It’s been a rough year, Milwaukee. Still, between all the celebrity deaths, polarizing political developments, and various other sources for internet outrage, at least a few decent things happened. Come Monday night, much of the city will hit the town to say goodbye to an unforgettable last 365 days and welcome a new year that couldn’t possibly be as bad as its predecessor (could it?).
In effort to help those of you who’ve yet to cement your New Year’s Eve plans and to aid those of your who plan to bounce around to partake in a few of the festivities taking place around town, we’ve combed show listings to assemble this handy New Year’s Eve entertainment guide. Be safe out there, Milwaukee, and have a happy New Year!
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades + Chicken Wire Empire, Sarah Vos, and Adam Greuel @ Pabst Theater
Wisconsin bluegrass mainstay and Central Waters beer inspiration Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is known to close out each year with a memorable show in Milwaukee. This time around, the band will perform two late-December shows in a pair of drastically different venues. First, HHG will play an intimate December 29 show in the Miller Caves (this sold out almost instantly, unfortunately) before taking the stage for a New Year’s Eve performance at Pabst Theater. Chicken Wire Empire, Sarah Vos of Dead Horses notoriety, and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades member Adam Greuel will play in support.
Shane Mauss @ The Underground Collaborative
Western Wisconsin native Shane Mauss grew up near La Crosse, but actually got his stand-up start in Boston before winding up in Los Angeles and bringing his act to comedy clubs throughout the country. When he wasn’t performing hundreds of show a year, Mauss released a Comedy Central Presents special and two albums, performed on Conan (five times!), and found his material evolving considerably. The comedian will return to his home state to perform at The UC for the second time in three months. Before closing out the year with this show, you can learn more about Mauss’ background, his growth, and his life as a road comic by listening to his episode of our On The Record podcast.
Harlem Globetrotters @ Fiserv Forum
The Harlem Globetrotters have been a New Year’s Eve tradition in Milwaukee for years and years. Thankfully, that tradition will continue this year at the Fiserv Forum. Will this be the Washington Generals’ year? Our money is on the Globetrotters.
Milwaukee Wave vs. St. Louis Ambush @ UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
In other sports-related New Year’s news, the Milwaukee Wave will kick off the holiday with a 3 p.m. home game against the St. Louis Ambush. If you want to barely make good on your 2018 resolution to watch more indoor soccer, or you’re in search of some family-oriented fun in the afternoon, Milwaukee Wave has you covered.
New Year’s Eve Celebration @ Mitchell Park Domes
Mitchell Park Domes will host a wide range of family-focused entertainment this New Year’s Eve. People of all ages can enjoy music, magic, a light show, face painting, fire dancing, and a 9 p.m. balloon drop.
Bounce Milwaukee New Year’s Eve Parties
Bounce Milwaukee is hosting two New Year’s Eve events this year. The first one is being called a “Family Friendly” celebration, which starts at 5 p.m. and includes all the normal fun available at the business, along with a buffet, champagne (for adults), and an 8 p.m. “midnight” balloon drop. Later, Bounce will host some grown-up fun, as DJ Abilities, DJ QBert, and Annalog will help people “party differently” with a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Apart NYE 2019 event.
Beyonce vs. Rihanna Dance Party @ Turner Hall
Following success with previous installments at Company Brewing, the “Beyonce vs. Rihanna” dance party is going all out and ring in 2019 at Turner Hall. Who’s going to come out on top? The consumer.
Radiance New Years Eve @ Wisconsin Center
The Wisconsin Center welcomes you to ring in the new year at Radiance NYE. This 18+ EDM festival will feature Excision, Zeds Dead, Bear Grillz, and more. The fun begins at 6 p.m. on December 31.
Brew City Bombshells present “All That Glitters” Gold NYE Party + DJ Claire Dactyl @ Cactus Club
Dance the year away at Cactus Club during Brew City Bombshells’ “All That Glitters” party. Joining the performers will be Pants Off Dance Off co-founder Claire Dactyl on the ones and twos.
Faux Fiction + Lauryl Sulfate @ LuLu Cafe
LuLu isn’t exactly a traditional Milwaukee venue, but the Bay View bar and restaurant pulls out all the stop and becomes local music hotbed every December 31. Faux Fiction and Lauryl Sulfate will play 2018 off. The $20 cover includes a snack bar, champagne toast, and the chance to see two excellent Milwaukee bands perform.
Radio Radio + DJ Dori Zori @ Club Garibaldi
Wrap up the year in rowdy fashion at Club Garibaldi with music from Radio Radio and what’s sure to be a lively mix from DJ Dori Zori.
