Ready to ring in the New Year? Robin Bloom shares her recommendations for countdowns and fireworks in the Philadelphia region.
Fancy the Mummers
Cold noses are a small price to pay to witness glockenspiels, gowns, clowns, sequins, confetti and lots of men and women in dresses strutting down Broad Street! Enjoy Philadelphia’s Mummers as they welcome 2016 just as they have rung in just about every New Year for more than a century. New this year, look for the Philadelphia “Diversity” Division featuring the San Mateo Carnavaleros, the Second 2 None drill team from West Philadelphia, and an LGBT group. The parade begins an hour earlier than in previous years – at 9am – at City Hall, down Broad Street to Washington Avenue. Viewing areas include the Grand Stand on Dilworth Plaza at 15th and Market Streets and at the Union League at Broad and Sansom Streets and at Broad and Carpenter Streets. All the fun and fancy continues with two ticketed shows at noon and 5pm at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Catch MummersFest, through December 31, an interactive opportunity to try on costumes, watch the clubs rehearse, go on a backstage tour, make crafts and learn to strut.
Fireworks over the Delaware
The City of Philadelphia and SugarHouse Casino continue the tradition of two sets of fireworks on New Year’s Eve at 6pm and midnight over the Delaware River. Launched from barges in the river, the fireworks are choreographed to unique soundtracks that can be heard from Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and Wiggins Park in Camden, NJ. New this year, the fireworks at midnight will be shown on large screens around town including the Lit Brothers Building (8th & Market), Commerce Square (on Market between 20th and 21st) and the cube at the Kimmel Center (Broad & Spruce).
The Blue Cross RiverRink celebrates the New Year with two parties coinciding with the fireworks displays, 5-8pm and 10pm-1am, and family activities and entertainment, food and ice-skating, Columbus Boulevard at Market Street, Philadelphia.
Love at First Night
In Boston in 1975, a small local group of artists were inspired to create a new kind of New Year’s revelry emphasizing community spirit. Since then, New Year’s Eve arts festivals are celebrated in cities and towns across the nation including two in our region:
Celebrate on the boardwalk and beach in Ocean City beginning at 4pm with musical performances including the Fabulous Grease Band, Ocean City Pops, Real Diamond, and much more, along with children’s activities and boardwalk rides, concluding with fireworks at midnight. Buttons $20.
Haddonfield’s festivities begin at 6pm with performances in a dozen venues along Kings Highway. The KidZone features Paisley Pickles, Cody Austin, the Incredible Boris, and the Tartan Terrors. Headliners include the Trammps, the Spencers, Hotsy Totsy, Christopher Westfall, and more. Fireworks at 9pm. Buttons $15.
Viennese New Year’s Eve
The State Theatre in New Jersey hosts Salute to Vienna (pictured) on New Year’s Eve, patterned after Vienna’s world famous “Neujahrskonzert,” with 75 musicians, singers, and dancers performing Strauss waltzes, polkas, and famous operetta excerpts, with Matthias Fletzberger conducting. Featuring the Strauss Symphony of America, soprano Natalia Ushakova, tenor Brian Cheney, and dancers from Europaballett St.Pölten and International Champion Ballroom Dancers, Thursday, December 31, 6pm, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ.
Bid farewell to 2015 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin on New Year’s Eve. The Orchestra is joined on stage by soprano Angela Meade and a program that includes opera music by Rossini, Puccini, and Verdi, waltzes, and more, Thursday, December 31, 7:30pm, The Kimmel Center, Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia.
In Atlantic City
Atlantic City rings in the New Year with parties and concerts at many casinos and hotels, including Borgata, Golden Nugget, Harrah’s, Resorts, Boardwalk Hall, Chelsea, Trump Taj Mahal and the Tropicana, with fireworks at midnight.
Family New Year Celebrations
Franklin Square’s Countdown for Kids gives families a chance to celebrate the New Year together without having to keep the kids up past midnight. Activities start at 3pm. At 6pm, ring in the New Year with a “Square Drop” and see the city’s fireworks display, Thursday, December 31, 6th and Race Streets, Philadelphia (pictured). Enjoy a dance party and the final Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show. Photo by Jeff Fusco.
Please Touch Museum hosts Countdown to Noon on Thursday, December 31. The museum will open at 9am with “Noon Year” party activities that lead up to a countdown bash at noon, and again at 1pm. The celebration includes music and other activities, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia.
The Independence Seaport Museum hosts a Family New Year’s Eve Party, staying open late so visitors can enjoy the city’s 6pm fireworks display from the 2nd floor balcony while enjoying a sparkling cider toast, Thursday, December 31, 5pm-7pm, Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia.
