Going Out: New Year countdown begins

By Josette Keelor

As the valley takes a holiday breather before gearing up for New Year’s Eve, the weekend still holds some fun for all ages.

Saturday the Cranberry Chamber Ensemble will perform its holiday show “Toyland” at 3 p.m. in the abbey at Westminster-Canterbury in Winchester and at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian-Universalist Church, south of Stephens City on U.S. 11. Admission is free and the program is appropriate to schoo-age children. Performing on violin will be the puppet Niccolo Cranbini. Music will include “Toy Symphony,” by Joseph Haydn; “Carnival of Animals,” by C. Saint Saens; and “Teddy Bear Romp,” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

At area theaters, the weekend will be packed with drama (“American Hustle,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “47 Ronin” and “Saving Mr. Banks”), action (“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”), music (“Frozen”) and laughter (“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” “Grudge Match” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”) At the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Kernstown, “Walking with Dinosaurs” offers an immersive virtual experience for children age 5 and older.

Year-end celebrations start Tuesday, so weekend excitement will keep on going:

Tuesday at the Alamo, the Action Pack Totally ’80s Sing-Along Dance Party will begin at 9 p.m.

Counting down the minutes to the stroke of 2014 has never been more fun than it will be this year in Harrisonburg and Winchester, when family friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations will keep the valley hopping long into the night.

The 27th non-alcoholic First Night Winchester will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday and last all day until the Apple Drop and fireworks display at midnight on Wednesday.

Buttons for $10 each allow access to all events and are available online at firstnightwinchester.com, at the Apple Blossom Mall, Bank of Clarke County, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, The Old Town General Store, Wilkins’ Shoe Center, Winchester Medical Center Auxiliary Gift Shop in the old and new hospitals and the Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center, and from 5 to 11 p.m. on Dec. 31 at First Night Headquarters, 33 E. Boscawen St., Winchester. Children 8 and younger are admitted free.

Events include musicians, dancers, a magician, a comedian, museum displays and the Family Fun Fair at the Godfrey Miller House Event Center from 6 to 9 p.m. Information: 540-533-5561, firstnightwinchester.com

First Night Harrisonburg will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday with music by returning performers like Tobini Magic, Little Walter and the Convictions and, Nothin Fancy, as well as new ones like ACME Swing Manufacturing — a swing and blues group out of Charlottesville — The Groove Train and Glen Singer The Horse Guy. More than 4,000 people are expected to ring in the New Year in Harrisonburg this year.

Buttons are available for $6 before 5 p.m. Tuesday at various locations in Harrisonburg, including Downtown Books, Friendly City Food Co-op, Glen’s Fair Price Store, Hardesty Higgins House, the Massanutten Regional Library, the Massanutten Resort General Store and The Market at Woodstone in McGaheysville and at all three Harrisonburg locations of Mr. J’s Bagels. Beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, tickets will be $8 and available at the Harrisonburg City School Board Office at One Court Square. Children younger than 5 will be admitted free. Information: www.firstnightharrisonburg.com

The Front Royal Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1860 will hold a steak and shrimp dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Dinner is free to new members who sign up, pay and bring a copy of their DD214. Dinner includes baked potato, salad and a roll. Later, from 8 p.m. to 12:45 a.m., the VFW Post 1860 will hold its New Year’s Eve party, including karaoke with Shawn Seal. Breakfast will follow the ball drop at midnight and includes sausages with gravy, biscuits, scrambled eggs and tater tots. A donation is requested for breakfast. Information: 540-635-8134, VFD 1860, 1847 N Royal Ave., Front Royal, VA, 22630

At the Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville, ski season has just geared up, and on Tuesday snow tubing will be open until midnight in celebration of the New Year.

Diamond Jim’s Arcade and Karaoke at Hideaway Lounge also will be open until 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and Live at the Lounge with The Monster Band will be from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

In Hot Springs at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Garth Newel Music Center will hold its New Year’s celebration Roaring ’20s Speakeasy concert. The concert will be followed by dining and dancing. Information and reservations: 540-839-5018

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com