How to Celebrate New Years in Burlington, Vermont

Photo of Christopher Crosby
7 January 2018

If you’re headed to lakeside Burlington to ring in the New Year but unsure of what to do, don’t fret. With speakeasies, wine tastings, street dancing, folk concerts, comedy shows and fireworks, there’s no shortage of things to do — just time. Here’s a few of our favorites to get the ball rolling before the big ball drops.

Build A Foundation

A day of hedonism or even light drinking starts with a good breakfast, so head over to Juniper where the creative rotating menu is likely to feature fresh Vermont eggs, tortillas and — of course — maple syrup. Items change, but steady favorites include the local granola and yogurt, beef hash, and eggs Benedict (you’re splurging, remember?)

Buttons and Tickets

Circus Smirkus | © Harry Powers/Flickr

Much of the activity in the city is happens through First Night Burlington, an affiliation of performances and events, and Vermont’s largest one-day arts festival, attracting some 20,000 people to downtown. A $18 button will get you into most events (some — including marquee offerings like the circus — require purchasing another ticket), which range from folk instrumentalists to bands blending modern pop and Somalian hip-hop, traditional Irish dancers, Japanese martial arts demonstrations, classical Americana, the traveling Circus Smirkus act, and the state’s longest-running drag troupe, House of Lemay. Headlining the musical acts at 9 p.m. are popular Burlington bands Swale and funky rock-‘n’-rollers Gang of Thieves. The schedule is formidable and packs the day with more events than is possible to see, so make sure to study up and plan well, as it includes a parade and midnight fireworks. Tickets can be purchases online or in person at 100 Main Street, Suite 3.

Sip Champagne and Eat…Potato Chips?

If you need a break from all the shows and a moment of peace before racing off to the event, a local wine shop is throwing together a pairing usually not seen outside your Netflix no-grocery nights: a wine and potato chip pairing. “Bubbles love salt. Salt has the power to accentuate Champagne’s cappuccino-foam-like texture, deepen its fruity quality, and turn a luxury product into one of the most addictive wine-and-food pairings known.” We had no idea, but the event organizers have gourmet chips (think black truffle and jamon iberico) to go with the bubbles, something to talk about for years to come.

Party Like It’s 1929

Church Street in Burlington | © Wikimedia Commons

Alcohol need not be illegal for you to enjoy whisky (professionally made) at a speakeasy. Rí Ra’s whisky room is throwing their New Years Eve Speakeasy, a chance to skip the lines and drink bespoke booze from Alice & the Magician, whose mists and sprays are the Chanel of cocktail aromas. The party is open to 2 a.m., and light bites keep you on your toes.

Eat Like a Local

Longevity on New Year’s Eve comes down to layers — layers of food. Break from the booze and treat yourself to a meal from Butch & Babe’s, one of the city’s trendiest (and best) restaurants. Share the mac ‘n’ cheese pancakes (hot dogs optional) or go straight for the curry pasta, patties from farm-raised pork or the aforementioned hot dogs with homemade kimchee. There’s Vermont craft beer from Zero Gravity and Queen City Brewery to wash it down.

Get Home For Free

You read that right. Revelers need not worry about the ride home thanks to law firm Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP, which is offering those who’ve had too much to drink a lift, anytime between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The service is to avoid the dangers of drunk driving. Now that’s something to celebrate.