Light up the night with First Night light in downtown Kelowna

Kelowna heads toward a First Night celebration with a tentative start in Jim Sutart Park this year

  • Dec. 19, 2012 1:00 p.m.

New York New Year's runs in Jim Stuart Park where the skating rink sits.

A new year, a new plan for New Year’s Eve.

Kelowna will launch into 2013 New York-style, but not just because we’re incredibly classy.

The New York New Year’s Eve is the city’s family event on the waterfront. It has been nearly a decade since the last city-wide event and, as Festivals Kelowna hones in on how to develop a fantastic, kid-friendly celebration into more of a First Night affair, anyone in Jim Stuart Park this year will be able to enjoy music, a light show with strobe lights and fireworks, and snow games.

The trick of the event is that it’s set to run on the same clock as the iconic New York countdown so that children can celebrate without being out too late.

“It was the impetus of one of my staff, Ryan Donn, who spoke to me about it in the fall when we had just finished our summer activities,” said Renata Mills, Festivals Kelowna executive director. “We had just finished everything and were ready for the break, but he pushed for it.”

The pair figured out they could pull together a simple event without overloading the organization and the board of directors at Festivals Kelowna, which remains under the city umbrella for at least one more year, loved the concept.

As such, the New Years at Stuart Park celebration will run 6 to 9 p.m. and will include a snow zone with snowman building and simple games, a New Year’s countdown and land-based fireworks (as opposed to the Canada Day ones done from a barge).

The Merkins, headed by Jim Rhindress, will open the event with a 45-minute classic rock set, flowed by the Calum Hughes Collective. Hughes is best known for his work in Kinship, a Celtic rock group very popular in the area, but his new solo venture is more progressive rock.

His CBC Music bio dubs him an Eddie Vedder sounding Dave Matthews/David Gray-type whose been known to pick up the bagpipes in the middle of a rock show.

That will likely suit the band he’s opening for very well. Extremely popular and always on the move, Cod Gone Wild will bring the house down with their Celtic rock—or the skating ring as the case may be—as the event rolls on to midnight, New York time, or 9 p.m. here in Kelowna.

Next year, Festivals Kelowna is looking to take this event to the next level, so be sure to be on site for the beginning of First Night Kelowna, at least that’s the tentative plan.

A few other ideas for the evening might include:

Habitat is hosting it’s annual New Year’s Eve event with Neil E Dee’s Danger Thrill Show and The Neon Kitten Burlesque’s midnight performance to the backdrop of DJ Toddy Rockwell. Tickets are $20 online or $30 at the door

O’Flannigan’s Pub will host a New Year’s Eve shindig with a champagne toast and live music. Tickets are $10

-The Minstrel Café & Bar has a three-course dinner and music from Blue City Trio. Tickets are $79.97 and reservations are recommended, call 250-764-2301

-The Deb Stone Band plays The Blue Gator beginning at 8 p.m.

-The Cabana Grille hosts Viva Las Vegas with casino tables, show girls, live entertainment and classic cocktails. Tickets $115

Summerhill Pyramid Winery will host a Beatles-themed New Year’s celebration with dishes like the Sablefish BLT and the SGT Pepper’s beef strip loin. The meal is $50 or $65 with wine pairing and includes a midnight toast and tunes by Nicole Leger on piano. To reserve call 250-764-8000

-Haven’t seen the new senior’s centre by a new name? Come to the Parkinson Activity Centre, 1700 Parkinson Way, and dance to Jambalaya, enjoy a midnight buffet and champagne, and all for $35. Tickets available at PAC front desk, 1800 Parkinson Way (Highway 97). Sponsored by the Lift What’s Draggin’, Kelowna’s Senior Dragon Boat Team. For information call 250-860-6786

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