For a decade, Famously Hot New Year — a nonprofit organization since 2016 — has brought visitors, residents, businesses, and community and civic leaders from diverse backgrounds together for South Carolina’s largest free New Year’s Eve party in downtown Columbia, S.C. Given the continued concerns around COVID-19 and its variants, the nonprofit’s board has concluded that hosting an event on December 31, 2021 would not be in the best interest of the community. However, visitors and locals are encouraged to make plans to enjoy the Columbia region’s year-round amenities, from outdoor recreation to nationally-ranked attractions, walkable entertainment districts, charming hotels and an international, chef-driven restaurant scene.
“This was a tough call to make, but our region is resilient,” says Debora Lloyd, vice president of the Famously Hot New Year board of directors. “Every year, we look forward to bringing visitors from outside of the Midlands together with locals to showcase all that the City of Columbia, Richland County and the region have to offer,” notes Lloyd. “We need to prioritize the health and safety of our community based on the information we have today. While we will not be hosting an in-person or virtual event this year, we encourage travelers to make plans to visit the Real Southern Hot Spot.”
Famously Hot New Year was started in 2011 as an idea nurtured by Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. Sponsors such as the City of Columbia, Richland County and private partners including BlueCross BlueShield of SC, Aflac, WLTX, Alpha Media, Dominion Energy, Pepsi of the Carolinas, Segra and more have enhanced the well-being of our community through their support over the last decade.
Famously Hot New Year has become a tradition for tens of thousands of people in the Midlands as well as visitors from cities from Greenville to New York and beyond. Guests are drawn by the event’s national acts, but they book longer stays to enjoy the region’s welcoming, authentic culture and wide array of incredible things to do. The event was held virtually in 2020.
“Although we will not gather en masse on Main Street in downtown Columbia, S.C., on New Year’s Eve,” says Lloyd, “Visitors and locals alike can still make plans to enjoy all that our vibrant region has to offer.”
About Famously Hot New Year
Although the celebration is on hiatus for December 2021, Famously Hot New Year has grown to become South Carolina’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration, with a free, evening-length concert by a national headliner and the biggest NYE fireworks display in South Carolina, adjacent to the historic S.C. State House in downtown Columbia, S.C. Since 2011, Famously Hot New Year has gathered diverse communities to enjoy the free concert and fireworks; regional food vendors; plentiful cash bars with beer, wine and bubbly; a festival atmosphere and more in the Real Southern Hot Spot. Famously Hot New Year has operated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization since 2016.
FHNY Mission Statement
To host an unforgettable New Year’s Eve celebration that brings together diverse communities in and around Columbia, South Carolina (known as the “Midlands”) as well as visitors from around the nation and the world, in a peaceful, safe and unifying environment that creates goodwill, community pride, happiness and enjoyment for residents and visitors, enhancing the perception of the Midlands as “The Real Southern Hot Spot.”
The Midlands region of South Carolina becomes more widely acknowledged as an ideal place to live, work, play and visit, with increased tourism, elevated economic prosperity, and more vibrant, connected communities.
What started in 2011 as a New Year’s Eve street concert with a fireworks show has grown to a major, statewide celebration -- and catalyst for other happenings around the area surrounding the NYE holiday -- set amidst the capital city’s historic downtown dining and shopping districts, with multiple hotels within blocks of the festivities. In 2016, for example, more than 24,000 guests attended from 48 states and 11 countries.
Guests can walk to the event from downtown hotels or take shuttles from special park-and-ride locations; choose from hundreds of restaurants, bars and cafes; and enjoy special holiday hours at top attractions such as Riverbanks Zoo. Corporate citizens, businesses, non-profits, and public entities have joined in the fun to host their own events before, during and after the Famously Hot New Year celebration.
The influx of tens of thousands of people in Columbia’s downtown area has resulted in a significant economic boost for local and regional hotels, restaurants and businesses. The event is completely free to attendees and is funded by both public and private partnerships. In 2020, the event was held virtually.