The Best Spots to Spend New Year’s in Every State from The Best Spots to Spend New Year’s in Every State
The Best Spots to Spend New Year’s in Every State
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/The Active Times
The Best Spots to Spend New Year’s in Every State
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/The Active Times
New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays that is celebrated in nearly every corner of the world. Americans, in particular, really know how to ring in the new year with city-wide parties, fantastic fireworks, and interesting countdown traditions.
In every one of the country’s 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., you’ll find that locals are well and truly ready for a brand-new beginning, starting with the ultimate celebration. While New York City’s Times Square leads the country with its famous ball drop, many cities have their own drop featuring an object that best represents local culture and tradition. Other places welcome in the new year with impressively over-the-top parades or breathtaking fireworks displays. You shouldn’t have to dread celebrating New Year’s Eve at yet another boring house party or spending it alone watching the ball drop from your couch. Look forward to a better year by attending the best New Year’s celebration in your state.
Alabama: MoonPie Over Mobile (Mobile)
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Every New Year’s Eve, over 50,000 people descend on downtown Mobile where a 600-pound MoonPie sign drops at midnight to welcome the new year. Leading up to the countdown, you can enjoy food trucks, a parade, and live music, while midnight brings on the ball drop, a laser light show, and fireworks.
Alaska: Anchorage New Year’s Eve Celebration (Anchorage)
Roy Neese/Visit Anchorage
Visit the friendly city of Anchorage, where New Year’s Eve festivities kick off after sunset in Town Square Park with a dance party. Through the rest of the evening, you’ll find a kid’s ice gallery, plenty of food vendors, and entertaining street performers and musicians. Enjoy the 3D light projections all around Town Square until the party culminates in a kid-friendly fireworks show at 8 p.m.
Arizona: Flannel Ball (Phoenix)
Courtesy of Flannel Ball
Located in the Roosevelt Row Arts District of Phoenix, Flannel Ball is a New Year’s Eve party and art show in which locals and savvy travelers celebrate the coming year dressed in their best plaid flannel wear. Enjoy live music from local bands, art on display from local artists, lawn games, food trucks, a photo booth, a piñata drop, and a midnight toast.
Arkansas: Last Night Fayetteville (Fayetteville)
Last Night Fayetteville is a music and arts festival held in the college town of Fayetteville, taking place in its historic Downtown Square. Indoor venues around the square hold live performances featuring local artists, and midnight is marked by a Hog Drop and fireworks, after which you can join the official afterparty. While the festival is taking break for 2019, the party will be back on for New Year’s Eve 2020.
California: Rose Parade (Pasadena)
Officially known as the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Rose Parade is held every year on New Year’s Day or the day after if January 1 is on a Sunday. Flower-covered floats, equestrian units and marching bands travel the five and a half miles down Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard, which is lined by hundreds of thousands of spectators. Millions more watch on television in over 100 countries and international territories. The parade was first put on in 1890, and the Rose Bowl college football game was added to the festivities in 1902 and is played every year after the parade in order to help fund the cost. Each year the parade also has a theme, with the 2019 theme being “The Melody of Life.”
Colorado: White Rose Gala (Denver)
Sold out every year for the last 16 New Year’s Eves, the White Rose Gala is held at the Elle Caukins Opera House in downtown Denver. The Roaring ‘20s-themed charity event features over 50 musical and theatrical performances and raises money for the Global Orphan Foundation. Dress in your best flapper outfit or 1920s suit and hat, and explore the venue’s five floors full of live music, art installations, and blackjack and craps tables.
Connecticut: First Night Hartford (Hartford)
Andy Hart photographer
Now in its 30th year, downtown Hartford’s First Night celebration is an alcohol-free arts festival that features multiple local musicians, artists, and other performers, as well as exhibits people of all ages can enjoy. Enjoy two different great fireworks shows, one at 6 p.m. and another at midnight, in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.
Delaware: Docklands Riverfront (Wilmington)
An open bar and dinner buffet graces the popular New Year’s Eve celebration at this Wilmington restaurant. At Docklands Riverfront, you can enjoy live bands and a dance floor, as well as lounge seating if you’re willing to pay extra.
