Say goodbye to 2021 and ring in 2022 with Raleigh’s finest parties, concerts, and our special City of Oaks-style countdown.
by Kara Adams and Addie Ladner
Watch the Acorn Drop at First Night
Countdown to the New Year in signature City of Oaks style with First Night Raleigh. The celebration returns to the streets of downtown for their annual Acorn Drop — our answer to the ball drop. Starting at 2 p.m. with family-friendly activities on the Bicentennial Plaza, the festivities include a sleigh ride, a brightly-lit ferris wheel, and a disco roller rink. Through the Children’s Celebration, young ones can ring in the night early with an acorn drop and fireworks at 7 p.m. For adults, the evening continues until midnight, with performances from musical acts including Sonny Miles and Jack the Radio and the real countdown to the big finale at midnight.
Dec. 31 | 2 p.m. – 12 a.m.; from $12; downtown Raleigh; firstnightraleigh.com
Head to The Willard’s New Year’s Eve Bash
Book a New Year’s Eve Room Package at the AC Hotel downtown or purchase a ticket for access to The Willard Rooftop Lounge’s New Year’s Eve party. Enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired buffet, DJ Josh Price, a dance floor, and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. The room includes two New Year’s Eve bash tickets, a complimentary bottle of champagne, and a “hangover package” for the next morning.
Dec. 31 | 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.; $150 tickets, $699 rooms; 9 Glenwood Avenue; thewillardraleigh.com
Read Wisdom from A.C. Snow
Last year when we pinged Longtime News & Observer columnist A.C. Snow for guidance for the new year, he was hesitant. “Just because you’re so old you don’t buy green bananas doesn’t mean you’re wise,” he laughed. But together, he and his daughter collected a few thoughts, many of which draw from columns he wrote over the past 70 years that will remain timeless.
Go to the New Year’s Eve Gala at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Don your finest apparel for this black tie event spanning all four floors of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Research Center. Explore the exhibits after-hours as you snack on platters of hors d’oeuvres and sip on your favorite liquor from the ice bar. As the clock counts down, hit the dance floor with a live jazz band and don’t forget to commemorate the event by snapping a picture at the photo booth.
Dec. 31 | 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.; $225; 11 W. Jones Street; details here
Rock Out with Big Something and Special Guests
See three separate sets at the Lincoln Theatre as Big Something headlines the last show of 2021 with special guests Josh Phillips and Ranford Almond. This all-North Carolinian lineup will feature hits from Big Something’s albums Tumbleweed and Escape, country tunes from Josh Phillips, and catchy songs from Ranford Almond’s first EP Back Burner.
Dec. 31 | 8:30 p.m.; $39.50; 126 E Cabarrus Street; lincolntheatre.com
Ring in the New Year in the Mountains
Didn’t get your white Christmas? How about a white New Year? Pack the champagne, s’mores, sweaters and swap the urban celebrations for more relaxing ones in one of these stunning cabins with views and amenities to boot.
2022 New Year’s Eve Red-Carpet Bash at Botanical Lounge
Live your Hollywood dream reality at this red-carpet event, featuring a DJ spinning live music in the Sage Room, green velvet couches and a low-key vibe in the Botanical Lounge, and cozy fire pits overlooking downtown Raleigh at the High Garden rooftop patio. Grab your favorite beer, wine, cocktail, or a customary flute of champagne and dance the night (and the year) away.
Make some Festive Cocktails
Whether you’re in the mood for a cocktail, mocktail or classic hot chocolate to sip on while you ring in 2022, we’ve got you covered. We asked 12 local bartenders, brewers and baristas for their favorite beverages to commemorate the chilly months. Read on and grab (or make!) a cup of cheer. And – if you need some more glassware, cheese, or drink kits, here’s a list of local spots to find them.
Ring in New Year’s Eve at Union Station
Ring in the new year at The “Official” Downtown Raleigh 2022 New Year’s Eve Celebration. Featuring DJ Grant, DJ LP, DJ iLL Digitz, DJ Nevy, & DJ Jus Right spinning all genres of music, with live musical guests as well, the party will take place over two levels at Raleigh’s Union Station. Snap pictures at the photo booth, mingle with friends and family, and dance the night away with a spectacular view of downtown’s skyline.
Dec. 31 | 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.; From $40; 510 W. Martin Street; downtownraleigh.org
Head to Vidrio for Dinner and a New Year’s Eve Bash
For an unforgettable last meal of the year, head to Vidrio for a Mediterranean–inspired dinner and wine selections curated by North Carolina Chef of the Year, Saif Rahman. Dine until 10 p.m. then head upstairs to dance the night away in the Fiera Bar and Lounge, where you’ll find party favors, samplers, and a live DJ. Countdown to midnight with a complimentary champagne toast in this one-of-a-kind, colorful locale.
Dec. 31 | 10 p.m.; $30; 500 Glenwood Ave #100; vidrioraleigh.com
Get Dressed Up For Gatsby’s House Raleigh
Say goodbye to another year of the roaring 20’s with a Gatsby-themed bash at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel. Featuring four DJs spinning today’s top hits, complimentary appetizers, fully stocked bars, and plenty of room to dance, this party will rival some of Gatsby’s best parties.
Join Wye Hill for a New Year’s Eve Dinner Party
Feast on a buffet of decadent dishes like a black truffle mac and cheese, prime rib, smoked salmon, and more on Wye Hill‘s covered, heated patio with one the city’s icnoc skyline views. See the fireworks from your spot and stay for the after party.
Dec. 31 | 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.; from $50; 201 S. Boylan Avenue; eventbrite.com for tickets
Ice Skate at Red Hat Amphitheater’s The Rink
Red Hat Amphitheater — known for its outdoor concerts most of the year — has transformed into The Rink for the season. Don’t miss your last chance to glide along at the outdoor skating rink on the first of the year. The Rink has skates on site, as well as Red Hat’s regular concessions offerings, plus coffee and hot chocolate. For in-between sessions or folks more interested in supervising than skating, there’s a large lounge area with fire pits and heaters.
December – Jan. 1; $11 to skate (includes skate rental), $6 for non-skaters; 500 S. McDowell Street; redhatamphitheater.com/the-rink