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 Tuesday 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 who plan to bounce around and partake in a few of the festivities taking place around town, we’ve combed show listings (and more) to assemble this handy New Year’s Eve entertainment guide. Be safe out there, Milwaukee. Take the bus—it’s free! Happy New Year!
Greensky Bluegrass @ Riverside Theater
Just how popular has Greensky Bluegrass become? Well, the fast-picking Kalamazoo, Michigan-based progressive bluegrass powerhouse is headlining a three-night residency at Milwaukee’s massive Riverside Theater. You’ll have two chances to see the up-and-coming outfit AND Horseshoes And Hand Grenades (December 29 and December 30) before Greensky plays us into 2020 alone with a New Year’s Eve performance.
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. Mesquite Outlaws @ UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
In other sports-related New Year’s news, the Milwaukee Wave will kick off the holiday with a 3:07 p.m. home game against the Mesquite Outlaws. If you want to barely make good on your 2019 resolution to watch more indoor soccer, or you’re in search of some family-oriented fun in the afternoon, Milwaukee Wave has you covered.
The Gufs + Willy Porter Band, Brett Newski @ Pabst Theater
A trio of accomplished area acts will join forces for one hell of a sendoff to 2019. Before The Gufs take the stage to play the year away, local guitar virtuoso Willy Porter and tireless troubadour Brett Newski will start things off strong.
Pants Off Dance Off: NYE Royalty Edition @ X-Ray Arcade
All kings, queens, and royal subjects are invited to X-Ray Arcade for a special New Year’s Eve installment of Pants Off Dance Off. The free dance party comes complete with great tunes, good vibes, and glitter galore. It’s also X-Ray Arcade’s first New Year’s Eve as a business, so that’s even more reason to celebrate.
Beyonce vs. Rihanna vs. Lizzo @ Turner Hall
Following the success of previous installments at Mad Planet and Turner Hall, DJ Frank Straka’s “Beyonce vs. Rihanna” dance party is going all out and ringing in 2020 at Turner Hall for the second straight New Year. This time around, Lizzo will be added to the party. Who’s going to come out on top? The consumer.
New Yacht’s Eve with The Docksiders @ The Cooperage
We might be entering the year 2020, but it’s going to sound like the early ’80s at The Cooperage when The Docksiders delight showgoers with their yacht rock stylings. “Seriously fun hangs” await.
Boone Year’s Eve 2020 @ Boone & Crockett
On the other side of Cooperage’s walls, Boone & Crockett will host “Boone Year’s Eve.” The celebration will start with music from The Oxleys, who will give way to DJs Breezah and Mikey Fastlife from 9 p.m. to “???” and a champagne toast at midnight. Anyone still awake can partake in a 4 a.m. breakfast buffet.
Radio Radio @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom will host a New Wave Dance Party with Radio Radio providing the musical entertainment. The $10 advance cover ($20 DOS) includes the show, appetizers, and a toast at midnight.
New Yams Eve 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 the decades during Company Brewing’s “New Yams Eve.”
New Year’s Eve Comedy Show @ Vino Third Ward
If you’re looking to spend the last few hours of 2019 laughing, Vino Third Ward has you covered. A loaded bill of Milwaukee comics including Matt Werner, Tim Hunter, Raegan Nimela, Elijah Holbrook, AJ Grill, and Ton Johnson will perform from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., followed a champagne toast at midnight. Cover includes the show and two drink tickets.
The Get Down @ Enlightened Brewing Company
The Get Down—a.k.a. Milwaukee’s longest-running dance party—has become a beloved party of they city’s New Year’s Eve tradition. After stints at Mad Planet and Turner Hall, it will move to Enlightened Brewing Company. The cover is only $5 and the Bay View brewery promises the beer and bubbles will be flowing all night.
New Year’s Eve 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 beer pong, a DJ, a midnight balloon drop, complimentary appetizers, and drinks included with cover. Prior to the Bond Ball, you can take part in Cheers Heard Around The World, a family-friendly event in which guests ring in the New Year on the hour every hour starting at 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.