On December 31, celebrate the New Year and what would be the 264th birthday (January 1) of Philadelphia’s famous flag maker, Betsy Ross, with Betsy’s Birthday Bash, complete with crafts, cupcakes, and stories with Betsy herself, 11am-4pm, 239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Free.
Ardmore Music Hall’s New Year’s Eve Day Family Jam with Alex & the Kaleidoscope Band is December 31, 10:30am-12:30pm, with a New Year’s ball dropping at noon. At night, the 23 piece Brazilian funk band PhillyBloco mixes Samba, Funk and Reggae for a new year’s dance party at 8:30pm, 23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA.
ComedySportz Philadelphia hosts the New Year’s Improvin’ Eve, two improv shows at 7:30pm (for all ages including a countdown when it turns midnight in Brazil) and at 10:30pm (for 18 years and up, including a midnight countdown). Ticket price includes the show, party favor, refreshments including pizza, and a sparkling cider toast. Also, rarely played games and an appearance by Baby New Year, Thursday, December 31, Playground at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.
NYE Concerts & Dance Parties
Dark Star Orchestra (pictured) rings in the New Year with two shows at the Electric Factory, December 30 and December 31, 9pm, 421 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia. Known for recreating the music of the Grateful Dead, the evening’s theme is “Let it Shine.” Photo by Suzy Perler.
Spend New Year’s Eve with the David Bromberg Quintet at World Café Live at the Queen downstairs, December 31, 10:30pm. Fuzion Sol Band and Pristine Raeign perform upstairs at 10pm, 500 North Market Street, Wilmington, DE. In Philly, Start Making Sense NYE Takeover of both floors starts at 9pm with Lovetester, Selectronics, DJ Kaos, 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
FringeArts hosts a New Year’s Eve party with Red 40 and the Last Groovement, December 31, 11pm, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard at Race Street, Philadelphia.
Catch the West Philadelphia Orchestra’s NYE Blowout and Balkan Feast with special guests Johnny Showcase & the Mystic Ticket and Ill Doots, December 31, 9pm at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia.
Dance the night away at Union Transfer at the Making Time New Year’s Eve, December 31, 9pm, 1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia.
Mary Fahl (formerly of October Project) comes to the Tin Angel, December 31, 9pm, for an intimate evening of audience requests, 20 S. 2nd Street, Philadelphia.
The reggae rock band Dirty Heads lights up the Piazza at Schmidt’s with party favors, multiple DJ performances, live countdown and complimentary champagne toast, December 31, 7pm, 1050 N. Hancock Street, Philadelphia.
Jazmine Sullivan promises a soulful performance December 31, 9:30pm, at the TLA, 334 South Street, Philadelphia.
Ring in the New Year with the swinging sounds of Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five with special guest Farid Barron on the piano, December 31, 7pm, 9pm and 11pm with dinner packages available, Chris’ Jazz Café, 1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.
It’s free NYE at MilkBoy Philly, December 31, 8pm with the Red Alert, 1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.
Ben Arnold and Friend’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular with Matt Spitko is December 31, 9pm, including a deluxe dessert buffet, party favors, champagne and more, Steel City Coffeehouse, 203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA.
Third Eye Blind performs at Valley Forge Music Fair, December 31, 10pm (pre-party begins at 7pm), with live entertainment by Dee Jay 007, 1160 1st Avenue, King of Prussia, PA.
Barnes Foundation First Friday! Art Starter
The Barnes Foundation hosts a First Friday! Art Starter, January 1, 6pm-9pm, celebrating Albert Barnes and Violette de Mazia, whose partnership sparked art education at the Barnes Foundation. Featuring French and Klezmer music from the Ken Ulansey Ensemble and Ruth Naomi Floyd (pictured), a talk by Barnes instructor Bill Perthes on Barnes and de Mazia’s unique partnership, and access to the collection and last chance to see the exhibitions Strength and Splendor and Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting, closing January 4, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The Broadway tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has arrived in Philadelphia with performances at the Merriam Theater, now through January 3. The unforgettable show by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber is directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, and the new production features the classic songs “Go Go Go Joseph,” “Any Dream Will Do,” and “Close Every Door,” 250 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia.
Take advantage of free meter parking in Philadelphia through New Year’s.
Each week, the Entertainment Guide spotlights interesting local arts offerings happening now, including music, dance, theater, museums, special exhibitions and other arts events from across the region.
To submit an event to be considered, email Robin Bloom at firstname.lastname@example.org.