- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2004

LAS VEGAS — OK, let’s be clear about where you should be on New Year’s Eve. New York City? Cold, possibly snowy. Times Square is like a stockyard before the clock turns midnight.

Los Angeles? If you’re not a movie star, a Hollywood player or simply beautiful, forget about getting into any of Tinseltown’s hot parties.

Miami? Do they even celebrate New Year’s down there?

You want a taste of a real Big Apple on New Year’s? The pink and sassy one Adam bit into?

That’s right. Book a cheap flight to Las Vegas and prepare yourself for some epic bacchanalia, the sort that only comes around once a year and can only be manufactured in sumptuous Sin City.

In case you have been hiding out in a hermitage with no access to the outside world (that includes Lad magazines and E! Entertainment) and need persuading, here are 10 reasons to usher in 2005 in Las Vegas.

NIGHTCLUBS

Lavish and palatial, they offer spectacular views, decadent parties and perhaps, if you’re lucky, a quintessential experience a la the city’s marketing slogan: “What happens here, stays here.”

With that tempting pitch embedded in your mind, think Mix Las Vegas, Alain Ducasse’s newest and most impressive venture, sitting 64 stories atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.

Where else you can swill a $300 bottle of vodka or devour mouth-watering food while overlooking the biggest hotels in the world on the Las Vegas Strip?

The club and restaurant are gorgeous, and the glass-elevator ride is memorable. Sleek lines, towering acrylic windows and the posh atmosphere make it the perfect place to take your beau.

Falling close behind Mix on the over-the-top nightclub scale is the 36,000-square-foot Pure, nestled inside Caesars Palace. Opening New Year’s, this ode to getting wild boasts a humongous deck with a panoramic view of the entire Strip. The $14 million club will bewilder revelers with its many disc jockeys, rooms and bars. Mariah Carey is hosting its New Year’s Eve party and counting down to 2005, ending the night with a champagne toast.

Body English is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s newly renovated, multistoried nightclub, populated with eye candy — the hip, young kind that lives freely and spends freely.

FIREWORKS

A massive display will drape the city in cascading lights and bright colors. The fireworks also will kick off the city’s yearlong 100th birthday celebration. Billed as the biggest blowout the city has ever seen, the fireworks will be launched from 10 resort rooftops along the Strip and illuminate a five-mile stretch of the sky.

SHOWS

After all, this is the entertainment capital of the world.

Eschew the debauchery of the club party circuit and savor the night with Canadian crooner Celine Dion. She’s doing a special on New Year’s at Caesars Palace.

Or go for the newest Cirque du Soleil show, “KA,” playing at the MGM Grand. The show and cavernous theater cost $165 million, becoming the most expensive production ever undertaken in this city of one-upmanship. It combines acrobatic performances, martial arts, puppetry, multimedia and pyrotechnics.

Rockers can jam to the band Velvet Revolver at the Joint, inside the Hard Rock, or listen to Alanis Morissette bemoaning some ex-boyfriend at Mandalay’s House of Blues.

FINE FOOD

Celebrity chefs are opening restaurants at just about every major property. From Bradley Ogden to Emeril Lagasse to Bobby Flay, all the major food stars are here. It’s haute cuisine gone wild.

Suggestion: Try Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at MGM Grand. Bellagio’s Fix combines chic elegance with scrumptious dishes, including Kobe beef burgers and a manly 20-ounce rib eye carved out of dry-aged beef.

THE STRIP

If chaotic, elbow-room-only extravaganzas sound like fun to you, stake out a space on the Strip at midnight. Authorities will shut down a portion of Las Vegas Boulevard, making it accessible only to pedestrians, and you can expect to see a fair number of the 300,000 people who will be in town for the holiday.

Caution: The Strip will be swarming with intoxicated people; teetotalers beware. You can drink here around the clock, and some people do.

ICE-SKATING

Only in Vegas will you find a skating rink the size of Rockefeller Plaza’s, in the middle of the desert, sandwiched between towering casinos.

The new rink, part of Caesars Palace, is open to the public. A New Year’s show, “Legends on Ice,” includes world-champion figure skater Elvis Stojko.

GAMBLING

Of course. But how un-Vegas.

NOVELTY OF IT ALL

You say you’ve been here before? Doesn’t matter. This is a city of reinvention. Every year, the clubs get sexier, the restaurant fare tastier, the casinos larger and the Strip bolder.

ACCESS

Everybody is welcome everywhere. You don’t need to know the right people or employ a public relations firm to get into the swanky ultralounges or trendy eateries (see New York City). Just be prepared to arrive early and wait your turn.

On the other hand, if your time is worth more than your money, you can buy your way straight to the front of some very long lines, outflanking the hordes of folks looking to gyrate and swill, thanks to www.vegas.com and VIP agencies such as www.VegasHotSpots.com.

GRATIFICATION

This larger-than-life city was built on fantasy, and it’s waiting to please you.

Just book soon — and bring plenty of cash.

Where to party, when as the Strip celebrates

LAS VEGAS STRIP

Authorities will shut down a portion of the Strip from Sahara Avenue to Russell Road beginning at 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, reopening it the next day.

NIGHTCLUBS

Mix Las Vegas, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Admission: $200. To reserve a table for two, you must pay the $200 admission plus bottle service starting at $200. For tickets, call 702/632-7777.

• Pure Nightclub, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. Advance tickets $125; call 702/212-8806.

• Body English, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 4455 Paradise Road. Tickets for Body English $125 in advance, available through www.ticketmaster.com or Hard Rock’s box office, 702/693-5066.

PERFORMANCES

• KA, MGM Grand, 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd. New Year’s Eve shows scheduled for 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets $99, $125 and $150. To charge by phone, call MGM Grand Reservations, 800/929-1111 or 702/891-7777.

• Celine Dion, Caesars Palace. New Year’s Eve show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets from $100.01 to $237.51 (including tax and handling). Call Ticketmaster, 877/423-5463 or Caesars box office, 702/731-7333.

• Velvet Revolver, the Joint at the Hard Rock. Tickets from $125 to $250, available through www.ticketmaster.com or Hard Rock’s box office, 702/693-5066.

• Alanis Morissette, House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. Show begins at 9:30 p.m. Tickets $90, $120 and $150, available at the House of Blues box office at 702/632-7600 or Ticketmaster.

DINING

• Fix, Bellagio, 3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Special five-course New Year’s Eve gala dinner, including midnight champagne toast, $225 per person. Seating begins at 9 p.m. with two-person reservation requirement; for reservations, call 702/693-8400.

• Mix Las Vegas, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. Six-course dinner with paired wines, $750 per person, includes table for the night. Reservations start at 8 p.m.; call 702/632-9500.

ICE RINK

Caesars Palace. Tickets for the “Legends on Ice” New Year’s Eve show are $50 to $100. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at www.ticketmaster.com or call Caesars box office at 702/866-1600.

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