By Christina Garcia | Photos by Adobe Stock, Sundance Square, San Antonio Parks Foundation, South Padre Island/Joey Waves, Austin Parks and Recreation Department
Whether your favorite part of New Year’s Eve is a champagne toast, the countdown to midnight, or the fireworks, Texas has you covered. From street parties to rollercoasters and even early-bird celebrations with the kids, here are a few ideas to ring in the new year.
Stop by City Hall Plaza for a fantastic view of the innovative mix of drones and live fireworks bursting around Reunion Tower on New Year’s Eve or buy a ticket to get a close-up view. It’s hard to beat the panoramic, 360-degree view of the impressive light show launched from the 470-foot-tall building. The Crown Block restaurant and the Hyatt Regency will host a series of events throughout the weekend.
Sundance Square is the center of Cowtown’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display, with a party that, based on years prior, starts in the early evening and wraps up around 2 AM. Pyrotechnics kick off at midnight.
Light Up the Night
San Antonio Street Party at Hemisfair Park
San Antonio invites you to a free yearly celebration hosted by their Parks Foundation to watch fireworks and enjoy live music on December 31 at Hemisfair Park. Past events welcomed over 70,000 people of all ages with rides, food, carnival games, and a family-friendly atmosphere. Revelers often end the party draped in beads and beaming from behind their glittering, novelty New Year’s Eve glasses. Buy a ticket to watch fireworks up close from the top of the Tower of the Americas. Party starts at 6 PM. Hemisfair.org
Austin’s Auditorium Shores
Set on the shores of Lady Bird Lake with a lovely view of the rapidly changing downtown skyline, Auditorium Shores is the perfect place to watch fireworks for New Year’s Eve in Austin. Food trucks and live music add to the party as visitors and residents crowd into the park and perch on bridges to get a glimpse at the fiery action. Expect a 6 PM start time and a midnight fireworks show. AustinParks.org/park/auditorium-shores/
South Padre Island
With a title like “The Fireworks Capital of Texas,” you know you’ll get a great production from South Padre Island on New Year’s Eve. Restaurants across the Entertainment District happily serve island fare and libations as you wait for the 9:15 PM fireworks show this year, but you can also bring a picnic and chairs to sit out and watch at The Green. Parking there is free but also first-come, first-serve. Lucky viewers will find themselves near the 60-foot Ferris wheel in Gravity Park. The park’s go-karts, mini-golf, and reverse bungee jumping are great ways to spend the last day of the year. SoPadre.com
City of Fredericksburg New Year’s Eve Countdown to 2024
Before you put the kids to bed, they can participate in the fun at this family-friendly early-bird event in Fredericksburg. Marketplatz Square is an early settler site where a multi-purpose Vereins Kirche stood from the mid-1800s. Now the site of Vereins Kirche Museum, the area forms the center of the historic plaza. For New Year’s Eve, the square will still glow with Christmas Lights and buzz with people looking forward to 2024. Past events have featured ice skating, facepaint, moonwalks, dancers, live music, and tasty treats. Kick off the festivities at 3 PM and wrap up the celebration with your revelers in training by watching the 6:30 PM ball drop. In past years, a second party has followed soon afterward, ending with fireworks at 12:30 AM on New Year’s Day. Free. VisitFredericksburgTX.com
Coast into the New Year
New Year’s Eve Celebration at Six Flags Over Texas and Fiesta Texas
Spend the last day of the year soaking up the thrills on twisting, speeding roller coasters at Arlington’s Six Flags Over Texas and San Antonio’s Fiesta Texas. All the rides will be open, and the parks will still be decked out from Christmastime. You’ll have the chance to watch the live acts on their last performances of the year, but don’t forget the best part of any fair: turkey legs, nachos, funnel cakes, and more scrumptious treats. Fireworks worthy of Texas cap off the events at 10 PM as the park closes. Get more info at SixFlags.com/overtexas/events.
Boot Scootin’ Ball Drop
For a night out two-stepping, head to the tiny town of Luckenbach, about an hour west of Austin, for the New Year’s Eve Dance with Kin Faux and Thomas Michael Riley. This outdoor event sells out yearly, so get your tickets while they last. HoldMyTicket.com/event/421148