The new year is three days away, and New Year's Eve celebrations are here to help you celebrate.
Along with all holidays and celebrations this year being a bit different, New Year's Eve is looking to be the same. Although most events can be found virtually this year, some Austin venues will be hosting a socially-distanced experience.
Here are nine events you can participate in to kick off the new year.
Austin's New Year
You can start celebrating New Year's Eve early this year from the comfort of your own home by attending Austin's New Year virtual event.The event features a lineup on local musicians performing at some of Austin's most iconic venues and will be streamed for free on YouTube, the city of Austin's Facebook and IGTV, online and cable TV. The lineup includes Shakey Graves, Parker McCollum, Gina Chavez, Como Las Movies, Swimming With Bears, BettySoo, Rob Baird and Jake Lloyd. The local musicians will perform at some of Austin's most iconic venues such as Antone's, Cheer Up Charlies, The Continental Club, Mohawk and The Saxon Pub. More information on Austin's New Year can be found here.
The Jungle Show: Live Streaming from Antone's
The annual Jungle Show will be a live stream this year featuring ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan, Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, Sue Foley and B3 giant Mike Flanigin playing from the iconic Austin venue Antone's. The tickets for the virtual event range from $25-$200, depending on if you want to purchase some merchandise along with your ticket. The stream will be broadcasted on New Year's Eve at 7 and 10 p.m. More information on The Jungle Show and tickets can be found here.
Snoop Dogg Virtual New Year's Eve Special
Snoop Dogg will be hosting a virtual New Year's Eve party that can be tuned in from anywhere in the world. The free event will start at 10 p.m. featuring appearances from Go Big Show judges Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Nettles, Cody Rhodes and Bert Kreischer. More information on the event and how to RSVP can be found here.
Virtual Times Square Ball Drop
After 114 years of crowds and the infamous New York City ball drop, the event will take place virtually. In September, the Times Square Alliance announced that the New Year's Eve celebration will still take place, despite the pandemic. This year, an app was developed to help guests celebrate virtually by creating a personalized avatar, exploring a virtual Times Square, playing games and live streaming the countdown to midnight from the comfort of your homes. More information on the event can be found here.
Docs Drive In Theatre
Doc's Drive In Theatre, in Buda, is having a movie marathon for any homebody looking to leave their home this New Year's Eve. Doc's will show "Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse," "Sing," "Boogie Nights" and "The Great Gatsby" followed by a firework show going into midnight. Tickets are $25 per car for each showing. More information on the event and tickets can be found here.
Speakeasy's New Year's Eve Bash
Speakeasy, located at 412 Congress Avenue, is hosting their annual New Year's Eve Bash with a socially-distanced experience for guests to celebrate the new year safely. The annual event will have live music from local DJs and bands, party favors including festive hats and noisemakers and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Tickets range from $91-$150. More information on the event and tickets can be found here.
Hotel Van Zandt Presents: Twenty Twenty Done
This year, Hotel Van Zandt, located at 605 Davis St., is offering an in-person New Years' Eve experience including a cocktail soiree, games and a one night stay at the hotel. Along with the one night accommodation at the hotel, the event features four craft cocktails per person, games and a distanced seating area for guests to enjoy live music from a local DJ. Only one ticket option is still available for the event, which features three rooms at the Van Zandt for six people for $1,1169. More information on the event and tickets can be found here.
New Year's Eve Bash at The White Horse
Celebrate New Year's Eve at the White Horse, located at 500 Comal St., with local musicians to countdown to midnight. The 21-and-up event will have live music, drinks and food to purchase. The lineup includes Garret T Capps, Mayeux & Broussard and Kathryn Legendre for a $10 cover charge. More information on the event and tickets can be found here.
House of Tones NYE Masquerade featuring OFFAIAH
House of Tones is throwing a special New Year's Eve masquerade party this year featuring OFFAIAH, Special K, JDS and Star Force to end your year right. The event will be located at Pinballz Kingdom in Buda to offer a socially distanced experience for guests as they count down to midnight. Along with performers, the event will have lasers, vendors, VIP tables, arcades, food and more starting at 8 p.m. General admission tickets range from $40-$50. More information on the event and tickets can be found here.
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By Reese Oxner
Texas is planning to add enough electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state to support 1 million electric vehicles with dozens of new stations to allow for easier long-distance travel.
In a draft plan released this month, the Texas Department of Transportation broke down a five-year plan to create a network of chargers throughout the state, starting along main corridors and interstate highways before building stations in rural areas.
The plan is to have charging stations every 50 miles along most non-business interstate routes.
In most other areas in the state, there will be charging stations within 70 miles, according to the plan. Each station is designed to have multiple stalls so there will likely be one available whenever someone stops to charge.
