For years, New Year's Eve in the Valley has been much more than one year giving way to the next. It's been a time to come up with activities for hordes of out-of-staters to do while they're here for bowl games.
And once again there's plenty to do for both locals and tourists this year.
|Illustration by Gabriel Utasi, Tribune|
FIESTA BOWL BLOCK PARTY
The biggest New Year's Eve party that everyone can attend, will be held on Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe. The Insight Fiesta Bowl Block Party will start an hour later than in years past at 5 p.m., and will run an hour later until 1 a.m. Eighties-era band Styx will be the headline entertainers, with 40 more entertainers, dueling guitars and an "air guitar stage" among the activities along Mill between Rio Salado Parkway and University Drive.
The block party, which typically attracts around 100,000 revelers, will add a third fireworks display this year at 12:45 a.m. Thursday, along with two at midnight. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. www.fiestabowl.org/index.php/events/blockparty/
BATTLE OF THE BANDS
For those people who endure much of the first half of a college football game just to get a glimpse of the halftime marching band performances, downtown Scottsdale will stage four such bands - two Tuesday and two Saturday - all music, no football.
Bands representing universities whose teams are playing in local college football bowl games will compete in a "battle of the bands." A simulated stadium has been constructed in a vacant lot just south of the Nordstrom department store for both "battles."
Bands representing Insight Bowl foes from the universities of Kansas and Minnesota will perform 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The football teams will play Wednesday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
Bands from Fiesta Bowl opponents the University of Texas and Ohio State University perform 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the same site. The teams will play Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Tickets for each "battle" are $15 and $8 for students with a student ID. Tickets can be purchased at www.fiestabowl.org, at the Fiesta Bowl office in Downtown Scottsdale, at the gate the night of the events, or by calling (480) 350-0911.
Free parking is available at nearby garages.
NATIONAL BAND CHAMPIONSHIP
Chandler High School will represent Arizona and the East Valley in the Fiesta Bowl National Band Championship on Thursday. This is the second time in three years the band has received the honor.
The championship starts at 11 a.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium. Chandler High is tentatively scheduled to perform at 11:45 a.m.
There are 13 bands participating from as far away as New Hampshire, Tennessee and Florida.
The top eight bands in the morning session will return for the finals at 6:30 p.m. where the national champion will be chosen.
Tickets are available online and range from $16 to $29, plus online service fees. They are good for both the morning and evening sessions.
The Chandler High band will also march in the Fiesta Bowl Parade, which begins 11 a.m. Saturday on Central Avenue north of Montebello Avenue in central Phoenix. During the game on Monday, the band will unfurl the football-field-size American flag during the pregame show.
SCOTTSDALE BLOCK PARTY
In Scottsdale, the Ultimate New Year's Eve Block Party is slated to start at 6 p.m. Wednesday downtown. The 21-and-over event, along Craftsman Court between Fifth and Third avenues, will feature musical acts including the Gin Blossoms and the Dan Band on two stages, along with a dance area, food and fireworks.
Tickets are available at $20 advance presale, or $8 at the gate from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Organizers have said the block party attracts about 10,000 people a year. For more information, visit www.scottsdalesultimateblockparty.com.
MAYOR'S PARTY IN GILBERT
Anyone who thinks they might be a little bit out of their element Wednesday at one of the higher-profile, noisier events in Scottsdale and Tempe could head to Gilbert, where Mayor Steve Berman is hosting his seventh Mayor's New Year's Eve Party.
Berman said the event was inspired by his experience at the Tempe block party, where "I never felt so old or so straight in my life."
The alcohol-free event will offer entertainment for all ages: supervised play for those under 5, a bowling-themed center for kids up to age 12, a disc jo programming rock music for high-schoolers and a band playing music from the 1960s and '70s for adults.
The corporate donations that traditionally support this event have been hard to come by this year, Berman said Friday. He'd raised $7,500 for this year's event, compared to $30,000 in 2007. The decorating budget has taken the biggest hit, he said.
The event will run from 8 p.m. to midnight, and admission is $2 per person or $5 per family, with food and drinks available inside the event. It will be held at McQueen Park Activity Center, 510 N. Horne St., and typically attracts about 1,000 people.
'70s-Themed New Year's Eve Party: 8 p.m. at Radisson Fort McDowell Resort-Casino, 10438 N. Fort McDowell Road, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. $70 through Wednesday, $75 at the door. (480) 789-5300. http://www.radisson.com/offers/872716/rad
A Totally '80's New Year: with Rock Lobster and Knee Deep Experience featuring live music, food, wine, dancing, party favors, auction, casino, oxygen bar and palm reader. 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Venue of Scottsdale, 7117 E. Third Ave. $15 includes one drink ticket; casino and palm reader additional. A portion of the evening's proceeds go to Brandon Webb's K- Foundation and UMOM New Day Center. (480) 945-5150 or www.partysnbeyond.com.
