New Year’s Eve is a festive time for everybody, but the late nights and boozy parties aren’t always the friendliest for families. Fortunately, there are plenty of events in Montana where the entire family can wash their hands of the old and celebrate the new! These are some of our favorites in the state.
For some New Year’s excitement on the slopes, grab the family and head over to Whitefish Mountain Resort for their Rail Jam, torchlight parade, and fireworks. The festivities start in the afternoon when dozens of skiers and snowboarders compete for cash prizes on a custom-built course of rails and boxes. A torchlight parade down the slopes will follow, and fireworks will cap off the event.
For a quarter-century, ARTS Missoula has produced the city’s annual First Night celebration. The event takes place from noon to midnight on New Year’s Eve. More than 80 performances and activities, including artists, musicians, dancers, and family-friendly events, will take place in nearly 30 venues.
You can spend the last day of the year plopped on the couch watching distant college bowl games, or you can head over to the Copper Spring Ranch and watch their team Race N’ Rope in the New Year. The two-day horse racing and roping event begins on Dec. 30 and finishes up on Dec. 31.
Each year on New Year’s Eve, ZooMontana hosts Zoo Year—A Noon New Year’s Eve Celebration. This family-friendly event lets kids get in on typical NYE fun, complete with a ball drop and a festive (apple juice) toast. Bring a sled and wish the animals a happy new year as you head out to the sliding hills in the Bison Field.
There are all sorts of New Year’s Eve traditions, but skijøring is not usually considered to be one of them—not in the U.S., anyway. Well, you can change that by heading over to Rebecca Farm on Dec. 31 and watch horses tow skiers over an 850-foot course of jumps that are three to nine feet-high. The teams compete for cash prizes, and a portion of the proceeds goes to charity. And you will be able to proudly say that you’ve watched skijøring.
Each New Year’s Eve, Big Sky Resort hosts a huge kids party with games, face painting, pizza, snacks, and more. The evening of fun is capped off with the resort’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display. It’s an awesome way to cap off a day of family skiing and to get ready for whatever the new year has in store.
Bridger Bowl holds its annual New Year’s torchlight parade and fireworks display on Dec. 30 so that folks in southwest Montana can also see the fireworks display at Big Sky. So, start your New Year’s celebration a little early by enjoying the ski areas instructors schussing down the slopes with torches and fireworks. Then get ready to ring in the last day of the year with an awesome firework display.
A growing tradition for those local to Yellowstone National Park is to use nature for your New Year’s Eve spectacles. From Mammoth Hot Springs and the Norris Geyser Basin to Old Faithful itself, you’ll find plenty of steam works and like-minded nature lovers ringing in the year far from the celebrating throngs. Make a reservation for dinner (and why not a room?) at the Old Faithful Lodge.
Take the family for a luxe New Year’s Eve experience at the Ranch at Rock Creek. Gourmet meals—even for the “Little Grizzlies”—a raptor tour, music, dancing, and of course, fireworks will help you welcome the coming year.
On New Year’s Eve, the Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association hosts a night tour of the Southside Trails above Bozeman. Enjoy the holiday lights bedazzling the neighborhoods below, then warm up and ring in the new year with a cup of hot cider. Be sure to check the weather and dress appropriately before you head out.