10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito
El Cerrito's Playland-Not-at-the-Beach isn’t just toasting the new year, but Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien's 120th birthday. (Aren't you glad you live in the Bay Area?). Participants can win prizes hunting for the Hobbit, Golem and Gandolf hidden around the Museum of Fun. More good news: Playland-Not-at-the-Beach will be open New Year's Day and the legal holiday Monday.
1820 Fourth St., Berkeley.
A four-course prix fixe meal, live jazz duet, five-piece acoustic dance band and Mal Sharpe’s Big Money Jazz Band. Optional wine pairings, midnight toast and dancing.
1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley.
New Year’s Eve at Ashkenaz is traditionally an all-night affair of Balkan music and dance hosted by Édessa, in honor of the late Ashkenaz founder David Nadel and the music he first featured at his world dance club. This year’s event includes Brass Menažeri’s wild brass band, and Joe Finn & Leslie Bonnett’s Scandinavian and Cajun music, with some musical surprises promised by all.
6401 San Pablo Ave. (at Alcatraz Avenue), Oakland.
The AA group's new website is called Clean and Sober, Not Dead, with the tagline "We are not a grumpy lot," and they mean it. The group (which encompasses Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Pinole and San Pablo) holds an annual New Year's Eve dance party -- this year at a new location.
Christ Church Berkeley, 2138 Cedar St. (between Walnut and Oxford), Berkeley.
An energetic and high-flying evening of traditional English and American music and dance (think "barn dance" and you've got it). Live music and caller. Beginners welcome.
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley. 8 to 10 p.m.
“A hideously writhing, wounded dragon that refuses to die": That's how one critic described Beethoven’s Second Symphony in 1802.
Luckily we know better now -- enough so to be utterly thrilled that the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra will perform the groundbreaking symphony and the Violin Concerto in a New Year's Eve concert.
Dharma Community at the Center for Transformative Change, 2584 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley.
Participants are invited to "let go of what is no longer needed and manifest what is to come" in celebrating the completion of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. Release ceremony begins at 10 p.m., the meditation at 11 p.m., and the 108-bell ringing at 12 a.m. Light refreshments will be served; participants are asked bring something to share.
Why go out to Treasure Island on New Year's Eve? To get a million-dollar view of the fireworks display, scheduled to light up the sky beginning at midnight. In addition, the Pavilion by the Bay celebration will include two floors of music, including party rock, pop, and electro. Complementary hosted bar all night.
Had a bit too much to drink and now need a safe ride home?
AAA’s Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow for drinking drivers in Northern California – members and non-members alike – from 6 p.m. New Year's Eve until 6 a.m. New Year's Day.
For Tipsy Tow, call 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) and tell the operator, “I need a Tipsy Tow” for a free tow of up to five miles. Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver’s home.
BART: Sorry, taxpayers, no special fares for New Years Eve, but BART will oblige rather handsomely by extending its service until 3 a.m.
Partying in the city? The last Richmond-bound trains from Embarcadero Station leave at 3:16 a.m. Full service.
The last trains Richmond-bound trains leave from Montgomery Street Station at 3:15 a.m. (no trains at Montgomery from 12:06 a.m. to 1:26 a.m. – use Embarcadero instead).