By Blane Bachelor
From reality star shenanigans at nightclubs (Kim Kardashian at TAO, anyone?) to intimate concerts with show business legends (Stevie Wonder at the Cosm0politan) to an old-school street party, New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas is the place to be if you’re looking to rub elbows with celebs while ringing in 2012.
First off: the 411 on the legends, starting with Wonder. The world-famous artist, producer and songwriter will headline a New Year’s celebration at The Chelsea, the intimate concert venue at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. But instead of shelling out for the tickets, which start around $300, partygoers on the Strip can experience Wonder’s wonder free, via the massive, high-def screens that will stream the show.
Another musical Legend — as in, John Legend — will bring his sultry vocals and superb stage presence to Palms Casino Resort, while Vanessa Williams will headline at Riviera. Adding a bit of rock ‘n roll edge to the concert offerings, Guns ‘n Roses will rock the stage at – where else? – the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Fergie, the glam frontwoman from the Black Eyed Peas, is set to hold court at 1OAK at the Mirage.
Reality show junkies who want to keep up with the Kardashians’ every move from the very start of 2012 have three options: TAO with Kim, Chateau at Paris Las Vegas with sister Kourtney (and boyfriend Scott Disick), or Tryst Nightclub with brother Robert. Who Kim will smooch when the clock hits midnight is anybody’s guess, but where better than Vegas to make a wager on it?
For partygoers looking to stay as far from the celebrity circus as possible, the 4th annual TributePalooza at the Fremont Street Experience is once again shaping up to be a rollicking, and affordable, affair. Tickets are just $30 for New Year’s Eve (the only time when Fremont Street Experience has paid, ticketed admission), a 550,000-megawatt party that features a dozen bands, most of them tribute bands with clever names — think No Duh instead of No Doubt and the Red Not Chili Peppers — as well as fireworks, a 2011 retrospective and a countdown by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.
With its downtown location, the Fremont Street Experience offers another budget-friendly bonus: Proximity to cheap Las Vegas hotels such as the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, which has availability for New Year’s Eve starting at a sweet $105 a night.
On her last trip to Las Vegas, San Francisco-based writer and author Blane Bachelor won $71 on a $0.05 slot machine while waiting for her flight home.