If you're too worn out by 1993 to even contemplate '94, your New Year's Eve plans may be no more ambitious than to slump into the living room sofa and wait for the Times Square ball to descend across your TV screen. Next thing you know, you'll be nodding off at 11:59 p.m. and will enter the new year with a snore.
What with hundreds of thousands of your neighbors making like party animals Friday night, do you really want to be a hibernating bear? Of course not. So dust off your dancing shoes, consider your festive options and head out.
The sampling of events listed below is just that, a mere fraction of what's available. Whether it's a black-tie event or a torn-jeans rave, there's something for all tastes going on around town. Although it's better to make reservations than to be turned away as the midnight hour approaches, some of the low-cost entries in this list are geared for walk-up trade.
One place where you never need a reservation is Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The family-oriented, city-sponsored event kicks off with six non-alcoholic parties at the Baltimore Convention Center at 8:30 p.m. and continues until 11:30 p.m. Featured entertainment includes country music from the band Maria Rose and Blue Horizon, R&B; from The Tempests and the Hurricane Horns, comedian Bob Somerby, jazz from singer Saisa, a children's room, a dance club with a deejay, a karaoke room, strolling musicians and free refreshments.
Admission to the Convention Center is $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.
Totally free are the country line dances being taught by Jim and Mindy Ratliff at the Harborplace Amphitheatre from 8 p.m. to midnight. What with one Convention Center party and this Amphitheatre event, it seems like country music will be the sound of the season.
Folks moseying on over from the Convention Center will join the thousands already hooting and hollering around the harbor as the magic moment nears. By now, we all know that where there's Mayor Kurt Schmoke, there's fireworks. So help His Honor with the countdown.
The public transportation-minded will be pleased to learn the MTA Metro and Light Rail are operating after the fireworks. (In the event of bad weather, the date for the fireworks show is Saturday at 7 p.m.) For more info on the city's Inner Harbor festivities call (410) 837-4636.
Among hotels ringing the harbor, the Stouffer Harborplace Hotel (202 E. Pratt St., (410) 547-1200) presents a "Cotton Club"-themed evening starting at 7 p.m. with cocktails, dinner and The 52nd Street Swing Band for $125 per person.
In addition to various dinner deals, the Hyatt Regency Baltimore (300 Light St., (410) 528-1234) has its main party from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $60 per person. Three live bands -- Moon August, Klassix and Freddie Stevens -- will help you work off the calories from the party buffet.
The Marriott Inner Harbor (Pratt and Eutaw streets, (800) 598-0005) offers a "Mystery Cafe" theatrical entertainment, dinner and dancing for $49.95 per person.
Over at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore (20 W. Baltimore St., (410) 539-8400), there is the Top 40 band Pure Gold, open bar and buffet starting at 8:30 p.m. for $139 per couple ($209 per couple with accommodations). Another option here, at $19.94 per couple, features a swing band and pay-as-you-consume food and drink.
There also are some harbor address events for those who want to help a good cause while having a good time. The organization Black Professional Men has a black tie optional party from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Oriole Park. Live jazz and a DJ are featured for $40 per person in advance, $50 at the door. Call (410) 377-1023.
The third annual Crystal Ball will be held from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Baltimore Museum of Industry at 1415 Key Highway. This black tie optional event benefits the South Baltimore Homeless Shelter Inc. Performing are the Delta Devils Blues Band and Tony Berry and New Money. $40 per person. Call (410) 727-5512.
On the purely hedonistic front in the harbor area, Hammerjacks (1101 S. Howard St., (410) 659-ROCK) has a three-band extravaganza headlined by a midnight show by Kix at $16 per person.
And 8x10 (10 E. Cross St., (410) 625-2000) has Lazy Susan for only $5.
For rambunctious types, Balls (200 W. Pratt St., (410) 659-5844) sports an open bar from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and buffet from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Its 24 TV screens will broadcast all the Times Square action. $25 per person.
For alternative music mavens, The Bank (401 W. Baltimore St., (410) 837-0504) has as its headline band Juice starting at 10 p.m. for a $5 cover.
If you want a laugh, the Comedy Factory (Light and E. Lombard streets, (410) 244-5233) presents comedian Jeff Marder. The 8 p.m. show is $10 per person, while the 10 p.m. show at $35 per person includes food and dancing.
Winchester's Comedy Club (102 Water St., (410) 576-8558) has comedians Keith Barany, Andre Browne and Billy Geisen. The bar, buffet and dancing options come in two packages: $75 per person and $135 per couple or $45 per person and $75 per couple.
Chambers (203 Davis St., (410) 539-6751) presents a concert by The Shameless Mooks starting at 9:30 p.m. for $20 per person.
Moving to the eastern side of the harbor, all is not dead near the Brokerage complex. The Baja Beach Club (55 Market Place, (410) 727-0468) has various entertainment packages at $10, $20 or $25 per person.
And Slapstix (34 Market Place, (410) 659-7527) has T. P. Mulrooney in "Hitch Up the Mules." It's $10 per person for the 8 p.m. show; the buffet- and dancing-supplemented 10:30 p.m. show is $60 per person or $110 per couple.
Moving over to Fells Point, an ethnic option would be the Polish Home Club (512 S. Broadway, (410) 276-0636), where from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. polkas are part of the musical mix played by Joy. $20 per person.
For laughter in that bar-intensive neighborhood, you can help celebrate the opening of the Comedy Cabaret (723 S. Broadway, (410) 327-8800), which presents the comedian Basil. This club is part of the same building complex as the Fell's Point Cafe and the dance club seven23 (formerly Sanctuary). Variously priced dinner, show and club packages.
