For the 447th consecutive year, St. Augustinians will celebrate the passing of the old and the arrival of the New Year.
All that experience with New Year’s Eve revelry makes Florida’s Historic Coast the prefect location for saying good-bye to 2011 and hello to 2012. From formal balls to seaside fun, there’s something here for anyone looking for a memorable way to start the New Year.
New Year’s Eve Noon Balloon Drop: From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., kids can get in on the fun and excitement of New Year’s Eve when The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach launches their annual High Noon balloon drop. Kids can make their own party hats, enjoy pizza and then create their own snap, crackle and pop “fireworks” by running and jumping through an entire room filled with bubble wrap! At noon, the balloons drop to celebrate the New Year. Admission is $5 per person or $15 for a family of four. The Cultural Center is located at 50 Executive Way in Ponte Vedra Beach, phone 904.280.0614 or visit www.ccpvb.org
Laughs and BBQ: Start the New Year right with lots of laughs and great Down Home eating when St. Augustine’ Limelight Theatre presents a special presentation of Duck Hunter Shoots Angel – the hilarious story of two Southern hunters who believe they have shot down an angel! In keeping with the show’s theme, the buffet dinner will feature barbecue with Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert. Tickets for the show and buffet are $50 and may be purchased by calling the box office at 904.825.1164 or online at www.Limelight-Theatre.org. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
Beach Blast Off 2012: Kick off 2012 in seaside style at this special St. Augustine Beach event! Enjoy a blast of flavor, icy sculptures, and fireworks when several of St. Augustine’s favorite restaurants serve up chili for tasting and judging at the Fire and Ice Chili Cook-off from 4 to 10 p.m. After things cool off from the chili – the Fireworks synchronized to music begin at 8:30 p.m. This display will delight visitors and help usher in the New Year! Admission is free. The Beach Blast takes place at the St. Johns County Fishing Pier and Pavilion, 350 A1A Beach Boulevard in St. Augustine Beach. For more information, call 904.829.5681 or visit www.beachblastoff.com
Diamonds, Denim and Decades: Welcome 2012 at an exciting New Year’s Party at the AAA Four Diamond-rated Renaissance World Golf Village Resort. From 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., the resort’s St. Augustine Ballroom will be the liveliest place to be when the Murray Goff Connection Band performs high-energy music and popular songs from nearly every genre The Diamonds, Denim and Decades package is $319 per couple and includes one night accommodations at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort, admission to the party; a welcome libation; fantastic culinary fare at 12 different food stations, created by the resort’s Executive Chef Brett Smith; a champagne toast at midnight; and a late night snack buffet. Two-night packages start at $448. Tickets for just the Party are $75 per person, plus t & g. The Renaissance is located at I-95 Exit 323. For more information and reservations, call 904-940-8696, or visit www.WorldGolfRenaissance.com.
Casino for a Cause: Ring in the New Year at Ponte Vedra Beach’s newest event facility, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. A fun-filled evening will be had by all, starting with a cocktail reception from 8 to 9 p.m. Then, throughout the night there will be live entertainment by Orlando’s Top Jazz & Swing Band, heavy hors d’oeuvres, unlimited beer, wine and martinis, and a Champaign toast at midnight. Tickets are $125 and VIP tickets (which include unlimited full bar) are $175. The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is located at 1050 S A1A in Ponte Vedra Beach. Proceeds from this exciting New Year event will benefit BEAM, Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry. For more information, visit http://www.CasinosForACause.com.
Seaside Celebration: Greet 2012 from the seaside Holiday Isle Oceanfront Resort in St. Augustine Beach. The Beach Garden Restaurant has a special New Year’s Eve menu from 5-8 p.m. and then the party begins! From 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. there’s entertainment by Kenyon Dye, light hors d’oeuvres from 9-11 p.m. and a Champagne toast at midnight – all for only $29.95 per couple. For reservations, call 904.471.2555. www.holidayisleoceanfront.com
Fine Dining: Bid farewell to 2011 with an unforgettable New Year’s Eve dinner at one of the fine restaurants on Florida’s Historic Coast. Explore the exquisite tastes of Italy or take advantage of the Surf & Turf (Lobster and Filet Mignon) dinner at Amici’s, 1915 A1A South in St. Augustine. The Surf & Turf special is only $29.. Call 904.461.0102 or go to www.amicistaugustine.com for more information.
At the beach, Café Atlantico (647 A1A Beach Boulevard, St. Augustine)offers a special five-course New Year’s Eve dinner with an entrée choice of Catch of the Day over Mediterranean ratatouille and cream of plum tomatoes or Beef Wellington with a mushroom,-cognac reduction – all for $75 per person. For reservations, call 904.471.7332 or go to www.cafeatlantico.net .
Get a taste of France when Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard shares the award-winning menu he presented in November at the James Beard House in New York City. This special New Year’s Eve treat begins with a mise en mouche and climaxes with a pear poached in Beaujolais Nouveau — all for only $69 per person, plus tip and taxes. Bistro de Leon is located on St. Augustine’s Plaza de la Constitucion at 12 Cathedral Place/ Phone: 904.810.2100 or www.bistrodeleon.com
For more continental cuisine, enjoy fine dining with a Russian flair a Sara’s Crepe Café. From 10 p.m. until 3 a.m., enjoy a three-course pre-fix menu featuring appetizers like blini with caviar, fried potato with mushrooms, and shrimp cocktail followed by entrees including prime rib, Cornish hens in garlic sauce and pasta with fresh basil oil sauce. For the perfect conclusion, there’s dessert and champagne. The dinner package is $75. Plus, there is live entertainment throughout the evening! Sara’s Crepe Café is located at 100 St. George Street, Suite F in St. Augustine. Call 904.810.5800 or go to www.sarascrepecafe.com .
For the golf fan, there’s nothing more memorable than New Year’s Eve dinner at the beautiful TPC Sawgrass. From 5-9 p.m. enjoy a delicious a la carte dinner and live music in an unmatched setting. For details and reservations, call 904.453.5105
Piratical Party: Join the crew of the pirate ship Black Raven as she sails across Matanzas Bay in search of 2012! Great food washed down with the finest brews, plus sea shanties, a Pirate DJ and non-stop partying. The Black Raven casts off from the St. Augustine Marina at 10:15 p.m. Tickets are adults only (21+) $65 per person. For more information and reservations, call 904.826.000 www.BlackRavenAdventures.com
Wine, Food and Carriages Too: Explore the Oldest City’s culinary, wine and beer heritage on a series of New Year’s Eve walking and carriage tours. Taste the best St. Augustine has to offer on the three-hour Vittles and Vino Carriage Tour. Sample wines and food at one-of-a-kind specialty shops and eateries with transportation provided by a horse-drawn carriage. Tours are priced at $99 per person and depart at 2 p.m. Nights of Lights Wine and Carriage Tours take you on a tour of the spectacular Night of Lights aboard a horse-drawn carriage while indulging in delicious Spanish boutique wines. These one-hour tours are available for $45 per person and depart at 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. (Private tours can also be arranged.) Departing at 5 p.m., the Barley and Hops Beer Tours features a walking tour filled with fascinating facts about brewing as well as sampling of outstanding local brews. Tickets are $46 per person. Start the New Year’s Eve celebration at 4 p.m. with the Wine About Town tour – a 2.5 hour strolling tour featuring exclusive wine samplings gourmet cheese and fresh baked breads. Tickets are $56 each. For details, reservations and more information about these tours, call 904.325.3911 or visit www.thetastingtours.com