BEIRUT: Before we start resolutions of abstinence from our myriad sins, New Year’s Eve offers an exceptional night of indulgence and vice. Around town and beyond, there are plenty of festivities with space for you to join in the fun.
ConcertsStarting with some of the city’s most expensive events, New Year’s Eve concerts are dinner and open bar affairs that include Lebanon’s biggest pop stars.
Unfortunately, the lineup is pretty short this year, as most of the country’s top talents have booked the night overseas. Nancy Ajram, for example, is playing in Amman, and the UAE has stolen nearly every Arabic music talent between its major cities Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Here are the few of the stars that are sticking around:
Haifa Wehbe and Assi el-Helani will be playing with Bassem Feghali at the Forum de Beyrouth. The night includes dinner and open premium bar. Tickets start at $260 and run all the way up to $700 (Reservations: 01-444-204).
Wael Kfoury and Kadim al-Sahir will play at the Phoenicia Hotel. Their act will be accompanied by a DJ and a Brazilian show.
Expect gourmet catering from one of Beirut’s most luxurious hotels. The menu is enough to send you into a coma with Russian Beluga caviar, sea scallops, foie gras, baked cod, eggplant cannoli and wagyu beef on lavender, camembert cheese, chocolate mousse and, of course, an open bar. The evening costs $500 a plate. (Reservations: 01-369-100)
And Ayman Zbib, Naya and Rabih al-Baroud will perform at Atlal Plaza, facing Casino du Liban (Reservations: 09-855-755).
Outside BeirutJust about every restaurant and hotel in the country is hosting New Year’s festivities, which range from a free glass of Champagne with dinner a la carte to overnight packages that include a few nights, great meals and a trip to the spa.
If that leaves the options a little too broad, then here are a few top escapes from the city:
The West Bekaa Country Club in the Bekaa Valley is hosting a party and overnight package less expensive than most of the club parties around Beirut ($350-400 per couple). Festivities begin with dinner around 7 p.m. with an open premium bar that will last through the night in addition to live entertainment from a belly dancer, saxophonist and an organ performance.
The price per couple also includes a one-night stay, New Year’s brunch the following day and access to the sauna and gym. (Reservations: 08-645-601)
Cheers Club in Broummana is offering a real New Year’s bargain if Christmas dried up all your reserves. Open bar costs $40, $70 for the premium open bar, an investment that won’t take too long to recuperate. Music for the night will include oldies, Latin, R&B and house music (Reservations: 03-211-420).
The 1188 Lounge Bar and Restaurant in Jbeil will take New Year’s Eve to the seaside with a live show and open bar for $100-130. Dinner includes house sangria, canapés, shrimp, chevre and bresaola salads, steak or grilled fish, and dessert tart (Reservations: 70-666-999).
In the south, the idyllic Rest House in Tyre will no doubt offer a calm New Year’s respite. The overnight package includes a four-course menu, half a bottle of wine per couple, accommodation and breakfast (Reservations: 07-742-000).
GourmetThe Phoenicia Hotel has enough restaurants to cater to the whole range of New Year’s revelers. If Wael Kfoury is not your jam, then Mosaic International Buffet will put the focus on the food – as much as you’d like to eat. The night costs LL270,000 per person and includes an open bar and entertainment consisting of a belly dancer and Brazilian dance show.
Mediterranean cuisine will take center stage at Caffe Mondo, for LL195,000, with caprese salad, smoked tuna, shrimp, squid black ink risotto, crispy artichokes and a fruity, chocolaty dessert plus open bar.
And if neither of those gourmet options sounds palatable, Phoenicia’s WOK W.O.K is offering a set menu of sushi and sashimi starters, prawn cream bisque, ebu kali laksa, Hanoi beef strips, scallops, grilled beef tenderloin with giant shrimp and chocolate fondant. Open bar includes Chateau Kefraya, Grey Goose vodka and a bottle of Champagne for every four people (Reservations: 01-369-100).
