Last year, Wilmington’s events calendar was still feeling the effects of the pandemic.
This year, the gloves (and the masks, mostly) are off, and the result is perhaps the most New Year’s Eve events this town has ever seen.
Lots and lots to choose from below, and some events can be mixed and matched into endless permutations of Wilmington-area fun. Happy New Year!
Back for the first time since 2019, this big ol’ evening of entertainment at Thalian Hall includes a pre-show dinner, a performance of Opera House Theatre Co.’s production of the Cyndi Lauper-penned musical “Kinky Boots” and post-show drinks, dancing and karaoke. It all culminates in a chandelier-driven “ball drop” to ring in 2023. The Wilmington tradition of the New Year’s Eve musical started at the old City Stage theater (now North Front Theatre) in the early 2000s, and it continues at Thalian Hall.
Details: 6 p.m. (doors) Dec. 31. $246 for dinner, show and post-show party; $140 for show and party; $80 party only. Proceeds benefit Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts. “Kinky Boots” opens Dec. 30 and runs Jan. 5-15. 910-632-2285 or ThalianHall.org.
Oceanic restaurant in Wrightsville Beach is turning their second-floor ocean-view dining room into a cocktail lounge for the evening. Enjoy a DJ, dancing, passed hors d’oeuvres and display stations, lounge seating, a champagne toast at midnight, and party favors to ring in the new year. Cash bar is also available.
Details: Party doors open at 9 p.m. 703 S. Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach. $50. 910-256-5551 or www.oceanicrestaurant.com.
Head down to Carolina Beach for this annual celebration, the final event of Pleasure Island’s month-long Island of Lights festival. Get there early for a DJ-led dance party and party favors (available for a small fee). But definitely don’t miss the Wilmington area’s answer to Times Square in the form of the annual beach ball drop at midnight, followed by the last fireworks display in Carolina Beach till next summer.
Details: 9 p.m., downtown Carolina Beach. Free. PleasureIslandOfLights.com
The Second Glass near downtown Wilmington is offering a four-course dinner (plus an amuse bouche) from chef Ryan o’Janpa that can come without a selection of paired wines. The meal is $75, or $125 with wine. Each course comes with options, including vegan choices.
Details: 4-10 p.m. at 1540 S. Second St., Wilmington. $75-$125. Details: 910-399-7486 or https://secondglasswinebar.com.
For the second year in a row, Wilmington-spawned comedian Cliff Cash will ring out the old year with two nights of cultural and political humor at the Dead Crow Comedy Room. For New Year’s Eve you’ve got two options. Hit the early show at 7 p.m. and then head out somewhere else (OR, you know, make it an early night). Or, do the 9:30 p.m. show and ring in the New Year at Dead Crow with a post-comedy party.
Details: 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 30-31 at Dead Crow Comedy Room, 511 N. Third St., Wilmington. $20 and $30, or $25 and $35 for 9:30 p.m. show Dec. 31. 910-399-1750 or DeadCrowComedy.com.
More: Wilmington comedyA stand-up and a seeker, Wilmington’s Cliff Cash is on a quest for comedy gold
Kipos Hellenic Cuisine in Lumina Station near Wrightsville Beach is offering a special 5-course menu by Chef George Delidimos with seatings from 5-9:30 p.m. There’s complimentary valet parking, a DJ after 10 p.m., hors d’oeuvres, and a complimentary sparkling wine toast at midnight.
Details: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. at 1900 Eastwood Road, Wilmington. Tickets are $90 per person. 910-492-2893 or www.kiposwilmington.com.
Whether it’s your only party of the day or just the first one, get your kids down to the Children’s Museum of Wilmington for their annual New Year’s Noon celebration. A whole slew of activities −crown-building, glitter-slime making, but also a chance to reflect on the past year − will culminate with a massive confetti toss as the clock strikes noon. Juice for toasting provided to all.
Details: 9 a.m.-noon at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, 116 Orange St. $10, or $5 for members. 910-254-3534 or PlayWilmington.com.
Three10 restaurant, located in a renovated former home on North Fourth Street in downtown Wilmington is hosting a multi-course dinner with a sparkling wine toast. The meal includes five courses and an amuse bouche to start with vegan and gluten free options.
Details: Seatings are 5, 6:45, 8:30 and 10:15 p.m. at 1022 N. Fourth St., Wilmington. Dinner is $70 per person. 910-399-5428 or https://three10wilmington.com.
Celebrate the start of the new year and get home early with the fifth annual Blueberry Drop in the Pender County town of Burgaw, which is where Fox comedy “Welcome to Flatch” is filmed and also where the North Carolina Blueberry Festival is held each June. The berry drop takes place at midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, aka 7 p.m. Eastern time. With live music from the Ace Party Band.
