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Time running short to plan for New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is just two weeks from today. Where will you ring in the new decade? If it's one of these popular parties, then now is the time to make plans. Some sell out. And don't forget about getting home safely, especially if you've had a few champagne toasts. We've got some tips to get the party started. — Dalia Colón, Times staff writer

Midnight madness

Even if you decide to party-hop, you can be in only one place at midnight. If we were you, we'd make it Jackson's Bistro. When the clock strikes 12, the waterfront complex will launch a fireworks display against the Tampa skyline for its expected 2,000 guests. There will also be a balloon drop, complimentary champagne toast, plus a fire breather, magician and other roving entertainment. Ages 21 and up. Tickets range from $25 for general admission to $945. VIP areas will include tables (4-8 people) and cabanas (10-plus guests). Prices will go up closer to party. Mike Piper, owner of Pied Piper Productions, which puts on the event, said it usually sells out every year, so don't expect to buy a ticket at the door. People have been known to scalp them out front for $150 apiece, Piper said. 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. 601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa, (813) 265-1234;

Here's a sampling of what to expect at some other hot spots:

Floyd's: Nestled inside Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, this nightclub is always the place for the public on New Year's Eve — except for this year. At midnight, Floyd's will be closed for a private party for some of the casino's high rollers. ("It's not a celebrity or anything like that," said Hard Rock spokeswoman Gina Morales.) But, the Lobby Bar, Center Bar, Council Oak Lounge and main casino floor will be free and open to the public all night. Throughout the casino, staffers will hand out free top hats, tiaras and noisemakers. At midnight, there will be a colorful balloon drop at the Center Bar, shooting confetti cans in the Lobby Bar area and all TVs tuned to the Times Square ball drop. The pool will be off-limits to the public all night, but from 2 to 7 a.m. Floyd's opens to the public for the West Coast Toast. At 2:59 a.m., go back three time zones for another countdown with WFLZ-FM 93.3's Ratpuff and Staypuff as you watch the Los Angeles ball drop on giant video screens. Enjoy live entertainment by nationally renowned DJs Miss Lisa and Slynkee, plus resident DJs Santana and Chris Craze. Ages 21 and up. $50 general admission. 5310 N Orient Road, Tampa, (813) 627-7625;

Push Ultra Lounge: "We are transforming Push into a snow-covered Central Park for New Year's Eve," said manager Lucy Watkins. That means the club's interior will be decked out all in white, with snowflakes and branches. At midnight, white confetti will fall as revelers gather 'round for a complimentary champagne toast and watch the ball drop in Times Square — the real one. The roof deck will also be open for the duration of the party, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Local DJs Coz and Gravity will spin. Tickets are $20 in advance at Push or $25 at the door. VIP tables are sold out. Ages 21 and up. 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. 128 Third St. S, St. Petersburg, (727) 871-7874;

Clubs are quick to tout the special offerings for Very Important People — that is, people willing to cough up extra dough. But when are VIP packages worth the money? As an example, consider the $725 private table in the cabana area of the Jackson's Bistro New Year's Eve Bash. Regardless of where you plan to party, consider these questions when deciding whether to buy the VIP upgrade. — Dalia Colón, Times staff writer

How many people get in?

Don't let the price tag scare you. VIP packages often include admission for a group of people, so find out the per-person cost. In this case, the Jackson's table seats eight people. When you split the cost among eight friends, you each pay $90.63. (Prices will increase.)

What do I get for my money?

Some venues nickel-and-dime VIP guests, while others offer all-inclusive packages. At Jackson's, the cabana-level VIP table for eight includes a bottle of champagne, mixers, party favors, access to VIP areas and a prime spot to watch the fireworks display.

Is there a minimum purchase?

If so, factor this into your budget. For Jackson's party, guests under the $725 package must buy a bottle of liquor from their server. The average bottle costs $200 plus tip.

More parties

. Aja's New Year's Eve 2010

Lil Jon, one of the bad boys of hip-hop, will serve as host — as well as throw down a DJ set — at a New Year's Eve gathering in the Channelside District. 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Aja, 290 S Meridian Ave., Tampa. $50 general admission; table service from $850-$2,500. (813) 781-6335.

