Following some relatively quiet New Years’ Eve celebrations last year, rural towns and communities across Rocky View County are ready to ring in the new year with fireworks, skating, and festive bonfires on Dec. 31.
Starting in Crossfield, families are invited to strap on their skates and jump on the ice for a family skate event at the Amery Park outdoor rink, hosted by the Town.
Afterwards, skaters can warm up their fingers and toes by the bonfire near the rink and enjoy a large display of fireworks. The event will run from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. with fireworks set to go off at 8 p.m.
On top of those events, the Barn Burner mobile café will be on location with treats and warm drinks.
“After a hiatus from many events over the last 21 months, we are working to bring regular events back to the community,” said Eris Latham, Crossfield’s recreation and community events coordinator. “We think that there is no better time to come together than in the wrapping up of the second year of this trying situation to start fresh as a united people.”
The Town of Crossfield did not host a New Year's event last year due to the COVID-19-related restrictions. Prior to 2020, the Town hosted an annual New Year’s Eve adult-only Flight to Midnight dance party where they would draw gift cards from WestJet.
Hockey Night in Beiseker
Out east in Beiseker, many locals are also spending their New Year’s Eve on the ice, in a battle against a local women’s hockey team.
The Beiseker Bullets women’s team will face off in what’s being dubbed ‘Hockey Night in Beiseker,’ on Dec. 31 at 5 p.m., against a squad of residents whose families have been cornerstones of the village for the last 100 years. The Bullets are a local women’s team that competes in the Southern Alberta Women’s Hockey Association – a Calgary-based league.
The exhibition game was originally intended to be held last New Year’s Eve to kick-start the Village of Beiseker’s centennial celebrations. Incorporated in 1921, the Village of Beiseker officially marked its 100-year anniversary milestone earlier this year, though official celebrations have been postponed until June 2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The upcoming hockey game includes a pre-game ceremony at 4:30 p.m. to unveil the new name for Beiseker’s local rink – the Doug Hagel Arena – after a long-serving community hockey volunteer in Beiseker.
Bragg Creek skating
In the southwest corner of the County, Bragg Creek is starting New Year’s Eve off with another skate event from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the outdoor rink in front of the Bragg Creek Community Centre. Families can then head over to the sports field in Redwood Meadows for a fireworks show at 8 p.m. An organizer of the Redwood Meadows event said that they are looking to open the concession, depending on volunteer availability, and the rink will also be open for skating.
Cochrane hosts indoor, outdoor activities
In Cochrane, the Cochrane and Area Events Society (CAES) is working with Spray Lakes Sawmill Family Sports Centre to host fun indoor and outdoor activities for the community starting at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31.
Indoor skating and fitness activities will be free of charge in the sports centre, according to CAES president Erika Richards. Meanwhile, kids can enjoy play areas, a dance party, crafts, and food by Patsy's Place.
CAES is putting together family prize packages and some spot prizes to be won throughout the event. Indoor events will require proof of vaccination.
Outdoor activities planned by CAES include a Nordic ski jump, Cabane a Sucre (Sugar Shack), hot dogs (nominal charge), hot chocolate, and a DJ.
"There will be a fire dancer performance and some LED Elves," Richards said. "A new act this year for the event."
He added the fireworks will wrap up the event at 7 p.m.
"Fireworks are held early so that parents and children can participate in this family friendly event," Richards said.
Fireworks and burlesque dancing
The Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Balzac is lighting up the sky again at midnight.
This is the first time Century Downs is including fireworks in their New Year’s Eve celebrations, according to Karen Franco, marketing and customer service manager for Century Downs.
“We're having a full fireworks show at midnight. We've got lots of outdoor viewing opportunities for everybody,” she explained. “That will be open to the public and anyone can take in the display.”
Earlier in the evening, guests can enjoy a burlesque show and a three-course dinner, handcrafted by the Chef in the Derby restaurant.
The burlesque show is called ‘Call Me Mother’ and features Calgary’s Felicia Bonee, starting at 8:30 p.m. There will also be a dessert bar, a midnight champagne toast, and a DJ in the casino.
Once the clock strikes midnight, Franco said a draw will be made for $2,022, for those that entered throughout the night.
Tickets for the burlesque show can be found online at Showpass and are $85 per ticket or $640 for a table of eight. The gourmet dinner is available for an additional $50.
Events inside the casino are for adults only and require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend.
“We're excited to see strong sales and we look forward to a full house,” Franco said, noting that ticket sales are expected to pick up between Christmas and the new year.
Thus far, the Town of Irricana and the community association of Langdon have not planned any official New Year’s Eve celebrations, according to representatives from those communities.
—With files from Caitlin Clow/Cochrane Eagle