Moving way east in Baltimore but thinking of the balmy Pacific seas to the far west, there is a "Hawaii in Baltimore"-themed party at the rather confusingly named Best Western Baltimore East Hotel (5625 O'Donnell St., (410) 633-9500). Running from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and costing $169 per couple, it includes dinner, open bar, live music, an exotic Hawaiian show and overnight accommodations.
Honky tonk party
There's an entirely different theme for the country honky tonk party at the Silverado Lounge (Port Truck Plaza, 410-633-4611), which gives you the band Ragen Ivey and a buffet at $25 per person.
And rockers on the east side can flock to Steeltown (2401 North Point Blvd., (410) 288-3400), which explodes with Child's Play, Souls At Zero and the Kirk McEwen Band.
Re-orienting ourselves in midtown Baltimore and heading north,
Center Stage (700 N. Calvert St., (410) 332-0033) presents the Washington political cabaret troupe Capitol Steps, with shows at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. $20 and $30 per person.
The Belvedere Hotel (North Charles and Chase streets, (410) 539-1355) has in its Renaissance Cafe and Club a DJ-propelled party starting at 10 p.m. Tickets are $13 per person in advance and $15 at the door. The adjacent Owl's Cafe & Bar has a $35 dinner deal. Also at the Belvedere, Truffles catering company has a black tie optional event with buffet, open bar and music by Pizzazz in the Grand Ballroom at $60 per person; call (410) 332-1000.
Live jazz returns to Spike and Charlie's restaurant (Cathedral and West Preston streets, (410) 752-8144) in a concert with trumpeter Dewayne Jones and his band First Premonition starting at 9 p.m. The jazz and buffet are $50 per person. Incidentally, regular jazz concerts are once again planned here.
In northeast Baltimore, a comfy jazz spot, The New Haven Lounge (1552 Havenwood Road, (410) 366-7416) presents a buffet and aDJ spinning the oldies for $20 per person in advance and $25 at the door.
In Towson, the Sheraton Baltimore North (903 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 321-7400) has three packages: an early dinner at Carnegie's restaurant from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at $71 per couple; dinner and dancing to the Top 40 sounds of Grand Slam at Carnegie's from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. for $119.93 per couple; or a DJ spinning Top 40 at Warfield's nightclub starting at 8 p.m. for $24.95 per person.
Kicking off at 9:30 p.m., the Sunset Grill (825 Taylor Ave., (410) 828-4650) has the Rattle Cats performing, a DJ spinning, open bar, buffet and continental breakfast at $37.50 per person.
A worthy cause
In Timonium, you can support a worthy cause in the Thoroughbred Ballroom of Timonium Fairgrounds. This black tie optional event benefiting Volunteers of America runs from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and features music by Don't Stop and The Edge. $50 per person. Call (410) 466-0689.
Also in Timonium, the Holiday Inn (2004 Greenspring Drive, (410) 252-7373) has parties from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Options include the country band Bootleg at Nashville's nightclub at $59 per person; a DJ playing Top 40 in the Atrium bar at $19.94 per person; or a ballroom dinner package featuring the band Bunny and the Bad Boys at $99 per couple.
In Cockeysville, Christopher's (York and Padonia roads, (410) 252-8181) has a light buffet and the bands Never Never and Hectic Red from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at $19.93 per person.
Northeast of the city, in Carney, Tracy's Comedy Club downstairs at the Bowman Restaurant (9306 Harford Road, (410) 665-8600) has a show and festivities from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. The $37.50 per person cost gets you a buffet, open bar, continental breakfast and laughter.
And nearby, The Barn (9527 Harford Road, (410) 882-6182) features The Loft for a $5 cover.
Northwest of the city, in Pikesville, there are three parties at the Pikesville Hilton Inn (1726 Reisterstown Road, (410) 653-1100). In thePreakness Ballroom from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. there's dinner and dancing to Top 40 music by Silver Screen at $137 per couple; or a prix fixe dinner at $28 per person in the San Marco restaurant; or Gabby's Lounge from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at $5 per person.
Swinging down to Woodlawn, Martin's West (Beltway and Security Boulevard, (410) 944-9433) has a buffet, open bar and music by The Romanos and Mary Lou & The Untouchables from 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. at $57 per person. (Other Martin's locations including Eudowood, Eastwind and Northpoint also have New Year's Eve festivities).
Approaching Catonsville, the Westview Lounge and Supper Club Old Frederick Road, (410) 744-0223) has dinner and dancing to The Jetsons from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $40 per person.
Out in Columbia, the Columbia Inn (10207 Wincopin Circle, (410) 730-3900) has a Ballroom party, buffet, open bar, live music and continental breakfast from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at $149.94 per couple. Its Waterside Restaurant offers a meal from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. at $109.94 per couple. And everybody gets to gather in the hotel Atrium to watch a ball drop 10 stories at midnight.
Bar, buffet and band
The Columbia Hilton Inn (5485 Twin Knolls Road, (410) 997-1060) has an open bar, buffet and the band Full Circle from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at either $225 per couple with accommodations or $160 per couple for party only.
Among hotels and nightclubs near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, options include the Holiday Inn (890 Elkridge Landing Road, (410) 859-8400), which has various dinner, entertainment and room packages.
And down in Anne Arundel County, the biggest event is First Night Annapolis. More than 200 performances ranging from bluegrass to African drums will be heard starting at 6:30 p.m. at sites all over the historic town. Everything culminates with midnight fireworks over the Annapolis harbor. There is free parking at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on Rowe Boulevard with shuttle bus service. Admission buttons are $12; children ages 6 and under are free. Call (410) 787-2717.