The best way to ring in the New Year is with a proper good-bye to the old year. For some, this means Champagne and ball drops; for others it means quiet meditation. Luckily for Santa Barbarans, our city offers a plethora of proper ways to bid farewell to 2011. Listings Editor Devon Claire Flannery has compiled a guide to New Year’s Eve happenings in S.B. this year, ranging from dancing to dining, deejayed music to magic shows — plus, plenty of libations and even a labyrinth.

Whatever you do to welcome 2012, keep in mind this sage advice from founding father Benjamin Franklin: “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better [hu]man.” Happy New Year!

Bacara Resort & Spa

Ring in 2012 at the Bacara Bash on New Year’s Eve, taking place in the elegant hotel’s Rotunda. The festivities include a live deejay spinning on the dance floor, fascinating tricks by magician Rich Ferguson, and a palm reader who will reveal to guests what’s in store for the coming year. A balloon drop will mark the last moments of 2011, as guests enjoy a complimentary Champagne toast and party favors.

8pm-1am. Bacara Resort & Spa, 8301 Hollister Ave. $25. Call 968-0100 or email to RSVP.

Coast at the Canary
Courtesy Photo

Canary Hotel

Delight in the last night of 2011 at Le Canary Noir, a New Year’s celebration that features three sophisticated soirées on different levels of the chic downtown inn. The Canary’s rooftop Perch will be bustling with live music by DJ Roueche, festive Parisian cabaret–inspired activities, Champagne, cocktails, and more. Downstairs in the hotel’s Coast Restaurant & Bar, guests can enjoy an indulgent NYE dinner. Musical entertainment includes indie favorites Leftover Cuties, performing in the Coast Restaurant’s Lounge, and DJ Sparxx, who will spin tracks on the dance floor in the Lower Lounge.

8pm-2am; dinner: 6-9pm (multiple seating times). Canary Hotel, 31 W. Carrillo St. $55-$125 (depending on time of purchase and rooftop-access options). Reservations are recommended. Call 884-0300.

Chumash Casino Resort

Boogie down into 2012 at the Chumash’s New Year’s Eve Dance Party, featuring a fun-filled flashback concert with ’70s disco tribute band Boogie Knights and rockin’ ’80s band The Spazmatics.

9pm. Chumash Casino Resort, Hwy. 246, Santa Ynez. Free with venue-issued Club Chumash Card; call for details. Ages 18+. Call (800) 585-3737.

Entrance to Carrillo Center ballroom
Cole Connelly

Carrillo Ballroom

Dance away the last hours of 2011 at the Santa Swing New Year’s Eve Dance and Party. The event kicks off with a beginning swing lesson, followed by open dancing and a celebratory toast at midnight. Three guest deejays will spin live music for guests on the ballroom dance floor; in addition, the lively gathering will feature special performances, contests, and a photo station. Festive party attire is encouraged, and be sure to wear comfortable dance shoes!

Swing lesson: 8-8:45pm; dancing: 9pm-1am. Carrillo Ballroom, 100 E. Carrillo St. $25. All ages. Call (415) 515-9137.

La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center

Quiet types will enjoy An Interfaith Contemplative New Year’s Eve, a mindful welcoming of the New Year with focused, quiet, and empowered intention. Attendees will walk Casa’s stone labyrinth and participate in deep interfaith meditation.

10pm-midnight. La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Ctr., 800 El Bosque Rd. Donations accepted; please RSVP. Call 969-5031 or visit

Four Seasons dinner flames
Sue De Lapa

Four Seasons Biltmore

Welcome the New Year Four Seasons–style. The hotel’s Bella Vista Restaurant will host an all-evening New Year’s Eve Gala, featuring a gourmet five-course dinner, live entertainment, dancing, and a Champagne toast. At Ty Lounge, festivities will run until the wee hours for the 21-and-over crowd, complete with a live deejay and a Champagne toast.

Dinner (Bella Vista Restaurant): Call for seating times and cost. Reservations required. Late-night celebration (Ty Lounge): 8pm-2am; $25-$45. Four Seasons Biltmore, 1260 Channel Dr. Call 565-8237.

Granada Theatre

The Santa Barbara Symphony presents its annual New Year’s Eve Pops Concert, under the direction of special guest conductor Robert Bernhardt. The lively performance ends early, leaving time for dinner, dancing, or relaxing before the clock strikes 12.

8:30-10:30pm. Granada Theatre, 1214 State St. $35-$100. All ages. Call 899-2222.

Mahakankala Buddhist Center

Mahakankala’s 2011 New Year’s Eve Candlelight Services will feature three 45-minute mini-retreats (attend one or all), with snacks and socializing in between each. The retreat, led by American Buddhist monk Kelsang Wangpo, will focus on spiritual renewal, creating positive energy for the New Year, and Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion.

8:30, 10, and 11:30pm. Mahakankala Buddhist Ctr., 508 Brinkerhoff Ave. Free. All ages. Call 563-6000.

Ojai Valley Woman’s Club

The Ojai Concert Series presents Molly’s Revenge New Year’s Party at the Woman’s Club this year, featuring infectious live Irish music by acoustic Celtic band Molly’s Revenge. After the performance, enjoy a finger-food potluck party (bring something to share!), Champagne and dessert, and waltzing ’til midnight.

8pm. Ojai Valley Woman’s Club, 441 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai. $12-$25; kids ages 6 and younger get in free. Call 665-8852.

SOhO Restaurant & Music Club

Ring in 2012 with live music by The Midnight Band, featuring frontwoman Lois Mahalia — along with special musical guest Kenny Loggins. This year’s SOhO New Year’s Eve celebration will also include a gourmet four-course dinner and a Champagne toast at midnight.

Dinner: 7-9pm (multiple seating times); music: 9:30pm. SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 1221 State St. $110. Ages 21+. Call 962-7776.

Tonic Nightclub

A popular downtown nightclub will host a New Year’s Eve bash with dancing, drinks, and live performances by DJ Curly, featuring the SmartGuys and DJ WIZKID.

8pm. Tonic Nightclub & Patio Lounge, 634 State St. $20, in advance; call for cost at door. Ages 21+. Call 897-1800 or visit

Wildcat Lounge

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at one of S.B.’s most colorful and lively after-hours spots. This year’s NYE celebration will feature live entertainment by DJ Pat Swayzak and the Miss Kitty Go-Go Dancers, as well as a Champagne toast at midnight.

9pm-2am. Wildcat Lounge, 15 W. Ortega St. $25, in advance at; call (505) 385-5873 for booth reservation pricing. Ages 21+. Call 962-7970.


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