Florida: Walt Disney World (Orlando)
There’s no place more magical than Walt Disney World, and what better way to welcome in the New Year than with wonder and enchantment? Each one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World has its own New Year’s celebrations, and both Epcot and Magic Kingdom have spectacular fireworks displays, the latter’s “Fantasy in the Sky” being particularly famous for its awe-inspiring show of lights, music, and color surrounding Cinderella Castle
Georgia: Peach Drop (Atlanta)
Celebrate New Year’s in the Peach State with Atlanta’s famous Peach Drop. From 1989 through 2017, festivities were held in the Underground Atlanta shopping district until the event moved to Woodruff Park, with the 800-pound peach being dropped from the Flatiron Building since New Year’s 2018. Famous artists and other celebrities have been known to perform at previous Peach Drops, drawing a crowd of about 100,000 people to enjoy music, food and confetti until midnight.
Hawaii: Hilton Hawaiian Village (Honolulu)
Hilton Hawaiian Village
The Hilton Hawaiian Village resort at Waikiki Beach has the most ultimately Hawaiian celebrations for ringing in the New Year. Their official New Year’s Eve Celebration starts with a four-course dinner that is followed by a live music show and ends with fireworks. The resort also has a New Year’s Eve outdoor luau featuring live music and traditional Hawaiian, Samoan, and Tahitian dance, as well as knife dancing and a delicious holiday feast.
Idaho: Potato Drop (Boise)
Idahoans are pretty serious about their potatoes, so it’s no surprise that Boise celebrates the new year with a Potato Drop at the Idaho State Capitol. Enjoy huge Idaho potatoes, a great fireworks show, live music, and a snow park and rail jam as part of the festivities before watching a giant potato drop from the sky at midnight.
Illinois: Navy Pier (Chicago)
Taking place in the Aon Grand Ballroom of the Navy Pier Auditorium, the annual Resolution Gala is the best place to celebrate New Year’s in Chicago with fantastic views of the city’s skyline and Lake Michigan. Enjoy a live DJ and a dance floor as well as a delicious buffet inside a beautiful and spacious ballroom that fits 2,000 people. Countdown to midnight and revel in the spectacular fireworks over Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier.
Indiana: The Indy Masquerade (Indianapolis)
Bring your fanciest mask to the Indianapolis Union Station for the Indy Masquerade, a New Year’s Eve celebration with quite a bit of intrigue. Spend time among other well-dressed and mysterious individuals listening to live jazz and a DJ. There’s quite a lot going on at this gala, which includes a casino room, dueling pianos, magicians, ballroom dancing lessons, stand-up comedy performances, and signature cocktails exclusive to the event. The event also promises not just one, but three countdown surprises at 10 p.m., 11 p.m., and midnight.
Iowa: Des Moines Symphony Orchestra (Des Moines)
Des Moines Symphony/Yelp
For over 80 years, the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra has enriched and inspired Iowans culturally, and on New Year’s Eve, they continue to bring entertainment by ringing in the New Year with the sweet sounds of strings. Their annual New Year’s Eve Pops is the top event of the night in central Iowa, and this year’s show features Broadway hits from world-famous shows such as “West Side Story,” “Wicked,” and “Chicago.”
Kansas: Botanica (Wichita)
A botanical garden in Wichita, Botanica is home to Illuminations, the top holiday lights display in the state. New Year’s Eve is the last night for visitors to enjoy this wonderfully lit display, and the garden also hosts a great fireworks display. Families are welcome, and there’s even a bar serving adult beverages.
Kentucky: Fourth Street Live! (Louisville)
Fourth Street Live/Yelp
Louisville’s biggest New Year’s Eve bash is located at Fourth Street Live!, an area in downtown Louisville that’s home to 20 different dining, entertainment, and retail venues. Enjoy live music, dancing, confetti, party favors, a balloon drop, and a midnight ball drop to ring in 2019.
Louisiana: Jackson Square (New Orleans)
The main New Year’s Eve celebration in New Orleans is located in the historic Jackson Square, a common site for large local events. Congregate with locals and eager visitors alike to enjoy live music and partying. At midnight, the square has a fleur-de-lis drop in true New Orleans style, after which the crowd can revel in fantastic fireworks set off over the Mississippi River.
Maine: Downtown Countdown (Bangor)
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Enjoy live music and visit the many local shops and restaurants in Westmarket Square for music performances and comedy shows at Bangor’s Downtown Countdown celebration. The family-friendly event also includes arts and crafts, most notably making your own crown and tiara so you can look your best when the ball drops.
Maryland: New Year’s Eve Spectacular (Baltimore)
Visit Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for the city’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular which features live music revelers can dance to starting at 9 p.m. Midnight is marked by fireworks set off from two barges in the harbor, with 15 minutes of amazing pyrotechnics set to music that can be viewed from along the entire Inner Harbor.
