For more than a decade, Bangor’s downtown countdown has been the place to go in eastern and central Maine for New Year’s shenanigans. What to expect in 2016? Well, early in the morning there’s the Epic 5K, a road race starting at Epic Sports; registration is at 8 a.m., run at 9. The Maine Discovery Museum has children’s activities all day, with regular museum admission. Other events can be accessed with the purchase of the countdown button, available online at countdownbangor.com. Some of those events include free yoga at the Union Street Brick Church at 12:30 and 3 p.m.; storytime at the Briar Patch at 1 and 3 p.m.; a family friendly party from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Bangor Public Library; comedy from The Focus Group at 7:45 and 10:15 p.m. at 58 Main; live music from The Salt River Boys at 6 and 9 p.m. at 58 Main, the Tough End String Band at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at The Rock & Art Shop, TwoGrass at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at CoeSpace, and RetroRockerz at 8:15 p.m. at the Union Street Brick Church, and Bad Island, the Very Reverand and Livid Orange starting at 7:30 p.m. in West Market Square. And don’t forget that fabulous light-covered beach ball drop at midnight in the square!
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, beautiful Belfast has another great lineup of family-friendly, chem-free events throughout town. There’s almost too much stuff to list right here; there’s live music all night at the Boathouse on the Waterfront, there’s the Belfast poet laureate inauguration at 6 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, there’s live music and a full roast pork or lasagna dinner to purchase at the First Church, and the drum and rabble corps processional down Main Street to the Waterfront, with a big bonfire at midnight to ring in the year. Want more info? Visit nybb.org.
The 12th annual New Year’s Eve Great Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop is set once again this year for Bank Square in downtown Eastport. From the third story of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art, a giant red maple leaf will be lowered to commemorate the Canadian new year at midnight, Atlantic time (11 p.m. EST), while the New Year’s Eve Brass Band will play a rousing “O Canada.” At midnight Eastern time, an 8-foot sardine will take the plunge, as the brass band plays “Auld Lang Syne.” The Freemont Street String Band will play their unique blend of folk and bluegrass music from 9 p.m. until just before midnight. Don’t forget to kiss the sardine for luck in the year ahead! Restaurants and galleries around town will also be open for the fun.
It’s only the second year for this town-wide celebration in the heart of Down east Maine, but Machias is no slouch. Throughout the day and night, enjoy hat-making and a crazy hat parade from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; snow globe and birdhouse building during the day; storyteller and musician Duane Ingalls at 3 p.m. at Porter Memorial Library; magic shows at 6 and 9 p.m. and juggling brother duo Audio Body at 8 and 10 p.m. at the University of Maine at Machias Performing Arts Center; and lobster stew, smores and a bonfire following by the illustrious “Lobstah Drop” at midnight, across from Pat’s Pizza in downtown Machias.
Come to the Mill Event Space in downtown Dover-Foxcroft at 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to enjoy dinner by Pastimes Pub and Foxcroft Catering Company. Then dance the night away to live music by the Foxcroft Academy Alumni Band. Proceeds will help in the renovation effort at Central Hall. As the New Year approaches, head over to Pastimes Pub for a champagne toast and a countdown to the first New Year Whoopie Pie drop. Yes, you read that right — a giant whoopie pie will be dropped to ring in 2017. Tickets for this event are $50 per person or $75 for a couple.
The town of Gorham has a lovely New Year’s Eve celebration each year, that’s family-friendly and affordable to all. This year’s event features lots of live music and good food; magicians and circus performers; live comedy and science demonstrations. Lanyards for the event are $5 per person, or $20 for a family of four or more, and can be purchased on NYE.
NEW YEAR’S EVE EVENTS AROUND PORTLAND
Though there’s no city-wide event in Portland to celebrate the new year, there are lots of things to. Events include the NRCM Polar Bear 5k and Dip at 11 a.m. (run) and noon (dip); the fire and ice gala party starting at 9 p.m. at 51 Wharf; an NYE masquerade ball with lots of great local bands at the Space Gallery at 9 p.m.; and a big show from Matisyahu, Rustic Overtones and Alec Benjamin at the State Theatre.