New Year's Eve falls on a Thursday this year, so most of the fun things worth doing around Dallas take place then or on New Year's Day. They include a number of big concerts, two new theater productions, one big football game, and a new family-oriented event at Fair Park.
Below are the best options for your precious free time Thursday through Sunday. Don't like what you see? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.
Thursday, December 31
Lights All Night
This electronic dance music festival has become an annual New Year's tradition in Dallas, bringing in some of the best EDM acts around. The two-day festival moves to its third location in four years, this time taking over Dallas Market Hall. Among the performers are Hardwell, Kaskade, Thomas Jack, Yellow Claw, and Porter Robinson.
New Year's Evil with Hellyeah, Nothing More, and Sevendust
If you prefer your New Year's Eve celebration a little more hardcore, then this concert at the Bomb Factory is for you. Headbanging and mosh pits are the orders of the day at this night-long event, featuring performances from headliners Hellyeah and Nothing More, with support from Sevendust, Red Sun Rising, Islander, and Even the Dead Love a Parade.
Cotton Bowl Classic: Alabama vs. Michigan State
Last year AT&T Stadium played host to the first-ever College Football Playoff championship game. This isn't the ultimate game, but it's still very important, as the winner of the semi-final game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans will advance to the championship game in Arizona on January 11 to face either Clemson or Oklahoma.
Pegasus Theatre presents Death Is a Bad Habit
If you've never seen one of Pegasus Theatre's patented Living Black & White productions, you owe it to yourself to go. Using trade-secret makeup, special lighting, meticulous costuming, and set creation, combined with stylized acting, the company creates the illusion that the audience is watching not just a play, but a 1930s-'40s black-and-white movie brought to life onstage. The play runs at Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson through January 24.
Backdoor Comedy's New Year's Eve Bash
2015 has had its fair share of depressing events, so why not end the year with some laughs? Backdoor Comedy Club hosts two shows featuring comedians Paul Varghese, Linda Stogner, and other Backdoor favorites. If you go to the second show, you get a ticket to a future show, party favors, a champagne toast at midnight, and dancing after the show.
Theatre Three presents I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!
Now back for the 16th time, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! has become a tradition at Theatre Three. This time, the celebration and exploration of the mating game features two actual married couples, Kim and Max Swarner and Amy Mills and Doug Jackson. The hilarious revue that pays tribute to those who have loved and lost and lived to try again runs through, naturally, February 14.
KXT's New Year's Eve Bash with Jonathan Tyler, Somebody's Darling, and Dovetail
This New Year's Eve concert at the Granada Theater eschews national acts for local ones. Put on by independent music radio station KXT, the concert features performances by Jonathan Tyler, possibly without his band the Northern Lights; Somebody's Darling, returning from their new home in Nashville; and Dovetail.
W Dallas Victory presents Stop the Clock New Year's Eve Party
If all you want to do is dance, drink, and have fun on New Year's Eve, you could do a lot worse than this party at the W Dallas Victory. Taking place in Altitude on the hotel's 33rd floor, you can dance to music from DJ Lucio all night long and get a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Most tickets are sold out, but some are still available if you book a room.
Friday, January 1
Day 1 Dallas
Day 1 Dallas is a brand-new family fair specifically designed for children and families to celebrate New Year’s Day together at Fair Park. The celebration features interactive activities; performances by Collins Key, Cody Lovaas, and Debby Ryan at the Music Hall at Fair Park; carnival food; and a spectacular fireworks show to end the day.
Shen Yun 2016
The return of the Chinese dance group Shen Yun has become another New Year's tradition in Dallas, as they've returned to perform at Winspear Opera House around the same time for the past three years. The troupe honors the Chinese past through both dance and music, showing off a stunning visual and emotional experience you won’t find anywhere else. Performances take place through January 10.