May 2012 have fireworks aplenty.

Whenever New Year’s Eve approaches, I imagine spending it in a glittery venue full of well-heeled people, where we all count down to midnight in blissful, ABC Family-style unison. In reality, I end up at a lame house party, watching the ball drop from a saggy couch.

But we have more options! Consult our annual NYE list of concerts and events that aren’t as high-pressure as caviar and champagne, but are a serious upgrade from Ryan Seacrest.

CONCERTS
Benaroya Hall
Maestro Gerard Schwarz returns for Seattle Symphony’s annual performance of Beethoven’s Ninth with its triumphant “Ode to Joy,” sung by the Seattle Symphony Chorale. Stick around for postconcert dancing in the Grand Lobby and a countdown to midnight. 9pm. $94–$150.

The Crocodile
Portland electronic act Starf*cker joins rising local hip-hop duo Champagne Champagne for a funky NYE bash (plus “special guests!”). 9pm. $20–$25.

Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley
Grammy-winning king of the congas Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band play two NYE shows, complete with dinner and dessert. First show starts at 8:45 and includes a four-course meal ($105.50). Second show starts at 11 and includes dessert and party favors ($80.50). All-evening package: $155.50. Just first show: $52.50. Must purchase tickets in advance.

High Dive
Join singer-songwriter Ian McFeron and the Fortune Dwellers for a night of pop, rock, jazz, and funk. 9pm. $20–$25.

Moore Theatre
Seattle’s own X Factor finalist LeRoy Bell— a singer-songwriter who’s penned tracks for Elton John and performed with B.B. King —plays for the first time locally since his reality show stint. Roots-reggae man Clinton Fearon joins. 9pm. 21+. $33–$48.

Neptune Theatre
Brandi Carlile, the singing-songwriting pride of Ravensdale, Washington, plays a special New Year’s Eve set: just Brandi, her guitar and piano, and a midnight champagne toast for all. 9pm. 21+. $124.

Showbox at the Market
Say hello to 2012 and goodbye to Your Divine Tragedy—it’s the metal band’s farewell show. Also on the bill: Falling Blind, No Ground, and Feeding George. 8pm. 21+. $13–$15.

The Sunset Tavern
“Don’t stop believin’” in cover band The Dudley Manlove Quartet. After 16 years of raucous showmanship and a lead singer who extorted $100k from the group, they’re still covering classic rock with a vengeance. 10pm. 21+. $20.

Tractor Tavern
Twelve-man soul band Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme cut their teeth on covers of James Brown and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Expect a killer dance party. 9pm. $20–$25.

EVENTS
Hotel Max
The downtown Seattle hotel has thought of everything: champagne, party favors, cab vouchers or valet, a room for the night, and a “recovery package” of Vitamin Waters and energy bars for the morning after. Packages from $259.

Hyatt Olive 8
Count down to 2012 at the Bonza Bash NYE Gala Ball, with an 18-piece big band and KISS 106.1’s DJ Tamm. 8:30pm. 21+. $69 general admission, $225 VIP.

Re-bar
It’s the final night of drag diva Dina Martina’s annual Christmas Show, and your last chance of the year to laugh along with the ‘gargle-voiced, gleefully hopeless chanteuse.’ 8pm. $20–$25.

Seattle’s Underground Tour
Never knew about Seattle’s history of sex, opium, and scandal? Take the Underground Tour on NYE and enjoy a complimentary cocktail and champagne toast at midnight. 10pm, $25.

Space Needle
Go big (a five-course dinner at the SkyCity revolving restaurant, from $250) or join the crowd on the observation deck ($100) for dessert, dancing, a champagne toast, and front-row seats to the blowout fireworks display at midnight. 8pm, reservations required.

FAMILY
Hale’s Palladium
Moisture Festival turns the Fremont brewery into a cabaret, with the swingin’ sounds of the Vic and Nick Trio, aerial performances and acrobatics, and hors d’oeuvres from James Beard award-winning chef Tiberio Simone. 8pm. All ages. $60 adults, $40 kids under 12.

Winterfest 2011
Take the kids for a little late-night ice-skating: the Seattle Center rink stays has extended hours on New Year’s Eve. Closes at 11:30pm. Free–$7.

FILM
Central Cinema
Drift blissfully unaware into 2012 at a double feature. Central Cinema screens E.T. at 6:30 and Grease at 9:30, followed by a Grease-inspired dance party. Time to practice your hand jive. $6–$8.

Something we missed? Please add the event below in the comments section.

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