The chargers will be high-powered at 150kW, able to bring most electric vehicles from 10% to 80% in about half an hour, according to the report.
The funding is coming from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last year, which is estimated to allocate about $408 million over five years to Texas for the purpose of expanding its electric vehicle charging network. No funds from the state budget will be used. Nationally, the goal is to create a network of 500,000 convenient and reliable electric vehicle chargers by 2030. In total from the infrastructure act, Texas is expected to receive about $35.44 billion over five years for roads, bridges, pipes, ports, broadband access and other projects.
Less than 1% of Texans’ registered vehicles are electric. As of May 31, there were 129,010 electric vehicles registered in Texas, according to the report.
“However, since 2020, the total number of electric vehicles across Texas has nearly tripled as more people adopt the technology,” TxDOT stated in its report. “With rapidly growing adoption rates, it is necessary to ensure Texas will be able to meet the demand of these new vehicles on the road.”
The state is gathering public comment on the plan, after which it will be finalized. To receive the funds, TxDOT must submit a finalized plan by Aug. 1 to the Federal Highway Administration.
Officials plan to award contracts for construction starting in January.
During the first year of implementation, Texas plans to add around 48 new locations to satisfy the 50-mile FHWA requirement. This is in addition to 27 existing private sector locations and 26 planned locations funded by a separate grant.
The next year, the focus will turn to stations in rural counties, small urban areas and areas advised by metropolitan planning organizations.
After that, during the third through fifth year of implementation, Texas will continue building out charging infrastructure in smaller and rural areas. The report states that charging stations might be equipped with a combination of solar and battery equipment to supplement their power supplies.
“Texas’ sheer volume of roadway miles leaves ample opportunity for EV charging deployment. The plan should ensure that every Texan can access the infrastructure they need to charge an EV,” Abbott wrote. “Additionally, I direct TxDOT and stakeholders to include in the plan a way for Texans to easily get from Beaumont to El Paso and Texline to Brownsville in an EV–with a focus on rural placement and connectivity.”
Chandra Bhat, a University of Texas transportation engineering professor and the director of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Center on Data-Supported Transportation Operations and Planning, said the additional charging stations are a welcome upgrade to Texas transportation. Some of Bhat’s research has been funded by TxDOT.
Bhat said there are several barriers to electric vehicle adoption by consumers: the upfront cost, anxiety over how far a driver can travel and the wait times for charging.
This new plan addresses range anxiety by providing many options only 50 miles apart — however, it doesn’t address cost or fully address wait times, he said. Although the planned chargers will be high speed, it still takes around half an hour, he said. A driver might not know how long they may have to wait if someone else is already using the stalls.
That uncertainty can cause consumers to pass on purchasing electric vehicles altogether, he said.
Bhat said he thinks allowing drivers to reserve charging stations at specific times might help reduce that uncertainty. But still, Bhat said he is optimistic that more people will adopt electric vehicles in Texas due to the planned infrastructure upgrades. He also hopes the state will invest in putting information in front of consumers about the increased availability of chargers.
“We will see a clear uptick in the next two or three years, I believe,” Bhat said. “And if we get an announcement that batteries are going to be lasting longer and are going to be less expensive, you're gonna see them bought by the droves.”
Active listings in Austin swelled by nearly 150% May 2021-2022 as the region begins to recover from the "dangerously low" housing inventory of the pandemic housing frenzy, according to the latest Austin Board of Realtors report.
For the first time since September 2020, the metro saw 1.2 months of available inventory, up from a critically low 0.4 months in early 2020. Still, median home prices continued their ascent and increased almost 20% year-over-year to tie April's record of $550,000.
Austin's inventory rose by 0.7 months form May 2021-2022. (Austin Board of Realtors)
While Austin's housing market has seen some signs of decline—residential home sales declined 6.7% year-over-year—available homes still spent 15 days on the market, a day less than May 2021. Texas A&M University research economist Adam Perdue said that while a crash is not imminent, prices should begin to stabilize as the number of available homes continues to increase.
“The Austin region saw dangerously low levels of inventory, as low as 0.4 months of inventory in January 2021, so this slight increase in inventory and active listings point to the market beginning to normalize," Perdue said. "While year-over-year price increases will continue to remain high, we project them to fall slightly lower than the long-term trend we’ve monitored over the past two years.”
Still, Perdue said that Austin's "bubble" isn't likely to burst anytime soon.
“The Austin housing market has experienced a multitude of factors that have influenced its current state, one of those being the high influx of companies and individuals migrating to the area both from within Texas and out-of-state, which has contributed to a strong and diverse economy attractive to people seeking opportunity," Perdue said. "These migrations of individuals and companies will continue to happen, especially as Austin is relatively affordable compared to some out-of-state markets when it comes to owning a home and operating a business."
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