The old Virginia capital's annual alcohol-free First Night celebration (www.firstnightwilliamsburg.org) features a variety of performances throughout the Colonial area and the William & Mary campus, and culminates with fireworks at the college's Zable Stadium. On New Year's Day, say farewell to the holiday season with a last look at Williamsburg's famous Christmas decorations. Hotels abound: The Williamsburg Lodge (310 S. England St., 800-HISTORY, www.history.org) is an option, as is the Williamsburg Hospitality House (415 Richmond Rd., 757-229-4020, www.williamsburghosphouse.com), across from Zable Stadium. Rates begin at $109 when booked through the Web site.
Fans of "Chappelle's Show" may want to head south for New Year's. Three regulars from Dave Chappelle's sketch comedy hit -- Donnell Rawlings (aka Ashy Larry), Bill Burr (from the Samuel Jackson beer bit) and Charlie Murphy (yes, Eddie's brother) -- bring their stand-up acts to Charlie Goodnight's Comedy Club (861 Morgan St., 919-828-5233, www.charliegoodnights.com) for four New Year's Eve shows, including 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. sets. Tickets are $40, or $75 with dinner seating. Those who prefer eye-popping feats to Rick James jokes can check out Cirque Dreams, a European-style circus show featuring acrobats and contortionists, at the BTI Center for the Performing Arts (500 Fayetteville Street Mall, 919-831-6011, www.raleighconvention.com) through Jan. 2. Tickets ($21 to $58) are available through Ticketmaster or the Web site above. And consider taking advantage of cushy digs at a reasonable price: Forty minutes away in Chapel Hill, the Siena Hotel (1505 E. Franklin St., 800-223-7379, www.sienahotel.com) offers a New Year's package with champagne and strawberries, full breakfast, valet parking and late checkout for $189 to $249 a night. At Raleigh's Brownstone Hotel (1707 Hillsborough St., 800-331-7919, www.brownstonehotel.com), the same place that often houses Charlie Goodnight's comics, rooms start at $89 per night. Maybe you'll get one next to Charlie Murphy.
You can view Philly's annual fireworks display at Penn's Landing from the sidewalk. But why not try the ice? The nearby Blue Cross RiverRink (Columbus Boulevard at Spring Garden Street, 215-925-RINK, www.riverrink.com) hosts a special New Year's Eve skating party from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ($25 for skaters, $15 for spectators), providing a prime view of the midnight pyrotechnics. On the music scene, Philly natives and hip-hop groundbreakers the Roots will perform at the Electric Factory (421 N. Seventh St., 215-627-1332, www.electricfactory.com; $49.50 through Ticketmaster). Or catch ?uestlove and fellow Roots bandmembers at the group's after-party at Fluid nightclub (613 S. Fourth St., 215-629-0565, www.fluidnightclub.com. $40 at 9 p.m., $20 after 11 p.m. Anyone with a Roots ticket stub gets in for $10 after midnight, space permitting). On New Year's Day, don't miss the flamboyant costumes in the annual Mummer's Parade on Broad Street (www.phillymummers.com), beginning at 9 a.m.
NEW YORK CITY
Oh yeah, they have something in Times Square, don't they? Maybe that's why most Broadway theaters are dark on New Year's Eve. But you might catch a matinee (and shows resume at many theaters the next night). The half-price TKTS booths in Times Square (47th Street and Broadway) and South Street Seaport (corner of Front and John streets) are open on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day for last-minute showgoers. Visit www.tdf.org for more info. Those who prefer rock to show tunes can see Wilco, the Flaming Lips and Sleater-Kinney at Madison Square Garden ($37.50-$57.50, www.thegarden.com or www.ticketmaster.com). Or get a jump-start on your 2005 fitness routine with the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, sponsored by New York Road Runners. The event includes dancing, a costume contest, fireworks and a four-mile late-night run through Central Park. Registration is $30 for non-Road Runner members (sign up at the group's office, 9 E. 89th St., 212-860-4455, www.nyrr.org) or $35 on race day. And if you want to experience the Manhattan party scene, there's always Webster Hall (125 E. 11th St., www.websterhall.com). The New Year's Eve Ball at the massive club promises "the biggest balloon drop in the free world" and fire-breathing drag queens. Tickets are $60-$175.