New Year’s Eve Comedy Shows @ ComedySportz
Dick Chudnow berthed the flagship ComedySportz location in 1984. Since then, the Milwaukee sketch and improv hub has become a full-blown franchise, now boasting 25 locations in three countries and a list of now-famous players that’s too long and impressive to even attempt writing here. Say goodbye to CSZ’s 34th year and welcome in year 35 with two shows, all you can drink soda and champagne, free pre-show appetizers, and a bag of party favors for just $35. “Yes-and” your way into 2018.
New Year’s Eve Dance Party @ Mad Planet
Mad Planet is already among the best places in Milwaukee to work up a sweat on the dance floor, but New Year’s Eve brings the Riverwest club to another level. Enjoy a James Freshluggage-curated blend of hits from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and this young century from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. The $15 cover also includes a champagne toast and food.
New Yamz Eve 2019 with DJ Bizzon @ Company Brewing
Prolific Milwaukee musical mainstay DJ Bizzon will help bring the year to an end (and start another) in grand fashion with six hours of music that will span six decades during Company Brewing’s “New Yamz Eve.” Adding to the fun—which will run to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. (!!!)—is a champagne toast at midnight and an all-night appetizer buffet.
New Year’s Eve @ High Dive
High Dive also offers some localized DJ sets by the likes of Selector Max, Asher Gray, and Juiceboxxx. This free event runs from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and includes a free midnight champagne toast, complimentary late night breakfast, and “wild party shit.”
Thriftones + Cullah @ Bremen Cafe
Those in search of live music in Riverwest can take in some tunes from the likes of Thriftones and Cullah at Bremen Cafe. If holiday cover charges aren’t your thing, you might be pleased to know this (like all Bremen shows) is free.
Aluminum Knot Eye + Last Sons Of Krypton @ Circle-A Cafe
Elsewhere in Riverwest, Aluminum Knot Eye and Last Sons Of Krypton are playing at Circle-A Cafe. If you’re seeking bigtime entertainment in a quaint neighborhood bar, look no further.
Killmister (Motörhead Tribute) and Aces High (Iron Maiden Tribute) @ Shank Hall
Shank Hall will play host to an impressive duo of tribute acts as part of Metal Chick’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. First, Aces high will pay homage to Iron Maiden, followed by the Motörhead cover stylings of Millmister.
Dead Man’s Carnival @ Miramar Theatre
You probably know Dead Man’s Carnival. You probably love Dead Man’s Carnival. If that’s the case, make your way to Miramar Theatre this New Year’s Eve.
De La Buena sextet @ The Jazz Estate
¡De La Buena! No matter what year it is or what year it’s soon to be, one thing always holds true: De La Buena is awesome. See a pared-down six-piece perform at The Jazz Estate.
Drag Queen NYE @ Hi Hat
Head to Hi Hat for a FREE drag show. The party starts at 7 p.m., but the show runs from 10 p.m to midnight.
NYE Bash 2019 with DJ Hount3d Hous3 @ Garage
Just above Hi Hat, Garage will also host some holiday-themed fun. The bar and restaurant’s NYE Bash 2019 will give patrons a fun place to dance the night away as DJ Hount3d Hous3 will keep the fun going from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
MKENYEVE @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Calling itself “Milwaukee’s biggest New Year’s Eve party,” Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s MKENYEVE isn’t messing around. Enjoy DJs from Milwaukee and Chicago, gaming, and party favors. And even when the official event ends, the casino never closes, so you can keep the party going as long as you want.
Dada Life, Nate Derus, Colton Duwe, and Xcavata at Stellar Spark New Year’s Eve @ The Rave
Stellar Spark returns to The Rave for another New Year’s Eve affair. The 16th annual event will be headed up by Dada Life, who will be joined by the likes of Nate Derus, Colton Duwe, and Xcavata.
New Year’s Eve @ Riverwest Public House
Riverwest Public House will be jam-packed with dancing, party, and fun. A potent mix of local DJs will keep the tunes bumping all night long. Along the way, Public House will host a might champagne toast and a 3 a.m. service industry hashbrown buffet.
NYE Bond Ball @ SafeHouse
Dress like James Bond or don other spy attire at SafeHouse’s NYE Bond Ball. The unique event will be accented by a DJ, magicians, and cash prizes for costumes.
Victor’s 24-Hour NYE Party
Though lots of places are staying open late on New Year’s Day, Victor’s just won’t close. From 3 p.m. on Monday through 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the longstanding East Side establishment will be open for dancing and revelry. There will be a midnight champagne toast, and complementary food in two-hour block in the wee hours of New Year’s morning and in the early afternoon. Despite one local writer’s suggestion we try to last all 24 hours of Victor’s NYE Party, we’re sitting this one out. But if you’re bold enough to try it, we wish you luck.