New Year’s Eve revellers can combine bubbly toasts with tangy twists as they flee colder climes to count down to the New Year in the Florida Keys. Celebrations from Key Largo to Key West are designed to ring in 2016 with island style.
Located at the far end of the sub-tropical island chain, Key West is the place to be for a party on New Year’s Eve. This year, four southernmost spinoffs on the New Year’s Eve ‘drop’ tradition are planned as midnight approaches on 31 December for which thousands of spectators are expected to gather on world-famous Duval Street to welcome in 2016.
The ‘drop’ of a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, is to be staged on the roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar. Emceed by a rooftop host from 10 p.m., the frivolity features dancing in the street and the countdown to midnight is displayed on a huge clock. At midnight the shell descends to the roof as confetti, streamers and cheers erupt. Entertainers are to perform on Sloppy Joe’s indoor stage at planned intervals between noon and 2 a.m. No reservations or tickets are taken, but a door charge is required to party inside the bar. Visit www.sloppyjoes.com.
For 17 years, Key West revellers have welcomed the New Year with the annual ‘red shoe drop’ starring a sensational diva called Sushi. Dressed in a dazzling gown and perched in a supersized 6-ft red high-heel shoe suspended above the crowd, Sushi presides over the festivities at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex at 724 Duval St. After performances by talented female impersonators and other entertainers, Sushi is to be lowered in her high-heel ‘chariot’ from the balcony of the complex as 2016 arrives. VIP balcony tickets are available, but space is limited. Tickets are available now at www.bourbonstpub.com/newyearseve.html.
At the Ocean Key Resort & Spa on Key West Harbour, plans call for a huge replica of a Key lime wedge to splash down into a larger-than-life margarita glass as crowds welcome the New Year on the property’s Sunset Pier. This is a free event featuring live local entertainment by Patrick and the Swayzees. Visit www.oceankey.com.
Salute Key West’s rowdy seafaring roots in the island’s Historic Seaport, when a pirate wench descends 75 feet from the top of the mast of the tall ship America 2.0 at midnight, ‘rigging in’ the New Year. Cannon blasts are to welcome 2016 in original maritime tradition. Scallywags in attendance also can expect live music throughout the day, and dancing and festivities without a cover charge at the Schooner Wharf Bar. Visit www.schoonerwharf.com.
In Key Largo at the head of the Florida Keys, a fireworks extravaganza is to illuminate the sky above Blackwater Sound. The sparkling display is hosted by bayside restaurants including Sundowners, Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill and Cactus Jack’s. Tables fill quickly, so partiers are advised to arrive early. Visit www.keylargofireworks.com.
Revellers in Islamorada can find appealing New Year’s Eve activities too, including a beach barbecue with signature cocktails, performers and fireworks at the Morada Bay Beach Café. VIP tables and couches come with a bottle of champagne and private server for the evening. Visit www.moradabay.com/full-moon-party.
The luxury Islamorada hotel Cheeca Lodge & Spa is staging a New Year’s Eve celebration that includes a choice of three gourmet dinner seatings with live music from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., dancing on the beach and a midnight fireworks display. Visit www.cheeca.com.
Travel to the Florida Keys
Purely America (0844 80 444 80, www.purelyamerica.co.uk) offers seven nights in the Florida Keys from £1,675pp – saving up to £100pp, including direct economy return flights from London Heathrow to Miami, economy car hire for duration, three nights at the Marriott Key West (over New Year’s Eve) followed by three nights at the Marriott Key Largo. Price is based on two people sharing room only accommodation. Based on a departure on 30 December 2015.
Note to Editors: High-res photos of holiday events can be downloaded here