To ring in the New Year, do you like to stay home, watch Dick Clark and count down the drop of the ball at Times Square?
Or, do you like to dress up, stay out late and go somewhere fun? Or, do you like to go somewhere fun and not get dressed up?
We looked into your options for this year's New Year’s Eve festivities. You have many!
A long-standing tradition in Hartford is First Night, the area’s premier New Year’s Eve activity. A multi-cultural celebration of the arts, it actually begins during the day with ice skating and carousel rides in Bushnell Park. Fireworks are at 6 p.m. and again at midnight, also at Bushnell Park.
Affordable for the whole family and alcohol-free, the events spread throughout downtown Hartford include crafts for kids, street performers, ice carvings, live music and dancing, and much more. There are more than 30 performances at several venues within walking distance, beginning at 2 p.m. with the Kids Fest at the Old State House. Horse-drawn wagon rides are at Bushnell Park from 2-4:30 p.m.
A huge shredder will be available for any wanted memories of 2011, called “2011 Good Riddance.” (Bring what you can carry; no drive-ups allowed.) There will be scavenger hunts, history bingo and a performance by the Beatles tribute band, “Beatles Forever.”
New this year is an information booth at the corner of Main and Asylum Streets, which will be open from 2-10 p.m.
Tickets for First Night Hartford are $10 for adults and $2 for youths aged 3-15. Children under 2 are free. Tickets are available online at www.firstnighthartford.org, where you can also access a complete schedule of events and performers.
Another option is a new tradition this year called “Middnight” on Main 2012, taking place on Main Street in historic downtown Middletown. A $20 button ($10 for kids aged 2-10) provides access to a wide range of events from 3 p.m. to midnight. The event includes musical performances, dance performances, movement workshops, crafts, cooking, a magic show and a National Public Radio event with interviews with local artists and a radio adventure theater. Award-winning kids’ music performer Steve Roslonek, star of PBS Kids “SteveSongs,” will also perform.
Spread across four Main Street blocks, more than 100 events are easily accessible, and there will be a shuttle bus. At 6 p.m., there will be a fireworks display on the corner of Main and Washington Streets. There will also be Taiko drums leading up to the 2012 countdown with church bells ringing in the New Year.
Buttons may be purchased online at www.Middnight.org, where you can also find a schedule of events, or call (860) 638-2012.
Red’s Tavern at Nomads Adventure Quest, 100 Bidwell Road in South Windsor, is a unique place where families may spend the holiday. They are hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration from 7 p.m. – 3 a.m. There will be an appetizer buffet, live music, dancing, party favors, ball drop on projection screens, champagne toast, one drink ticket, free billiards and mechanical bull and half-price video games.
If you make online reservations in advance, admission is $25 for a single person, $40 for a couple, unlimited adventures for an extra $5 per person, unlimited video games for $7 per person and a 1 a.m. breakfast for $5 per person. (The $40 per couple offer is not available on the day of the event, and the price for unlimited adventures and video games slightly increases.)
To reserve tickets online, visit www.nomadsadventurequest.com or call (860) 282-7337.
India Kitchen in Manchester is sponsoring a New Year’s Eve celebration at The Bradley Hotel, 383 S. Center Street, Windsor Locks. From 6 p.m. until 2 a.m., there will be a special Indian buffet, cash bar, magic show for kids, and a separate ballroom with Indian DJ, special lighting and dancing. Adult tickets are $40; kids are $10 (free for children aged 5 and under).
Tickets are available at India Kitchen, 394 Tolland Tpke., in Manchester, 860- 553-9695 or online at www.indiakitchen.us.
Still in the Christmas spirit? Take a drive to see “Lights On Lovley,” a computerized Christmas light display set to seasonal songs, located in the Plantsville section of Southington. Drive up and tune your radio to 96.1 FM, sit back for 30 minutes and enjoy the synchronized spectacle of 30,000 dancing lights. The location is 14 Lovley Drive, and the time is 5-11 p.m. The cost is free, but donations of non-perishable food items for the Southington Food Pantry are welcome — drop off in the large colored box at the curb. The display closes on Jan. 2, the day after New Year's Day.
For more information, visit www.lightsonlovley.com
For the Grown-Ups
Celebrate New Year’s Eve 2012 at three of Hartford’s nightspots for just one price. Highlights include admission to The Russian Lady, Up or On The Rocks and The Great Hall After Party (12:30 a.m. until sunrise, located in the train station.)
A Black Pass (ages 18+) includes admission into Up Or on The Rocks and Great Hall After Party, with live performances with DJs, hor d’oeuvres from 9-11 p.m., party favors, live DJ Countdown to 2012 and continental breakfast at the Great Hall. Silver VIP admission includes an open bar from 8-11 p.m., complimentary champagne toast, party favors, top DJs, live countdown. The Gold VIP has all the benefits of the Silver Pass plus bottle service and mixers at your table (gratuity not included) and priority admission by separate VIP line.
