Edmonton's Countdown to 2010 Is On!

New Year's Eve revellers have plenty of options to choose from in welcoming the new decade

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

TIME sure flies, eh?! It certainly doesn't seem like TEN YEARS ago that the world was up in arms over the whole Y2K debacle, but a whole decade has come and (nearly) gone since then.

In between we've witnessed a couple of wars, the first black U.S. President, Hurricane Katrina & the Asian tsunami, the worst recession since the "dirty '30s," the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Michael Jackson, and of course, the September 11th terrorist attacks (or, depending on who you ask, the Bush administration conspiracy).

In that same time zone, Edmonton has gone through its own transitions, just not as severe as the rest of the globe. The Oilers came that close to a 6th Stanley Cup championship, we elected a new mayor, Fort Road and Alberta Avenue went through a rejuvination period, NAIT grew, the Cromdale closed, Klondike Days became Capital Ex, and we welcomed the Indy.

Now it's time to put all that behind us and look forward to a brand new decade, as 2010 quickly approaches. Edmonton--and the rest of the world--is less than three weeks away from ringing in the new year, and there are dozens of public celebrations planned across the city.

The biggest party will take place downtown at Sir Winston Churchill Square, where thousands of locals are expected--weather permitted--to say goodbye to 2009. The festivities kick off at 9PM and will include live music, face painting, wagon rides, clowns & magicians, skating, concessions, and of course, a 12-minute pyrotechnics display.

The event is free, as is public transit (from 6PM to 3AM), while a number of city parkades will charge only $1 after 6PM. In addition to the live entertainment on the makeshift stage at Churchill Square, there will be indoors fun as well, at the nearby Stanley A. Milner Library and City Hall.

Edmonton-based band Hanson Jeans are among the acts who will be performing during the family-friendly showcase, alongside local folk-blues artist Joe Nolan, and groups Catalyst and All the Range in Dallas. In honour of Frèdèric Chopin's 200th anniversary, Edmonton pianist Simon-Marc de Freitas will also perform as part of the ceremonies.

But if you're in the mood to celebrate New Year's with good friends Jose Cuervo, Captain Morgan or Jack Daniels, then you have dozens of parties to choose from.

The River Cree Casino's Edmonton Marriott Grand Ballroom will be serving bubbly, etc. at the 2010 "Edmonton International New Year's Eve Gala" (8PM-3AM), but only if you're willing to shell out $140. For $120 you can take in the music of American Music Award winner Alfie Zappacosta (and pianist Elizabeth Freiter) at "Jazz New Year's Eve," hosted by the Delta Edmonton South Hotel (Top of the Inn) from 5:30PM to 1:30AM.

That same Delta Hotel will also present the 10th annual "Latin New Year's Eve" party, at its Grand Ballroom, from 6PM to 3AM. The all ages event will feature the music of Colombian act Yari Morè Y Su Orquesta (as well as DJ Moreno and DJ Fuego), and is considerably cheaper than the Delta ($40 for dance only/ $89 for dinner & dance).

The Edmonton Event Centre invites Edmontonians to its 18+ "BigBang" extravaganza, which they claim is "Canada's Biggest New Year's Celebration." Presented by Urban Metropolis, "BigBang" has a "Hollywood Glam" dress code, and tickets are $50+ and are available through Ticketmaster.

The Ramada Hotel & Conference Centre is throwing their own bash as well, "A New Year's Eve to Die For," which will set you back $149.50 (8PM-2AM). Not your cup of tea? Then there's always The Bear's "New Year's Eve Bash"! For just $49.50 (+ service charges) you can party with headliners Shinedown, and drink yourself silly to the sounds of opening acts Social Code and Inward Eye, starting at 8PM. Tickets for the latter go on sale tomorrow (Monday, Dec. 14th) at 10AM (Ticketmaster).

Then, of course, there's all those club shindigs and pub crawls that'll welcome partygoers on Thursday, December 31st, including The Bank-Ultra Lounge, The Iron Horse, The Oil City Roadhouse, Vinyl Retro Dance Lounge, Billy Bob's Saloon, Chrome Lounge, Union Hall, Dirty Pretty, Lucky 13, The Artery, Twist Ultra Lounge, Cook County Saloon, Gingur Sky, Hudsons Tap House, Cowboys, Suede Lounge, and Halo.

In addition to the aforementioned parties, there will be New Year's Eve functions at the Empire Ballroom, The Haven Social Club, Francis Winspear Centre, Edmonton Socttish Society, ACCA Centre, Rexall Place, Shaw Theatre, Century Grill, and even the Edmonton Queen Riverboat. Click on the links for further information on all of these events.

Before we let you go, I Heart Edmonton would like to remind Edmontonians not to drink & drive, and to play safe! Remember to plan for a designated driver, or dial a taxi (#TAXI/ #8294), or either Keys Please (780-408-8888) or Operation Red Nose (780-702-8000). Now, let the countdown to 2010 begin!
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