Ring in the New Year: Celebrate around Tucson this December 31

By Laura Latzko

New Year’s Eve and Day can be a time of celebration, reflection and resolutions. These events in and around Tucson were designed to bring merriment, laughter, music, exercise and joy. 

Consider one of these events to ring in the New Year. 

Rick Braun’s New Year’s Eve

Each year, jazz trumpeter Rick Braun holds a star-studded two-day New Year’s Eve celebration with live music, a gourmet meal, beverage and appetizer stations, a champagne toast, dancing and a charity golf tournament. Braun will host the “Last Dance”-themed night and will be joined by musicians Richard Elliot, Dave Koz, Mindi Abair, Chris Walker and Rebecca Jade. This year, the event will benefit the Autism Training Program at Marshall University. Formal or cocktail party attire is encouraged, and guests are asked to not wear jeans or T-shirts. 

WHEN: Golf Tournament and Start the Party Early Optional Events Friday, December 30; New Year’s Eve show is 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, December 31

WHERE: JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa, 3800 W. Starr Pass Boulevard

COST: Tickets for New Year’s Eve start at $231 per person; proof of vaccination with booster required within 24 hours of ticket purchase

INFO: rickbraunnewyearseve.com

Miss Olivia’s New Year’s Eve Celebration 

Good food, live music, and time with friends can make New Year’s Eve a special occasion. Miss Olivia’s New Year’s Eve Celebration offers a five-course meal, live and DJ’d music, dancing, a candy table and a themed photo booth. The energy will remain with live music from Chalako, an eclectic Latin band with blues, rock, pop, jazz, Tejano, cumbia and salsa vibes, and the soulful blues/rock/soul group Miss Olivia and the Interlopers. DJ Kadetree will also look to get partygoers dancing. There will be a variety of food options, including vegetarian items, sliders, cookies, banh mi and hors d’oeuvres. Attendees will receive swag bags with items from local businesses such as Pop-Cycle, Barrio Bread and St. Charles Tavern. Guests can ring in the New Year with a champagne toast on the rooftop patio or in the outdoor courtyard. Semi-formal attire is encouraged. 

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, December 31 

WHERE: Sea of Glass Center for The Arts, 330 E. Seventh Street

COST: $75 plus fees per person 

INFO: eventbrite.com

Monterey Court NYE Gala 

Sometimes, New Year’s Eve can be special because of the experience. During Monterey Court’s NYE Gala, partygoers have a chance to ring in the new year at a historic motor court from the 1930s, which has been turned into a live music venue, artist enclave and restaurant. Throughout the evening, the Coolers, an eight-piece R&B/blues/soul band, will perform. Attendees can purchase food a la carte or choose a prix-fixe dinner with soup or salad, an appetizer, an entrée, a dessert and after-dinner coffee. The dinner comes with party favors and a complimentary champagne toast. An East Coast New Year’s toast will be held at 10 p.m. 

WHEN: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, December 31 

WHERE: Monterey Court, 505 W. Miracle Mile

COST: $20 general admission, $60 for dinner and entertainment 

INFO: 520-207-2429, montereycourtaz.com 

Alex Elkin at Laffs Comedy Café 

Laughter has become even more important these days in taking people away from their troubles and giving them shared experiences with others. On New Year’s Eve at Laffs Comedy Café, comedian Alex Elkin will headline two shows. The comedian started doing comedy in 2016 after winning the San Francisco Comedy Competition. He also won the Hard Rock Casino’s 2018 Comedy Cage Match and has traveled to Iraq and Syria to bring laughter to the troops. He has appeared on Netflix’s “Trinkets,” the NBC show “Grimm” and E!’s “The Simple Life.” During the late show, there will be a midnight countdown. 

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, December 31 

WHERE: Laffs Comedy Café, 2900 E. Broadway Boulevard

COST: Visit website for information 

INFO: 520-323-8669, laffstucson.com

Hot Cocoa 5K Run/Walk

The holidays can be a time of indulgence. Those who want to start their New Year’s resolutions off on the right foot can get out and be active during the Hot Cocoa 5K Run/Walk. The professionally timed run/walk was designed for people of all ages. It takes participants on a loop through Steam Pump Ranch, on a shared-use path along Oracle Road, past Pusch View Lane and back around. The top female and male runners will receive $50 gift cards to Fleet Feet. There will be age group categories, broken down from 0 to 4 to 85 and older. First- through third-place winners in each category will receive medals. Kids will get “good job” medals. After the race, families can enjoy a steaming cup of cocoa and snacks like fruit, granola bars and fruit bars. Proceeds from the race benefit Oro Valley’s Round-Up for Youth recreation scholarship program. 


Packet pickup: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, December 31. Fleet Feet, 7607 N. Oracle Road, Suite 121, Oro Valley 

Race day number pickup and registration: Starts 9:30 p.m. 

Run/walk starts 11:23 a.m. Sunday, January 1

Steam Pump Ranch. 10901 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley 

COST: $30 before race day, $35 day of race, children 12 and under free with paying adult

INFO: orovalleyaz.gov

Lights Up! A Festival of Illumination

The chance to see lights doesn’t end with Christmas. Visitors can see the Tucson Botanical Gardens’ new lights show Lights Up! A Festival of Illumination through Sunday, January 15. The display will be open on New Year’s Eve and Day and will offer six themed zones. Guests will feel in the holiday spirit when they go experience 50-foot light tunnel, choreographed cypress trees, giant chandeliers adorned with luminarias and a spiral luminaria tree. The botanical gardens are decorated with a million lights, spread out throughout the trees. 

WHEN: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Four timeslots available starting at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. six days a week through Sunday, January 15

WHERE: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way

COST: $30 for nonmember adults 18 and older, $28 for nonmember children 4 to 17, $28 for adult members, $26 for child members, free for children under 4

INFO: 520-326-9686, tucsonbotanical.org

Roaring ’20s NYE on Congress

There’s just something about the 1920s that still has an intrigue. During Hotel Congress’ Roaring ’20s NYE on Congress Prohibition-era jazz party, patrons will feel like they have been taken back to a time of flappers. The event will start with solo ragtime music on the piano, followed by 1920s music from the seven-piece Original Wildcat Jazz Band. Guests will hear a cornet, a trombone, a banjo, a bass, the piano, the drums and a clarinet. At 10 p.m., there will be a New York champagne toast. Guests are encouraged to dress in period attire or black tie. 

WHEN: Doors open 7 p.m. Sets at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday, December 31

WHERE: Century Room, Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress Street

COST: $50, which includes the champagne toast 

INFO: hotelcongress.com/family/century-room

NYE Party at Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch

There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than with dinner, dessert, dancing and drinks. During the NYE Party at Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch, guests can enjoy a dinner buffet, which comes with salad, seafood, antipasto, vegetarian and pasta options. There will also be a dessert buffet with options such as blueberry lemon opera cake, mimosa cake truffles and chocolate raspberry bubbly fudge. Connie Brannock and the Little House of Funk will keep up the energy, playing R&B favorites sure to get listeners dancing. The night will end with a champagne toast with party favors. The night is open to those 21 and older. 

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, December 31 

WHERE: Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch, 5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road

COST: $125 for buffet, dinner, dessert and dancing and $35 for dessert and dancing

INFO: 520-526-9345, haciendadelsol.com