Remember when New Year's Eve meant banging pots and pans at home at midnight and then getting up early for the Mummers in the morning?
The Mummers are still around, but New Year's Eve in the Philadelphia region - and in Atlantic City - is now a fiesta of partying and spectacular fireworks. Even at this late date, there is an opportunity to make plans for the big weekend. Here are some ideas to consider:
The new SugarHouse Casino on the Delaware River is sponsoring New Year's Eve fireworks - and this year, there will be an early-evening show at 6 p.m. and a midnight blast. Both presentations will be along Penn's Landing, so the best places to watch are on either bank of the Delaware River, where there will be special viewing places.
One venue with a great view is the Blue Cross River Rink, which will throw its "New Year's Eve Party on Ice" for the whole family from 5 to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. The price is $30 for skaters and $20 for spectators. Blue Cross River Rink, Columbus Boulevard and Market Street. 215-925-7465.
For a good view of the early fireworks, you can amble down to the Independence Seaport Museum, where there will be self-guided tours of the submarine Becuna and the cruiser Olympia before sparkling cider and noisemakers on the second-floor balcony to accompany the 6 p.m. show. Independence Seaport Museum, Columbus Boulevard at Walnut Street. 215-413-8655.
On the Camden side, the Battleship New Jersey will offer a New Year's Eve sleepover. Dinner will start in the ship's mess, and a ride on a flight simulator and tour of the ship are offered. There will be a nonalcoholic toast during the midnight fireworks. Battleship New Jersey, 62 Battleship Place, Camden. 856-966-1652.
Plenty of fireworks-free, pre-midnight celebrations are being planned at other well-known city sites, including a fete where you can give one of the city's favorite old gals a birthday salute. Betsy Ross would have turned 259 on New Year's Day, so there will be cake and kid crafts at her house Dec. 31 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free with museum admission. Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch St. 215-629-4026.
For those too young to keep their eyes open until midnight, the Please Touch Museum presents its annual "Countdown to Noon" on Friday. The museum opens at 9 a.m. and will have "Noon Year" music and confetti at noon and again at 1 p.m. Free with museum admission. Please Touch Museum, Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic. 215-581-3181.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art will have a "New Year's Eve Pre-Party" from 5 to 8:45 p.m., with its galleries open and a band playing. Free with museum admission. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and the Parkway. 215-763-8100.
If you just want to partypartyparty, you have options! The National Constitution Center will be decked out for its "Glitter City Gala," with DJs and bands, including the Sensational Soul Cruisers. The dancing and other reveling will take a break during the midnight fireworks. $120 to $175. National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St. 215-409-6700.
The Crystal Tea Room in the old Wanamaker Building, now Macy's, will host the fifth annual "12Midnight," a gala with open bars, VIP rooms, and lots of DJ-driven dancing. $99 to $175. Crystal Tea Room, 13th and Market Streets, 1-866-824-8212.
Will Smith's sidekick, DJ Jazzy Jeff, will be in West Philadelphia, where he and Smith were "born and raised," as the song goes, conducting the party at the Blockley Pourhouse. $75 to $85. Blockley Pourhouse, 3801 Chestnut St. 215-222-1234.
On the same side of the Schuylkill, the World Cafe Live New Year's Eve Party will feature Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. For a preview, see Page 17.
New Year's used to be a bleak time in Atlantic City, but many of the casinos are going all-out with topline entertainment and big-time parties. Here is a sampling:
Showboat's House of Blues will host Maroon 5 New Year's Eve ($65 to $75) and Third Eye Blind on New Year's Day. ($37.50 to $45). House of Blues, 801 Boardwalk, 609-343-4000.
Seminal bluesman B.B. King will be the New Year's Eve entertainment at Harrah's Resort ($55 to $95), and erstwhile porn star Sasha Grey, who played Vinnie's love interest last year in HBO's Entourage, will be the New Year's hostess at the Pool After Dark ($20 and up). Harrah's Resort, 777 Harrah's Blvd., 609-441-5000
Sarah McLachlan will be at the Circus Maximus at Caesars on the Boardwalk ($70 to $115) for New Year's Eve. Caesars Atlantic City, 2100 Pacific Ave. 1-800-745-3000.
The soul group the O'Jays will be the fare at the Atlantic City Hilton at 8 p.m. Saturday ($50). Atlantic City Hilton, 3400 Pacific Ave., 609-347-7111.
The Borgata will have three different shows for the weekend. On New Year's Eve, Joel McHale of the TV show Talk Soup will hold court ($65 to $75), and on Saturday night customers can choose from Carrie Underwood at 8 p.m. ($95 to $185) and Frankie Valli at 9 p.m. ($65). The Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, 609-317-1000.
Bobby Vinton, the Polish Prince, is still a big draw in Atlantic City, and Resorts has him at 10:30 p.m. New Year's Eve ($35 to $55) and 8 p.m. New Year's Day ($25 to $35) at the Superstar Theater. Resorts Atlantic City, 1133 Boardwalk, 609-340-6000.
The Rest of the Weekend
Philadelphia's museums, clubs, and theaters have decided that just because New Year's Eve is a Friday shouldn't mean the next two days are Mummers or nothing - the venues are planning a number of special events. Here are just a few:
World Cafe Live is having a special sing-along version of the film The Sound of Music with a family-friendly show at noon and a "more mature" participation at 7 p.m. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
"Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt" will continue through Sunday at the Franklin Institute, with free garage parking Saturday. Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., 215-448-1200.
At Temple University, Cirque du Soliel's Dralion takes Saturday off, but comes roaring back with more than 50 musicians and acrobats at the Liacouras Center on Sunday. Liacouras Center, Cecil B. Moore Avenue and Broad Street, 1-800-298-4200.