The Famously Hot New Year celebration will help the Capital City ring in 2015. The downtown street party, in its fourth year, will feature music, fireworks and activities, as well as a VIP lounge and bus transportation throughout the Midlands.
The street festival attracted 26,000 people last year, with one-third coming from outside Richland County and 10 percent from outside South Carolina, and is expecting a comparable crowd this year. Here’s everything you need to know for your Famously Hot New Year.
Activities at and around the festival start early; Main Street Ice, the city’s ice skating rink, is open at noon on New Year’s Eve. While not officially part of the Famously Hot New Year, it is within walking distance of the event and open to the public, and will be open until the clock strikes midnight.
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The Main Street Crit, a running race with multiple events, starts at 3 p.m. The Crit kicks off with a kids’ Fun Run, followed by a 5K and an Elite 8K. The elite 8K, for professional runners, has an $8,000 purse.
If you decide to bring the kids along for the fun, the city parks and recreation department is putting on a WOW New Year’s Eve Carnival with free admission. From 6 p.m. until 11 p.m., kids (and their parents) can play, get their faces painted and even ride a Ferris wheel. There will also be karaoke and food and drink vendors.
The food (and drink)
Refreshments and respite from the party can be found in the Comfort Zone. The area will have food and drinks from regional vendors as well as ample area to rest and recharge for more celebration. Local restaurants, including Bourbon, The Oak Table and Blue Marlin, have also partnered with the event to provide special New Year’s Eve packages.
The party is at the intersection of Main and Gervais streets, within walking distance of many restaurants and bars in the Vista and on Main Street.
The new year will be rung in in Columbia with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the O’Jays. The R&B group is known for hits in the ’70s and ’80s that include “Love Train” and “Use ta Be My Girl.”
The trio, which has seven Billboard Top 20 singles and eight Billboard Top 20 albums, will boogie on Main Street until 11:55, helping guests boogie toward midnight.
Earlier in the night, partygoers can enjoy the music of indie pop band MisterWives. The band is looking forward to returning to Columbia; they played in the Capital City twice earlier in 2014. South Carolina’s famed hospitality extends to concert crowds, said bassist William Hehir.
“Everyone in South Carolina seems so friendly. It’s really fun to play in front of you guys and interact,” Hehir said.
The band typically plays smaller club venues, so the scale of the Famously Hot New Year is an exciting prospect, Hehir said.
“Usually when we’re playing shows it’s a little more intimate,” Hehir said. “I don’t think we’ve done anything of this magnitude.”
Their single “Reflections,” a fun, upbeat song that sounds like a pop-infused Fleetwood Mac, has been gaining popularity, setting the band up well for the release of their first full-length album in February and their first headlining tour following the release. Hehir described the album as “MisterWives 2.0,” a similar sound with improvements in the production quality compared to their debut EP, which was recorded in drummer Etienne Bowler’s bedroom.
“The vocal booth was just a closet with a lot of mattresses,” Hehir said. “A lot of our neighbors” were not amused. “Apparently it’s not OK to rock out at 1 a.m.”
Hehir is excited for the band to play at the Famously Hot New Year and said guests “should bring their dancing shoes.”
“It will be a fun dance party. New Year’s is always a lot of fun, so it’s great we will be able to be down there and playing with you guys,” Hehir said. “We’re glad we can share it with you in South Carolina.”
Local favorite Lefty at the Washout will kicking off the musical part of the night at 7:30 with their fun reggae tunes.
There’s no dress code for the Famously Hot New Year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get into the holiday spirit. You can find clothes snazzy enough to ring in the new year all over Columbia.
On Devine Street, you can deck yourself out in sequins at MyKim Collection or in the bright patterns of Lilly Pulitzer at Pink Sorbet. Just the Thing, another Devine Street boutique, has stylish wool coats in a variety of colors if you’re worried about staying warm when the clock strikes midnight.
If you’re looking for a more unique outfit, HipWaZee in Five Points has a wide selection of vintage apparel, including fur coats and flapper dresses.
Early weather predictions put New Year’s Eve night in Columbia in the 50s, so you won’t have to bundle up too tightly.
Looking for more inspiration? Go to the event’s Pinterest page at pinterest.com/famouslyhotnye or follow the hashtag #FHNYWhatToWear on Twitter and Instagram.
Getting there (and home)
If you’d like to drive to the Famously Hot New Year, you will be able to park for free in seven city garages downtown:
• Arsenal Hill Garage
• Cannon Garage
• Sumter Street Garage
• Washington Street Garage
• Lady Street Garage
• Lincoln Street Garage
• Taylor Street Garage
Park and Ride services from the Comet bus service are also available for a flat rate of $3 per person for unlimited rides. Every hour on the half hour, buses will pick people up from the following locations around the Midlands:• Harbison Walmart parking lot
• Columbia Neurosurgical Office by Rabon Road (Farrow Road area)
• Village at Sandhill
• Columbia Place near Faust Avenue (Two Notch Road area)
• Forest Acres clock, with parking at Trenholm Plaza
• Garners Ferry Walmart parking lot
For those who may need cabs home, Checker Yellow Cab and Budweiser of Columbia will cover the first $10 of your cab ride.