. New Year's Eve Extravaganza at Shephard's

What happens at Shephard's, stays at Shephard's on New Year's Eve. Or so you hope, with this Las Vegas-themed party with two bands, two DJs, Vegas-style gaming (for fun only), champagne toast, party favors, optional dinner and more. 21 and up only. 9 p.m. $75, $110 with dinner. Shephard's, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 442-5107

. The Venue's Masquerade Ball

Formal masquerade ball attire suggested but not required. Live music by Lester Freeman, party favors, $1,000 balloon drop and champagne toast. Masks available at the door. 10 p.m. The Venue, 2675 Ulmerton Road, St. Petersburg. $25 advance, $30 at the door; $75 per person dinner reservations; tables and skyboxes from $125-$2,000. (727) 571-2222.

. Crowbar's Rockin' New Year's Eve 4

Ring in 2010 with GreyMarket from Tampa, XOXO out of Orlando and a guest recording star to be named later. Plenty of DJs will be rocking the house, including DJ Mega, DJ Blenda and DJ Colonic. 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $10 ages 18 and up only. (813) 247-6838.

. Project 2010 at the Fly Bar

Party features Geri X and Mighty Mongo, and DJs Soft Rock Renegades. No cover. Drink specials include $2 shots, $3 drafts and $5 any mixed drink. Complimentary champagne toast at midnight and you can see fireworks from the rooftop. 5:30 p.m.-3 a.m. The Fly Bar & Restaurant, 1202 N Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 275-5000.

. Prana's Celebration 2010

Wear your best party duds and get ready for the $5,000 balloon drop. There will be hors d'oeuvres, a chocolate fountain, a complimentary champagne toast at midnight and a continental breakfast beginning at 2:45 a.m. DJ Knex will play hip-hop in the lounge and mezzanine; DJ Agent will play all formats in the VIP Sanctuary; DJ Shay-D will play house, mashups and top 40 in the nightclub; and DJ Prophet will kick some tunes in the Sky Bar. 9 p.m.-3 a.m., ages 18 and up women; ages 21 and up men. $30 for single; $50 couples; table service/bottles begin at $150. Club Prana, 1619 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. (786) 417-4567. (We're told you can see a bunch of fireworks from the roof of Club Prana.)

. Dallas Bull New Year's Eve Party

Get on your sequined denim and spiky heels and boot scoot yourself over to this country-themed party. Try a line dance, ride the bull and enjoy the balloon drop with prizes. $20 ages 18-20 with free non-alcoholic drinks all night; $40 ages 21 and up with free drinks including top-shelf and shots. 7 p.m.-3 a.m. Dallas Bull, 3322 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (813) 987-2855.

. The Kennedy Soho Boutique Lounge
New Year's Eve

Get your traditional party favors — read noisemakers and party hats — for the countdown at midnight. 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Free for women ages 21 and older; $15 women ages 18-20; $10 advance for men 21 and up (no men under 21 allowed). Tables up to $1,000 in advance (prices may increase night of the event). Free drink if you go to another Soho Leisure Group venue (Cheap, Hyde Park Cafe) and pick up a wristband. The Kennedy Soho Boutique Lounge, 2408 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Information/reservations: (813) 259-9669.

. New Year's Eve Party at New World Brewery

This one is geared for the Northwestern University fans who will be in town for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl game at Raymond James Stadium against Auburn University. There's no cover for this party and there will be drink specials, a DJ and a champagne toast at midnight. The kitchen will be open for service. Open until 3 a.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. (813) 248-4969.

. Blue Martini's Midnight Masquerade Ball 2010

Live entertainment and an open bar highlight the party at this International Plaza night spot. There will be a band from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Complimentary appetizers from 8-10 p.m. with a full menu available. And there also will be an open bar from 8-10 p.m. Of course, no celebration would be complete without a champagne toast at midnight. $40 person, up to $350 for a table with a bottle of champagne or Van Gogh Blue Vodka included. 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Blue Martini, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., B203, Tampa. (813) 873-2583.

Time running short to plan for New Year's Eve 12/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 28, 2009 4:25pm]
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