It's time to ring in 2010 and there's no better place to celebrate than Sonoma County and the greater Bay Area. Reflecting the region's diversity, events range from belly dancing at the Russian River Brewing Company to a romp with African animals at Safari West.
For music lovers, Tommy Castro and his blues band tear down Petaluma's Mystic and the Zydeco Flames heat up Rancho Nicasio.
For a magical, ethereal entry into the new year, head to San Francisco for the new Cirque du Soleil show, "Ovo."
These are just some of the highlights for a rollicking ride into 2010. For details and more options, see the list below to find an event that will make 2009's swan song a night to remember.
McNear's Mystic Theatre: Tommy Castro Band — One of the hardest working ensembles in the Bay Area, this band brings its deep-rooted blues to Petaluma for New Year's Eve. The $50 ticket includes an appetizer buffet, a glass of champagne, and a midnight balloon drop. Showcasing his new album, "Hard Believer," Castro can turn any hall into a raucous party. Blues Review has compared Castro to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Duane Allman. Opening is Jeffrey Halford and the Healers; 21 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, 765-2121. Tickets: $50 advance, $55 at the door, www.ticketweb.com or www.mystictheatre.com.
Marin Center: Lewis Black — A regular on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," comedian Black's no-holds-barred rants have targeted everything from the Bush administration to the institution of marriage: "You know why divorce is so f---in' expensive; because it's so damn worth it." Black is the heir apparent to such comedians as George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, whose diatribes don't just make you laugh, they make you think. The 8 p.m. show is scheduled to end by 9:30 p.m.Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, $39.50 to $99.50 plus fees, www.livenation.com or www.ticketmaster.com.
Safari West: Romp with the Beasts — If you've ever celebrated NYE in a crowded plaza, you may think you've rung in the new year with the beasts. This year, try it for real at this African theme park east of Santa Rosa. The $100 ticket includes dinner, dancing and a midnight champagne toast in the presence of the zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, kudus, warthogs and other exotic animals that roam Safari West's grounds. For an additional fee, you can book a room and spend the night. 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, 579-2551, safariwest.com.
The Fillmore: Les Claypool — The west county bassist, who rose to fame in the 1990s with his band Primus, plays his annual New Year's Eve gig. Like Tom Waits, his friend and collaborator — the two have played on one another's albums for almost two decades — Claypool plays few live gigs. He is known for his heavy bass lines and outlandish antics. If you've heard the theme to "South Park," you've heard Claypool's bass. 9 p.m., 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. Tickets: $59.50 plus $14.50 per-ticket fee, general admission, www.livenation.com.
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: Furthur with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir — The Grateful Dead had a decades-long tradition of performing epic New Year's Eve shows. Surviving Dead members Lesh and Weir carry the torch by ringing in 2010 in San Francisco, where it all began in the 1960s. 99 Grove St., San Francisco. Tickets: $65 plus $11.20 per-ticket fee at www.ticketmaster.com.