Big D NYE, the self-proclaimed “biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Central Time Zone,” gives 2012 a Texas-size farewell. The free event in Victory Park, which drew 35,000 revelers last year, will be loud and large, with multiple stages featuring a full roster of bands, including Dallas’s Forever the Sickest Kids and London’s Leogun. Gourmet food trucks will park along the periphery, ready to satisfy XXL appetites. At midnight, the sky will crackle with the Stream Energy Fireworks Spectacular, a fiery show released from four locations and synchronized to music by DJ Ro Parrish.
You’d need an entire year to fully experience First Night Boston, the oldest New Year’s Eve festival of arts and culture in North America (est. 1976). Unfortunately, you’ll have only a day and a night to squeeze in hundreds of music and dance performances, films, art exhibits, poetry slams, puppet shows, ice sculptures and more. For a leg up, purchase a First Night Button for $18, good for all indoor events (outdoor attractions are free), and plan wisely: Plot your route among the 35 downtown venues, for instance, such as the Magnetic Fields show at Symphony Hall and the Grand Procession down Boylston Street. At the cusp of 2013, fireworks will electrify the air over Boston Harbor.
After 23 years, the Atlanta Peach Drop, said to be the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Southeast, is still ripe for action. About 100,000 people are expected to watch the 800-pound fiberglass-and-foam fruit plummet from a 138-foot tower at Underground Atlanta. The city’s main entertainment complex will warm up the crowd with 16 hours of free special events, such as carnival-style rides, live music by more than two dozen Georgia artists and fireworks. If all you need is love for 2013, get your scream cords ready for the Beatles tribute band, Abbey Road LIVE!, which will jam into the new year.
During the free Torchlight Parade at Taos Ski Valley, about 40 skiers will move like graceful glowworms down the black-diamond Snakedance Trail. Guests can get an eyeful of the illuminated procession from the base area of Peak 1. Once the mountain goes dark, the lights move upward, toward the sky, for the fireworks show. As the clock creeps toward 12, the party moves inside, to the Martini Tree Bar and the country swing and Americana sounds of Michael Hearne and South by Southwest.
Les bon temps roll on and on in the French Quarter, starting at 9 p.m. with live music (funk band Brass-A-Holics, soulster Mia Borders and more) at Jackson Square and continuing way past Baby New Year’s curfew. At midnight, an eight-foot-tall fleur de lis will drift down a 25-foot pole atop Jax Brewery Condominiums, followed by the firecrackin’ Symphony in the Sky show over the Mississippi River. In case you forgot why you were in New Orleans, a board sunshiny bright with 200 bulbs will proclaim the arrival of 2013. Finally, a six-foot-tall styrofoam Baby New Year (more like Teen New Year; “baby” was born in 2000) dressed in a purple-and-gold diaper and Saints football helmet will join the fete. Once Baby is tucked in, the adults will party until les bon temps call it quits.
Bright Night Providence was born out of darkness: the 2003 cancellation of the Rhode Island capital’s First Night. Local artists filled the hole with a festival that leaves little time for lamenting 2012. The packed day-long schedule features performances by more than a hundred musicians, hypnotists, dancers, storytellers, acrobats, magicians, visual artists, clowns and other entertainers. Dozens of venues will host the acts, but for the big moment, head to Kennedy Plaza, where Big Nazo (imagine mutant Muppets), the Extraordinary Rendition Band and the Banished Fools will count down en masse and put this year to bed.