New Year’s Eve and Winter Events

Carey Sweet
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New Year's Eve in Sonoma County is always a festive time, and thanks to our wonderful, mild winters, the celebrations extend into February, with folks cheering the Pliny the Younger beer release. Locals and visitors alike will toast 2020 in extra style, so that means now is a good time to start figuring out what to do the night of Dec. 31, 2019. If you have a favorite restaurant or hotel, chances are good that they are holding a celebration. But for something new or completely different, read along for these fun suggestions. Auld Lang Syne, all around!

Epicenter, Santa Rosa 

epicenter in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County

The family friendly event starts at 6 p.m. ($20-$30) with a dinner buffet, a Pick 3 Play Pass for kids 16 and under, and, at 9 p.m. (cheering in the East Coast New Year's Eve Ball Drop), a champagne toast for adults and sparkling cider for the kids. The Pick 3 is great fun, offering an 110 chip arcade card, and your choice of 3 of the following: 1 game of bowling, 1/2 hour of jump time at Rockin' Jump Trampoline Park,1 XD Dark Ride or 1 game of laser tag, and admission to play structures.

Whiskey Tip, Santa Rosa 

The weirdest and wildest NYE party in Sonoma County, the R-rated Mischief Masquerade variety show ($35 advance; $45 door) tantalizes with fire performers, comedy, burlesque, drag, hip-hop, circus, interactive crowd games, underground art, live music, a silent disco, a photo booth, ambient cirque performers, a fortune teller, costumed go-go dancers, and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

Flamingo Resort & Spa, Santa Rosa 

The pool at Flamingo Resort and Spa in Sonoma County

The Annual Rockin' New Years Eve Party rings in 2020 with UB707 performing high energy R&B/soul music in the grand ballroom ($60), and DJs Primo & Ousa spinning tunes in the Lounge.  Come dressed to impress in your finest cocktail attire, then dance, dance, dance, and enjoy the cash bar.

Hopmonk Tavern, Sebastopol 

glass of beer outside at Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol in Sonoma County

This lively venue rocks on the Eve, and this year the party heats up with Hot Buttered Rum, a souped-up, left-coast string band of five musicians who weave bluegrass, folk, jazz and soul into Americana ($40). Doors open at 8 p.m., with plenty of time before the ball drops for a Hopmonk dinner and drinks (may we suggest the terrific, spicy chile verde). It's out with the old, in with the new, boogie kids!

11th Annual New Year's Eve Concert/Gala, Petaluma 

The Petaluma Historical Museum proves that celebrating the New Year is as much about culture as it is about champagne (or here in Sonoma County, sparkling wine). The glory swells with the talents of members of the San Francisco Symphony, who perform Haydn, Schumann, Beethoven, Dvorak and Ginastera with a Sonoma County ensemble, including violin virtuoso and Sonoma native Nigel Armstrong, plus pianist Elizabeth Walter and a variety of string players. The evening includes complimentary wine and cheese, too, with balcony guests also enjoying fine wines, champagne and chocolates. Purchase tickets before Dec. 22, $50-$80.

Hermann Sons Hall, Petaluma 

group of people dressed up for a night in vienna in Sonoma County

It’s New Year’s Eve in Vienna, with a buffet style gourmet dinner featuring many traditional Viennese dishes and desserts. Enjoy listening and dancing to Strauss Waltzes with live orchestra until midnight, including fine wines and Champagne toast ($150).

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! 

The Charles M. Schulz Museum opens at 10 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2019, then continues into a family fun fest with hands-on crafts for kids, a Snoopy-led balloon parade, and Up-Down and Baby Balloon Drops at noon ($5-$12). Be there for root beer toasts at noon and 3 p.m., and be sure to wish in a Snoopy-tastic New Year.

Pliny the Younger Release, Santa Rosa 

pliny the younger release in Sonoma County

Keep toasting 2020 with this coveted Triple IPA that’s available only once a year, introduced the first Friday each February for a limited two week run. The release is a big deal, so much so that fans line up in front of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, hoping to get a 10 oz. pour of the coveted and extremely limited production triple-hopped ale. It can only be had on draft at the pub (and at a very few VIP restaurants); in previous years, waits to get in the 135-seat bar have lasted up to 12 hours. However, as of 2019, PTY is available at both Russian River's downtown Santa Rosa site and its new Windsor location, making for shorter wait times. It's not just locals lapping it up either, since beer lovers travel from across the country – indeed, the world – to get a sip of the 10.25% abv. craft suds.

Happy New Year!