Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from a "funeral party" to honor the last year to ringing in the next with Willie Nelson and his friends. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[December 28 – January 1]
“Funeral Party ,” the title of the performance piece by Emily Sloan, is not an oxymoron. According to Sloan, an artist from Houston, death is cause for celebration. “It’s like memento mori,” she said. “It’s a reminder to live your life. Time flies. Enjoy the moment.” Attend this mock wake where participants deliver eulogies inside 14 Pews , a converted church, before a brass band leads them out back to a funeral pyre for more eulogies, followed by drinks and a potluck dinner. Sloan first hosted Funeral Party last year to cope with the death of her cousin, who died in a car accident. But it also honors noncorporeal things. Last year, one man read seven pages on how drugs had ruined his life and then burned his drug paraphernalia. Another person talked about how his life had changed since moving to the United States, and then he cut off a long braid of his hair and threw it in the fire, prompting his girlfriend to throw her bra in the fire. What better way to embrace the new year than by bidding the past farewell?
14 Pews, January 1, 6 p.m., 14pews.org
You Write the Songs
Attendees of Dale Watson ’s New Year’s Eve show might get lucky and close out 2012 with a song credit. Watson, the Austin honky-tonk crooner who got his start forty years ago when he recorded some 45s at Gilley’s in Pasadena, said he likes to write from the stage. An audience member at one of his shows once shouted at him, “You lie when you drink,” and now Watson’s new album El Rancho Azul, which comes out in January, includes the song “I Lie When I Drink.” It's one of six songs about boozing on the album, which should give concertgoers a good idea of how the night will play out.
Luckenbach Dancehall, December 31, 8 p.m., dalewatson.com
The Looking Glass
The grounds of the Dallas Arboretum show off how seamlessly Dale Chihuly ’s fantastical, rainbow-colored forms blend with Mother Nature’s creations. Chihuly, the glass artist from Washington State whose works have been shown worldwide, transformed the arboretum’s gardens and infinity pool into a magical landscape with installations like “Yellow Icicle Tower,” a thirty-foot structure that from a distance looks like the world’s biggest weed. The sprawling exhibition is such magnetic eye candy—its busiest days have drawn more than 10,000 visitors—that the Arboretum has extended it through New Year’s Eve so even more people can experience what it’s like to fall down the rabbit hole.
Dallas Arboretum, December 28-31, 9 a.m., dallasarboretum.org
Home Sweet Home
Willie Nelson plays hundreds of concerts a year, but arguably none are more anticipated than the two billed as “Willie and Friends Family New Year”—epic, nearly three-hour affairs delivered in Nelson’s hometown, in the venue he built, with his statue out front.
ACL Live, December 30 at 8p.m. and December 31 at 9 p.m., willienelson.com
A new year full of opportunity springs from “Waltz of the Flowers,” the Tchaikovsky favorite from The Nutcracker, one of five selections in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra ’s New Year’s Eve concert, “ From Moscow to Vienna .”
Meyerson Symphony Center, December 31, 7:30 p.m., dallassymphony.com