PANAMA CITY BEACH — Whether you’re looking for a family celebration, a hearty meal or something a bit more adult-oriented, there will be a party somewhere along the beaches to suit your desires.
PierPark will ring in the New Year with its fifth annual Beach Ball Drop, a free family event with live entertainment and a fireworks display. The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve, with prize drawings, stilt walkers, face painting, costumed characters, mascots and more.
At 5:45 p.m., The Barry Fish Band takes the stage playing fun music from the 1980s and ’90s. At 7:55 p.m., countdown activities start at the stage in front of Crocs. Local dignitaries like PCB Mayor Gayle Oberst and Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, will make special appearances.
“Pier Park’s Beach Ball Drop continues to grow each year, bringing residents and tourists together to celebrate the New Year in a beautiful, family friendly atmosphere,” Rowe said. “The Beach Ball Drop represents what Panama City Beach is all about — white sand beaches, family togetherness and just plain fun.”
The kid-friendly Beach Ball Drop, consisting of more than 10,000 inflatable beach balls released onto Pier Park Drive on the boardwalk, takes place at 8 p.m. and is accompanied by fireworks.
This leads into the Countdown Celebration at 8:30 p.m., featuring live radio remotes, more prize drawings, appearances by local dignitaries, live entertainment and fireworks.
At 10:45 p.m., headliner James Otto takes the stage. This country music performer’s hits include the No. 1 smash “Just Got Started Loving You” and follow-ups “Soldiers & Jesus” and “Groovy Little Summer Song.” Fans also can expect the set to be packed with never-before-heard new music.
At midnight, the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop takes place, during which a glowing 800-pound beach ball drops from a spire, accompanied again by fireworks.
For more event details, see Facebook.com/ShopPierPark, follow @PierPark on Twitter, or visit Simon.com. Pier Park is at 600 Pier Park Drive off Back Beach Road in Panama City Beach.
Over in Seaside, countdown to the new year beginning at6 p.m. with live music in the Seaside Amphitheater from artists including Tony Lucca (finalist on NBC’s “The Voice”), Jacob Jeffries Band and Brendan James. There will be street performers, children’s activities and fireworks to ring in 2013 in grand fashion at the stroke of midnight.
If a meal is more your speed, check out these Panama City Beach celebrations:
Boatyard: Arrive early (beginning at 7 p.m.) to enjoyChef Konrad Jochum’s Grand New Years Eve Menu, a fireworks show at 10 p.m. over Grand Lagoon, smooth jazz and ambient house music with DJ Wes Rolan, a champagne toast at midnight, and a view of the Schooners fireworks display, along with party favors. Boatyard is at 5323 N. Lagoon Drive, Panama City Beach.Reservations are suggested. Call 249-9273 or visit BoatyardClub.com.
Kingfish Restaurant and Sushi Bar: Enjoy a special five-course dinner for $75 per couple from 6-10 p.m.; stay the night for only $139 dollars per couple, which includes dinner for two at Kingfish and a stay at Bay Point Wyndham Resort. Reservations required: 236-6075 or BayPointWyndham.com.
Breakers: Celebrate the New Year twice at Breakers on the beach, beginning with the popular “British New Years” complete with party favors and a champagne toast at 6 p.m. (midnight in England). Dine early and stay for the “All American New Year’s Countdown” with live music by Jones & Co.; the $149.95 package includes dinner for two, an open bar, gratuity, countdown to 2012 with a champagne toast, noise makers and more. Details: 234-6060. Breakers is at 12627 Front Beach Road.
Spinnaker: The evening features a grand buffet dinner, dancing and live music by Acoustix and the Flamethrowers in the Rock Arena. Dinner seating begins at 7:30 p.m.; the club opens at 10 p.m. Cover: VIP walk-ins $10; ages 21 and up $20; ages 18-21 $30. Or celebrate all night with a $50 package including grand buffet, reserved seating starting at 7:30 p.m., complimentary champagne, admission to the New Year’s Eve Party, party favors, champagne toast at midnight, and 2013 VIP Card. For reservations, call Nikki at 2347892, ext. 102. Spinnaker is at 8795 Thomas Drive.
Schooners: Rock in the New Year with live music by Chasing Scarlett, enjoy a midnight fireworks show, champagne toast and party favors. Call 235-3555 to reserve your table; $120 per couple for inside table (prices include champagne toast and party favors); $100 per couple for an outside table; main bar $50, Hill Bar $40.
Get into a Mardi Gras kind of mood with the Krewe of Massalina’s 14th Annual New Year’s Eve Mardi Gras Ball at 7 p.m. at the Grand Ball Room in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Select, 2001 N. Cove Blvd. in Panama City. Enjoy Casino Night 7-9 p.m. and win one of the gift packages. Heavy hors d’oeuvres served beginning at 8 p.m. (cash bar will be available) and the Harbour Cats will play from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Special guests will include award-winning actor, choreographer and producer David Winters, Brandon Bryant of “So You Think You Can Dance” and actor and boxer Gary Stretch of “Savages,” who are in town for the production of the film “East Side Story.”
Dress is costume or formal, with the theme “Across the Universe,” a Beatles tribute. The public is welcome, but seating is limited. Tickets are two for $50 or $30 each, available at Millie’s Restaurant, 228 Harrison Ave., or by calling the Mardi Gras Hotline, 913-8383. Special rates ($59/night) for guests at the Holiday Inn Select; call 769-0000 and ask for the Mardi Gras Ball Package.
Club La Vela: Experience a new beginning as the club unveils renovations and its latest theme room. Enjoy $1 Kru Vodka mixed drinks and $1 domestic beers 8-10 p.m., live rock with Hidden Element at 10 p.m., and a champagne toast at midnight. For discounted entry, pick up free invitations at any Purple Haze, Heat Wave, CK Secrets, Condom Knowledge, Club Sun, Exotic Exposure Tanning and FYE.
You also can buy a party package and reserve a table in The Thunderdome VIP, Penthouse, Posh ultra lounge or the Pussy Kat Lounge. Details or reservations: call 235-1061 or visit ClubLaVela.com. The club is at 8813 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach.
Panama City Beach Senior Center is hosting its annual Candlelight and Wine New Year’s Eve Dance from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the center, 423 Lyndell Lane, Panama City Beach. Enjoy the music of Too Tall Productions, with Bobby and Miles Hooper. Bring your own bottle. Setups and hors d’oeuvres provided. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Cypress House. Details: pcbsc.com.