ArabHorse.com New Year's Arabian Farm Tour: Visit farms, see and touch the beautiful horses and get acquainted with many of Scottsdale's most prominent Arabian people plus door prize raffles ranging in value from $40-$400. Various times and multiple Scottsdale and Cave Creek locations through Jan. 11. Free admission. (480) 889-4750 or www.arabians.com for addresses and schedules.
Celebrate New Year's Eve with the Phoenix Symphony and a tribute to Broadway: "The World's Longest Running Phantom," Franc D'Ambrosio, joins the symphony to perform some of Broadway's biggest hits, concluding the evening with a New Year's tradition, Auld Lang Syne. 7 p.m. Wednesday. Phoenix Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second St. $26-$76 includes a complimentary glass of champagne. (602) 495-1999.
Cheuvront New Year's Eve Dinner: 4 p.m. Cheuvront Restaurant and Wine Bar, 1326 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. $75 per person or $95 per person with wine pairings. (602) 307-0022 or www.cheuvronts.com.
Dance for the Cure: Dan Saleaumua, former NFL star and longtime Phoenix resident, hosts a New Year's Eve party with raffles, prizes, and live music benefiting the American Cancer Society. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday. The Raven Golf Club at South Mountain, 3636 E. Baseline Road, Phoenix. $25. (602) 295-9797 or www.saleaumua.com.
Sassi New Year's Eve 2008: A multicourse Italian dinner and champagne accompany live music from the Frank Smith Jazz Quartet. 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday. Sassi, 10455 E. Pinnacle Peak Parkway, Scottsdale. $100-$150. (480) 502-9095 or www.sassi.biz.
Friends of Tempe Center for the Arts New Year's Eve Bash: No-host drinks and hors d'oeuvres followed by a complete dinner and dessert buffet with complimentary wine in the 201 Lounge plus complimentary champagne and 10 p.m. fireworks show. 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday. Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. $100, parking included. (480) 350-2884 or www.friendsoftca.org.
Insight Fiesta Bowl Block Party: Featuring the legendary rock band Styx and more than 40 local bands and entertainers, beer gardens, dueling pianos, freestyle motocross jumpers plus fireworks displays and an official midnight countdown drop. 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tempe Beach Park, 54 W. Rio Salado Parkway. $15 advance; $20 at gate. (480) 350-8625 or www.fiestabowl.org.
Jerry Riopelle: 9 p.m. show with doors opening at 7 p.m. $40-$95. Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix. $49-$89. (602) 267-1600.
Lewis Black: The satirist and stand-up comic performs 8 p.m. New Year's Eve. Dodge Theatre, 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix. $40-$72. (602) 379-2800.
Mesa Arizona Temple Garden: Christmas lights, trees, shrubs, walls, walkways and water features are trimmed in colored lights with a 7 p.m. daily performance by a Valley choir, ensemble or soloist on the stage on the south side of the center. Arizona Missionary Choir performs New Year's Eve. Daily lighting 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Thursday. 525 E. Main St., Mesa. Free. (480) 964-7164 or www.christmastemplelights.com.
Rawhide's New Year's Eve Bash: Ring in the new year with an outdoor dinner, complimentary sparkling drink, goody bag with noisemaker and hat, live music from the Steve Barker Band, the magic of Dick Casey, plus roast marshmallows around the campfire, and hear tales and dance under the stars 5:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass, 5700 W. North Loop Road, Gila River Indian Community near Chandler. $25-$35 including all-access town pass and New Year's Eve party. (480) 502-5600. www.rawhide.com.
New Year's Eve Kids Party: Games, crafts and a special parade to celebrate the holiday. 2 p.m. Wednesday. Borders, 10100 W. McDowell Road, Avondale. Free. (623) 478-9880.
New Year's Eve with Frank Caliendo: Celebrate with the star of the sketch comedy show "Frank TV," plus a balloon drop at midnight and a New Year's toast. 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday. Tempe Improv, 930 E. University Drive. $60-$65. (480) 921-9877.
Noon Year's Eve at the zoo: Ring in the "noon" year with Radio Disney, tons and tons of snow, interactive children's activities and more including a New Year's sparkling cider toast at noon. Free for Phoenix Zoo members or with a regular paid admission. 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday. The Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway. Free with admission. (602) 273-1341. www.phoenixzoo.org.
Tribune writers Michelle Reese, Ari Cohn and Mark Scarp contributed to this report.