Revellers can look forward to free food and drinks on Thursday night

Party-goers seeking to drown their sorrows after a year that many will want to forget, will be the focus of intense competition between hard-pressed pubs and nightclubs for their custom this New Year's Eve.

In a year that saw at least 30 nightclubs closing down, special offers include free or below-cost 'time-related' admission, complimentary drinks including champagne, and even free finger food.

Meanwhile, a Sunday Tribune survey reveals that some of the capital's best-known restaurants will be closed for the new year celebrations. But others were still willing to take bookings for a table of four with just over a week to go until the turn of the decade.

Traditionally, New Year's Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for the hospitality trade. But at the end of a very bad year for the trade, with many punters opting to drink at home or to socialise later in the evening, clubs are putting on a major push to attract revellers.

Barry O'Sullivan of the Irish Nightclub Industry Association said he believed this new year's eve celebrations will be "known for value".

Among the "punter friendly" initiatives of which he is aware are free entry before a certain time on the night to encourage people to drink on the club premises rather than at home.

"Everyone is trying to offer good value at the moment, and nightclubs are a good example of this," he said.

"The average number of drinks per person in nightclubs was two per person in 2008. I would say that has gone down further now.

"So nightclubs might charge the same admission but give the first drink free."

"In my experience there is a 20-25% premium on new year's eve. But I certainly don't think the [new year's eve] premium is still there to the same extent... A number of clubs are making time- related offers. I think it is still a premium night, and I'm sure there are clubs that are going to charge more. But I don't think it's going to be a huge premium in ­general."

Among the new year's eve special offers advertised in Dublin this year is €100 – or around €17 each – for a guaranteed table of six at the popular Solas bar on Dublin's Wexford Street. In return, guests are entitled to a complimentary bottle of champagne and finger food.

A number of well known restaurants, including Pat­rick Guilbaud's, Thornton's, L'Ecrivain and Chapter One, all said they were not open on New Year's Eve when the Sunday Tribune contacted them in the middle of last week to enquire about a table for four on that evening.

But others, such as Frankie's Steakhouse and Bar [formerly Fitzers] in Temple Bar, and the Chat­ham Brasserie had tables available.