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In With the New 

Welcoming the first of the year with First Night

We made it! If you’re reading this, you survived doomsday and all the hype leading up to it. The world didn’t end, and neither did the fun. As Bing Crosby sang in his song “Let’s Start the New Year Right,” “Twelve o’clock tonight, when they dim the light, let’s begin.” It’s time to follow Bing’s lead and partake in festivities that showcase local and regional talent. St. Johnsbury’s and Burlington’s First Nights have much to celebrate — the cities mark their 20th and 30th years, respectively. Happy anniversary to those who have created so many memorable events.

Buy a button or a wristband — they’re your tickets to music, theater, dance and fireworks. Burlington’s fête begins at noon, while St. Johnsbury follows suit at 4 p.m.

The Queen City leaves no downtown stone unturned with its signature 12-hour arts festival. Headliners include Circus Smirkus, Tony Barrand and John Roberts, and Frenchy and the Punk, to name a few. Favorites such as the Dragon Parade, the House of LeMay ladies and the Bluegrass Gospel Project dazzle attendees yet again. Fireworks illuminate the sky twice, at 6 p.m. and midnight.

In the Northeast Kingdom, St. Johnsbury hosts headliners Wicked Smart Horn Band, among returning talent that includes fire artists Dancing Djinn. New equipment allows for better access to popular planetarium shows, while the Family Fun Fair lets kids run wild with creative activities. Revelers gather at the St. Johnsbury Academy Field House parking lot at 8:30 p.m. to set lighted lanterns aloft, then return at midnight to bid 2012 farewell with a fireworks show.

Former First Nighter Montpelier changes things up this year. See sidebar for highlights of the capital city’s New Year’s Eve bash — complete with a disco ball at city hall — along with a sampling of parades, parties and good eats in other towns.

So long, 2012; it’s been a (mostly) good one. Here’s to new beginnings!

*****

BURLINGTON

Monday, December 31, noon to midnight, at various downtown locations. $5-27 button; free for kids under 3; some shows require additional $4 tickets. Info, 863-6005. firstnightburlington.com

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Mix It Up

A bilingual singer and a former hardcore punk guitarist, influenced by world music, folk and the 1980s, channel vaudeville, cabaret and steampunk flair in their performances? Say what? It’s best just to watch and listen as Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland of Frenchy and the Punk do their thing. French-born Stephenson pens lyrics inspired by art, dance and travel, to which Helland brings compelling sound and style.

Frenchy and the Punk

9:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Flynn MainStage

If you like this, try: 35th Parallel

Grace United Methodist Church, 10 and 11 p.m. at First Night St. Johnsbury

Traditional Tunes

Tony Barrand and John Roberts had an unusual start to their now decades-long musical career. The Englishmen met at Cornell University in the late 1960s, where both were psychology graduate students. Since then, the two have established themselves as master interpreters of ballads from the British Isles — particularly sea shanties, drinking songs and seasonal carols. Passionate about the art form, both Barrand and Roberts also perform in Nowell Sing We Clear, a foursome known for its annual yuletide concert series.

Tony Barrand and John Roberts

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Flynn MainStage

If you like this, try: Bobbi and Me

Universalist Church, 6 and 9 p.m. at First Night St. Johnsbury

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Move to the Music

First Night veteran Karen Amirault of the Karen Amirault Dance Company & KIDZ pulls out all the stops with tributes to her First Night debut 30 years ago, along with new work. Guest artist Patty Smith joins 27 men, women and teens to meld swing dance with street-smart moves and vaudeville with Broadway. Tap dancers spin umbrellas to “Singin’ in the Rain,” while hip-hop and salsa students groove to Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor.” The troupe’s unique approach celebrates multiple generations and multiculturalism.

Karen Amirault Dance Company & KIDZ

2 to 2:40 p.m. and 6 to 6:40 p.m. at Burlington City Hall Auditorium; 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Flynn MainStage

If you like this, try: Dina Danielson Contemporary Dance Company

Morse Center for the Arts, St. Johnsbury Academy, 5 p.m. at First Night St. Johnsbury

******

ST. JOHNSBURY

Monday, December 31, 4 p.m. to midnight at various downtown locations. $13-20 wristband; $50 20th-anniversary commemorative blinking button; free for preschoolers. Info, 748-2600. firstnightstj.com

Horns and Harmonies

What began as a side project turned into a North Country icon. Fifteen years and four albums since they began, New Hampshire’s Wicked Smart Horn Band have performed at gubernatorial inaugurations, opened for the Oak Ridge Boys and played just about every kind of gig in between. This 11-member ensemble energizes blues and rock numbers with its collective musical strengths. Three saxophones and a clarinet punch out riffs that keep listeners’ feet moving.

