New Year’s Eve is a night of celebration with enough entertainment choices to enjoy it any way the mood strikes you.
Whether you prefer activities for the entire family to enjoy, want to be in the middle of the action when the ball drops downtown or prefer to stay in with friends and family, the night is yours to ring in 2017.
Here are a few ideas.
RING IN THE NEW YEAR
Three larger events will help us say goodbye to 2016.
First Night Buffalo, 5 p.m. Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.)
Be a part of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in Western New York as First Night Buffalo returns for its 28th year.
Originating in the City of Boston as an alternative celebration to more mature gatherings, First Night is a drug- and alcohol-free event appropriate for the entire family. This year’s activities include presentations from Jeff Musial, the Animal Guy (5:30 and 7:30 p.m.); a black-light dance party; an interactive dueling pianos show; Buffalo Bills drumline performers DownBeat Percussion; and American Ninja Warrior Training.
[Related: Full list of family-friendly events for New Year's Eve]
A toddler zone has activities for kids ages 6 and younger. Storybook characters, including the Very Hungry caterpillar, Clifford and Wild Thing, will be on hand from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
A full schedule is available at firstnightbuffalo.org. Tickets are $10 to $12 (door, area Wegmans stores).
Buffalo Ball Drop, 10 p.m. Roosevelt Plaza
Once the convention center closes shop, the party will continue down at Roosevelt Plaza for the annual Buffalo Ball Drop. The annual tradition will culminate with the descent of the New Year’s ball from the Electric Tower. As always, the ball will remain in sync with New York City’s Times Square ball so as not to miss a beat.
[Photos: Smiles at the 2015 New Year's Eve ball drop in Roosevelt Square]
Hosted by 97 Rock’s DJ Jickster along with members of the Eyewitness News team, the free party will feature musical entertainment by local singer Caitlin Koch, digital video walls presenting the “Countdown to 2017” and a post-midnight fireworks spectacle to help Buffalo ring in 2017 just right.
Old Falls Street family new year’s eve, 4 p.m. Conference and Event Center (101 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls).
For those looking to welcome 2017 in Niagara County, head to Old Falls Street. Like its First Night counterpart, the family-centric celebration will offer a variety of children’s activities, including a petting zoo, indoor snowball fight, interactive games, bounce houses and more. Music will be provided by D&B Karaoke & DJ.
While the event will conclude before the actual ball drops, Old Falls Street will have a balloon drop at 10 p.m. with a toast of sparkling juice (remember this is a kid-friendly event), leaving partygoers plenty of time to catch the proper drop in the comfort (and warmth) of their own homes.
Tickets are $6 to $8 (door, Brown Paper Tickets).
– Mac McGuire
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
For live music fans, there are always plenty of concerts to enjoy. This year, we’ve got Rusted Root at Buffalo Iron Works, the great songstress Mary Wilson of the Supremes performing two shows (7 and 10:30 p.m.) at the Bear’s Den, Seneca Niagara Casino, plus plenty of shows where dancing is mandatory. Here’s a look at three more.
Lazlo Hollyfeld & Friends Play LCD Soundsystem, 7 p.m., Town Ballroom (681 Main St.), $20.
If you missed the longtime experimental-rock group paying tribute to the reunited DFA dance-punk act this past Halloween at a sold-out Mohawk Place, you have your second chance New Year’s Eve at Town Ballroom.
Following Lazlo’s tribute set, stick around as the popular Ithaca-based electro-rockers of Jimkata take the reins and blast the roof off of the downtown venue to start the new year off right.
[Related: Jimkata jams into the New Year]
Nietzsche’s NYE Celebration featuring Rhubarb, Aircraft and more, 9 p.m. at Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.), $5.
Allentown’s go-to music hub is also getting in on the New Year’s Eve fun. The venue will host an eclectic four-pack featuring some of the bar’s favorite staple acts. Patrons will be greeted to sets from the soaring, space-rockers of Aircraft, foot stomping Americana act Folkfaces, improv jam maestros the Intrepid Travelers and jazz-jam fusionists Rhubarb.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more impressive bill of locals on the overwhelmingly busy holiday evening, so if home-cooked music is up your alley, make it down to Allen Street and call it a night.
Transmission NYE Dance Party, 10:30 p.m., Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.), $5.
Outside of their yearly flagship event of the Cure vs. the Smiths Dance Party, founders Bill Page and Jason Draper rarely bring out the Transmission moniker much these days. New Year’s Eve has become the exception.
Join the DJs at Buffalo’s well-seasoned music haunt, just down the street from the ball drop, as the pair says goodbye to the worn-out-its-welcome year of 2016 for good with a night full of the best in indie, alternative and electronic music over the last 30 years.
– Mac McGuire
[Related: A 30-track New Year's Eve playlist, via Jeff Miers]
AT THE BREWERIES
Many breweries are gearing up for New Year’s Eve parties. Here are a few to check out if you are still looking for somewhere to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017.
Rusty Nickel Brewing Company ’70s Bash, 4350 Seneca St., West Seneca
This 1970s-themed party starts at 9 p.m. and will include catered food, an open bar with New York State craft beer, wine, spirits and cider, as well as non-alcoholic drinks such as craft sodas.
Two new beers will be on tap for the event: Spot on the Naughty List, which is a sour winter saison, and Apple Jack Frost winter lager, which has hints of crisp apple. Live music and a keg drop and special toast will round out the evening at midnight.
Tickets are $55.93 with alcohol, $22.76 for designated driver tickets at the brewery or at eventbrite.com.
Big Ditch Brewing's Electric Tower New Year’s Eve Party, 55 E. Huron St.
For a great view of the Electric Tower fireworks and the downtown Buffalo ball drop at midnight, the clear choice is Big Ditch. Starting at 8 p.m., your ticket includes four drink vouchers good for beer, wine or mixed drinks.
Limited beer releases will take place throughout the night including The Tower (12 percent ABV barleywine released for New Year’s Eve). In addition, there will be a special cask of the brewery’s Beautiful River farmhouse ale with Galaxy, Citra and Motueka hops added.
There will be numerous food stations and hand-passed appetizers, along with a DJ spinning all night and karaoke in the beer hall.
Tickets are $65 with alcohol, or $45 for a designated driver and available via eventbrite.com.
42 North Keg Drop, 25 Pine St., East Aurora
The brewery opens at noon with events going until 1 a.m. Events include live music starting at 9 p.m. and the keg drop at midnight.
A special beer is being released for this event: Bier de Brut, which is brewed in the style of Bier de Champagne, a light-bodied and pale strong Belgian ale with high carbonation meant to be similar to sparkling wine. This beer was brewed with Sauvignon Blanc grape juice and champagne yeast and is 9 percent ABV. There is not a cover charge.
12 Gates New Year’s Party, 80 Earhart Drive, Williamsville
Events start at 7 p.m. with all the favorites on tap including Grave Concerns double stout (8.4 percent ABV) and Buffalo Tripel (9.6 percent ABV).
Entertainment is by Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin-style crooner Troy Chiappone. There will be a complimentary beer toast at midnight while everyone watches the ball drop on the big screens. There is not a cover charge.
– Alex Placito