Massachusetts: First Night Boston (Boston)
The nation’s original First Night celebration, First Night Boston has been running since December 31, 1975, founded as a way to ring in the new year with art and music rather than an emphasis on alcohol. Free and open to everyone, much of the festivities take place in Back Bay and Copley Square, with indoor venues hosting cultural and musical performances, and guests having the opportunity to enjoy other attractions such as wonderful light displays and ice sculptures, as well as fireworks that take place earlier in the evening as well as at midnight over Boston Harbor.
Michigan: The Drop (Detroit)
The city of Detroit prides itself on its recent rebirth, which makes a celebration of new beginnings especially special in the Motor City. Located in downtown, the party is too big for an indoor venue and consists of live music, lights shows, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, food trucks and other delicious vendors, fire pits, and more. At midnight, a big ‘D’ drops down with the countdown, and those with kids can come earlier for the Kids Zone and Kids’ Drop which includes karaoke, balloon animals, face painting, and much more.
Minnesota: Crystal Ball (Minneapolis)
Located on the 50th floor of the 57-floor IDS Tower — the tallest building in Minneapolis — the Crystal Ball is the hottest New Year’s Eve party in the Twin Cities. Dance to live DJs, enjoy a hysterical piano duel, sing your own tune in the piano karaoke lounge, relax in the impressive lounge areas, or play all sorts of interactive LED games or arcade games in the game room. Only for people ages 21 and up, the Crystal Ball’s dress code is “dress to impress,” so make sure you wear your finest digs for the new year.
Mississippi: Oyster Ball Drop (Biloxi)
Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum/Yelp
Tickets to the Oyster Ball Drop at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi are limited to just 400, so the earlier you reserve the better. The night features live music, delicious hors d’oeuvres and a full bar, as well as fireworks to end the night and party favors and beignets to go.
Missouri: New Year's Swingin’ Eve (Kansas City)
Located at Kansas City’s historic Union Station, New Year’s Swingin’ Eve is a celebration full of swinging and dancing to live retro music while you enjoy drinks and appetizers, as well as Champagne at midnight. Take on the two big dance areas all night and enjoy a balloon drop at midnight right after the countdown. VIP tickets include access to a “speakeasy setting” where you’ll have Champagne all night and access to an unlimited premium bar, and heavier hors d’oeuvres as well as a coffee bar.
Montana: Whitefish Mountain Resort (Whitefish)
A ski resort where things can already get kind of intense any time of year, Whitefish Mountain Resort keeps up its extreme spirit on New Year’s Eve too. The resort holds a rail jam event in which up to 60 skiers and snowboarders can compete for a $1,000 cash prize, followed by a torchlight parade open only to intermediate to expert skiers or snowboarders. Enjoy live music with your mulled wine, cold beer, or hot cocoa and enjoy fireworks directly after the parade.
Nebraska: Holiday Lights Festival (Omaha)
Omaha’s Holiday Lights Festival takes over more than 40 blocks of the downtown section of the city, and New Year’s Eve is the grand finale. At around 7 p.m., thousands of spectators gather for the festival’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular in which the pyrotechnics are choreographed to music — those in attendance are encouraged to tune into local station STAR 104.5 for the full experience.
Nevada: Stratosphere (Las Vegas)
There’s a lot going on at Stratosphere Casino & Hotel on New Year’s Eve, making it the hottest party in Las Vegas. Join the 108 Party in the Sky, located on the 108th-floor observation deck, where there’s a three-hour unlimited open bar and plenty of entertainment, as well as an amazing view of the midnight fireworks that go off after the complimentary Champagne toast. For a party that goes even later into the night, you can check out the 107 Skylounge Celebration which has much of the same until midnight but an available cash bar open until 4 a.m. For a nicer and possibly quieter time, you can also book a reservation at the romantic Top of the World restaurant.
New Hampshire: First Night Portsmouth (Portsmouth)
Portsmouth is a pretty hip city with quite a bit going on both indoors and outdoors as part of its First Night celebrations. All evening and until midnight, there’s a street dance hosted by Portsmouth Community Radio in Market Square where the countdown is held. Until then, there’s stargazing held at the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, an evening fireworks display at the South Mill Pond, an ice sculptures on display in the square. Various indoor venues host events such as magic shows, face painting, live music of many different genres and for all ages.