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. Say hi to Steve the bearded dragon for us while you’re there.
Run Into The New Year @ City Lights Brewing (starting point)
If heavy drinking and limitless appetizers isn’t your thing, you can run into the New Year the morning of December 31. The 5K and 10K races support Make-A-Wish Wisconsin. Start that New Year’s resolution a day early or get a good run in before letting loose later in the night.
Family Friendly New Year’s Eve @ Bounce Milwaukee
The fine folks at Bounce Milwaukee have a New Year’s celebration that’s fit for the whole family…and one that will allow you to be home no later than 8:30. Enjoy games and attractions, time capsule creation, a buffet, an on-site photographer, and a champagne (or juice) toast at “midnight” (8 p.m.).
New Year’s Eve with Hood Smoke @ The Jazz Estate
For the jazz aficionados among us, The Jazz Estate is hosting a New Year’s performance by Chicago’s own Hood Smoke and opener, Dan Schneck Organ Trio. The tunes start at 8:30 p.m. and run until 1:30 a.m.
New Year’s Eve 2019 @ Hacienda Beer Co.
We can’t say what Hacienda Beer Co. has planned once midnight strikes, BUT we’d recommend making it a stop on the way to wherever you plan to go when 2020 hits. Starting at 3 p.m., the North Avenue taproom will offer a special menu with $8 starters, $14 entrees, $5 desserts, and half off all drinks until 11:30 p.m.
Radiance NYE @ Wisconsin Center
The Wisconsin Center welcomes you to ring in the new year at Radiance NYE. This 18+ EDM festival will feature Excision, Liquid Stranger, Wooli b2b Marauda, He$h, Calcium, and Vampa.
Seven Lions at Stellar Spark NYE @ The Rave
Stellar Spark returns to The Rave for another New Year’s Eve affair. The 16th annual event will be headed up by Seven Lions, who will be joined by the likes of MitiS, Last Heroes, Athenis, Colton Duwe, Kedzie, and Nate Derus.
Honey On The Biscuit Luau Party @ Up & Under Pub
Up & Under Pub and Honey On A Biscuit will host a luau party. Break out that grass skirt and Hawaiian shirt to enjoy limbo, live music, and Spam sliders. Who knows, you might even get lei’ed.
NYE Bash with James Freshluggage @ 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. Experience a James Freshluggage-curated blend of hits from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and this no-longer-so-young century.
NYE @ High Dive
High Dive also offers some localized DJ sets by the likes of Asher Gray and Joey Turbo, along with a special live performance by DaveKevinAdam, and free champagne at midnight.
New Years Eve Party: Futures Past – Darkness in the Light @ Walker’s Point Music Hall
Not enough DJs on this list for you? How about 23 more at Walker’s Point Music Hall? Doors open and 6 p.m. and the fun doesn’t stop until 9 a.m. on January 1.
New Year’s @ Lost Whale
Welcome in the NEW Roaring ’20s at Lost Whale with specialty throwback cocktails, a champagne toast, great music, and more. Best yet, there’s no cover.
DIX Roaring ’20 New Year’s Eve Party @ DIX
Speaking of Roaring ’20s-themed parties, DIX has a great one in store. Beyond all-you-can-drink packages, the Walker’s Point bar will have a photo booth, sounds and visuals by Subspace, and hosts Sylvia Nyxx and Melee McQueen.
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 35th year and welcome in year 36 with two shows, all you can drink soda and champagne, free pre-show appetizers, and a bag of party favors for just $45. “Yes-and” your way into 2020.
Non-Pop! New Year’s Eve @ This Is It
Watch the ball drop with Non-Pop!, who will bring a holiday helping of music, art, and visuals to This Is It. Get ready for DJs, live canvas painting, body painting, visual projections, and photography. There’s no cover and all are welcome.
Milwaukee New Year’s Eve @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Calling itself “Milwaukee’s biggest New Year’s Eve party,” Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s New Year’s event 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.