The best way to celebrate the end of 2017 and the start of 2018? Hit the slopes for a high-altitude New Year’s Eve. The weather might be cool in these destinations, but the local celebrations will seriously heat things up. Here are six of the best North American ski resorts with top-notch festivities to kick off the New Year.
1. Aspen, Colorado
The 12 Days of Aspen festival includes events like cookie decorating and winter DJ yoga, plus an acclaimed series of Aspen Film Academy screenings at the Wheeler Opera House. For a midnight toast on December 31, the St. Regis is hosting a free New Year’s party. The The Little Nell is also hosting a musical and dining endeavor at its annual Dom Perignon Party. Both events are prime for watching the fireworks over Aspen Mountain at 8 p.m. and at midnight.
2. Taos, New Mexico
On New Year’s Eve, Taos Ski Valley ignites the same charges used to force avalanches for the initiation of their celebratory torchlight parade. At 5:30 p.m., the ski parade and laser light show begins down the front face of the mountain. You’re sure to catch some tricks and wipeouts as the parade reaches the bottom. After, guests move to the popular Martini Tree Bar for live Latin music and midnight toasts. (The valley is small, so no driving is required.) For the best brews and bites to kick off the evening, head to the German-themed restaurant and bar, The Bavarian, which serves a schnitzel that will change your life.
3. Breckenridge, Colorado
This Rocky Mountain ski area goes by "Breck," and its village is one of the most scenic in all of Colorado. On New Year’s Eve, a torchlight parade continues past the mountain’s Peak 9 and weaves downward toward town, where opulent light displays, snow sculptures, and live music performances await. The best place to watch the fireworks show—which begins at 9 p.m. (weather permitting)—is from the open deck of The Maggie in the village base area. For children who also want in on the celebrations at 9,600 feet, there’s the Glow Worm parade. Participants—who must be able to turn and stop on skis—will be supplied with glow sticks and sent down the green terrain tunnel.
4. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
At the Whistler Olympic Plaza, a special ice skating rink opens in the heart of Whistler Village with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. It’ll be open until 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve (skate rentals are $6). After a few whirls around the rink, head to Skier’s Plaza for the annual Fire & Ice Show. You’ll watch Whistler’s best skiers and snowboarders throwing corkscrews, twisters, and tail grabs through a blazing ring of fire! Grab your last meal of 2017 at the Brew House (order a craft beer and the best poutine in Western Canada), then enjoy a dazzling fireworks display at the base of Whistler Mountain.
5. Park City, Utah
Celebrate in the snow with Park City locals long before the Sundance rush hits historic Main Street. Tupelo, an upscale restaurant helmed by chef Matt Harris, might be the best New Year’s meal in the West. Its global influences are displayed in a special NYE menu that includes B.B.Q octopus and seared Hawaiian swordfish. After a jam-packed day of winter activities and world-class meals leading up to the stroke of midnight, rest your head at the Waldorf Astoria.
6. Heavenly, Lake Tahoe
This celebration is as grandiose as the ball drop in New York City—but with a fraction of the crowds. The world’s only gondola ball drop takes place at Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Ski Resort, nestled in the breathtaking Sierra Nevada Mountains. After the ball drop at 9 p.m., an encore fireworks display sends streaks of color dancing across the freshwater lake. On the ground, carolers, live outdoor concerts, and ice sculptors entertain an après-ski crowd. Have you ever seen a 30-foot ice sculpture? You should. Happy new year!