city, head to the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin, which hosts the Gatsby’s House New Year's Eve party. Featuring top Austin DJs, a casino night speakeasy with prizes to win, and five hours of open bar drinks including a midnight champagne toast, Gatsby's House transports guests back into the roaring twenties for a night of music, dancing, and fancy attire. Gatsby's House takes place from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and Day, and advanced tickets are required to attend the event.
If you're looking for a family-friendly and alcohol-free event instead, Austin's New Year takes place at Vic Mathias Shores from 7:30 to 10 p.m. and welcomes all ages to attend this free event. Austin's New Year features four stages, 22 bands, and plenty of activities ranging from fire dancers to food trucks as well as a firework show at 10 p.m. to close out the event.
While not quite as well-known of a party destination as Austin, Dallas also has a reputation for hosting a variety of huge events throughout the year, including on New Year's Eve. From attending the ongoing "Holiday in the Park" event at Six Flags Over Texas to dancing the night away at a huge party, there's plenty to do in the Big D on December 31.
Reunion Tower is the center of a spectacular light show and firework display, which features more than 4,000 pyrotechnic special effects with the magnificent downtown skyline as its backdrop. While the tower itself is not open during the fireworks to visitors, the Over the Top NYE Party takes place inside the famous ball atop Reunion Tower and provides some of the best views of the fireworks you'll find in the city.
Meanwhile, Party on the Plaza at City Hall Plaza offers a free, all-ages event that takes place from 7 p.m. on New Year's Eve to 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Day. Along with a fantastic view of the midnight fireworks over Reunion Tower, the event also features food trucks, drinks, and live entertainment from "American Idol" favorites CASTRO as well as the Emerald City Elevation Band.
Houston is the nation’s fourth-largest city and the largest in the Lone Star State. As one might expect, a city that size has plenty to offer over New Year’s weekend. From college football to exclusive midnight balls, the Bayou City is chock full of excitement over New Year's weekend.
To start off the celebrations, kids can enjoy an afternoon event at CityCentre Plaza on Tuesday, December 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a family-friendly "Noon Year’s Eve" celebration featuring DJs, dancing, and non-alcoholic bubbly drinks. Co-hosted by the Texas Children's Hospital West Campus, this family-friendly event also includes face painting, a balloon and caricature artist, and photo opportunities at the Lucky Shots’ magic mirror photo booth.
Come back to CityCentre Plaza at 9:30 p.m. without the kids for Houston's official New Year's Eve party, which features live music in the plaza by A Sure Thing followed by a countdown to midnight capped off with confetti and a 60-second rooftop firework show.
The Alamo City has been a long-time favorite New Year's Eve destination for Texans and visitors alike. Fireworks, parties on the Riverwalk, historic landmarks, and quiet bed and breakfasts in San Antonio all combine to create a celebration to remember no matter what you might want to do.
New Year's Eve on the San Antonio Riverwalk is the biggest event in the city for the holiday, bringing over 250,000 visitors to downtown San Antonio each year. This special celebration features live music on three stages, carnival games, rides, delicious festival food, and a fireworks extravaganza to round out the evening of festivities. New Year's Eve on the River Walk is free and open to all ages, but children under 15 years of age must be accompanied by an adult to enjoy the event.
For a better view of the fireworks in an environment meant only for adults, check out the Rooftop NYE Celebration at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk instead. Featuring great views of downtown, Towers of Americas, and the fireworks as well as a full, open bar, music by San Antonio DJs, access to the rooftop pool, and a sparkling wine midnight toast, this special event takes place from 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve until 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Day and requires tickets to attend.
Other events taking place in San Antonio for New Year's Eve this year include Gatsby's House at the Westin Riverwalk, the Strong Group Association's Annual New Year's Eve Party at the DoubleTree by Hilton at the San Antonio Airport, and Celebrate San Antonio! Presented by Bud Light at Hemisfair and La Villita.
Located off the southern coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, tiny South Padre Island may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a New Year's Eve celebration, but this small town hosts one of the biggest firework displays in the state as well as a number of parties to ring in the new year.
Tiny South Padre puts on a huge fireworks display over the Laguna Madre Bay every New Year's Eve. Besides an awe-inspiring fireworks exhibition, South Padre offers visitors miles of the pristine, secluded beach during December and January. Meanwhile, those looking for a special party can go to Louie's Backyard on the bayside for fireworks at midnight and can visit Clayton's New Year's Day Polar Bear Dip in the Gulf of Mexico the following day.
Another small town with a great reputation for big parties, Luckenbach, Texas holds an official New Year's Eve Ball at the Legendary Luckenbach Dance Hall each year featuring live country music, dancing, and a toast at midnight. Tickets are only available on a first-come, first-served basis, though, and include admission to the hall as well as the champagne for the toast. Reservations are not allowed, but anyone can use the Majesty Tours shuttle service which moves people between the Fredericksburg Inn and Suites and downtown Luckenbach to get to the party.
Located in central Texas, Fredericksburg is known for its local wineries, German heritage, and a large variety of parties to ring in the new year. The biggest event in the city, though, is the official New Year's Eve Countdown to 2020, which offers two unique events for visitors of all ages.
Start your day of celebration early at Marketplatz in downtown Fredericksburg from 4 to 6 p.m. with a special event that features amusements, games, activities, live music, and a ball drop to close out the free event at 6 p.m. Afterward, the ball will be reset for another evening party at Marketplatz that's also open to all ages and starts at 9 p.m. The evening party also features live music from Groove Night as well as a midnight ball drop, refreshments, and a huge firework show to close out the evening at 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Day.
For something a little more adult-oriented, head over to the Stable Cocktail Bar for the Roaring 20's Prohibition New Year's Eve Party from 4 p.m. on December 31 to 2 a.m. on January 1. Featuring specialty cocktails, dancing, a variety of passed hors d'oeuvres, and a midnight champagne toast, this special event is only open to guests over the age of 21 and requires tickets in advance to attend.