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Raleigh NYE: Ideas to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2021

IMPORTANT NOTE: Raleigh Convergence is no longer publishing, as of April 1, 2022. Read more.
Raleigh acorn drop photo by @experience_raleigh

Hi everyone! It’s Susan from @experience_raleigh here, with a roundup of some Raleigh New Year’s Eve celebrations! 

There’s so much more happening this year than last – and we are ready for it! But there are still concerns about the rising number of Covid cases and some pivoting of plans. 


Once again, the biggest party of the night happens in Downtown Raleigh! First Night Raleigh is where it’s at. The folks at Artsplosure are already shining up the acorn and setting up the Ferris Wheel, presenting a delightful arts festival with something for everyone.

Festivities kick off at 2 p.m. with the Children’s Celebration at Bicentennial Plaza.

The Funky Ferris Wheel, Disco Roller Rink and Groovy Gravitron rides are open from 2-11 p.m. on Fayetteville Street.

This year, ticket holders can also enjoy Gold Leaf Sleigh rides from the State Capitol (8-10 p.m.)!

Everything will be taking place outside – and the performances also start at 2 p.m. It looks like the weather will be spectacular! Everything is included in your ticket – apart from the food and drink that will be available for purchase.

The culmination of First Night is The Acorn Drop!

The first acorn drop takes place at 7 p.m. It just happens to be midnight in London and Edinburgh – and it’s a perfect way to celebrate with the younger ones and have an early night.

The Countdown to Midnight starts at 10:30 p.m. at City Plaza with headliner Sonny Miles. The acorn drops as the clock strikes 12 a.m., followed by a spectacular fireworks display! 

Bicentennial Plaza and City Plaza will be closed to ticket holders only – but everything along Fayetteville Street to Davie Street will be open to the public.

Tickets are just $12 in advance (ages 6+) and $16 on the day. They’re available at Etix and at Harris Teeter. You must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test (within 48 hours prior) to attend the ticketed events. Covid tests will also be available on site for $30. Details at firstnightraleigh.com.

Ferris wheel photo by @experience_raleigh

More Raleigh NYE events

There are a few big bashes going on in and around Downtown Raleigh.

NYE Union Station is a ticketed event taking place at one of the most beautiful locations in town – with vast indoor and outdoor spaces — Raleigh Union Station. Dress to impress, then enjoy live DJs and dancing. What’s included depends on the ticket you purchase. (There are packages that include hotel rooms downtown!)

Rocky Top Catering is once again hosting a black-tie bash over four floors of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Your ticket to NYE Gala 2020 includes food, drinks, and live music. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test (within 48 hours prior) is required. 

Downtown Raleigh’s fabulous rooftops are always a great place to celebrate – and NYE is no exception. Why not reserve a VIP table at the Botanical Lounge on Glenwood South? New Year’s Eve at The Willard Rooftop at the brand new AC Hotel features a Mediterranean buffet and dancing – not to mention the killer views of the fireworks. (You may as well book a room package!) 

Rooftop views at The Willard. Photo by @experience_raleigh.


Many of your favorite restaurants are joining in the festivities – or at the very least, have created a special menu. Be sure to book your table in advance. Here is just a sample:

🥂 Vidrio on Glenwood South is throwing a bash upstairs in their Fiera Bar & Lounge – as well as offering a special menu in their ground floor restaurant.

🥂 Young Hearts Distilling is hosting a fun, free-flowing event with passed hors d’oeuvres, stationed items, and a variety of beer, wine, and spirits. With live music and a toast at midnight, it’s a bargain at just $120 per ticket.

🥂 New Year’s Eve Greek Night at Taverna Agora features belly dancing, music from The Opa Band, a toast at midnight, and party favors. 

🥂 Wye Hill offers one of the best views in town. And on NYE, they’re offering two different seatings to choose from – both of which include a “decadent” buffet!

Other restaurants with special menus and festivities include: 


Many bars are celebrating in a special way, such as: 

🥂 Fortnight Brewing in Cary is hosting a family-friendly celebration starting at 11 p.m. UK time – which is 6 p.m. Cary time! Details may be found here. The adult celebration will follow.

🥂 Bond Brothers Eastside in Cary hosts area favorites Peter Lamb & the Wolves, with food trucks and snacks, and inside and outdoor seating.

🥂 The Flying Saucer is hosting “Brew Year’s Eve.” Call to book a table.

🥂 Bowstring Brewyard has live music 8-11 p.m., then watch the acorn drop on TV with a bubbly toast at midnight!

🥂 The Rockford – with a DJ spinning tunes and a toast at midnight.

🥂 Pour Works  (not far from Raleigh Costco/Wegmans) has free admission, drink specials, and hors d’oeuvres.

Many other neighborhood bars and restaurants are joining in the celebration. Some have a small cover charge at the door. And many offer a celebratory toast at midnight!

Before you head out, be sure to check for any policies regarding vaccination status or negative Covid tests. And as always, be patient with your servers and hospitality professionals, many of whom are even more short-staffed than usual right now. 

Stay safe, have fun, and have a Happy New Year! 

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