There are many different alternatives to taking a drive down Interstate 75. We’ve highlighted a few local activities anyone in your family can enjoy for New Year’s Eve.

By Katy Ruth Camp

Marietta Ball Drop

Dec. 31

2 to 7 p.m., family-friendly events

9 to midnight, Douglas Cameron Orchestra

For the second year, the Marietta Square will be the home of its own version of New York’s “ball drop” from Glover Park. In addition to the ball drop, the activities at “Winter Wonderland” will welcome people of all ages with ice skating and kid-friendly concerts and activities.

Some of the activities will include an 18-hole glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course on South Park Square, an Escape Room game, food trucks on Church Street, carnival games, a LEGO-building contest and an “Ice Warrior” contest and demonstration at 4 p.m. on the stage of Glover Park where two world champion ice carvers will battle it out for the best carving.

At 6 p.m., Chick-fil-A will bring in a “herd of cows” with eight cows in costume who will do a 45-minute dance routine leading up to a “cow drop” of stuffed cows.

NYE Director Chuck Burge said this year will be “bigger and better” than last year, with more activities for kids and a countdown led by the Douglas Cameron Orchestra from the corner of North Park Square, next to the Earl Smith Strand Theatre.

The Marietta “M” logo box will be the home of the midnight countdown again but the Branding Project, which is in charge of planning the event, is keeping it a secret as to what will “drop” from the box this year.

Last year’s inaugural celebration hosted 25,000 people throughout the day but Burge is expecting 40,000 this year due to the number of activities planned and the fact that NYE will be on a Saturday night.

Many of the restaurants on the Square will be offering dinner specials so visit www.mariettasquare.com to click on your favorite restaurant and find out what they will be offering on New Year’s Eve. Be sure to make reservations, as tables will fill up fast.

Earl Smith Strand Theatre

Dec. 31, 8:30 p.m.

An Allman Brothers Band New Year’s Eve

Tickets: 117 N. Park Square, Marietta

(770) 293-0080 | www.earlsmithstrand.org

Speaking of the Marietta Square, the Earl Smith Strand Theatre at the corner of North Park Square and Cherokee Street will have a special concert with the Allman Brothers Tribute Band on New Year’s Eve.

Ring in 2017 with some of your favorite ABB tunes with 500 of your friends. VIP tickets are also available for a rooftop view of the Marietta Ball Drop after the show.

Six Flags Over Georgia

Now through Jan. 4

Tickets: start at $45.99

275 Riverside Pkwy., SW, Austell

(770) 739-3400 | www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia

Six Flags Over Georgia is continuing its new holiday tradition as it extends its season 26 days with its annual holiday festival — Holiday in the Park. More than one million LED lights and dozens of Christmas trees create a holiday-themed season through January 4.

Guests can take a ride on some of the park’s most popular rollercoasters, such as Goliath, or explore kid-friendly rides. Holiday in the Park will be topped off with its most iconic image at the historic 1910 Riverview Carousel, which will create a glowing light and walk-through experience.

Lights galore

The Promenade has transformed into A Main Street Christmas decorated with more than 100,000 lights. Along with an ensemble of ornamented garlands, snow machines and a 20-foot Christmas tree in front of the main gate fountain, Retro Christmas USA will host a 130-foot tall Christmas tree in front of Dare Devil Dive as more than 10,000 red, white and blue lights pay tribute to our military Service members and veterans. Holiday City will also host lights and a Christmas tree display at Gotham City and BATMAN: The Ride.

North Pole

As you walk in, you will see Santa flying high above you being pulled by his reindeer and witness white lights surrounding the trees and rooftops. Santa’s Soup Kitchen is where Mrs. Claus will be cooking and nearby is the Santa Photo Experience, where kids can get their photos taken with Santa Claus. Be sure to look for other special holiday displays scattered across the park.

Celebrate with friends and family at home

Don’t feel like battling the NYE crowds and traffic? Bring it home! Festive appetizers and cocktails are perfectly fine for this late-night holiday if cooking a full dinner isn’t in your plans.

One great option is to buy a smoked ham already cooked. Dave Poe’s BBQ, at 660 Whitlock Ave. in Marietta, has one ready to go during the holiday season. The hams, sized at six to eight pounds each, are smoked in the restaurant’s professional smoker for four hours and come already sliced.

A Healthy Goodbye to 2016

Want to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 in a healthy way? Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park along with other state and national parks in the area are open on New Year’s Eve.

Take a hike up the historic mountain with friends before heading off to a night of festivities or take the kids for a hike to celebrate the end of the year.

Many ice skating rinks are still open, as well as yoga studios and trails, such as those along the Chattahoochee, so find what fits you best and check for opening and closing times.

*Note that Kennesaw Mountain and many other parks and businesses are closed on New Year’s Day!


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