New Jersey: First Night Ocean County (Seaside Heights)
A daytime event held on New Year’s Eve from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., First Night Ocean City takes place along the Seaside Heights boardwalk with fun and games for people of all ages, and fireworks going off at the end of the festival. Attractions at this Near Year’s Bash include a balloonist, face painter, jugglers, magicians, and arts and crafts, as well as a show by Point Pleasant Beach’s Jenkinson’s Aquarium.
New Mexico: Chile Drop (Las Cruces)
New Mexicans take their chile peppers very seriously, and in Las Cruces, they make sure to incorporate this local favorite into their yearly festivities. A 19-foot chrome chile with 400 feet of LED lighting is dropped at midnight after an evening full of delicious local food trucks, live music, and dancing.
New York: Times Square (New York City)
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There’s nothing more iconic on New Year’s Eve than the ball drop in Times Square. At least 1 million people congregate in midtown Manhattan, and big screens assist those who can’t get close enough to the Times Square Ball, which, measures 12 feet in diameter, weighs nearly 12,000 pounds, contains almost 2,700 Waterford crystal panels and is lit by over 32,000 LED lamps. Crowd control and security measures in recent years have made the event more organized and easier to manage for officials and spectators alike, although one should be prepared for potentially freezing temperatures during the wait. Make sure you get there hours ahead of time for a good spot, and remember that you won't be able to leave even to go to the bathroom or else you'll lose your spot. It can be hectic and a bit tiring, but it's definitely a bucket list Manhattan experience.
North Carolina: Gold Nugget Drop (Marion)
Located about 35 miles east of Asheville, the quaint small town of Marion has its own unique New Year’s Eve tradition. After festivities which include music, wagon rides, local brews and wines for adults to enjoy, and a Comic Con costume contest, a 6-foot gold nugget is dropped into a 10-foot freshly baked doughnut that the crowd can join then enjoy.
North Dakota: Midnight in Wonderland (Grand Forks)
Hosted by Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, Midnight in Wonderland is an Alice in Wonderland-themed gala that includes hors d’oeuvres, drinks, dancing and entertainment in the form of a hypnotist and charity raffle auctioning off treats from local businesses, with proceeds going towards child victims of neglect and abuse. Enjoy a decadent dessert table and make sure to dress your best.
Ohio: Hocking Valley Scenic Railway (Nelsonville)
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Celebrate New Year’s Eve in one of the gems of the American heartland by taking a ride with the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. Riders can purchase tickets which include pizza and soda or wine and cheese during a two-hour, 20-mile trip, as well as a fireworks display.
Oklahoma: Opening Night (Oklahoma City)
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Hosted by the Arts Council Oklahoma City, Opening Night is a family-friendly event held in downtown Oklahoma City where one will find local bands, entertainment, and a children’s craft and performance area to enjoy as part of the celebrations. The festivities will now also include a New Year’s Cheers tent in which guests 21 and older can drink adult beverages. Starting with a 5K race, the night ends with spectacular midnight fireworks.
Oregon: Champagne Ball (Portland)
Paul Brown Photography
Dress in your best and head over to the Hilton Portland for an upscale event that’s the best in the entire city. Tickets to the Champagne Ball mean you can enjoy great food and live music from a band as well as multiple DJs, party in four individually-themed rooms, and take advantage of the venue’s 17 different bars.
Pennsylvania: Mummers Parade (Philadelphia)
Said to be the oldest folk festival in the country, the Mummers Parade has been Philadelphia’s way of celebrating the New Year for nearly 120 years. Every year on January 1, more than 10,000 people take part in the parade, and local clubs known as “New Years Associations” compete in five categories — Comics, Fancies, Fancy Brigades, String Bands, and Wench Brigades — with amazingly lavish costumes, performances, and moveable scenery.
Rhode Island: One Providence (Providence)
Hosted by the city of Providence itself, One Providence is a free event open to all. It takes place at Waterplace Park, featuring the city’s first-ever outdoor ball drop, as well as fireworks and a laser light show. Those willing to shell out for a VIP experience will have access to an indoor event at Skyline at Waterplace, where they’ll have access to a valet, dinner, dessert, and additional entertainment as well as a rooftop party.
South Carolina: Yorktown Countdown (Charleston)
An exclusive event located on the historic aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the Yorktown Countdown offers 15,000 square feet of heated tent space on the ship’s flight deck, giving you fantastic views of the Charleston Harbor. Enjoy local cuisine, an all-inclusive top-shelf bar, and plenty of live performances from local bands and DJs playing all sorts of music.
