Ringing in the new year

Get ready to say goodbye to 2012 with a guide to New Year’s Eve in Philly.

When people think of New Year’s Eve, many think of the ball dropping in Times Square, but New York isn’t the only spot on the East Coast that goes wild for the new year.

Philadelphia has a long-standing tradition of being a hub of New Year’s Eve activities, and this year is no different.

Whether you’re looking to party hard at some of the city’s wildest bars, ring in the new year with some music or enjoy a relaxing holiday with your family, Philadelphia has you covered.


“[Philly has] a great little laid back way of celebrating. I think we have some of the best fireworks anywhere,” said Hope Koseff Corse, marketing and PR director at The Independence Seaport Museum.

Sure, New Year’s Eve is known for raucous partying, but that’s not all there is to do. Check out some of these kid-friendly events.

Fireworks at Penn’s Landing

Sugarhouse Casino will sponsor two sets of dazzling fireworks at Penn’s Landing this year. Fireworks will begin at 6 p.m. and midnight. The spectacular show is expected to draw thousands of people of all ages to the waterfront of the Delaware River this year.

“It’s an annual tradition. Thousands of people come down to the landing to watch the fireworks. It’s just a great way to kick off New Year’s Eve,” Corse said.

Ice Skating

One great place to view the fireworks will be from the Blue Cross River Rink located on the corner of Market Street and Columbus Boulevard. The rink will be open until March 4, but what better time to get out on the ice than on New Year’s Eve under the fireworks. Admission to the rink is $8-$9, with skate rentals and parking available.

Family New Year’s Eve Party at Independence Seaport Museum

The Independence Seaport Museum will be staying open late to offer families a historic celebration. Guests at the museum will receive a sparkling cider toast and noisemakers to view the fireworks at 6 p.m. The museum will close at 7 p.m. Admission for children, seniors and college students is $10, $12 for adults, and children under the age of two get in free.

Countdown Till Noon at the Please Touch Museum

For children who can’t quite stay up until midnight or parents who might be hitting the town, The Please Touch Museum is holding its Countdown Till Noon event on Dec. 31. The party is tailored to children who will enjoy ringing in the “noon year.” The museum will have two events starting at noon and 1 p.m.


Concerts make for some of the best parties, especially on New Year’s Eve.

“There’s definitely a certain excitement that comes along with playing on New Year’s Eve. It makes the start of 2013 memorable for us and for our audience, hopefully. It’ll be fun to share the kick-off with a venue full of people,” MorganEve Swain of folk act Brown Bird said.

The Rhode Island-based duo will be opening for The Devil Makes Three at the TLA.

The Devil Makes Three, Brown Bird at Theater of the Living Arts

The acoustic trio of The Devil Makes Three will bring their brand of “folk punk” to the TLA with special guest Brown Bird at 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the show are $25.

Johnny Brenda’s presents: NYE with The War on Drugs

Philadelphia’s own The War on Drugs will be playing two nights at Johnny Brenda’s on Frankford Avenue, the second being a special New Year’s Eve show. Tickets cost $18, and $1 of every purchase will be donated to the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance. The show is for attendees 21 and over. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Brothers Past at The Trocadero Theatre

Brothers Past will be appearing at The Trocadero Theatre with special guests, The Heavy Pets and Disco Sucks. The band’s website said the group is looking forward to ringing in the new year at this hometown show. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $23.50 in advance and $25 at the door. Ages 18-plus.

Octane at The Electric Factory

Octane, a local rock band, will be at The Electric Factory on Seventh Street. The first 500 tickets sold for the event will be $10. Opening bands include Kid Felix, Bong Hits for Jesus and The Endless March.

New Year’s Eve at Milkboy with Nicos Gun

The group Nicos Gun will entertain fans into 2013 at Milkboy on Chestnut Street. Philly-based rockers The Fleeting Ends will also play a set. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15.


There’s no doubt that there’s a lot to do and see in the city on New Year’s Eve, but at the end of the day it’s a celebration. Thousands go out to celebrate the year, their family and friends, and mostly to have a good time. Whether it’s an open bar package, a black tie party or a quick drink at a local pub, nobody will go thirsty on Dec. 31.

Chris Mullins, owner at McGillin’s Olde Ale House on Drury Street in Center City, described the night as electric.

“It has grown exponentially over the years. It’s a huge night in the city,” Mullins said.

Mullins expects about 1,000 people to cycle through McGillin’s making it one of the bar’s busiest nights. The bar will not offer a package for New Year’s Eve to allow people to come and go as they please, Mullins said.

Many bars offer packages that include open bars and food buffets. Some bars offering special New Years Eve packages include McFadden’s, Tavern on Broad, Xfinity Live, Johnny Utah’s, Finnegan’s Wake, Lit Ultra Bar, Field House and Whisper. For specific details visit the bars’ websites.

New Years Eve at Piazza

New Year’s Eve at The Piazza has grown into a massive party drawing thousands of people to The Piazza at Schmidt’s. The event will include a 5-hour open bar, buffets, DJs, dancers and even light shows. At the inaugural event in 2011, 3,500 people showed up and it’s expected to be even bigger this year. Tickets are available at philadelphia.cities2night.com.

With all of theses options and more to choose from, it’s clear that Philadelphia takes New Year’s Eve seriously.

“It’s a very festive night,” Mullins said.

Kyle Noone can be reached at kyle.noone@temple.edu.

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