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New Years in Whistler: What's on

There are organized events for families — and free Fire & Ice and fireworks at midnight



You may not be recovered from the turkey yet, but let's talk about champagne and canapés.

New Year's Eve is coming up quick and Whistler knows a thing or two about how to celebrate the big night.

Gala dinners are planned at restaurants and hotels around the resort for those wanting a dinner-dance experience. Reservations are recommended.

The nightclubs will, of course, be pushing all the rhythms — live music and DJs — for more information visit Pique's Nightlife listings on page 106.

And Whistler's three annual family events — at Whistler Olympic Plaza, Millennium Place and the Whistler Conference Centre — merge together each New Year's Eve to offer a splendid night out for the entire family.

And it's recommended that you get your glitter on for the occasion.

"The theme that is tying everything together this year is gold. It ties all the venues," says Whistler Arts Council (WAC) events coordinator Anna Solich.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden says she wants visitors to know there is "so much going on." Locals, of course, will also be out in force.

Whistler Presents New Year's Eve allows participants to choose a family adventure to suit the ages of youngsters and the young at heart.

Please note that Whistler Presents participants need to purchase a wristband for all-access to the three venues. They can be purchased early: $15 (ages 13 years+) and $10 (ages 12 and under). Adult tickets go up to $20 on Dec. 31.

Wristbands that gain access to all three venues can be purchased at the Whistler Visitor Centre, Meadow Park Sports Centre, Millennium Place and Whistler.com/holiday.

"The events are a ton of fun, I have to say," says Wilhelm-Morden. "It's a fantastic event. There is always a good vibe. It's family friendly and alcohol free."

At the Whistler Olympic Plaza ice rink there is free use of skates with an NYE wristband. There is also a Cheese! Box photo booth onsite, too. Paintertainment skaters will be playing for laughs. Note, only a limited number of skates will be available.

Millennium Place will show off arts and crafts, games, performances and more.

Solich has been planning it since last summer.

For the 10 to 13 year olds there are arcade games, video games, pool, crafts and lego building, Solich says.

For the three to 10 year olds there is crafts, dress-up storytelling, the Ta Daa Lady, Angela Brown, and her magical tent, a small dance floor and face painting and glitter tattoos.

"And we've got two New Year's Eve countdowns, one at 7:40 p.m. and another at 9:20 p.m," Solich adds.

"Both will have the same things, a stomp, a giant balloon drop, followed by a mystery performance. We do have a limit of 240 capacity for each countdown. We will be giving out stamps on the night as of 6 p.m. at the main door (of Millennium Place). We will start with filling up the 7:40 p.m. countdown and then move to the 9:20 p.m. countdown.

"The reason for this is to ensure our guests' comfort and safety."

The first countdown is hosted by Ira Pettle, the second hosted by Tony Smith.

At the third venue, the Whistler Conference Centre, there will be activities and entertainment for all ages, from bouncy castles to a Much Music Teen Dance Party, which Solich says is free with the wristband.

"There are some great activities happening there," says Solich. "It is not the same as the Holiday Experiences nights that have been running. They will have some of it there but they will also add so much more on the night."

Whistler Olympic Plaza and Millennium Place events run from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Events at the Whistler Conference Centre run from 6 p.m. until 12:15 p.m.

There will be three New Year's countdowns, two at Millennium Place at 8 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. and the third at the Whistler Conference Centre at 9 p.m.

The real countdown kicks off at 11:30 p.m. with the Fire & Ice show, with jumps made by amazing skiers and snowboarders at the base of Whistler Mountain at Skier's Plaza. This is followed by fireworks to ring in 2015. These two events are free.

"What my family usually does is walk into the village from Alpine Meadows and we find an outdoor patio and watch some music. Then we watch the Fire and Ice show and the fireworks at midnight at Skier's Plaza," says Wilhelm-Morden.

"Then we take the free bus home. It's such a great night."

The free bus service starts at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve and ends in the early hours of New Year's Day.

"There is no reason to drive into the village," Wilhelm-Morden says. "People need to know that it is a family-oriented celebration."

Meanwhile, Whistler Presents' Family Après of free activities continues through the winter, says Solich. It takes place at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Mondays and Wednesdays (excluding New Year's Eve) from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


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