Last year I celebrated my first New Years in Panama and it was such a fun experience. We arrived to Isabella nightclub around 11 and one of the biggest differences that I noticed was that no one really arrived to the nightclub until about 1am. Normally in the US people arrive before 12 in order to make it for the New Year countdown. But Panama is much more family oriented and I learned that people celebrate the New Year countdown with their family at their house and then go out to the bars and clubs together. So at 1am there were entire families arriving to the nightclub: parents, grandparents, young children, aunts, uncles, etc. It was very different to see this instead of the usual 20 to 30 year old crowd at Isabella. We would periodically take breaks to go on the outside terrace and enjoy the view of fireworks exploding all around the city (most of them exploding just inches away from a highrise). I had a great night and we ended up leaving as the sun was rising.
To really maximize your New Years in Panama, here are the top 3 parties taking place. You need to buy your tickets in advance or expect to pay up to triple the price the day of the event: