For some, end-of-the-world rumors are just one more excuse to party.
With Dec. 21, the supposed date of the Mayan apocalypse, fast approaching — and on a Friday, no less! — plenty of locales are prepping for doomsday bashes, marking the day with food, drink and a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek apocalypticism.
Where will you spend Dec. 21? Read on for some options, from the hedonistic to the educational. (By the way, the world is not going to end on Friday. You can keep up with the mania and the debunking on our Mayan non-apocalypse page.)
1. T.G.I. Friday's celebrates the end
Yep, the restaurant chain with Friday in its name can't resist a Friday doomsday. Want to spend your last night on Earth blowing your diet? T.G.I. Friday's has an "end of the world" menu featuring such delicacies as "The Last First Bite" (pretzels with cheese dipping sauce) and "The Final Countdown" (a toffee cake topped with butterscotch whiskey sauce). What do these things have to do with the Maya? Who knows, but the restaurant is also throwing "block parties" at locations in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, Tampa and Orlando. [Top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Worlds]
2. Party down in NYC
The Bowery Hotel in Manhattan is using the Mayan apocalypse as an excuse for a similarly non-Maya-themed event, featuring music, comedy, art and a magician. The event, which begins at 7 p.m. ET, falls under the general category of doomsday parties that could be described as, "Eh, we were going out anyway."
The party fliers feature a black-and-white extraterrestrial with the words, "Aliens are coming," based on the painting "They're Coming to Save Us" by Ryan Cronin, adding an appropriately apocalyptic flair. In both France and Serbia, UFO believers are reportedly flocking to mountains allegedly frequented by alien spacecraft, hoping to be saved from doom.
3. Hunker down in a Russian bunker
Let's face it: No T.G.I. Friday's or hot hotel bar is going to save you from annihilation when doomsday comes. But a Russian bunker might do the trick.
For $1,000, you could get yourself a ticket to spend Dec. 21 under Earth, that is, 184 feet (56 meters) underground in Bunker 42, a Cold War-era bunker in Moscow. The bunker, now a museum and tourist attraction, is throwing a daylong party on Dec. 21 that will include tours, educational talks on the apocalypse and even a kid's room for cartoon watching.
"A lot of people would feel much calmer if they could spend this critical day enjoying maximum comfort and safety, and who are we to say no?" bunker tour guide Alexei Pavlovsky told Reuters UK.
4. Private party in a pod
For the serious doomsday connoisseur, of course, a bunker filled with hundreds of strangers is not going to cut it. Luckily, an entrepreneur in China has created apocalypse "survival pods," which come equipped with all the essentials: Food, water and oxygen tanks. You and 13 of your closest friends could spend Dec. 21 rocking and rolling in one of these pods, which go for a mere $48,000 apiece.
5. Soak in some real Mayan culture in Central America
If all this doomsday talk has you rolling your eyes, exercise your history-buff side at one of the many Mayan festivals taking place across Central America. The Mayan Empire may have crumbled more than 1,000 years ago, but the Maya people are still going strong, and many of them take the end of the calendar very seriously, seeing it as a day of peace or a new beginning for environmental awareness. [In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]
Mexico's Playa Del Carmen will host a 24-hour party called "Day Zero," while Belize is offering special opportunities to tourists at Maya sites such as the normally restricted Caracol. Guatemala's Culture Ministry is planning a 90,000-person celebration on the 21st in Guatemala City, while a "New Dawn for Humanity" summit is planned in the ruins of the ancient Maya city of Tikal. This particular site has a secondary draw, as it's the place from which Luke Skywalker launched an attack on the Death Star in the movie "Star Wars: A New Hope." That makes Tikal a mecca for both doomsday believers and Star Wars enthusiasts, according to Reuters.
Note that some of these celebrations have been criticized as exploitative by the Maya people. More than half of Guatemala's population is of Mayan descent, but the group has traditionally been disenfranchised. In that country, Felipe Gomez, who leads the Maya alliance Oxlaljuj Ajpop has protested the government's planned events, calling them disrespectful to Maya culture, according to AFP. The Maya people do not believe that the world is going to end on Dec. 21, and many have been frustrated by the misunderstandings about the date.
Editor's Note: If you take a photo of a Dec. 21 event that you'd like to share with LiveScience for a possible story or gallery, please send it, along with your comments, to email@example.com.
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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.