A BSR guide to New Year’s Eve 2017 in Philly

Last year's countdown at FringeArts. (Photo by Johanna Austin.)

I think we can say 2017 has been a year the likes of which many of us hope we never see again. If you want to usher in 2018 with a box (or two) of wine, some Netflix, and a pile of discounted Christmas candy with the two or three people you can still stand to have in your house, I am not judging. But if you want an event with Philly flavor and you won’t be finding yourself at the Crystal Tea Room or on a fancy boat, here are some ideas for the arts-and-culture crowd on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Music all over town

Tom Purdom already previewed an exciting offering from Choral Arts Philadelphia celebrating the timeless festivity of welcoming the future; for other music lovers, this year’s December 31 concert from the Philadelphia Orchestra promises to ring in the New Year from east to west. Stéphane Denève conducts “surprising treats” from Japan, China, and India and lands in Europe with Mozart and Manuel de Falla. Hear “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady and “Mambo” from West Side Story, plus Piazzolla’s Libertango and Johan Strauss Jr.’s On the Beautiful Blue Danube waltz to top it all off. The concert is at 7:30pm at the Kimmel’s Verizon Hall, so you could make it your first stop before finding something a teensy bit less traditional.

Personally, I’m eyeing the New Year’s Funkin’ Eve dance party at FringeArts, a $49 groovefest with doors at 10pm. Local big=band hip-hop group ILL DOOTS (a multimedia artist/activist performance group with deep ties to the city’s cultural and educational scene) will preside over the balloon-drenched dance floor, with fire pits in the beer garden and satellite cash bars. Head across the street for a stellar view of the fireworks on Race Street Pier, and then come back to the party for dance tracks from DJ Dame Luz.

Over at Underground Arts on Callowhill, the West Philadelphia Orchestra will be onstage with Johnny Showcase & the Mystic Ticket, plus Philly’s own Red 40 & The Last Groovement, and MAMBISA. Doors at 8pm, show starts at 9pm.  

It sounds like a fun night at Milkboy (11th and Chestnut) too, with a no-cover show from the high-energy multimedia cover band WEIRD SCIENCE. The performance includes detailed props and celebrity costumes, plus giant TVs that sync the songs’ original music videos to the sounds onstage, featuring favorites from the ’80s up through today. Doors at 8pm; show at 9pm.

Or head up to Fishtown, where Kung Fu Necktie promises joy for everyone who loves bands like Panic! At the Disco, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and more, with a NYEmo 2018 party on two floors from 8pm to 2am ($10 cover before midnight).

Family-friendly NYE

For families who want to get festive with the kids, Philly museums have great daytime and early-evening options. The Countdown 2 Noon party at the Please Touch Museum lets the kiddos experience New Year’s frenzy before naptime. The museum will be open from 9am to 3pm on the 31st, with lots of live music, craft stations, and ball-drop ceremonies at noon and 1pm.

The Latvian Society’s main NYE event is the Fire & Ice / Liesma Un Ledus party, kicking off at 8:30pm on two floors (keep comfortable between red fire and white ice themes), fueled by plenty of Latvian piragi. But there’s also an early all-ages party from 3 to 5:30pm where families can count down to midnight alongside Latvia’s capital city, Riga, at 5pm EST, with a sparkling-cider toast. Polka with DJ Mike Mason and you’ll be in good shape to walk to the waterfront for a view of the 6pm fireworks.

The Independence Seaport Museum also offers a family-friendly party. The museum opens at 10am and offers a special holiday-themed scavenger hunt and a ginger-ale toast, with party hats for all, on the outdoor terraces for the 6pm fireworks (all included with regular museum admission).

Party like it’s 1776

For a more unusual New Year’s Eve, the Philadelphia Ghost Tour invites you to party (or at least decorously visit) with the undead at Society Hill’s historic Powel House, where some guests claim to hear disembodied dancers from the mansion’s days as party central for Revolutionary-era Philadelphians like George and Martha Washington. A costumed tour guide will regale visitors with creepy tales of ghosts in the drawing, dining, and ball rooms. Tours ($22 a person) start at 6:15pm on December 31 and run every hour. A portion of the proceeds from the tours goes to the nonprofit Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks. Advanced registration is required.

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