On the Edge of ‘17

Where to ring in the New Year as the Flathead Valley prepares to celebrate

By Molly Priddy
The New Year's Eve Rail Jam at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Dec. 31, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

New Year’s Eve is nearly upon us, and there’s plenty to do around the Flathead, if your plans aren’t already set in concrete and confetti.

Here are a few major events from Whitefish to Bigfork, with more available at www.FlatheadEvents.net, including day-to-day additions.


Whitefish Mountain Resort goes big for the New Year, with a rail jam, torchlight parade, and fireworks planned for Dec. 31.

The fun starts at 5 p.m., when the skiers take to the rails of the custom-made venue. Soon after, the Dash for Cash pits racers against each other in an obstacle course for the chance to win $100. There will be a race for kids and a race for adults.

Snowboarders hit the rail jam at about 5:45 p.m., followed by another Dash for Cash. Be sure to catch the finals of the rail jam at 6:15 p.m., when the top skiers and boarders from each division compete for that sweet $1,000 prize money.

The torchlight parade begins at 6:30 p.m., with fireworks soon after. Brent Jameson and the Sordid Seeds will play at Ed & Mully’s until 10 p.m., but the music continues to midnight at the Bierstube (get your tickets early, this sells out. Call 406-862-1993.)

For more information, visit www.skiwhitefish.com.

Downtown Whitefish will also be the scene for many revelers, with local bars and restaurants hosting parties and holding specials. Check out www.FlatheadEvents.net for a list of what’s happening.


Typically known for First Night Flathead, Kalispell will be without its marquee event this year. The group’s board of directors said on its website that the event has become “financially impossible to continue” after 17 years.

However, the Red Lion still plans to host the Upscale Hoedown for the fifth year, offering accommodations for two on Dec. 31 along with a lobster and prime rib dinner, midnight lunch, music, dancing, and a champagne toast to welcome 2017. The next morning, enjoy a breakfast buffet.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with cocktails and games followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. Music starts at 9 p.m., with drawings all night for prizes.

Like Whitefish, downtown Kalispell will host revelers in its bars and restaurants; check FlatheadEvents.net for the most recent listings.

Columbia Falls

Head on over to the Eagles’ in Columbia Falls for an evening of live music, drinks, dancing, and masks at the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball.

The costume party begins at 7 p.m., and will include a buffet dinner, gift bags, henna tattoos, and a fortune teller. Music by Out of the Blue begins at 8 p.m. Tickets for couples are $25 in advance and $40 at the door; singles are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

For more information, call 406-892-4081.


While dressing for New Year’s Eve, don’t forget to grab your mask before heading to the Masquerade Party at Marina Cay in Bigfork.

A $10 cover charge gets you into the festivities, where Gladys Friday will rock the stage with live music and plenty of dancing in the Lounge. Partiers will also get hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast.

The party starts at 7 p.m. and runs until midnight; the Marina Cay also has room packages available. For more information, visit www.marinacay.com or call 406-837-5861.

Then, on New Year’s Day, head to Wood’s Bay south of Bigfork on Highway 35 for the Polar Bear Plunge in Flathead Lake. The Raven hosts this chilly annual tradition, with registration starting at 10 a.m., along with the food and drinks. The Polar Bear parade starts at 1:45 p.m. – costumes encouraged – and the plunging begins at 2 p.m.

After a dip in the freezing water, participants can warm up around the fire pits, under the heated tent, or in the Raven. Those planning to jump in the water need to bring their own towels and warm clothes. Parking is at a premium in Woods Bay, so get there early for a spot.

For more information, call 406-837-2836.

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