Here's how to greet 2009 on New Year's Eve in the Tampa Bay area

Ring in New Year’s at First Night St. Petersburg in downtown or at one of the many other events planned throughout the Tampa Bay area.

ATOYIA DEANS I Times (2005)

Ring in New Year’s at First Night St. Petersburg in downtown or at one of the many other events planned throughout the Tampa Bay area.

After the marathon sprint of this holiday season, New Year's Eve is a chance to gather with friends or burrow deeply, depending on your mood. Either way, we've got you covered. Keep in mind, these are just some of the highlights. For a complete list of things to do on Wednesday, see Diversions (Page 30) and entertainment.tampabay.com. Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer

Get swanky

• Santa's too busy recovering to watch Naughty You ring in the year twice on Wednesday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, first at the posh Naughty New Year poolside bash with 93.3 WFLZ-FM's DJ KiDD LeoW and lots of scantily dressed women. The party goes from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., and tickets include dinner buffet, sushi bar, tapas and dessert bar. Not enough? The party starts at 2 a.m. at Floyd's with DJ Ivano Bellini, and the 3 a.m. ball drop is shown live from the West Coast. Doors don't close until 7 a.m. The Naughty New Year party is $75; Floyd's West Coast Toast is $50. Go to both for $115. The casino is at 5223 N Orient Road, Tampa. (813) 627-7625; seminolehardrocktampa.com.

• Aqua Eve Partiers take over the Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, starting at 9 p.m. for live entertainment, free food, beer and wine — and the best view of the fireworks in the adjacent Channelside district. Tickets are $100. (813) 273-4030; flaquarium.org.

• It's not Times Square, but you can get a taste of New York with a Broadway show (Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening at 7:30 p.m.; tickets start at $38.50) and a Maestro's dinner package ($49 per person, seating at 5:30 or 8 p.m.). Or just hit the "after party" with music by the surf rockers Vodkanauts, two drink tickets, party favors, a ball drop on the big TV, a champagne toast and dessert on the lawn for $39, starting at 9:30 p.m. (Tax and gratuities not included in prices.) (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045; tbpac.org.

• Hosted by 95.7 The Beat's on-air personality Stu, NYE LX will feature bay area models, Tango from VH1's I Love New York, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Greg Spires and music by DJ Ekin, a popular club DJ who always seems to land big star interviews on his Sirius radio show. Tickets are $20, plus service fee, at nyelx.eventbrite.com. The party runs from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the Good Luck Cafe, 1910 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City.

• Tampa's Channelside district rings in the new year with live entertainment, fireworks and a Times Square-style ball drop. You watch it for free from land, or you can watch from the deck of the StarShip dining yacht. The cruise is $100; it includes open bar, free food, live entertainment, party favors and a champagne toast. Boarding begins at 10 p.m. at 603 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Ages 21 and older. (813) 223-7999; yachtstarship.com.

Casual night out

• Gainesville rockers Sister Hazel may not have charted in a while, but they have loyal fans here. A concert and party at Jannus Landing, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg, features a champagne toast at midnight and a buffet from Harvey's 4th Street Grill. Doors open at 7 p.m., the show is at 8. Tickets are $39.99 in advance (service fees not included). (727) 898-2100 or (813) 287-8844; ticketmaster.com.

• Beak's Old Florida, a Parrot Head bar and restaurant from the creators of the legendry Bubble Room on Captiva, draws in the Hawaiian shirt-wearers with a free New Year's celebration packed with music from beach rocker Ricky Wilcox and the honky-tonk blues of Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues. There will be contests and prizes, noisemakers and a champagne toast at midnight at 2451 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 321-9100; beaksoldflorida.com.

• For $60 ($65 day of show), Sidesplitters Comedy Club treats you to an open bar and a 10:30 p.m. show with Carl Labove, a veteran fave and a writing partner of the great Sam Kinison. After midnight, there will be dancing, music and a breakfast buffet. If you don't want to be out that late, Labove will have a $15 show ($17 day of show) at 7:30 p.m. with a mock countdown. (813) 960-1197; sidesplitterscomedy.com.

Take the kids

• First Night St. Petersburg is alcohol-free and family-friendly, so park the beer bong. Besides, you'll need all your faculties to keep up with the dizzying amount of activities at 25 downtown venues, including concerts, dance, storytelling, theater, puppetry, drumming circle, ice skating and more. The fun starts at 5 p.m. and features fireworks on the hour from 8 p.m. to midnight. $10 adults, $5 ages 6-12. (727) 823-8906; firstnightstpete.com.

• Celebrate the New Year with the entire family at Noon Year's Eve, featuring Radio Disney, from 9:30 a.m. to noon Wednesday at Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. Tickets, which include games, art and crafts and a juice toast, are $18.95, $17.95 seniors, $14.50 ages 3-11. (813) 935-8552; lowryparkzoo.com.

Staying in

If your idea of a great New Year's is footed pajamas and a remote, you'll find some offbeat choices on TV and the Internet. There's the old standby, New Year's Rockin' Eve, with Ryan Seacrest playing relief pitchman for Dick Clark. Over at NBC, Katy Perry, T.I. and Ludacris will sidle up to Carson Daly. But why go with the same old white-teeth wonders? Check out some of the alternative NYE programming:

• ESPN brings back its extreme New Year's party with motocross stunts and an off-road truck attempting a back flip at 11 p.m.

• Fox will show daredevil Robbie Knievel, son of the late Evel Knievel, attempting a 200-foot jump over the Mirage Volcano in Las Vegas, a jump that marks the 41st anniversary of his father's bone-shattering jump at Caesars Palace. Good times. Show begins at 11 p.m.

• After recovering from a deadly plane crash, DJ AM and drummer Travis Barker are reuniting for the New Year's Nation party in Los Angeles. The show by TRVSDJAM, the duo's pseudonym, will stream live on the Internet and air across the country at other New Year's Nation bashes. Atlanta is the closest party city to the bay area, so pull up a comfy chair to the computer and go to newyearsnation.com. The broadcast will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Here's how to greet 2009 on New Year's Eve in the Tampa Bay area 12/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 29, 2008 3:13pm]

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