By MOLLY PRIDDY for the Flathead Beacon Newspaper
It’s time once again to ring in a new year in the Flathead, and anyone sticking around to watch 2013 make its way into the valley will have no problem finding an activity to join in the celebration. From face painting to fireworks to frozen swims, here’s a rundown of events taking place this New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
For a complete list of activities, be sure to check out www.flatheadevents.net.
It’s become a tradition over the past 13 years for the community to gather in various locations throughout Kalispell and celebrate First Night Flathead. This year, the 14th annual, alcohol-free, family-friendly event promises to please.
Taking place on Dec. 31, First Night Flathead includes live music, various activities and plenty of fun for celebrators of all ages. Events begin at 1 p.m. and run until 12:30 a.m.
There will be more live music than last year, with over 30 performing artists in 12 venues. The music genres will include jazz, rock and roll, blues, country, folk and even belly dancing.
Performers include some of the valley’s favorites, such as Dan Dubuque, the Maw Brothers, the Montana Highlanders Bagpipe Band, Rob Quist and House of Quist and many more.
The music begins at 7 p.m. and goes until the evening shuts down at 12:30 a.m. For a list of acts and venues, visit www.firstnightflathead.org.
First Night begins at 1 p.m. at the Kalispell Center Mall, where there will be free admission and fun family activities, ranging from mask making, hula hooping, pony rides, face painting and more.
The mall also hosts the First Night Flathead Commencement Parade, which takes place from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
At 11:45 p.m., patrons are invited to gather at the Red Lion Ballroom for the Countdown to Midnight, where Big Daddy and the Blue Notes will ring in the New Year in style.
There will be other activities dispersed throughout the evening, including a split-the-pot drawing.
Admission buttons are required for the live performances, and cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Children under 12 are free, and must be accompanied by an adult with a button.
To donate or volunteer, call 406-253-2471 or visit www.firstnightflathead.org.
Also in Kalispell, be sure to check out country sensation Trevor Panczak at the New Year’s Eve Upscale Hoedown, taking place at the Red Lion Hotel. Dinner will be surf and turf, and there will be plenty of dancing to be had.
Panczak plays with Rough Stock, hailing from Lethbridge, Alberta. Panczak and the Red Lion have also teamed with Flathead C.A.R.E, and the organization will benefit from 100 percent of the ticket sales for the gift basket raffle.
Tickets to the Upscale Hoedown are $50, and the event is limited to those 21 and older.
If the New Year means more time to hit the slopes, look no further than the New Year’s Eve celebration at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
The fun begins at 5 p.m. with the annual rail jam at the bottom of Ed’s Run, which showcases skiers and snowboarders performing feats of courage and skill for the enjoyment of spectators.
At 5:30 p.m., listen for the event emcee to call for the Dash for Cash, a wacky obstacle course race that will award the winner with $100. It takes place between the skiers’ and snowboarders’ jam sessions, and there is no entry fee.
Immediately following the rail jam at 6:15 p.m., watch the torchlight parade as skiers and boarders make their way down Ed’s Run with torches before the fireworks show.
There will also be live music at Ed and Mully’s as well as at the Bierstube.
For more information on registration and schedules, visit www.skiwhitefish.com.
The businesses in downtown Whitefish will also ring in the New Year with parties and live music. Be sure to check www.flatheadevents.net for acts and schedules.
And it wouldn’t be the New Year without the Polar Bear Plunge, during which courageous souls brave the icy waters of Flathead Lake for a refreshing dip to celebrate new beginnings.
The plunge takes place behind the Raven; the parade begins at 1:45 p.m. and the plunge starts promptly at 2 p.m.