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How to Have Fun in Austin on New Year’s Eve 2020

Thrillist logo Thrillist 12/22/2020 Molly Moltzen

a person holding a glass of wine © Courtesy of Roosevelt Room There’s probably been no better cause for celebration than the end of the year that gave us a global pandemic, mysterious monoliths, and murder hornets. Sure, all the problems of 2020 may not end at the stroke of midnight, but you for sure deserve to toast away the past 12 months with a glass (or full bottle, we don’t judge) of champagne. We’ve made a list of places where you can bring in the New Year, both in-person and virtually—because, whether it's at a venue or in your living room, we all have earned the right to dance away the troubles of this dumpster fire of a year. a person throwing a frisbee © Courtesy of Minx + Muse yoga

Namaste the year away at Oracle Yoga 


One of the best local places for movement, workshops, and all things mystic, Minx + Muse, is hosting a special online oracle vinyasa yoga class with Daayani Yoga to bring good vibes into 2021. Bring your tarot deck as the class will open with a card pull for guidance on what we need to focus on releasing from the past year (i.e., a lot), then a 90-minute all-levels flow to a “witchy playlist,” and, finally, closing with a final card pull and a body scan meditation. Talk about getting yourself physically and mentally in tune for the challenges and joys of a new year. 

Cost: $18, or free for Minx + Muse members. 


Line dance the night away


Sagebrush only opened a few months ago, but has quickly become a go-to place in Austin to enjoy some live music in a safe, socially distant setting. Bring out the cowboy boots, as their New Year’s Eve lineup guarantees a night of Texas two-stepping—local acts Armadillo Road, Ben Ballinger, and Rattlesnake Milk will usher in January with all the honky-tonk you can handle. Add in a venue all dressed up in holiday lights, and you have got the perfect Austin New Year’s celebration. 

Cost: $5 at the door, no reservations. 


Support a good cause and good music 

Empire Control Room & Garage 

The importance of black musicians in the culture and history of live music in Austin cannot be understated—and the city’s chapter of the Black Live Music Fund (BLMF) seeks to preserve and honor that legacy. Check out “Thankful,” their New Year’s Eve showcase at Empire Control Room, which features local artist, Riders Against the Storm, as well as others from across Texas, such as Eimaral Sol and Deezie Brown. The BLMF house band, Blaknificent, is sure to hold it down throughout the night as well. 

Cost: Tables start at $120. 


Rock out to a Talking Heads cover band

ACL Live at The Moody Theater 

If you’re a Talking Heads fan, ACL Live might be the place for you on New Year’s Eve. Local favorites, HeartByrne, will be playing Talking Heads and David Byrne tunes for you to dance the cares of 2020 away—and, if you haven’t seen them play before, believe it when we say they really burn down the house (how many Talking Heads puns do you think we can fit in this description?). Social distancing measures will be in place and guests will be sat at tables so everyone can celebrate this once in a lifetime event safely (got one more in). 

Cost: Tickets must be bought in groups of two or four and vary depending on level.


Immerse Yourself in a World of Virtual Reality 

Sandbox VR 

We know you’ve spent all of 2020 wishing you lived on a different planet, so why not make that dream a (virtual) reality at Sandbox VR? It’s a studio which allows full-body, immersive VR experiences for groups of up to six—we’re talking 3D precision body trackers, haptic suits, and the whole nine yards. You can choose from a variety of words to experience—everything from space to a zombie invasion to the supernatural high seas ('cause that’s a thing apparently). If nothing else you get to take out some of the anxiety from the past year in a digital duel with your friends—it's a win-win.  

Cost: Tickets start at $39 per person  a plate of food with a slice of cake © Photo by Jane Kim

Feast on four-courses 


Everyone already loves East Austin restaurant Launderette but, for New Year’s Eve, they are offering us a new experience with their one-night-only “Angry Bear” pop-up. This special menu will be a radical departure from the usual offerings—a four-course feast with options like bao with truffled green soybean, dungeness crab dumplings, miso-glazed short rib, and almond fig mooncakes. Not to mention celebratory cocktails and swag to usher in the Year of the Ox right. 

Cost: Packages start at $248 for two people. 


Celebrate with charcuterie 


Let’s be real—is a party even a party without a serious cheeseboard? If you agree with that statement, you should partake in Rebel Cheese’s Virtual New Year’s Eve Tasting. The tasting package includes four of their house-made so-good-you-won’t believe-it’s-vegan cheeses, plus jam pairings, bread, crackers, and a bottle of sparkling wine. Once you have your snacks and beverages back in the comfort of your own couch, you can then attend a Zoom session with Rebel Cheese’s co-founders who will walk you through a tasting. 

Cost: $60 for two people, plus additional money for wine and beer pairing add-ons. 


Take an Austin Staycation 

Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt 

Traveling may be out of the picture for most of us (and most of the world) this New Year’s. But, even if you can’t celebrate on the beaches of Bali or in Times Square, you can feel like you’re on vacation by booking a stay at Downtown Austin’s Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt. Their special New Year’s Eve package includes accommodations, dinner for two at their in-house restaurant Geraldine’s, and, the ultimate essential, two glasses of champagne. As a bonus, blues musician Paul Val will be playing into 202—so if you must dance till you drop, at least you’ll only have to take an elevator upstairs. 

Cost: Rates start at $299 


Groove out virtually with the City of Austin 


While their normal celebration at Auditorium Shores may be canceled this year due to the epidemic, the City of Austin is still bringing the heat with a virtual celebration that rivals any in-person fireworks. They are hosting an online show featuring local legends, like Shakey Graves, Parker McCollum, and Gina Chavez, playing from some of the city’s most cherished venues, like Antone’s, the Continental Club, and Cheer Up Charlie’s. For anyone who has been missing the Austin music scene, this chance to get down in the living room will be a welcome treat. 

Cost: Free 


Beer up for the new year 

Central Machine Works 

Austin brewery, Central Machine Works, is offering more than just their delicious house Pilsner for New Year’s Eve. Their celebration includes music by Tropicana Joe, fortunes predicated by Sister Palm, and the release of the Doppelbock, their new, German-style, dark, and heavy lager. Not to mention, the large outdoor venue space they have guarantees all these activities will be COVID compliant. And, because this is Austin, the traditional champagne toast at midnight will be replaced with beer of course. 

Cost: Free to attend 


Get your Gatsby on at a roaring '20s party

The Roosevelt Room 

Calling all Daisy Buchanans and Nick Carraway—dress up in your best era attire and hit the Roaring '20s New Year’s Eve Party. Not only can you show off your best flapper threads at this seated event, there will be tunes by electo-swing specialist DJ Beatsmode and a showing of the Times Square ball drop at midnight. The whole thing is going down at The Roosevelt Room, a venue downtown already known for their killer cocktails and gilded era vibe. For New Years especially, they will have a special drink menu with ten classic libations created in the 1920s and pre-Prohibition—so you can not only look like Gatsby, but drink like him too. 

Cost: Tickets start at $50 Sign up here for our daily Austin email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.


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