The Best Free(ish) New Year’s Eve Events

As usual, New Year’s Eve in South Florida is not shy of events this year, with stars ranging from Billy Joel (BB&T Center) to Pitbull (Bayfront Park) to Demi Lovato (Fontainebleau) to Wang Chung & A Flock Seagulls (Boca Raton Resort & Club) to the Village People (Seminole Casino Coconut Creek) all descending on the tri-county area to count down another Earth cycle.

Problem is, these concerts are a mega cash suck. So are most of the lavish nightclub and restaurant soirees, which require an exorbitant cover and a second mortgage for the luxury of tinkling Champagne glasses with the rest of the beautiful people.

If that’s your thing, have at it. But there are also plenty of great events for us hoi polloi, offering low or no cover charges, and which promise to be just as fun. Here is our curated list of New Year’s Eve parties for the budget-conscious, from the north end of Palm Beach County through Miami.

Harbourside Place

At Harbourside Place, the breezy open-air shopping and dining enclave in Jupiter, soulful Nashville-based country artist Shay Marie and the Wildfire Band will take the stage beginning at 9 p.m. The Times Square ball-drop will project on a 16-foot screen, and fireworks will launch at midnight. Free.

CityPlace

Kreskin says the forecast calls for another snowless winter in Florida, but CityPlace in West Palm Beach is staging faux “snowfalls” at 6, 7, 8 p.m. and midnight as part of its annual celebration. Making Faces, a local band that plays a signature brand of “Roggunk”—aka a combination of rock, reggae and funk—performs at CityPlace Plaza. Free.

Death or Glory

High-energy Lake Worth punk-folk band Everymen will headline the festivities at Death or Glory, one of Downtown Delray’s newest hangs. Ben Childs and the Wails, bringing their eclectic mix of Celtic-style “soul shanties,” and DJ Mike Locke keep the joint jumpin,’ and drink specials will keep patrons quenched. Free.

Delray Beach

The New Year’s Eve equivalent of the early bird special—or the place to take the kids before you really go out to celebrate—can be found at Delray Beach’s New Year’s Eve Downtown, formerly known as First Night. The family-friendly bash runs from 5 to 9 p.m. and includes craft activities, outdoor games, a vintage game room, face painting, ice skating, carousel rides, live music and more. Free.

Funky Buddha

Of all the paid events, Boca’s Funky Buddha Lounge offers the best deal we could find: five live bands, a beer toast at midnight and a complimentary late-night breakfast at the end of the night. Chilled-out reggae-rockers Fireside Prophets headline a bill that also includes alt-rockers Del Pelson, Monty, Toledo and Red Light Motel. It gets underway at 8 p.m. $7 presale, $10 at door.

Downtown Fort Lauderdale

Times Square can keep its sparkly ball: Downtown Fort Lauderdale drops anchor instead. The illuminate maritime symbol, measuring 20 feet high and 17 feet wide and festooned with 12,000 LED lights, will descend from downtown Fort Lauderdale, at Southwest Second Street and Southwest Fifth Avenue, at midnight. Show up at 7 p.m. for line dancing; live music, by Orquestra Calle Sol and the Shane Duncan Band, runs from 7:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. Free.

Glitch Bar

Party like it’s the end of the world at Glitch Bar, the popular arcade bar in Fort Lauderdale’s hip Flagler Village. The “barcade,” with its trove of vintage video games, is hosting “Wasteland: A Post-Apocalyptic New Year’s Eve Block Party.” Costumes conjuring “Mad Max,” “Zardoz” and “Escape From New York” are encouraged, and you can weather the decline and fall of civilization with $1 PBRs until midnight, live fire dancers, a video DJ and food trucks. Free.

Wynwood NYE

Eschewing the rope lines and wallet-emptying culture of downtown Miami, one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods aims to “Keep Wynwood Weird” by charging nothing. Wynwood NYE 2018 features fire-eaters, artists, dancers, live music, hula hoops, food trucks and DJs spinning highlights from 2017. You can even RSVP on its Facebook page for a free drink and party favors between 8 and 10 p.m. Free.

Something Big

As for New Year’s Day, what better way to soothe that hangover than with a yoga day? Local yogi Leslie Glickman will lead an expected 2,000 attendees through a refreshing yoga routine at Mizner Park Amphitheater, in an event the organizers are not-so-humbly calling “Something BIG.” DJ Drez will spin the tunes, and a vendor marketplace features plenty of fitness, culinary and wellness goodies to take home. It goes down between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Free; bring your own mat.