Wicked Smart Horn Band

8 and 9 p.m. at Fuller Hall, St. Johnsbury Academy

If you like this, try: Gordon Stone Band

First Congregational Church Sanctuary, 8 to 8:40 p.m. at First Night Burlington

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Alacazam!

Whether using cards, coins and illusions or putting audience members into a trance, Marko the Magician & Hypnotist unfailingly elicits laughter and amazement. After studying under world-renowned hypnotist Ormond McGill, Marko began performing in 1970 and never stopped. His family-friendly shows entertain all ages and consistently incorporate new material. This year, he makes a special stop at the pancake supper to bring his act tableside.

Marko the Magician & Hypnotist

10 and 11 p.m. at Fuller Hall, St. Johnsbury Academy

If you like this, try: Christopher McBride

Flynn MainStage, 3 to 3:40 p.m. at First Night Burlington

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Dynamic Duo

With seamless harmonies and engaging songs, singer-songwriters Bob Amos and Patti Casey join forces on stage. Their mutual respect is evident, as each is an accomplished acoustic guitarist with an esteemed career. This is not the first time the two have collaborated. Casey is featured on Amos’ most recent album, Borrowed Time, and will appear with him in a series of concerts and events. Bassist Rob Morse and fiddler Freeman Corey accompany the pair.

Bob Amos & Patti Casey

8 and 9 p.m. at North Congregational Church

If you like this, try: Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen

First Congregational Church Theater, 8 to 8:40 p.m. at First Night Burlington

*****

And more for your New Year’s Eve consideration…

Slopeside

New Year’s Eve Torchlight & Fireworks Parade, 8 p.m. at Bolton Valley Resort. Free. Info, 877-926-5866. boltonvalley.com

New Year’s Eve Party & Fireworks, 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Jay Peak Resort, Foeger Ballroom & tramside. Call for price. Info, 988-2611. jaypeakresort.com

Fireworks & Torchlight Parade, 6:45 p.m. at Lincoln Peak, Sugarbush Resort in Warren. Call for price. Info, 800-537-8427. sugarbush.com

Music

‘Baroque and Blue’, 7 p.m. at Bethany Church in Montpelier. $10 suggested donation. Info, 223-9604. montpelieralive.org

Boogie on the Bayou New Year’s Eve Party, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield. $5. Info, 496-8994. bigpicturetheater.info

Castlerock Pub New Year’s Celebration, 9 p.m. at Sugarbush Resort in Warren. Free. Info, 800-537-8427. sugarbush.com

New Year’s Eve Party, 8 p.m. at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. $15. Info 382-9222, townhalltheater.org

The Concrete Rivals’ Beach Party Blast to 2013, 9 p.m. at Charlie-O’s in Montpelier. Costumes encouraged. Call for price. Info, 223-6820.

Dining

New Year’s Eve Dinner & Theater, 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Middlebury Inn. $88 includes wine, gratuity and admittance to Town Hall Theater party. Info, 382-9222.

New Year’s Gala, 7 p.m.-12:30 a.m. at ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center in Burlington. $125. Limited tickets. Info, 864-1848, ext. 134. echovermont.org/gala

Imagine: New Year’s Eve, 6:30 to 10 p.m. at NECI on Main in Montpelier. Limited seating; reservations required. Call for price. Info, 223-3188. neci.edu

New Year’s Eve Dinner & Dancing, 6, 6:30 and 7 p.m. seatings at North Hero House Inn & Restaurant. $59 plus tax & gratuity. Reservations required. Info, 372-4732. northherohouse.com

Mind & Body

New Year’s Eve Road Race, 3 p.m. at Pavilion State Office Building, Basement Auditorium in Montpelier. $10. Info, 223-9604. cvrunners.org

New Year’s Eve Ceremony, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Vermont Zen Center in Shelburne. Donations; bring a noisemaker. Info, 985-9746. vermontzen.org

FirstRun, 9:30 a.m. on January 1, starting at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington. $5-25. Info, 863-8412. runvermont.org


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