Deciding what to do on New Year’s Eve is a perennial conundrum. Whether the year was good or bad, we time-obsessed beings are inclined to mark the changing of the calendar with a celebration. But, with so many options for revelry, how do we choose the best way to spend the waning hours of 2014?
What follows is a list of 10 events taking place in the Seacoast on Wednesday, Dec. 31. Some involve music and merriment, others food and libation, still others meditation and observance. At least a few combine all of the above. There’s enough variety for anyone to welcome the New Year in a spirit of hope and joy.
However you choose to celebrate — or even if you stay home and dream your way into 2015 — have a happy New Year.
First Night Portsmouth
Presented by Pro Portsmouth
Market Square and other locations
Pro Portsmouth’s 27th annual event celebrates the countdown to 2015 with music, dance, ice sculpture, fireworks, and more. The festivities fan out from Market Square, where sculptors begin carving their frozen masterpieces around 1 p.m. The annual Street Dance begins at 5 p.m. and continues until midnight, while the New Hampshire Astronomical Society offers stargazing on Pleasant Street. Meanwhile, numerous venues around town will present indoor entertainment, including live music, storytelling, magic, puppets, and other activities. Fireworks explode over South Mill Pond at 7:30 p.m. For a full entertainment schedule, visit proportsmouth.org.
NYE Gatsby Party
Portsmouth Gas Light Co.
64 Market St., Portsmouth, 603-430-9122
While the rest of the world moves forward into the New Year, partygoers at the Gas Light’s third-floor nightclub will travel back in time to the Roaring Twenties. They’ll party Jay Gatsby-style, with the Gas Light’s own “sexy twist.” Doors open at 8 p.m., with full bar service until 2 a.m. General admission tickets are $50 and include party favors, hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and a late-night buffet. VIP tickets are $125 and offer reserved seating, a VIP food table and more. Cocktail attire is suggested. What would Gatsby wear?
Soggy Po’ Boys New Year’s Eve Bash
Fury’s Publick House
1 Washington St., Dover, 603-617-3633
If you haven’t yet been to a Soggy Po’ Boys show… just go. The horn-heavy octet based in Dover plays a mix of jazz, soul, R&B, funk, and blues with a spicy Mardi Gras flavor. On New Year’s Eve, they’ll cap off a year that saw the release of their second album with an electric set featuring songs by The Meters, The Neville Brothers, and others. There are few guarantees in life, but having a good time at a Po’ Boys show is about as close as you’ll get.
New Year’s Eve Bell Ringing
Aryaloka Buddhist Center
14 Heartwood Circle, Newmarket, 603-659-5456
The Aryaloka Buddhist Center literally rings in the New Year on the gong in its shrine room. Guests are invited to gather at 10:45 p.m. for tea and conversation, then go upstairs and meditate. At the stroke of midnight, the gong will ring 108 times to welcome the New Year. After the last echo dies down, guests can stick around for refreshments. The center’s ninth annual Meditate for Peace Day begins the next morning at 7 a.m., ushering in a “spirit of peace and loving-kindness for the benefit of all beings.”
Sonny’s Karaoke is REAL presents: The Black Party
433 Central Ave., Dover, 603-343-4332
There’s a song in you that’s been waiting to come out all year. Let it burst into the world in the final hours of 2014 at Sonny’s, where karaoke enthusiast Erik Swanson will help guide you into the New Year. Guests are encouraged to dress nicely and wear all black, and a mysterious all-star jam is promised at midnight. The bash begins at 9 p.m. and continues into the early hours of 2015.
New Year’s Eve Peace Vigil
Presented by Seacoast Peace Response
Market Square, Portsmouth
Together with NH Veterans for Peace, Seacoast Peace Response holds its annual vigil in Market Square from 6 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to join in the call for a world of peace and justice in the New Year. Participants are encouraged to bundle up and bring a candle or an appropriate sign. Organizers will provide some signs and peace doves for guests to hold. Weather permitting, a giant white dove puppet with a 12-foot wingspan will be on display nearby. For more information, contact Karolina at 603-664-2696 or [email protected]
NYE Comedy Ball
The Governor’s Inn
78 Wakefield St., Rochester, 603-332-0107
Sometimes, the best way to celebrate the year’s end is with laughter. The Governor’s Inn makes this easy to achieve with a night of dinner, comedy, and dancing for $65 (tax and gratuity included). Boston comedian Larry Norton, known in comedy clubs as “The Comic on a Harley,” headlines the evening. There will also be a prime rib buffet, as well as dancing to pop and rock tunes from the ’80s. Doors open at 8 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres. Visit governorsinn.com.
Family New Year’s Eve Celebration
Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
6 Washington St., Dover, 603-742-2002
The ball drops early at the Children’s Museum, where the festivities take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be three separate “countdowns to midnight” at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., each complete with a glittering ball that drops 30 feet from the ceiling, as well as noisemakers, confetti, and bubbly ginger ale in plastic champagne glasses. The entire museum will be open, so kids can enjoy exhibits while they await the countdown. The regular admission price of $9 per adult and child applies.
New Year’s Eve at Stages
Stages at One Washington
1 Washington St., Suite 325, Dover, 603-842-4077
It’s the last night of the year, so indulge with good food and wine. Stages will help you accomplish this. Celebrated chef Evan Hennessey is offering a 10-course dinner for $95, featuring duck egg yolk, oysters, fish, goat, deer, chocolate, smoked honey, and far too many other delicious morsels to list. You can add wine pairings for $45, starting with prosecco and moving on to five different wines. Times vary and seating is limited; visit stages-dining.com for details.
NYE with Rockspring and Hot Day at the Zoo
The Stone Church
5 Granite St., Newmarket, 603-659-7700
Three string-heavy bands known for putting on high-spirited shows will coax in the New Year with guitars, banjos, and mandolins. The music begins at 7 p.m. with a free acoustic performance from Jake Davis and the Whiskey Stones. Then, at 9 p.m., Portsmouth-based string band Rockspring takes the stage, followed by New Hampshire’s Hot Day at the Zoo. The concert promises danceable tunes in the genres of rock, bluegrass, jazz, ragtime, folk, country and more. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.