While a good number of us spend the evening with friends, family, fellow club members, or regulars at a neighborhood bar, others seek out something different or new. With that in mind, the following notes on area and regional happenings may be a help.
Hogmanay Bonfire, Brearley House, 100 Meadow Road, Lawrenceville. 6 p.m. Free. www.thelhs.org.
The proverbial hot time is to be had at the Brearley House, the 1761 mansion operated by the Lawrenceville Historical Society. Now in its 15th year a Hogmanay bonfire has become a regional New Year’s Eve Tradition.
According to the society, “Hogmanay is an old Scottish traditional way of greeting the new year. Celebrants are encouraged to write down any bad things that happened in the old year and throw them on the fire pile before it is ignited. The festive blaze generally lasts about an hour, leaving time for people to attend other events later in the evening.”
As bagpipers provide the appropriate music for a Scottish-themed event, firemasters Joe Logan and Tom Ledwith will light the fire at 6 p.m. in the Great Meadow next to the colonial-era house. The free event includes hot beverages and donut holes.
The Brearley House is located at the end of Meadow Road, on the right just past the lights at Lenox Drive and Lewisville Road in Lawrence. A sign for the Brearley House marks the intersection.
For the first time this year, guests will park in the Princeton Pike Corporate Center parking lot, which they will enter at the traffic light at Lenox Drive, 100 yards south of Meadow Road. From the parking lot, they may walk a lighted portion of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail a quarter-mile to the bonfire site or ride in the free shuttle-bus.
“Salute to Vienna,” State Theater, 15 Livinston Avenue, New Brunswick. 6 p.m. $47 to $107. 732-246-7469 or www.statetheatrenj.org.
In New Brunswick, the State Theater will present “Salute to Vienna” with the Strauss Symphony of America. The night is patterned after the Vienna Philharmonic’s traditional New Year’s Eve concert, which began in 1939 with a program of Vienna composers to show nationally identity during Nazi occupation. The New Brunswick event features 75 musicians and music by Johann Strauss. Performers include Swedish conductor Mika Kichenholz, Hungarian soprano Monika Fischl, Vienna-based singer Michael Heim, and costumed dancers from the Ukraine.
Princeton Country Dancers, Suzanne Patterson Center, 1 Monument Drive, Princeton. 7 p.m. $20 general admission, $15 seniors (65+), $10 for students. www.princetoncountrydancers.org.
The Princeton County Dancers bring in the new year with contra and English dancing at the Suzanne Patterson Center Borough Hall in Princeton. No partner is required, but clean soft-soled shoes are. Decorating the hall starts at 7 p.m.; a beginners’ workshop follows at 7:30 p.m.; and then the dancing commences at 8 p.m.
Villagers Theater, 475 De Mott Lane, Somerset. 732-873-2710 or www.villagerstheatre.com.
The Villagers Theater in Somerset presents its “Cruise Into 2013 New Year’s Eve Celebration,” featuring popular music from the last 40 years. Two “cruises” are scheduled. The first is the 7 p.m. show-only presentation ($25). Then there’s the 9:30 p.m. gala and show that includes party, hot buffet, desserts, and beverages ($60).
G&J Studios, Jill Center Suite 15, Hillsborough. 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. $50. 908-892-0344, 908-892-0658, or www.gandjstudios.com.
G&J Studios, Slovak national champion ballroom dancers Derek Gabor and Denisa Jancusova’s dance studio, will host a New Year’s Eve dance party at their dance studios, 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., $50.
Cranbury Christmas Lights, 128 North Main Street, Cranbury. cranburychristmaslights.com.
The Cranbury Christmas Lights house closes down its sixth year of making everything bright with its final 50-minute shows at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. The show boasts 75,000 lights dancing to music while being controlled by 432 channels and 22,000 feet of extension cord. Visitors are invited to watch on the lawn or view the show from the car, listening to the music broadcast on FM radio. There is also the chance to spread some holiday spirit by donating to the house’s designated charitable cause, He Cares We Care.
New Year’s Day
The State Theater in New Brunswick, in association with Emerging Pictures, broadcasts the live HD Ballet In Cinema presentation of the Royal Ballet’s live from London performance of “Giselle,” featuring the choreography of the “father of classical ballet,” Marius Petipa.
State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. 2 p.m. $7 students, $12 adults. 732-246-7469 or www.statetheatrenj.org.
