First Night Hartford is coming, with face painting, fireworks, fortune tellers, folk music, funny improv comedy and hours of festive family fun on New Year’s Eve.
The 29th annual city tradition, which was saved from extinction this summer by a sizable private donation that made up for municipal funding cuts, will be held Dec. 31 in locations around downtown, from 2 p.m. to midnight.
Among the activities already scheduled are: face painting in the Old State House and the Center Church on Gold Street; fortune tellers at the Elks Club on Prospect Street; a grand procession starting at Bushnell Park Plaza; horse-drawn wagon rides starting at the Bushnell Park carousel; ice skating in Bushnell Park; slime making at the carousel; rides on the carousel; Kids Fest at the Old State House; hands-on art activities at Wadsworth Atheneum; dance parties on Trinity Street; a maze in Center Church; stand-up comedy by Sea Tea Improv at Central Baptist Church; fireworks at both 6 p.m. and midnight; and a variety of concerts throughout the day and evening.
The UConn women’s basketball team will play the Memphis Tigers that day at the XL Center starting at 1:30 p.m. The game isn’t part of First Night, but is a fun segue into the day of activities
A wristband — $12 for adults, $3 ages 3 to 15, free 2 and younger — will grant admission to the activities. (Some activities require additional fees.) The final day to buy one online is Dec. 26. A shipping charge of $2.50 will be added for each order.
Wristbands also can be bought in person in advance at the AAA branch offices in West Hartford, Avon, Cromwell, Enfield, Manchester, Plainville, Old Saybrook and Waterford; offices of CBT/Berkshire Bank in Farmington, Glastonbury, Newington, Rocky Hill, Vernon, West Hartford and Windsor; the CT Transit Information Booth in State House Square; Highland Park Markets in Farmington, Glastonbury, Manchester, South Windsor, Suffield and Coventry; at the Old State House; at the Radisson Hotel Hartford; and at Whole Foods in West Hartford.
For details and updates on activities, locations and times, to buy wristbands in advance and to find sites where wristbands will be sold on the day of the event, visit firstnighthartford.org.
You don’t have to spend every New Year’s Eve trying to make it to midnight. Here are five concerts to take in with copious amounts of bubbly, before and after the ball drops.
Max Creek: Connecticut’s groove-rock kings serve up party favors, a giant balloon drop and a continental breakfast, served with plenty of jams. Creamery Station opens. Toad’s Place, New Haven. 9 p.m. $25-$30. toadsplace.com
Robin Thicke: Musical “borrowings” (cough Marvin Gaye) aside, Thicke’s retro-soul stylings (and excellent coiff) might help us all lay 2017 to rest. Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville. 8 p.m. $39. mohegansun.com
The Samples: Dance all night to reggae-ish rock from the ‘90s, served with craft beer in a great-sounding venue, just a short train ride from NYC. The Warehouse, Fairfield. $65-$115. fairfieldtheatre.org
Tower of Power: Two blistering, classic-funk shows (7 p.m. and 9 p.m.) in the capital city with your pals seems almost too good to be true. Infinity Hall, Hartford. $74-$195. infinityhall.com
The B-52s: “Love Shack” was a monster party song in 1989. Really, wasn’t that a better year? Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket. 9 p.m. $55. foxwoods.com
Parties, Nightclubs And Restaurants
The New England Carousel Museum in Bristol hosts New Year's Eve with music and dancing courtesy of The Chaparrals from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. $40 per person. Reservations: 860-585-5411 and thecarouselmuseum.org
Powder Ridge in Middlefield hosts a New Year’s Eve celebration that starts with a Torchlight parade at 5 p.m. that
anyone with a lift pass can join. Participants should be at the top of the mountain by 4:45 and bring their own headlamps. A dinner party at Fire at the Ridge from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. includes a four course prix fixe dinner, a DJ, dancing and a champagne toast. Cash bar. $74. 860-852-5444. powderridgepark.com/
Cabaret at Cafe Nine in New Haven: New Haven drag queen Robin Banks and Cafe Nine invite you to their “Fully Loaded New Year’s Eve” burlesque bash starting at 9 p.m. Also joining the party will be burlesque dancers Vivienne LaFlamme and Dot Mitzvah and queens Loosey LaDuca and Mia E Z'Lay. $15. 21-plus crowd. cafenine.com
Murder Mystery Masquerade Cruise: from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Lady Katherine Cruises at Charter Oak Landing in Hartford. Tickets start at $165. More information: 866-867-4837; ladykatecruises.com
Saint Clement's Castle & Marina in Portland hosts a party from 7 p.m. to 1 p.m. with party favors, premium brand open bar, champagne toast at midnight, four-course menu, late-night snacks and a DJ. $130 per person. $99 room rate. stclementsevents.com/new-years-eve-ball
Playhouse on Park in West Hartford hosts a New Year’s Eve party from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m. that includes a performance of “Mama D's Christmas Stocking: Where's Santa?” The night starts with a pre-show reception in the Playhouse lobby that includes the show’s cast, wine, beer and appetizers. Guests then move into the theater for the performance, which ends in time for the clock to strike midnight. A champagne toast and desserts follow, as well as dancing and celebrating on stage. Tickets are $60 at the box office, at 860-523-5900 x10, and at playhouseonpark.org.