To purchase tickets or for more information about ticket prices, visit www.nyehartford.eventbrite.com
A fun evening is planned at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, in West Hartford. Come dressed in character (not required but it should be fun!) to play along for an interactive murder mystery party on an imaginary luxury cruise liner entitled, “Murder on the High Seas.” The party includes beer and wine, hors d’oeuvres, champagne toast, coffee and dessert. It begins at 8 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m. Tickets are $55 per person and must be purchased in advance.
Call (860) 523-5900 ext. 10 or visit www.playhouseonpark.org for tickets and more information.
Enjoy some laughs at the City Steam Brewery Café in Hartford. The restaurant/bar at 942 Main Street, is hosting two comedians, Jon Fisch and Helen Hong, and will have a full dinner menu. The first show is at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) and costs $69.96 per person plus tax and 18 percent gratuity for the show, four-course dinner and dancing to Mick and Scott. The second show starts at 10:30 p.m. (doors open at 9:30 p.m.) The $30 cover charge includes dancing to Mick and Scott before and after the show. An a la carte menu is available until 11:30 p.m. Without the show, dinner in the dining room is $44.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity and dancing to Mick and Scott.
Tables are reserved for two-hour seatings. For reservations, call (860) 525-1600. City Steam Brewery Cafe is at 942 Main Street in Hartford.
Another option for comedy is at the Hartford Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant, 194 Buckland Hills Drive, in Manchester — more specifically, in the Buckland Hills Mall. They are hosting a New Year’s Eve bash starring comedians Joe List, Tom Dustin and Andy Hendrickson.
The first show starts at 7:30 p.m.; the second show is at 10 p.m. To attend only the comedy show it's $20, but for $50 the club is offering the show and a buffet dinner. The 10 p.m. seating will include watching the Times Square ball drop on a big screen. Patrons must be 21 or older and have a valid ID.
For reservations, call (860) 432-8600 or visit www.hartfordfunnybone.com.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Tex-Mex Cadillac Ranch in Southington. Doors open at 6 p.m. A $10 cover charge includes party favors, dance lessons at 8 p.m., champagne toast at midnight and games and prizes all night. The fun continues until closing at 3 a.m.
Cadillac Ranch is at 45 Jude Lane in Southington, exit 31 off I-84. Visit www.caddyranch.com or call (860) 621-8805.
In Avon, ring in the New Year at the late-night hot spot Hessian Lion. Come dressed for their “black-and-white” evening. A house-favorite band from New York, “Fifth Nation,” will perform at approximately 9 p.m. There’s no cover charge, and there will be drink specials and food served until 1 a.m. Hessian Lion offers what they call “pub grub.”
Hessian Lion is located by the U.S. Post Office, 10 East Main Street, Avon. Parking is in the rear of the building. Reservations are not necessary, but for more information, call (860) 404-2996.
The bar at the newly opened Lime Bar & Grill in Riverdale Farms Shopping Center in Avon will be open until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. Stop by and enjoy a champagne cocktail, says owner Marc Rietze, who noted the TVs will all be showing the ball dropping at midnight. Dinner will be the regular fare at the new restaurant, which includes burgers, wings, Italian sandwiches and calamari, said Rietze.
Lime Bar & Grill is at 136 Simsbury Road, in Avon. Call (860) 674-1400 for more information.
Also in Avon, Papacelle Ristorante in Riverdale Farms will once again celebrate New Year’s Eve with the band “Woof” and a special four-course meal, served at 7:30 p.m. The regular menu, which features Italian cuisine, is also available. At midnight, there will be a complimentary Prosecco (Italian champagne) toast. The cost is $65 per person.
Papacelle is at 152 Simsbury Road in Avon. Call (860) 269-312 for reservations and visit www.papacelle.com to see the special menu.
In West Hartford, the Emanuel Synagogue, 160 Mohegan Drive, is hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner/dance. The evening includes hot hors d’ouevres, dinner, dessert, dancing and set-ups — all for $36 per person. Unfortunately, reservations are now closed, but put it on your calendar for next year.
There is always the option of going out to dinner at your favorite restaurant (advance reservations are recommended), taking in a movie, or throwing your own party. And then again, there’s always “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest,” at 10 p.m. on ABC. It features Clark and Seacrest in Times Square with musical guests Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
If Dick Clark isn’t your cup of tea, try “American Country New Year’s Live” (11 p.m., Fox). The special, which comes from Las Vegas, will have performances by Lauren Alaina (“American Idol”) and Rodney Akins. Rock band Coldplay will headline “Austin City Limits” as a New Year’s Eve special (11 p.m., PBS), and Carson Daly will host his annual special from New York City (10 p.m., NBC).
Whatever you choose to do on Dec. 31, have a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!