The Princeton Battlefield Society will sponsor a New Year’s Day Battle of Princeton tour. William P. Tatum III, society trustee and noted British Army historian, will trace the steps of the battle that actually occurred on January 3, 1777, giving attendees an appreciation of the battle and 18th-century combat. The real-time event tour begins at 7 a.m. and will conclude around 9:30 a.m. Boots and warm clothing are recommended.
Princeton Battlefield State Park, 500 Mercer Road, Princeton. Suggested donation $5. www.theprincetonbattlefieldsociety.com.
The 31st Hamilton Hangover five-mile race takes place in Veterans Park in Hamilton Township. While the New Year’s Day race time is 12:30 p.m., registration is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. In addition to the five-mile race, a one-mile fun run starts at noon. Five-mile participants get a t-shirt, and prizes are awarded to the top finishers overall and in each age group.
Hamilton Hangover, Veterans Park, 2206 Kuser Avenue, Hamilton. Noon. $20 pre-registered; $25 day of race; $10 fun run. www.bandlracetiming.com.
In Leagues of
While not in our immediate neighborhood, two major events take place on New Year’s Day and are great choices for a return visit or a first time experience.
The Mummers Parade in Philadelphia is the oldest folk parade in the United States. Following practices that stretch back to ancient Egypt and Rome, the Philadelphia Mummers tradition started in the 17th century with the arrival of the Swedes who, as the official Mummers website says, “Welcomed the New Year with masquerades and parades of noisy revelers. Most people carried firearms for protection in those early days of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and it did not take long before pistols and muskets joined with bells and noisemakers to create the sound of a New Year. Those who ‘shot in’ the New Year became New Year’s Shooters, and thus the name much later evolved to officially become the New Year’s Shooters and Mummers Association. Groups would travel from house to house, sing songs, and perform dances — all to be rewarded with food and drink.”
In 1901 the uncoordinated groups that practiced the noisy celebrations were consolidated into an official parade that continues with song, costumes, dancing, and unsanctioned drinking.
One of the invisible elements of most Mummers groups is the dedication of its participants. As the website notes, “With all the meeting and prepping the Mummers spend close to over 2,000 hours in just prepping their costumes, music, and drill rehearsals.”
The daylong event starts at 10 a.m. and travels along South Broad Street, starting at Washington Street and continuing to City Hall. Public transportation is a good idea, but brave drivers may be able to find free parking.
For information, go to www.visitphilly.com/events/philadelphia/the-mummers-parade.
The St. Mark’s 39 Annual Poetry Marathon Benefit Reading in New York City starts at 2 p.m. and continues throughout the night.
Set in the historic St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, the reading is an eclectic and eccentric ceremony of the spoken word. With a mixture of New York icons — Anne Waldman Judith Malina, Suzanne Vega, John Giorno, and others –– to newcomers, the roster includes more than a hundred readers and performers volunteering to help keep voices heard at the project that began at St. Mark’s in 1966.
As organizers note, “Whether you stay for a little while or for the long haul, whether you’re part of the standing room only experience at sunset or with the handful of diehards as the final poet reads her last word in the predawn sanctuary, you will be transformed for the year to come.”
The Poetry Project, St. Marks Church, 131 E. 10th Street, New York. $20.
For more information: 212-674-0910 or poetryproject.org.
Or one can simply take a walk in the scores of parks and paths in our area, reflect on the past and welcome the events waiting in 2013.
Brothers Moon, 7 West Broad Street, Hopewell, 609-333-1330. www.brothersMoon.com. Six-course dinner. BYOB. Register. $89. 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Jeff Pirrami, RC Smith, and Geno Bisconte, Catch a Rising Star, Hyatt Regency, 102 Carnegie Center, West Windsor, 609-987-8018. www.catcharisingstar.com. New Year’s Eve gala in the main ballroom. Comedy show at 9:30 p.m. Cocktail reception, five course surf and turf seated dinner, dessert buffet, champagne toast, open bar, party favors, balloon burst, dancing, a hotel room, and more. Register. $199 per person with a hotel room; $150 without. 6:30 p.m.
Multimedia Light Show, Cranbury Christmas Lights, 128 North Main Street, Cranbury. cranburyChristmasLights.com. More than 20,000 lights controlled by 432 channels and 22,000 feet of extension cords includes a “Shooting Fountain of Light,” a wall of snowflakes, and a mega tree. Free will donations for area food banks. The 50-minute show begins on the hour. Visitors may tune to the radio station posted to watch the lights dance to the music. 6 to 9 p.m.
G&J Studios, 5 Jill Court, Suite 15, Hillsborough, 908-892-0344. www.gandjstudios.com. Buffet dinner, line and general dances, games, and more. Register. $50. 7:30 p.m.
Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra, Patriots Theater, War Memorial, Trenton, 609-396-5522. www.trentixnj.com. The special concert includes symphonic favorites and music from Broadway and Hollywood films. The program features music by George Gershwin, Johann Strauss Jr., Jean Sibelius, Leonard Bernstein, Bill Holcombe, and others. There are also selections from “Empress,” a new musical with music by Brian Katona and lyrics by Barry Harman. Conductor Katona will be joined by Broadway singer and actress Alison Fraser and pianist Steven Ryan. $25 to $65. 8 p.m.
India Hut Restaurant, 10 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro, 609-936-8484. . Music, food buffet, and more. BYOB. Register. $25. 8 p.m.
Hogmanay Bonfire, Lawrence Historical Society, Brearley House, Meadow Lane, Lawrenceville, 609-895-1728. www.thelhs.org. Revelers of all ages gather in the Maidenhead Great Meadow to light up the night with a traditional Scottish New Year’s Eve bonfire. The ancient tradition celebrates a clean break from all that had been bad in the old year. Hot cocoa, cake, and music follow indoors at the Brearley House. Free. 6 p.m.
Patriots’ Week, Trenton, 609-777-1770. www.patriotsweek.com. Princeton Battlefield bus tour at 9 a.m.; 300 year anniversary of the Historic First Presbyterian Church at noon; peace vigil at 5 p.m. 9 a.m.
English Contra Dance, Princeton Country Dancers, Suzanne Patterson Center, Monument Drive, 609-924-6763. www.princetoncountrydancers.org. Basics workshop, pot luck dessert buffet, dancing. $20. 7 p.m.
Princeton Elks, 354 Route 518, Blawenburg, 908-616-1787. Dancing, DJ, pot luck dinner, open bar. Register. 9 p.m.
Rat’s Restaurant, 126 Sculptor’s Way, Hamilton, 609-584-7800. www.groundsforsculpture.org. Choose dinner from regular menu, or a five-course tasting menu with wine ($150) or without wine ($95). Champagne toast at midnight. Dance music begins at 8 p.m. Register. 5 p.m.
Rho Ristorante, 50 Riverview Plaza, Waterfront Park, Route 29, Trenton, 609-393-7300. www.rhowaterfront.com. Three packages all include party favors and a champagne toast. White package includes open bar from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., $45. Gold package includes open bar from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., appetizer and dinner buffet, and continental breakfast, $60. Platinum package includes the gold package with a bottle of champagne, appetizers served at your table, and a cocktail server, $89. Must be 21. 8:30 p.m.
Salt Creek Grille, One Rockingham Row, Forrestal Village, Plainsboro, 609-419-4200. www.saltcreekgrille.com. Prix fixe menu, four hour open bar, and music from Gyrl Band. Register. $99. (Dinner from a la carte menu available from 4 to 6:30 p.m.) 8 p.m.
Sens Asian Cuisine, 4095 Route 1 South, Monmouth Junction, 732-438-6626. Singles event with dancing, buffet dinner, DJ, party favors, and more. BYOB. Register with Gary at National Business Adjusters by Thursday, December 27. $55. 9 p.m.
Stage Left, 5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-828-4444. www.stageleft.com. Hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dessert, and wine. Fireworks outside at midnight. Register. $149. 8:30 p.m.
Salute to Vienna, State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. www.StateTheatreNJ.org. More than 75 musicians, singers, and dancers with Strauss waltzes, polkas, and operetta pieces. $67 to $107. 6 p.m.
Station Bar and Grill, 2625 Route 130 South, Cranbury, 609-655-5550. www.stationbarandgrill.com. Hors d’oeuvres, hats, horns, and champagne at midnight. 9 p.m.
John Henry Goldman and the Straight Jazz Trio, Tusk Restaurant, 1736 Route 206 South, Montgomery, 908-829-3417. www.tuskrestaurant.com. Celebration, dinner, and music. Goldman on trumpet, Sue Giles on vocals, Wilbo Wright on upright bass, and Spencer Caton on piano, and Joe Falcey on drums. Register. 9 p.m.
Vidalia, 21 Phillips Avenue, Lawrenceville, 609-896-4444. www.eatatvidalia.com. Four-course meal. Register. $69. 6 p.m.
Villagers Theater, 475 DeMott Lane, Somerset, 732-873-2710. www.villagerstheatre.com. Popular music from the last 40 years presented by 18 performers. Early show, $25. Late show includes a post-show party with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and midnight champagne toast, $60. 7 p.m.