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The Big One-Four: Where to Ring in 2014
Music, fireworks, ski and snowboard exhibitions: New Year’s Eve in the Flathead
Skiers descend Ed’s Run on Big Mountain carrying torches as fireworks explode over the crowd at Whitefish Mountain Resort during the Torchlight Parade & Fireworks event. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
With only a few days left in 2013, it’s time to begin thinking about what 2014 will bring. But before the valley kicks into a new frame of mind to accommodate the changing calendar, there’s still time left to celebrate 2013’s exit and party in the hope of a great 2014.

There will be plenty happening in the Flathead, from Whitefish to Woods Bay, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to help revelers get in the spirit. For a complete list of activities, be sure to keep an eye on www.flatheadevents.net.

This city really comes alive on New Year’s Eve, with dozens of bands playing numerous music venues downtown to ring in the new year with First Night Flathead. The alcohol-free, family-friendly evening celebration has been rocking every Dec. 31 for the past 14 years, and this year’s 15th annual party intends on keeping the tradition alive and lively.

While New Year’s Eve is usually known for the confetti and kisses at midnight, First Night Flathead starts up at 1 p.m. Dec. 31 with free family activities at the Kalispell Center Mall and Red Lion Hotel and Convention Center.

Kids’ activities run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., with face painting, pony rides and bracelet making, then hat decorating from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Hula hooping also takes place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Participants can don their fancy decorated hats and join in on the First Night Flathead commencement parade; participants are invited to gather at the Red Lion Convention Center Lobby at 2:45 p.m. to join in the parade, which starts rolling at 3 p.m.
The parade will include Glacier High School Drum Majors Andy Ivanoff and Breana Franke; Montana Highlanders Pipe Major Rod Douglas; and Montana PBS’ Clifford, The Big Red Dog.

Music performances start at 7 p.m., and will include 30 performing artists in 11 venues. A $12 admission button, which can be purchased at more than a dozen outlets across the valley, get a participant into all these shows.

Artists scheduled to perform range across the musical spectrum, with solo shows, bluegrass groups like the Jesse Maw Trio; jazz from La Nota Blues and Jazz; community favorites such as Luke Dowler and The Savage Gentlemen, as well as Jack Gladstone.

The performances run until 12:30 a.m. And at 11:45 p.m., head over to the Red Lion Hotel Fireside Lounge where the Red Hot Blue Chips will be playing in the new year with a countdown.

For a complete list of performers, venues and button outlets, visit www.firstnightflathead.org

New Year’s Eve in Whitefish usually means two things: party on Big Mountain and party at the downtown venues.

Whitefish Mountain Resort will host its annual New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Big, beginning at 5 p.m. with the Skier Jam Session at the bottom of Ed’s Run, taking place until about 5:25 p.m.

(Skiers and snowboarders wanting to participate in the Skier Jam Session and the Rail Jam must register by 3 p.m. at the latest; pre-registration is recommended. Visit www.skiwhitefish.com for more info.)

From there, watch or take part in the Dash for Cash, where anyone can win $100, from 5:25 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. There will be separate categories for kids and adults.

From 5:40 p.m. to just after 6 p.m., the boarders take the hill for the Snowboard Jam, followed up at 6:10 p.m. by the finals for both the ski and snowboard divisions in the Rail Jam.

Immediately following the Rail Jam, enjoy the spectacle of skiers and snowboarders making their way down Ed’s Run with torches for the unique Torchlight Parade. Once the torches get to the bottom, the fireworks show begins, so keep an eye on the sky.

Concinando will play a free show at Ed and Mully’s from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and 20 Grand takes the stage at the Bierstube at 10 p.m. Tickets to the 20 Grand show are $25, and the resort says it will sell out. For ticketing information, call 862-1993; 21 and older only.

Whitefish’s downtown will be abuzz with the year-end festivities, with bars and restaurants hosting special events and bands.

For a list of shows, visit www.flatheadevents.net.

Woods Bay
Shake off 2013 with The Raven’s bracing tradition of jumping into the freezing waters of Flathead Lake in Woods Bay – about five miles south of Bigfork on Highway 35 – on Jan. 1 with the annual Polar Bear Plunge.

The fun begins at 11 a.m. with a chili feed, and the plungers hit the water at 2 p.m. It’s an incredible event to watch, and even more special to jump in.

For more information, visit www.sleepeatdrink.com/the-raven-restaurant or call 406-837-5472.
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