First Night 2016
photo by Michael R Goodman

Top five things to do: Dec. 29-31

Lifestyle, Music, Outdoor, Stage
A roundup of weekend entertainment on the Seacoast

It’s been a surreal year, and it’s ending on an icy note. But with New Year’s Eve coming up on Sunday, Dec. 31, there are plenty of ways to surf into 2018 on a wave of positivity. There will be music, comedy, fireworks, and parties that stretch into the wee hours of 2018. Here are a few of the most notable highlights.

New Year’s comedy

Juston McKinney

Maybe the best thing to do as we look back on 2017 is to laugh it off and start fresh. Local comic Juston McKinney performs his “Year in Review 2017” at The Music Hall in Portsmouth on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 29 and 30, at 8 p.m. ($26). A night later, Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel hosts Live Free or Die Laughing New Year’s Eve, starring Dave Russo at 8:30 p.m. and Dan Crohn at 10:30 p.m. ($25-$35). And The Governor’s Inn in Rochester hosts a New Year’s Eve Comedy Ball featuring Carl Yard and a multi-course dinner at 8 p.m. ($70).

Marco Benevento

Marco Benevento

Keyboardist Marco Benevento is no stranger to the Seacoast music scene. Local audiences have had opportunities to catch him at several area venues over the years and have become familiar with his innovative rock-jazz-experimental style. He’s also known for his work in bands such as Garage A Trois and the Benevento Russo Duo, as well as collaborations with members of Phish, Ween, and others. Benevento, who this year released the live album “Woodstock Sessions,” will be at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth on Friday, Dec. 29, at 9 p.m. Vermont-based psych-pop band Madaila opens. Tickets are $23-$25, available here.

First Night Portsmouth

First Night 2018

Pro Portsmouth’s annual First Night Portsmouth celebration brings New Year’s Eve entertainment and activities all around downtown Portsmouth, indoors and out. Among the highlights are the construction of an ice sculpture in front of North Church beginning at 1 p.m., a street dance on Pleasant Street from 5 p.m. to midnight, and a fireworks display over South Mill Pond at 7:30 p.m. There will also be live music, storytelling, magic performances, puppet shows, face painting, and more. Plus, there’s a self-guided hike on New Year’s Day at the Little Harbor Loop Trail. For a full schedule and more info, click here.

New Year’s concerts

Red Sky Mary

As the final reverberations of the fireworks fade, the ensuing silence will quickly be filled with music. Among the highlights on New Year’s Eve: Rustic Overtones and Paranoid Social Club perform at Wally’s in Hampton at 7 p.m. ($25); Rhythm Method plays at the Martingale Wharf in Portsmouth at 9 p.m. ($20); People Like You plays a New Year’s Protest Party at Portsmouth Book & Bar at 9 p.m. ($5); DeadBeat plays a Grateful Dead tribute at The Stone Church in Newmarket at 9:30 p.m. ($20); and Red Sky Mary plays a 1980s-themed show at Ri Ra in Portsmouth at 10 p.m.

Gatsby New Year’s Eve Party

Great Gatsby

Portsmouth’s most bumpin’ nightclub (OK, its only nightclub), presents its annual Gatsby New Year’s Eve Party starting at 8 p.m. Guests are invited to step back to the swinging ’20s and party like Jay Gatsby — the title character from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” — in the Portsmouth Gas Light Co.’s third-floor nightclub. There will be party favors, passed hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast, a late-night buffet, and full bar service until 2 a.m. As a bonus, attendees get free admission to the nightclub through March 31 so they can keep the party rolling through the winter. Tickets are $65, available here.

For a full calendar of local events, click here.