South Dakota: Main Street Square (Rapid City)
Situated in the heart of downtown Rapid City, Main Street Square is a wonderful public space for you to spend any holiday in Rapid City. On New Year’s Eve, the square’s ice rink turns into a full-on dance party with music, different lights on the ice, interactive games, and tons of more fun.
Tennessee: Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight (Nashville)
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Sponsored by Jack Daniel’s, Music City Midnight is the most quintessentially Nashville New Year’s Eve bash. Free to the public, the event often features musical performances by big-time artists; this year's celebration will feature Keith Urban, Brett Young, Peter Frampton and more. At countdown, a 16-foot red music note drops slowly from 140 feet, setting off fireworks and confetti cannons once it comes all the way down at midnight.
Texas: Austin’s New Year (Austin)
Hosted by the Austin Convention Center, Austin’s New Year is a free family-friendly event with no alcohol but tons of kid-friendly activities and yummy food trucks. Enjoy music and art from the local creative scene, and enjoy fireworks at midnight.
Utah: Last Hurrah (Salt Lake City)
Have your last hurrah of the year at Last Hurrah, Salt Lake City’s premier New Year’s Eve event located at the Gateway, an outdoor mall complex, and featuring live music throughout the night. Before the countdown at midnight, you can also enjoy the family-friendly game room and karaoke lounge, as well as the 21-and-up pop-up bar featuring local brews and craft cocktails.
Vermont: First Night North (St. Johnsbury)
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If you’re daring enough to brave the northern Vermont cold, First Night North is an impressive celebration to end the year. With over 250 artists putting on over 80 shows, the festivities feature eight hours’ worth of entertainment, all family-friendly and alcohol-free. You’ll find all kinds of music here, as well as stand-up comedy, fire artists, dancing, planetarium shows, and more. At midnight, a ball 13 feet in diameter — bigger than the one of Times Square fame — and decked out in high-tech lighting will drop from the air before an awe-inspiring fireworks display.
Virginia: Kings Dominion (Doswell)
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Not only is Kings Dominion home to some of the best rides in America, but it’s also home to the most thrilling New Year’s Eve celebration in Virginia. Holding its usual WinterFest activities starting at 4 p.m., the popular amusement park will start up its New Year’s party at 10 p.m. featuring live bands and DJs with fireworks at midnight.
Washington: Seattle Center (Seattle)
Throughout the season, Seattle Center hosts Winterfest, an event filled with entertainment, kid-friendly attractions, and holiday lights, as well as an ice rink and ice sculpting. The last night of Winterfest is a New Year’s Eve Celebration which features a live band as well as a Fountain of Light dance party at International Fountain, featuring live electronic music and a video projection show.
Washington, DC: International Spy Gala
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There’s no cooler place to pretend to be an international spy than the national capital; infiltrate the Washington Plaza Hotel where a black-tie optional party with lavish spy-themed décor and entertainment creates a world of intrigue. In addition to a live band and six DJs, the party includes a mock casino, gold “spy girls,” male “spy dancers,” themed ice sculptures, Champagne all night, party favors, and a midnight toast, as well as two balloon drops, and a live feed to the Times Square ball drop.
West Virginia: Downtown Countdown (Princeton)
Located in downtown Princeton, West Virginia, the Downtown Countdown celebration takes place both outside as well as inside seven different venues. Enjoy ice sculpting, fire dancing, live art and music, face painting, a scavenger hunt, a gaming theatre, and more.
Wisconsin: Big Cheese Drop (Plymouth)
Hosted by the Plymouth Arts Center, the famous annual Big Cheese Drop is an iconic event in the Cheese Capital of the World. Every year, a decorated 80-pound cheese wedge is dropped at midnight from a 100-foot ladder truck. Refreshments are available for revelers, and admission is free.
Wyoming: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (Teton Village)
People of all ages can participate in and enjoy the festivities at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, where the Glow Worm Parade meets at 4:45 p.m. Participating kids up to the age of 14 can have their own version of a torchlight parade using glow sticks. This is followed by the main Torchlight Parade at 6 p.m., after which there are fireworks. Guests then head over to the Gondi-Gala, a party at the top of the resort’s Bridger Gondola that features live music, dancing and a midnight Champagne toast. The gondola will run throughout the party, so make sure you dress warmly for this top winter destination.
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