There's a lot of pressure to pick the right place to party on New Year's Eve. But we think we've figured out the real secret. First, and most importantly, you've got to determine what type of vibe you'd like to cruise on the biggest party night of the year. So we set up our event mega-chart with two options to start you thinking: Is the perfect New Year's Eve wild and crazy, or more chillaxed?
Once you've rung up your squad and picked that ~vibe~, we've got a bunch of other choices for you to make: spirits, wine or brews? Dancing or a stage show? Hip-hop or Latin dance? We've got options for you, plus some specially chosen editor's picks of stuff we're uber jazzed about. And remember: All events can be either wild or chill; it just depends on you, my friend.
Mom time. Remember to call a Lyft, not to drive after indulging (plus parking is a nightmare). Drink lots of water! Have fun! And when you wake up starving on January 1? Flip to page 16 for a breakdown of noms.
Some housekeeping: All events go down on December 31 unless otherwise noted. Details may change and events will frequently sell out, so confirm details on official venue websites for confirmation that the adventure you choose is still available.
1 Skating At The Fairgrounds, Pop Weaver Youth Pavilion
Dec. 26-31, 12-2 p.m., 2:30-4:30 pm., 7:30-9:30 p.m. Back in the day, you could skate on the same pad of ice that now hosts the Indy Fuel, but that's changed: the Pop Weaver Pavilion, just behind the Coliseum, hosts public skating and youth hockey. The skating pad's now called the "Cheri Daniels Arena," which is a nod to the MANY hours Indiana's former first lady spent at the Fairgrounds. In addition to three sessions on New Year's Eve alone, the Fairgrounds has added sessions from the day after Christmas through the 31st. There's a small shop that rents skates and sells some hockey gear, but as of this writing, we're not sure if the shop still has a black Labrador named "Puck." Concessions are often available, too.
Indiana State Fairgrounds, 927-7624, $6 age four and older, FREE three and younger, $4 figure skate rental, $5 hockey skate rental, $5 per car parking
There's a FULL complement of games on tap for New Year's Eve, BOTH college and pros, men and women:
Pacers V. Bucks, 6 p.m. The Pacers — the new-look, PG13-in-a-new-role Pacers — have coalesced, well, brilliantly. After a stomach-churning 0-3 start to the 2015-16 season, the team's finding its rhythms faster than nearly all of us expected. With nosebleed seats going for as little as 11 bucks, this is a great way to spend at least part of NYE.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, One Bankers Life Ct., 125 S. Pennsylvania St., 917-2500, prices vary, pacers.com
Butler men V. Providence, 2:30 p.m.; Butler women V. Georgetown, 6:30 p.m. Yeah, it's two separate tickets, but why not spend a holiday at Hinkle? Also, what the hell's a Hoya?
Hinkle Fieldhouse, 510 W. 49th St., Butler University, prices vary, butlersports.com
3 Dirty Fingernails NYE
7 p.m. Kick off your night at the Indy Indie Artist Colony where more than 50 artist will exhibit work with as few restrictions as possible, organizers say. Free food and booze is provided as long as it lasts — so make this your first stop for some gratis vino and then head on your way. PS: It starts early and you can bring your kids.
Indy Indie Artist Colony, 26 E. 14th St., FREE, all-ages
4 Chef JJ's
6 p.m. Doors, 6:30 p.m Dinner A ticket to this private event gets you a curated five course meal and dessert to take home. Beer and wine are available for purchase. One of the best views of Lucas Oil is free of charge.
Chef JJ's Downtown, 42 W. South St. $75
5 Spoke & Steele New Year's Eve
6 p.m. Appetizers and barrel-aged cocktails will be floating around. A champagne bar and sabering will kickstart a three-course meal. After purchasing a ticket call (317) 737-1616 to reserve your spot; the ticket doesn't.
Spoke & Steele, 123 S. Illinois St., $105.44
6 Center for The Performing Arts
8 p.m. The Hot Sardines will perform at 10 p.m. The group mixes New Orleans and New York jazz with French influences — and they have a tap dancing percussion player! They will play alongside The Bishops and Flatbed Twitch. A ticket warrants champagne, two drink vouchers, hors d'oeuvres, dancing and karaoke.
355 City Center Dr. (Carmel), $100-175
7 Children's Museum of Indianapolis
10 a.m. The New Year's "Countdown to Noon" at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis lets families experience all of the fun of ringing in the New Year complete with hats and noisemakers without battling sleepy cranky youngsters in the middle of the night. The celebration is included in the regular admission, so families can enjoy the museum's many exhibits before gathering in front of the 30-foot water clock located in the museum lobby. The countdown occurs twice — leading up to noon and 1 p.m. The second countdown is noon Central time, but it's really all about watching the water clock completely drain and begin again.
Children's Museum, 3000 N. Meridian St., free with museum admission
8 Indiana State Museum
6 p.m. If staying up until midnight just isn't an option, the Indiana State Museum offers a family-friendly alcohol-free party for all ages that falls in line with a reasonable bedtime. Celebrate in the Governor Frank O'Bannon Great Hall with face-painting, clowns, stilt walkers and music. The evening is capped off with a countdown and balloon drop at 8 p.m. Reservations are recommended by calling (317) 232-1637.
Indiana State Museum, 650 W. Washington St., $7 members, $13 non-members, all-ages
9 Pat McAfee Presents A Ridiculous New Year's Eve
8:30 p.m. Safe to say it's been a subpar season for our beloved Indianapolis Colts. We fully expect our Best of Indy cover boy and Colts kicker McAfee to take his frustration out on the crowd, in the form of laughter of course. He'll bring plenty of surprise guests, music, comedy and other New Year's party gifts. Your only question: where to pre-game?
Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St., prices vary, 21+
10 Downtown Indy New Year's Eve Celebration
8 p.m. If you spent too much money on gifts this holiday season or if you're broke like this editor, this is the perfect event for you. The free events starts early and runs well after the clock strikes midnight. There'll be live performances by multiple local musicians, and electro-dance producer Kap Slap will provide the tunes till the countdown begins. And in true racing capital of the world fashion, a suspended IndyCar will descend instead of the traditional ball drop.
Georgia Street, FREE, all-ages
11 Icon NYE 2016
9 p.m. DJs Kyle Long, Freddie Fresh, Lady Shay, rasul, Stylistic and Stephan Vohito hold down this hip-hop/R&B/soul/funk/house party, which features two floors of tunes, plus a champagne toast at midnight. Gary Brackett is hosting, along with Long and Old Soul's Doug Morris.
Georgia Reese's Southern Table, 14 E. Washington, $25 in advance, two tickets for $40, 21+
12 Rad Summer NYE
8 p.m. Some of the best hip-hop shows I've ever been to combined two things: Rad Summer artists and The Hi-Fi's great sound (hat tip to dudes like Wes Heaton and Dave Jablonski, who keep that on lockdown). This show has that third factor: it's freaking New Year's Eve, man. Oreo Jones, Sirius Blvck and John Stamps will take the stage through the night, and KNaggs and Action Jackson will take over after the ball drops. Get a glass of bourbon, pick up some new hip-hop mixtapes and get your early (cheap) tickets to this great show.
The Hi-Fi, 1043 Virginia Ave. Ste. 4, $10 in advance, 21+
Editor's note: For numbers 13 - 35, a.k.a. the best of the rest, click here.