Saybrook Point Inn's annual New Year's Eve gala begins at 7:30 p.m., with raw bar, passed appetizers, a full sit-down meal and dancing to live music by The Cartells. The gala also features premium open bar, noisemakers, champagne toast at midnight and dessert, coffee and espresso stations. $139.95. Overnight packages are also available. 860-339-1327, saybrook.com.
At Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook, a New Year's dinner and party package, at $139 a person plus tax and gratuity, includes butler-passed hors d'oeuvres, premium open bar, a four-course dinner, live entertainment, dancing, and champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight. The event begins at 7 p.m. Overnight packages are available. 800-222-5901 or 860-399-5901; watersedgeresortandspa.com.
Farmington Gardens in Farmington hosts its annual New Year’s celebration, starting at 9 p.m. with passed hors d’oeuvres, raw bar, food stations, open bar with select wine, beer and liquor and a Veuve Clicquot champagne toast. Music by DJ Darth Fader, dancing, photo booth and late-night munchies. $95 before Dec. 26; $110 after. eventbee.com/v/farmingtongardens.
The Bond Ballroom in Hartford hosts a New Year’s Eve party with passed hors d’oeuvres, four-hour open bar with wine, beer and liquor; music by The POSSM and a DJ; champagne toast and midnight fireworks show. $125 before Dec. 20; $150 after. A portion of each ticket will be donated to support the Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital. ctnye.com.
Mohegan Sun rings in the New Year with myriad events: an all-night New Year’s Eve celebration at several locations.
The casino’s “Party into the New Year!” starts at 10:30 p.m. in the Uncas Ballroom, with dancing and music by NYC’s DJ PS1, an open bar, a champagne toast at midnight and a breakfast buffet. Tickets start at $100 at the box office and at ticketmaster.com. ($150 at the door). 21+ event. VIP reservations at 860-861-0744.
The Countdown Party at The Shops at Mohegan Sun runs from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with music spun by DJae Melee, a performance by The Jat Crew Dancers and a countdown to midnight that concludes with a pyrotechnic display.
VISTA Lounge’s party from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. features music by DJ Joe Moore. Tickets start at $60 at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. $100 at the door. Tickets include a champagne toast. 21-plus.
At Avalon, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., Tom Macari provides the music. Tickets $75 to $100 and include a champagne toast. ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000. VIP reservations at 860-862-7042. Mist’s party starts at 10 p.m. with DJ Johnny Shine. No cover. VIP reservations at 860-862-3663.
The Lansdowne Irish Pub & Music House features music by DJ Mike City starting at 9 p.m. Tickets start at $30 at the box office and at 860-862-7005. At Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, live music by the band Kick starts at 10 p.m. mohegansun.com.
At Foxwoods, Shrine’s party starts at 9 p.m. with music by DJ JD. $50. Hard Rock Cafe gets going at 10 p.m. ($30), featuring Darik and the Funbags. At High Rollers, tickets are $20, with a 9 p.m. start and music by DJ John Cardona. The action at Scorpion Bar starts at 9 p.m. with DJ Jay Spring. $50. foxwoods.com.