Houston NY Eve

Insider's Guide to big New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Houston: Fireworks and free performances

Insider's Guide to big New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Houston

Houston New Year's Eve logo
New Year's Eve Houston will take place in the downtown Theater District. Courtesy photo
News_Bobby Lyle_pianist
Bobby Lyle will perform smooth jazz at the Wortham Center's Cullen Theater at 9 pm on New Year's Eve.
The Santaland Diaries
Todd Waite stars in The SantaLand Diaries at the Alley Theater at 7:30 pm on New Year's Eve. Photo courtesy of Alley Theatre
Free Press Summer Fest The Tontons
The Tontons will perform on an outdoor stage at the Theater District at 9:15 pm on New Year's Eve. Photo by Marco Torres
The B-52's
The B-52s will take to the stage at 10:30 on New Year's Eve. Photo courtesy of Houston First
Houston New Year's Eve logo
News_Bobby Lyle_pianist
The Santaland Diaries
Free Press Summer Fest The Tontons
The B-52's

After a two-year hiatus, a big New Year's Eve celebration, complete with a midnight fireworks display and lots of entertainment, is headed back to downtown Houston — in a new location, with the B-52s and Houston-based Tontons as featured attractions.

Other events — all free — will take place inside the Alley and Wortham Center theaters throughout the evening, beginning at 7 pm. They range from a production of SantaLand Diaries to a Broadway Sing-A-Long, and performances by magician Curt Miller, percussionist and bandleader Pedrito Martinez and smooth jazz Bobby Lyle Trio. (See full schedule below.)

Also on tap is an early New Year’s kid-friendly celebration in the Family Zone on Jones Plaza filled with dancing, games, activities and costumed characters.

Grown-ups can toast the end of the year in the Bubbly Garden with room for dancing and a lounge area. The B-52s, affectionately known as the "world's greatest party band" with such dance hits as "Love Shack" and "Deadbeat Club," perform at 10:35 pm on a special outdoor stage constructed on Smith and Capitol streets in the Theatre District, leading to the midnight fireworks celebration from atop Jones Hall. The Tontons will perform from 9:15-10:15 pm.

Food and beverage booths will sell traditional "good luck" food and hot cocoa, coffee and cider, as well as beer, wine and champagne. Parking is available in garages underneath the Theater District buildings.

New tradition

The event revives a burgeoning New Year's Eve tradition that developed when Gloworama was launched at Discovery Green to welcome in 2010 with neon-decorated art cars and a spectacular light show. The event morphed into an event called New Year's Eve Live and organizers hoped to make it an annual family-style blowout as the Bayou City version of New York's big annual celebration in Times Square.

But in late 2013, the annual event was canceled due to a lack of sponsors. Insiders say that Mayor Annise Parker lobbied for the return of the signature downtown happening as one of her last achievements before leaving office. (Mayor-elect Sylvester Turner will be inaugurated on January 4 in Jones Hall). Houston First stepped in to sponsor the celebration.

Other sponsors include the city of Houston, the Houston Downtown Management District, the Houston Theater District and the Houston Chronicle. The event is produced by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

 “Houston has lots to celebrate and what an extraordinary way to begin a new chapter for this tradition," Parker said in a statement.

Online contest

In conjuction with the big event, sponsors are conducting an online contest, with a chance to win a Theater District experience, which includes overnight accommodations at The Lancaster Hotel, a $100 gift card to the Hard Rock Cafe and four tickets to the Theater Under The Stars production of Mary Poppins.

Entries, which can be made online at www.houstontxgov.nye/contest.html, must be received by Wednesday (December 30) at 5 pm. The drawing will be held on Thursday (December 31) after the 7:45 pm performance of the Curt Miller Magic Show at Wortham Center. The winner must be present at the drawing.

Live options

Because there is so much construction work around Discovery Green, with a giant new Marriott Marquis hotel aiming to open before the 2017 Super Bowl, as well as renovations to the George R. Brown Convention Center, organizers decided to move the celebration to the Theater District and take advantage of the facilities to present live performances in some of the buildings throughout the evening. They include:

7 - 7:45 pm
Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Curt Miller Magic Show

7 – 9 pm
Hard Rock Café   
Kristal Cherelle & Will Makar
Strolling Entertainment
New Orleans Hustlers Brass Band & Glow Go Dancers

7 - 9 pm
Kids Plaza, Jones Plaza
DJ Johnny J, Arcade, Face Painters, Fortune Teller, Red Door Productions Dancers, LunchBox Dance Crew, Balloon Artist
*Special Kids Countdown – 9 p.m.

7:30 - 8:30 pm
Alley, Neuhaus Theatre 
SantaLand Diaries (Mature Audiences Only)

Brown Theater, Wortham Center 
Broadway Sing-A-Long I

8 - 9:30 pm
Alley, Hubbard Theatre                                                                                                       
Pedrito Martinez

9 – 10:15 pm
Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Bobby Lyle Trio

9:15 - 10:15 pm
Main Stage, corner of Smith and Texas
The Tontons

9:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Brown Theater, Wortham Center
Broadway Sing-A-Long II   

10:35 - 11:58 pm
Main Stage, corner of Smith and Texas    
The B-52s