Good year or bad, 2011 is on the verge of becoming yesterday’s news. Tick, tock: We’re only a week away from the first days of 2012. Have you chilled your bubbly for the New Year’s toast? If your plans are still as up in the air as the Times Square ball, here are some ideas for next Saturday night. There’s sure to be a celebration that suits your style. And if it turns out to be too late to secure spots at the party, you will have to make a resolution to plan ahead in 2012.
FIRST NIGHT BOSTON Can it really be 35 years since First Night Boston debuted on Dec. 31, 1976? If you have grown complacent over the decades and defaulted to the televised action from Times Square, get out of your Barcalounger and rejoin what organizers claim is the oldest and largest New Year’s Eve arts festival in the country. About 1,000 artists are determined to ring in the new year in style, and you can’t beat such First Night classics as the grand procession down Boylston Street, fanciful ice sculptures, and midnight fireworks over Boston Harbor. Boston’s celebration sparked a movement - you will find First Night parties all over the country. www.firstnight.org. 1 p.m. to midnight. Buttons $15, premium package with guaranteed seating for some events $35.
SUGARBUSH RESORTWarren, Vt. Folks from the community and vacationing skiers alike gather to watch the torchlight parade snake down Lincoln Peak as fireworks burst in the background. Then they can repair to a hearty family Italian dinner with child-friendly entertainment or settle in for a quiet meal in the elegant Timbers restaurant. Afterward, everyone can meet up again for live music and dancing in the Castlerock Pub. Hope for snow overnight so that you can make fresh tracks on your first downhill run of the year. 1840 Sugarbush Access Road, 800-53-SUGAR, www.sugarbush.com. Clay Brook Hotel from $192 per person per night; Timbers entrees $18-$35; family Italian dinner adults $12, ages 12 and under $6.
RED JACKET MOUNTAIN VIEWNorth Conway, N.H. It’s always 82 degrees in the Kahuna Laguna indoor water park at the Red Jacket Mountain View. So if the Caribbean is out of the question, the White Mountains might be your next best bet. Actually, you can have the best of both worlds. After bodysurfing in the wave pool, you can head outside for sledding and then warm up with hot chocolate by a bonfire. A family-friendly New Year’s Eve bash includes a DJ and karaoke. 2251 White Mountain Highway (Route 16), 603-356-5411, www.redjacketresorts.com. Packages from $349 double per night, two-night minimum.
HAMPTON BEACH, N.H. Fireworks aficionados claim that winter’s dry air makes the colors more vibrant — which seems a fair trade-off for having to stand outside in the cold. If you can’t wait for Boston’s midnight show, head to Hampton Beach where fireworks are launched from the beach at 8 p.m. Lots of families like to arrive early for a stroll on the sand and dinner before the big event. On the beach at the top of C Street, 603-926-8717, www.hamptonbeach.org. 8 p.m. Free.
PURITY SPRING RESORT East Madison, N.H. Guests are welcome to join in a torchlight parade (with light sticks) before the fireworks get underway at this family-friendly resort that celebrated its centennial this year. Many families make an annual pilgrimage to Purity Spring, so if you are looking to start a new tradition this might be just the ticket. Make the most of winter with skiing at the resort’s King Pine ski area, ice skating, music around a roaring bonfire, and a chance for kids to show their moves on the Twisted Pine terrain park. A pizza party and DJ entertainment help usher in the new year. 1251 Eaton Road, Route 153, 603-367-8896, 800-373-3754, www.purityspring.com. Two-night package $279 per night for 2 adults, $60 per night ages 4-12.
THE ESSEX Essex, Vt. The festivities revolve around food at the Essex, which calls itself Vermont’s Culinary Resort and Spa. If you would like to start the new year with some culinary skills under your belt, check out the New Year’s Eve Dinner party, where you will make and eat a menu’s worth of festive dishes from Beef Wellington to dark chocolate lava cakes. Prefer to have someone else do the cooking? You can opt for a seat at the marble bar in the Amuse dining room and watch the chef prepare a special seven-course tasting menu. Too much food? A five-course tasting menu, served at the dining tables, is also available. In the morning, browse the gift shop for a cookbook or top grade utensil to give your home kitchen a boost. 70 Essex Way, 802-878-1100, www.vtculinaryresort.com. Classes and dinners $75-$150 per person, lodging from $250 per night double, two-night minimum required.
FOXWOODS RESORT CASINO Mashantucket, Conn. To indulge your “Dancing With the Stars’’ fantasies, head to Foxwoods, which turns party central on New Year’s Eve. You can dance to a swing band and enjoy a gourmet buffet in the Premier Ballroom or relive what organizers call “the golden days of disco’’ in a re-created Studio 54 in the High Rollers Luxury Lanes & Lounge. Or start working on your moves now for what’s being touted as “the sexiest dance party in New England’’ at SHRINE. Berklee College of Music grad and remix master Dj JD will man the turntables. 350 Trolley Line Blvd., 800-369-9663, www.foxwoods.com. Event tickets $20-$100, overnight packages from $699 double.
OMNI MOUNT WASHINGTON RESORT Bretton Woods, N.H. On New Year’s Eve, this grande dame of the White Mountains transforms the Grand Ballroom into “Times Square North’’ with video projections on the walls and wandering street performers and vendors. Partygoers watch the ball drop in the real Times Square — then celebrate with their own massive balloon drop and dancing. Dining choices include an elegant 1920s jazz-themed black-tie event in the Presidential Ballroom or a more casual family buffet with a DJ. Views of Mount Washington galore. 310 Mount Washington Hotel Road, 603-278-1000, www.omnimountwashington.com. Packages from $379 per person per night.
RED LION INN Stockbridge. If you seek history and tradition, the Red Lion Inn has been in continuous operation on Stockbridge’s Main Street since the 18th century. Staff know how to throw a good party, complete with five-course dinner, champagne toast at midnight, and dancing to a live band in the lobby. To set the mood, they also hang more than 3,000 balloons from the ceilings. You can attend the party only — but if you stay the night, you can greet the new year from the inn’s front porch, surely one of New England’s grandest. 30 Main St., 413-298-5545, www.redlioninn.com. Dinner and dancing $300 per couple, two-night packages $795 double.
BRIGHT NIGHT PROVIDENCE The folks in Providence welcome the new year with the “big noise.’’ Says festival organizer Adam Gertsacov, “We gather as many people as we can and make the most noise possible.’’ So limber up your vocal chords and dust off your saxophone if you head to this small-city celebration. (Gertsacov estimates that about 15,000 people attend.) All ticket holders are guaranteed a seat at one of three performances by master illusionist Brad Ross, a veteran of Disney productions. Other highlights include the Big Nazo rock ’n’ roll puppet extravaganza and the Banished Fools, who roam the streets playing music and creating mayhem. Citywide, 401-288-1231, www.brightnight.org. 1 p.m. to midnight. Tickets $15 children, seniors and in advance, $20 day of event.
Patricia Harris and David Lyon can be reached at harris.lyon@ verizon.net.