Hmm, how to mark the end of a year that beat us up so badly? Well, the threats to life and health continue, so instead of huge public parties and activities in Hartford and the state’s casinos, there will be virtual First Night offering from the state capital and a handful of dinner specials and performances at the casinos.
Amid the cautious approach is hope for a better 2021 about to begin.
Hartford’s First Night 2021 will be all-virtual, livestreamed from 2 p.m. until about midnight and (for the first time in years) held without the two fireworks displays that capped previous years. There will be Facebook and YouTube streams of arts displays, improv fun and crafts workshops on Zoom, said Jeff Devereux of PR firm Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
There will be performances by Hartbeat Ensemble, Nelson Bello and Friends, Chad-Browne Springer, Phat A$tronaut, Studio 860, and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Events are free but there’s a $25 box some have ordered to help interact with crafts workshops. And there are buttons to purchase as a donation or souvenir of a sad year.
Area restaurants, meanwhile, are leaning toward special takeout packages given their reduced indoor capacity.
Chef Arturo Franco-Camacho’s three restaurants in New Haven — Camacho Garage, Geronimo and Shell & Bones — are doing dinner-for-four takeout kits for $150-$170, but orders have to be made by late Monday, Dec. 28. After that, you can still find restaurants to take your takeout order, but do call early on New Year’s Eve.
At the casinos, Mohegan and Foxwoods are saying that New Year’s Eve Sun will look a little different this year. (In truth, a lot different.)
No massive parties or celebrations, no big-name entertainers working the largest venues, no cramming together on the concourses at midnight for a loud countdown with strangers.
Mohegan Sun does have a “Cheers to the New Year” hotel package with a bottle of champagne and $100 food and beverage credit in the $500 range. There is a special dinner at Novelle starting at 5 p.m. (prix fixe menu for $75 with salad, surf and turf and dessert) with entertainment by hip-hop violinist Big Lux, and comic Orlando Baxter is performing at Comix Comedy Club at 8 p.m.
A publicist said that folks looking to book last-minute NYE hotel reservations should call 1-888-777-7922. If they are looking for the “Cheers to the New Year” hotel package specifically, they should reference it when they call, as the hotel package itself has limited availability.
Foxwoods, meanwhile, is advertising a comedy show by Kool Bubba Ice at Centrale lounge in the Fox tower casino area at 8 p.m. Socially distant seating, with reservations required. Then, reservations expire at 9:30 p.m. because there will be music by DJ Meechie from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Dinner specials at Foxwoods include: Chilean Sea Bass for $65 and Bone In Steak Filet for $70 at Cedar’s Steaks & Oysters, a four-course dinner for two for $108 at Golden Dragon and a Prime Rib Dinner for| $56.25 from 5-11 p.m. at Veranda Cafe (including salad and cheese cake). Also at Foxwoods’ High Rollers lanes, there’s bowling from noon to 9:30 p.m. and two, two-hour sessions of Kids NYE Bash at noon and 3 p.m. ($40 a person) with bowling, rental shoes, chips, pizza, funfetti cupcakes and a sparkling juice for a countdown toast at 2 and 5 p.m. Call 860-312-8762 to reserve.
The Shubert in New Haven normally has its “First Night of Funny” on NYE, but this year it will be a virtual version, filmed elsewhere. Comics Mike Gaffney, Jaye McBride, Ross Bennett and Steve Caouette will perform. Tickets ($20) for the family-friendly 8 p.m. show are at watchlivenow.com. Include promo code: SHUBERT to receive $2 off at checkout.