The Capital Region is the place to be on New Year’s Eve.
Whether it’s fireworks, live music, dancing or horse-drawn wagon rides, there’s a New Year’s Eve celebration for just about everyone, starting with First Night Saratoga.
Considered the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in New York state outside of Times Square, First Night Saratoga welcomes anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 people to downtown, according to Stephen LeBarron, First Night director. This year’s theme is “Color Me First Night,” featuring live music, comedy shows, art and ballet.
“Saratoga is the family place to be,” LeBarron said. “It is one of the only family-friendly choices in New York state on New Year’s Eve.”
Admission to First Night is $15 for adults and free for children under 12 with a “GE Kids in Free” voucher. Vouchers are available with the purchase of an adult ticket. Buttons, which provide admission to the various events, can be purchased online or are available at Saratoga Arts, the Saratoga Springs branch of the YMCA, all Price Chopper supermarkets in the Capital Region, Stewart’s Shops in Saratoga County, Adirondack Trust banks and Crafter’s Gallery at 427 Broadway. On the night of the celebration, buttons can be purchased at Saratoga Arts or the City Center.
A button provides access to the 70 live musical and performing acts, more than 20 venues and the fireworks display at midnight in Congress Park. Admission also allows free access to regular Saratoga CDTA bus routes from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saratoga shops and restaurants will be open late for the celebration, too.
“Everything is located downtown, so it is very convenient,” LeBarron said. “All of our entertainment is indoors and it is accessible to all.”
First Night officially kicks off at the City Center at 5:15 p.m., followed by the annual First Night Saratoga 5K run at Skidmore College.
Although it may be the largest, First Night Saratoga is not the only New Year’s Eve celebration in the area. Schenectady will be ringing in 2014 with restaurant deals, champagne toasts and live music downtown.
Restaurants such as Aperitivo Bistro downtown will be offering a special menu accompanied by a free champagne toast. The popular local band Grand Central Station will provide live music throughout the night at Centre Street Pub. Nico’s Rootop Tavern will have a complimentary buffet from 10 p.m. to midnight along with giveaways and a champagne toast, and Zen Asian Bistro will ring in the New Year 1920s-style with a Great Gatsby-themed party.
It won’t be just restaurants in downtown Schenectady getting into the spirit. Proctors will have four headlining comics at its First Night of Funny. The theater will also be hosting the Funk-n-Country New Year’s Eve Bash with Skeeter Creek and Funk Evolution and a live stream of the ball drop in Times Square.
Farther west, the village of St. Johnsville will welcome the New Year with its annual Last Night celebration. Last Night began in 2007 and now rotates among the villages of St. Johnsville, Fort Plain and Canajoharie.
“We really are a small-town, family-friendly alternative to Saratoga and Albany,” said Robert Smith, chairman of the committee organizing the event. “Most of the events happen on our main street.”
The night begins at 6 p.m. with an open house and museum tour at the Margaret Reaney Memorial Library and Museum. Highlights of Last Night include horse-drawn wagon rides, a scavenger hunt, live music, a fireworks display at 9 p.m. and a bonfire to ring in the New Year starting at 11 p.m.
“Most people enjoy the fireworks display at 9 o’clock,” Smith said. “We have it at 9 o’clock so parents with young children still enjoy the fireworks before they take their kids and put them to bed for the night.”
Gloversville will ring in the New Year with a fireworks display at 9 p.m. at Sir William Johnson Park on Main Street.
The Schoharie Valley Hayshakers will be dancing their way into the New Year. They will hold a special mainstream level Western square dance at the Middleburgh Dutch Reformed Church Fellowship Hall, Route 30, just north of the Middleburgh village center. Dancing will take place from 8 p.m. to midnight. A buffet dinner will be served at 8:30 p.m.