As we approach the end of 2018, Philadelphia is ready to start the New Year in style with the 119th Mummers Parade. But before all that fancy, festive fun, dozens of options for ringing out the old year and welcoming 2019 are available throughout the region. And remember, whether it’s a holiday weekend or a quieter few days deep in the calendar, you can always find some choice Things to Do here.
Slam Dunk to the Beach
Cape Henlopen High School
1250 Kings Highway
Dec. 27-29, noon
Delaware ends the year with its premiere high school basketball tournament. Slam Dunk to the Beach, which returned in 2014. The tourney has showcased the talents of Villanova NCAA champ Donte DiVincenzo of Delaware; Philly native and Raptors star Kyle Lowry; 2018 Top 10 draft pick Mo Bamba; and an all-star assortment of current and former NBA stars.
New Year’s Eve … Early
Garden State Discovery Museum
2040 Springdale Road
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Dec. 31, noon and 3 p.m.
$14.95 (free with museum admission)
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with the kids by marking the year’s end at 12 noon and 3 p.m. at South Jersey’s interactive children’s museum. Singing, dancing and games are the prelude to an actual countdown celebrating the New Year but well before kids (and some parents’) bedtime.
New Year’s Eve at Chris Jazz Cafe
11421 Sansom St., Philadelphia
Dec. 31, 7, 9, and 11 p.m.
$30 for show
One of the city’s less costly New Year’s Eve options, Chris’ Jazz Café promises a throwback experience with Prohibition-era cocktails and a performance by Chelsea Reed and Fair Weather Nine. The night’s menu includes specials like duck breast, lobster bisque and rack of lamb. Admission to each show is separate from the meal, though.
Mark G. Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Dec. 31, 10 p.m.
$55 and up
The Mighty O’Jays are planning to retire from performing in 2020, so you better catch them while you can. Although they may be getting up there in age, the group has literally not lost a step — and lead singer Eddie Levert is as powerful a singer as he’s ever been. A night listening to the group perform hits spanning more than four decades is sure to evoke nostalgia with numbers ranging from love songs to protest anthems.
Midnight from the Top
One Liberty Observation Deck
The Shops At Liberty Place
1650 Market St. (57th floor), Philadelphia
Dec. 31, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
Watch the fireworks show from above at the highest New Year’s Eve celebration in the city. The folks behind Brü, U-Bahn, Cinder, Tradesman’s and the Uptown Beer Garden are behind this, too. If you’re familiar with those venues, expect a similar crowd. Tuxes are not required, but it is black-tie. Open bar and hors d’oeuvres included
52nd annual Kwanzaa celebration
West Philadelphia High School
4901 Chestnut St.
Dec. 28, 6-9 p.m.
Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga joins celebrants to mark the traditional African-American holiday. The celebration includes an African marketplace, a kinara lighting ceremony and entertainment.
New Year’s Queer Eve
The Fillmore Philadelphia
29 E. Allen St.
Dec. 31, 10 p.m.
Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community comes together to celebrate the New Year with the customary noisemakers and Champagne toast, a burlesque performance and multiple DJs.
New Year’s Eve Bash at Harrah’s
777 Harrah’s Blvd., Chester, Pennsylvania
Harrah’s turns the entire casino floor into a New Year’s Eve celebration with party favors and an appearance by Aunt Mary Pat DiSabatino. The Goodman Fiske Band will perform, and, at midnight, there’s a Champagne toast. But the best thing about this party: There’s no cover!
New Year’s Eve at Cherry Street Pier
Cherry Street Pier
121 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia
Dec. 31, 9 p.m.–1 a.m.
The newly opened Cherry Street Pier hosts its first annual New Year’s Eve celebration with DJ lil’dave and DJ Lean Wit It, a view of the fireworks, two free drinks per ticket, and live art and art exhibits. Food is pay as you go. Keep in mind, the space will have fire pits and heat stations, but it does not have heat, so dress accordingly. Parking is a challenge there, so consider walking or Uber/Lyft ride-share.
New Year’s Eve fireworks
Delaware River Waterfront
Dec. 31, 6 p.m. and midnight
The city’s annual fireworks show kicks off at 6 p.m. and again at midnight with spectacular displays visible from the waterfront and from some of the city’s highrises and higher floor party venues. Waterfront parking info is available here, and you can also utilize public transportation and walk to the waterfront.
First Night at the Battleship New Jersey
Battleship New Jersey
62 Battleship Place
Dec. 31, 4 p.m. for 6 p.m. fireworks; 10 p.m. for midnight fireworks
$10 fireworks/$79 per person overnight
You have two options to see fireworks from the battleship – arrive early for the 6 p.m. and midnight fireworks shows on the Delaware or visit as a family and stay overnight. The overnight option includes dinner, breakfast, a guided tour and other activities, along with the chance to see the midnight fireworks display. When it’s time for bed, you and your family can bunk in the same place as the sailors who were once serving on the ship.
Jan. 1, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The grand Philadelphia tradition is once again ready to step off in golden slippers to celebrate the New Year — and the sparkle and spectacle of thousands of outlandishly dressed men, women and children as they strut their stuff for the 119th year. The parade begins at 9 a.m. at City Hall, then marches south on Broad Street to Washington Avenue. If you’re planning to watch the fun from the sidewalk, organizers suggest you get there early to claim a spot.
Later in the day, the Fancy Brigades will hold two ticketed competitions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
New Year’s Day at the Kimmel Center
Commonwealth Plaza at the Kimmel Center
300 S. Broad St., Philadelphia
Jan. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Watch the Mummers Parade from a warmer viewpoint and celebrate the New Year with music, entertainment and a lineup of family-friendly activities.