Details: Celebration starts at 5 p.m. in downtown Burgaw. Blueberry Drop takes place at 7 p.m. Event ends at 7:30 p.m.
More: Wilmington filmStar of Fox comedy ‘Welcome to Flatch’ talks working in Burgaw, playing in Wilmington
Fermental in downtown Wilmington is offering a full evening of live local music, a rotating selection of rare beers on tap as well as wine, mead and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. The Bad Eatz taco truck will be onsite early in the evening serving authentic Mexican food.
Details: Begins at 7 p.m., 600 S. 17th St., Wilmington. Free. 910-821-0362 or www.fermental.net.
If you want to make a short road trip for New Year’s Eve and still be able to get back to Wilmington well before midnight, the New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop returns to the Duplin County town of Mount Olive. Held on the campus of the University of Mount Olive by the Mount Olive Pickle Co., the event features food trucks, live music, FREE PICKLES and a fireworks display after the big drop.
Details: 5 p.m. event, 7 p.m. pickle drop. Event ends at 7:30 p.m.
Sauce’d, the cocktail and fry bar in downtown Wilmington, is hosting a DJ and streaming the festivities both inside (in the lounge) and outside on the heated patio, on a 100-inch screen. Tickets include a complimentary champagne toast at midnight, a mini fry basket with your choice of sauce and party favors. VIP Tables are also available.
Details: 8 p.m.-1 a.m., 224 S. Water St., Wilmington. Tickets $25-125. 910-399-4743 or www.saucedwilmington.com.
Spend New Year’s Eve mere yards from the Atlantic Ocean at Wrightsville Beach club The Palm Room, jamming out to this six-piece band from the North Carolina mountains. Dr. Bacon plays a mix of funk, rock and hip-hop blended with traditional Appalachian music sounds. Opening act for the two-night stand is Andy Lyle Hall & The Unmentionables.
Details: 10 p.m. Dec. 30-31. Cover charge at the door.
Wilmington cover band Uptown Easy headlines this party on the second floor the Bluewater Grill at Wrightsville Beach, just past the drawbridge. Admission includes music, complimentary snacks and a champagne toast at midnight.
Details: 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Tickets are $50. 910-256-8500
This family-owned resort on Wrightsville Beach is offer a package that includes a two-night stay with a welcome treat, a New Year’s Eve dinner, an in-room breakfast one morning and Sunday brunch the next. But the highlight might be the chance to dance in 2023 with a performance from Grammy-winning artist Giovanni Rodriguez & the 12 Manos.
Details: 275 Waynick Blvd. in Wrightsville Beach. Packages priced around $640, 888-512-3835 or https://blockade-runner.com.
Help raise money for suicide awareness and prevention at the U’Nique Community Fund’s Roaring ’20s-themed 2022 New Year’s Eve Ball at the Terraces on Sir Tyler. Features an open bar, live music from Wilmington favorites Machine Gun, dinner catered by Middle of the Island and a silent auction that could have you winning a Hawaii vacation.
Details: 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Advance tickets only, $150 each.
Jules’ Salty Grub & Island Pub is once again hosting a party with live music and a champagne toast at midnight. And some good grub, which includes a sushi bar, prime rib station, seafood table, a cheese-and-veggies board, and chocolate fountain. Be sure to wear your best masquerade gear for the photo booth.
Details: 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. at 10 Marina Wynd on Bald Head Island, $100-150, 910-457-7217 or www.julessaltygrubbhi.com.
The Satellite Bar & Lounge on Greenfield Street in Wilmington’s South Front District has a double dose of New Year’s Eve entertainment. First up is one of the Port City’s best live rock acts, Kicking Bird. Then, James Tritten and Tracy Shedd of Wilmington’s Fort Lowell Records and the traveling Let’s Dance ILM dance party bring a mix of up-tempo indie and underground rock and pop songs, all of them on vinyl and specifically calibrated to make you want to move it.
Details: Band starts at 8 p.m. followed by Let’s Dance ILM dance party.
More: Wilmington musicRock band Kicking Bird emerges from pandemic as one of Wilmington’s most potent live acts
Have yourself a jazzy New Year with this Roaring ’20s-themed party at The Lookout at Iron Front (23 N. Front St.). Dress in your best Gatsby-era attire and dance to music by the Tea Cup Gin Jazz Band.
Details: 10 p.m.-2 a.m., tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. Includes music, dancing, champagne toast at midnight.
LaPolena Bed & Breakfast in Southport is known for their events, including on New Year’s Eve. This one comes with catered food, live music, dancing, cash bar — and surprises. Wear your best black tie and cocktail wear. Tickets are limited.
Details: 8:30 p.m.-midnight at 201 River Drive, Southport. $50. 910-477-6125 or LapolenaBNB.com.