Arts & Entertainment

Goodbye 2018: Where to Ring in the New Year

Take in the fireworks in Whitefish, wear 1950s clothes to a gala in Kalispell, and jump in a freezing lake in Woods Bay

There’s a New Year to ring in as 2018 gives up the ghost and 2019 takes over. The Flathead Valley, with its various communities and ample outdoor opportunities, is a perfect place to watch the fireworks, make your resolutions, and then jump into a freezing lake for emphasis.

From Whitefish to Bigfork, here’s a selection of what’s happening on Dec. 31 and into the first day of 2019. For an events calendar updated daily, visit

Hit up one of the best fireworks shows in the valley on Big Mountain as Whitefish Mountain Resort lights up the sky for its annual New Year’s Eve bash.

Up to 60 skiers and snowboarders will hit the rails on a custom-built rail jam venue, competing for a $1,000 cash purse in skier and snowboarder categories. After the rail jam, join in for the Dash for Cash, enjoy the torch parade down Ed’s Run, and watch the fireworks going off at about 6:30 p.m.

Starting at 6:45 p.m., the Dodgy Mountain Men take the stage at Ed and Mully’s.

Throughout Whitefish, from the Lodge at Whitefish Lake to the many eateries and bars downtown, there will be all sorts of live music and party opportunities. Check for the latest information.

Head to the Hilton Garden Inn to party in the New Year at Rock Around the Clock, a New Year’s Eve celebration from the Gateway Community Center. The party is 1950s themed, with music from Zino and the Bel Aires, games, costumes, vintage cars, dance contests and more.

Proceeds benefit the Gateway Community Center. Tickets are $50 and available at The party starts at 7:30 p.m.

The Bigfork Inn plans to celebrate 2019 with its New Year’s Bash, with live music from the Low Key Savs and dancing through the night. Champagne pops at 10 p.m., and the ball drops at midnight, with the party running through 12:30 a.m.

Join Whistling Andy distillery as they celebrate their anniversary and a pre-party for New Year’s, as they offer cheers with craft cocktails and nosh light appetizers to live music before the New Year’s Eve celebrations really get cranking. The party runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

On New Year’s Day, get a blast of freshness and freezing water in Woods Bay for the 25th annual Polar Plunge at the Raven. People of all ages and costumes run into the chilly January waters of Flathead Lake for fun, while others are welcomed to simply observe the wild rush. The Raven opens at 10 a.m. for drinks and registration, and limited edition T-shirts will be available. The parade of plungers begins at 1:45 p.m., with the plunge occurring at 2 p.m. Afterward, The Bad Larrys will ply at 2:30 p.m.

Otherwise, start your year off with the First Day Hike at Wayfarers State Park on Flathead Lake. Meet at the Flathead Lake Ranger Station for a one-hour, moderate, guided hike for 1 or 2 miles. Interpretive stops allow for participants to catch their breath and take in the scenery, and dogs on leashes are welcome.

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