Le Gray’s Indigo on the Roof is offering a gourmet set menu starting with Beluga caviar with a Champagne toast, chestnut and celeriac soup topped with nutmeg foam and a mandarin sorbet palate cleanser.
Mains include crusted tenderloin and lobster tart with asparagus in a port wine sauce. For dessert, Indigo is serving up “The Magnifico,” a coffee-based delicacy made with Irish Cream. Indigo’s dinner plus open premium bar costs $440 (Reservation: 01-971-111).
Le Ciel at the Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand will host singer Rita Irani, who will sing English and French favorites alongside keyboardist Etienne Atallah. Dinner includes canapés, hammour, beef steak and dessert plus an open premium bar for $215 (Reservations: 01-500-666).
Though a little outside the city, Central Park Restaurant in Dbayyeh has a pretty top-notch set menu up for grabs this New Year’s Eve: foie gras, lobster medallion on avocado, fresh buratta ravioli, prime USDA angus steak or salmon, and mont blanc chestnut cake with meringues. The cost, $150, includes limited wine and spirits. (Reservations: 71-147-275).
Under $125 open barWhat to drink all night and wake up with enough money to do it again before New Year’s 2015? Here are some open bar options under $125:
Concrete 1994, a warehouse party spot that’s recently popped up next to the Burj Hammoud Stadium, is hosting a New Year’s Eve fiesta with the party planners C U NXT SAT, who’ve named this year’s party Not So Phisticated. Tickets at the door cost $110 and will include a surprise guest DJ from Berlin and open bar and snack foods. Presale tickets are unfortunately sold out.
The itinerant party planners PC have also promised a New Year’s party, though they are not ready to reveal its location. Catering to a similar crowd as C U NXT SAT, if you’re as last minute as PC is, then you’ll likely find space there – wherever there is.
Sunsoul Restaurant and Shisha Lounge is offering an open bar to a classier clientele with Lebanese taste. Local mezze top the menu as well as mixed grills and shrimp. Belly dancers and a DJ will entertain. The night costs $75 per person. (Reservations: 01-859-000)
SkyCaffe in Downtown will offer a similar setup but with singer Ali Medlej. Food and open bar comes to $100 (Reservations: 01-999-971).
For the bar dwellers among us, open drinks at our favorite hole-in-wall pubs abound this New Year’s.
Celtic Sports Café is serving up an open bar, open appetizers and Champagne at midnight for $75. (Reservations: 03-288-688)
Open bars for under $100 will be prevalentat the pubs lining Hamra, Uruguay Street, Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael. Take for example, beloved music-blasting Dany’s in the Alleyway of Hamra, which will host an open premium bar with snacks for LL100,000 (Reservations: 01-740-231).
AlternativeIf getting physical is on your New Year’s resolution list, then ring in 2014 with one of the hiking, biking or dancing events taking place Dec. 31.
Private Club at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Beirut is hosting the Lebanon Dance Academy for a night of Latin and ballroom dance. There will be two separate dance halls, one for salsa and bachata and another for Latin and ballroom. The night will continue with the rooms combining for tango. The price is LL50,000 per person. (Reservations: 01-511-894)
Vamos Todos is bringing back its annual hiking New Year’s event with a night’s stay in the village of Dhour Choueir, which overlooks Beirut, Jounieh and the Mediterranean. Organizers are planning a small party New Year’s Eve at the hotel’s cozy club, and the next day, participants will go on a hike through the region to Ain Assis.
Vamos Todos is asking $280 per person for the party, food, accommodations, transportation to and from Dhour Choueir, and tour guides (Reservation: 79-115-001).
And if you’d like to stay close to home but still get your fill of adrenaline, CyclingCircle will host a New Year’s Night Ride starting from Mathaf. The night ride is free, just be dressed appropriately. Expected to end at 11 p.m., the ride might even leave you with enough time to shower and head out for a New Year’s toast. (03-126-675)