Celebrate a brand new year in Connecticut, a tiny state that packs in a huge range of activities. Whether your idea of the perfect New Year’s Eve includes early fireworks with your family in historic Westport, or dancing until dawn at the rollicking Foxwoods Resort Casino, this friendly New England state has it all. As you research vacation rentals in Connecticut, consider these great locations — each one is known for fun and vivacious New Year’s celebrations.
Start the year off with a fun, festive evening at the Mohegan Sun, a sprawling casino in Uncasville. Celebrate with thousands of other revelers in the enormous Mohegan Sun Arena, which brings in a different comedy or music headliner each year. For dancing and live music, head to the Wolf Den concert hall, or pop down to the Comix Craft Beer Bar and Grill for a laid-back evening. At Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, enjoy tropical cocktails and live music as the clock strikes midnight.
If you’re deciding where to go in Connecticut for New Year’s Eve with the kids, Hartford is a great choice. The city hosts an annual First Night celebration to welcome the new year; the event is alcohol-free and family-friendly. Start with dinner specials at downtown restaurants, and bundle up to enjoy an evening packed with local performers, rides on the Bushnell carousel, and strolls through displays by Hartford artists. Don’t worry if your little ones can’t make it until midnight; First Night includes two fireworks displays in Bushnell Park, one in the early evening and one as the clock strikes twelve.
Spend New Year’s Eve by the sea in Stamford. Join the locals at the Dancing New Year’s Eve at the Sheraton Hotel, where you can enjoy dinner, dancing, and a champagne toast at midnight. If your local vacation rental is near the Metro North train, leave your car behind and take the train to the Stamford Station, which is less than a mile from the venue. Elsewhere in town, McFadden’s Saloon and BarBQ team up for a fun, relaxed New Year’s Eve event that includes dancing, drinks, and multiple DJs.
Bring your favorite black-tie apparel for New Year’s Eve in Mystic. Each year, the Mystic Aquarium hosts a formal party, complete with dinner, live music, and dancing. The event takes place in the Main Gallery, where you can watch fish swim by as you ring in the new year. If you’re searching for a more casual get-together, head to the Ancient Mariner or the Captain Daniel Packer Inne, where locals and visitors gather for cocktails and music.
One of the biggest parties in Connecticut happens in Mashantucket, the home of the enormous Foxwoods Resort Casino. Choose from a variety of celebrations in the casino’s many venues; enjoy music and a relaxed atmosphere at the Hard Rock Cafe, dress up for dancing and champagne at the elegant parting in the Grand Pequot Ballroom, or dance all night at the Shrine nightclub. Other onsite venues with individual parties include Centrale, the Atrium Bar and Lounge, and the High Rollers Luxury Lanes and Lounge. Before the party, make the short drive to nearby Ledyard for the Auld Lang Syne 5K, a fun, family-friendly race. Run or walk the scenic course, which meanders through the forest on the Colonel Ledyard Park Trail.
6. New Haven
Enjoy the youthful spirit in New Haven on New Year’s Eve. The city’s many bars and restaurants burst with activity, so you can pick one or hop between different venues. Fill up on pizza and beer in a club atmosphere at BAR, or soak in the sophisticated vibe at the Union League Cafe, which offers more than 30 types of champagne to toast at midnight. The next day, start your new year off on the right foot at the Frosty 5K Road Race, which happens a short drive away on the Guilford Green. Bring the whole family; the event also features a 2K walk and a kids’ fun run. Alternatively, nearby Orange also hosts the Chilly Chili Run and Brunch, which welcomes walkers and wheelchair participants.
If you’re traveling to Connecticut with kids, Norwalk is a great option. The Maritime Museum hosts an annual Noon Years Eve, a celebration for families and kids. During the afternoon, enjoy music from a DJ as you participate in kids’ activities, countdown to noon, and watch a family-friendly comedian. For foodies, check out the special New Year’s Eve menus and entertainment at The Spread or the Barcelona Wine Bar.
Welcome the new year with a casual family outing in Westport, which comes to life on December 31 with the kid-friendly First Night. Park downtown and enjoy views of the Saugatuck River as you get your faces painted, watch kids’ entertainers, and watch the stars through telescopes provided by the Westport Astronomical Society. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride, warm your hands at the fire on Jesup Green, and end the evening with the fireworks display.
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