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Happy New Year: The 2013 Houston Press New Year's Eve Guide

Find out how to ring in the new year.

This year, the economy finally started turning around. Houston celebrated with more jobs and new people who came to experience the riches of the city's cultural, culinary, artistic and entertainment worlds. And as this year comes to a close, we arrive at last at New Year's Eve, the day when, cold though we may be, we can put our disappointments behind us, revel in our victories and look forward to even better times. Once again, here is our annual list of restaurants, clubs and bars that can help transport you into 2014 with a smile and in style.

Batanga

908 Congress, 713-224-9500

www.batangahouston.com

Batanga is ringing in the New Year with a special tapas tasting menu as well as one-time specials surf and turf Grilldabeast, bluepoint oysters with lardo ibérico and malanga gnocchi with white truffle oil. There will be live Brazilian entertainment with Lois Albez, party favors for everyone and a bottle of Champagne on every table at midnight.

BlackFinn American Grille

1910 Bagby, 713-651-9550

www.blackfinnhouston.com

BlackFinn will be celebrating the New Year with a Roaring Twenties-themed party that promises to rival those of the Great Gatsby himself. Guests are encouraged (but not required) to dress accordingly. The night will include $5 Long Island Ice Teas and Manhattans, as well as the obligatory Champagne toast at midnight. A DJ will provide the music. It all begins at 8 p.m.

CityCentre

800 Town and Country Blvd., 713-629-5200

www.citycentrehouston.com

Starting at 7 p.m., a DJ will provide live entertainment as guests visit the many shops and restaurants in CityCentre, all of which will be offering specials and events to celebrate the occasion, followed by a fireworks display to cap off the evening at midnight. In addition, CityCentre invites guests to stay overnight at Hotel Sorella with a variety of special holiday packages from which to choose.

Downtown Aquarium

410 Bagby, 713-223-3474

www.aquariumrestaurants.com

Bring the kids in on the fun with Sharkey's New Year's Eve, staged in the Downtown Aquarium's Nautilus Ballroom. Included in this family-friendly event are a buffet, balloon drop, prizes, a bird show, and pictures with Sharkey and Nero. Guests have their choice of party, and can attend from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The buffet is $14.99 for kids and $22.99 for adults, with all-day adventure passes included in event price. Reservations are required.

FantaSea

8 Kemah Boardwalk, 281-969-4774

www.boardwalkfantasea.com

Fantasea invites guests of all ages to its family-friendly New Year's celebration. The cruise takes place from 1 to 3:30 p.m., with boarding beginning at noon to allow the younger crowd to take part. After lunch, there are plenty of games for the kids to enjoy while guests take in the scenic views of Clear Lake and Galveston Bay. There'll be a live DJ on the ship to provide music for those who wish to try out the open-air dance floor. Ticket prices range from $40 to $60.

Holiday Inn Houston

1112 Eldridge Parkway, 281-679-6900, ext. 163

www.ihg.com/holidayinn

A reservation for The Holiday Inn Energy Ball will include a full dinner, Champagne toast, live entertainment, party favors, DJ, photo booth, dancing, a breakfast buffet and, in a unique twist, a surprise marriage proposal from a U.S. military veteran. The event will take place from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and costs $85 per person and $150 per couple.

The House of Blues

1204 Caroline, 832-667-7733

www.houseofblues.com

Four parties, sponsored by the Houston Press, fill the House of Blues on New Year's Eve. In the main hall, there's Hayes Carll's Holiday Hangover. Mike and the Moonpies and JD McPherson share the bill with Carll. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $30 to $45. In the Bronze Peacock room, it's the "Bombón y Top Notch New Year's Eve Bash" tropical dance party hosted by Fat Tony y La Comadre Mel. The show, for partygoers 21 and over, starts at 10 p.m. General admission is $10; VIP admission, which includes a champagne toast, is $30. Thunderpants headlines the Totally 80s New Year's Eve Bash in the Crossroads (downstairs restaurant). This is also a 21-and-over-only show, starting at 10:30 p.m. General admission is $20 to $30. DJ Charlee Brown spins for the Ring in the New Year with Love and Passion party. Partygoers 21 and over enjoy a New Year's Eve buffet as well as priority entrance to the Hayes Carll show in the main hall. The buffet is served from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is $100.

Hyatt Regency Houston

1200 Louisiana, 713-654-1234

www.houstonregency.hyatt.com

The Hyatt's New Year's Eve party is back again with entertainment by two live bands and a DJ, party favors and a drop of 50,000 balloons from the top of the hotel's atrium lobby. Roger Creager, The Fab 5 and DJ 33-1/3 provide the music. The party will be accessible as part of a special package for couples that also includes an overnight stay at the hotel and eight drink tickets, all for $299. The event starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m.

Joke Joint Comedy Showcase

11460 Fuqua, #300, 281-481-1188

www.jokejointcomedyshowcase.com

For a comedic New Year's Eve, visit the Joke Joint Comedy Showcase for one of its two shows, one at 8 p.m. and another at 10:30 p.m., featuring headliner Billy D. Washington. The tickets are $30 each, but if they are purchased before December 26, there is a 20 percent discount. Group discounts are also available.

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