Shake 2008 out with quirky alternatives to the same auld thing.
If you think very optimistically, it's been a good year. Sure, there's that economic bullshit and Mumbai and everyone you know is laid-off or popping antidepressants like candy. And yeah, maybe no one will look back fondly on things like libraries closing, the X-Files movie or that whole mess with Alycia and Larry.
But 2008 was pretty great at some points. Wall-E was awesome. Britney crawled back from the brink of a serious Marilyn Monroe moment. And don't even pretend the streaming puppy cam didn't completely alter your workday.
If you think about it, the last year could've been so much worse. Which is why it's important to celebrate this New Year's Eve even if you're not into partying like it's 1999. Here are five tamer alternatives for ringing in the New Year.
No matter where you're celebrating the end of the year, at some point you'll wonder if you should've chosen a different plan. If you're prone to visions of European getaways, try spending New Year's at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (Broad and Spruce sts. 215.893.1999. www.kimmelcenter.org) where the Philadelphia Orchestra will be playing classic Viennese compositions, including Johann Strauss Jr.'s Die Fledermaus (the second most popular opera after Bugs Bunny's version of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in What's Opera, Doc?) and selections from Lehár's The Merry Widow. Tickets start at $78 for orchestra and tier seats.
Comedy Central must be really hard up, because it seems like every shmuck with a cute smirk and some glibness has his own cable special. Case in point: Tom Rhodes. The dude's mildly entertaining, but the really interesting thing about him has very little to do with comedy. In 2002 he became the Jay Leno of Amsterdam when he was given his own late-night talk show. After a year and a half, the show was cancelled and Rhodes came back to the States where he had a brief stint on NBC and then two half-hour specials on Comedy Central. Rhodes' comedy is often political and observational, so if you decide to hit up Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom St. 215.496.9001. www.heliumcomedy.com) cross your fingers and hope there's a guy who looks like George W. Bush in the crowd.
There's a lot of pressure to get kissed at midnight, and if you're lucky, it'll be the kind of spit-swapping that sends shivers down your spine and sets off firecrackers in your eyes. But we all know how often that pans out. If you want to ensure some sparklers this holiday, head to Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Sq. 610.388.1000. www.longwoodgardens.org) where you can enjoy hot cocoa and opera sing-alongs in the early afternoon and ice-skating performances throughout the day. The evening will be topped off with a dazzling five-minute fireworks display at 9:15 p.m.
While some people find the start of a new year to be exciting and happy, others get bummed out. That sort of depression can lead to consuming some stress calories. If you foresee an evening of eats, we recommend making a reservation at the swankest spot in town. Chef George Perrier announced that this year Le Bec Fin (1523 Walnut St. 215.567.1000. www.lebecfin.com) is hosting two dinner seatings in the lavish yet intimate dining room. Visit opentable.com to save your seat. Sure, the place doesn't have that five-star rating anymore, but we're willing to bet the food on that dinner a la carte menu isn't too shabby.
Even though having a baby pretty much kills your social life, there's no reason that you and your new family can't celebrate the start of a new life chapter together. Since the kiddos can't make it till midnight, the Please Touch Museum (Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic. 215.581.3181. www.pleasetouch museum.org) hosts an annual Countdown to Noon complete with a ball drop, Mummers and confetti. If you're lucky, this will wear out the little ones so you can have a grown-up countdown the next time the clock strikes 12.
For the last two years, Scythian, a spirited band from Washington, D.C., has hosted a New Year's Eve bash at the Carnegie Library in their hometown. This year the band moved their party to Philly's Stotesbury Mansion at Rittenhouse Square (1923 Walnut St. 800.595.4849. www.scythian music.com/NewYears2008/). The Mad, Mad Masquerade will feature a live performance by the band as well as illusions by card-trick master Magic Nick. Dress is fancy and masks are required. (Though we encourage full-blown costumes just for the fun of it.) Tickets are $149 and include all-night open bar, a champagne toast at midnight and gourmet hors d'ouevres.
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