It's one year short of the millennium, but that's no reason to stay home: This year, think of New Year's Eve as a preview for next year's blowout. There's no shortage of ways to test the waters:
Kids get into the act early at the Children's Museum of Denver, I-25 and 23rd Ave., when an annual Noon Year's Eve celebration for wee ones gears up at, well, noon. The babes will enjoy their chance to sip sodas, twirl noisemakers and count down to twelve o'clock--it's all a matter of temporal logistics. Admission ranges from $2 to $5 (free for members and children under one year); call 303-433-7444.
On the sophisticated side, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra gets glitzy with a New Year's Eve Jazz Festival featuring the all-star lineup of John Faddis, James Moody, Slide Hampton, John Lee, Mulgrew Miller and Ignacio Berroa up front. It all begins at 7:30 in Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis streets; admission is $25 to $50 for the concert only. Add an additional $70 per person for tickets to a post-concert dinner/dance; call 303-830-TIXS. Or you can up the evening a notch and go for the whole package, which includes an overnight at the Embassy Suites and other New Year's largesse for $369; call 303-297-8888 for reservations.
Jazz of another ilk tones up the evening at the Casino, 2633 Welton St., when the Jazz Crusaders buzz in for a bash beginning at 8. Tickets for limited seating are $75; call 303-292-2626. And on yet another musical plane, hip chicks and cool cats will want to rock around the clock with Bill Haley's Original Comets, performing tonight at ritzy 9th Avenue West, 99 W. 9th Ave.--but not before filling up on a four-course sit-down feast by chef Dermott Carroll. For information call 303-572-8006.
There's something for acoustic music fans, as well--Sugar Hill recording artist Sam Bush fiddles up a storm with guests John Cowan and Mighty Squirrel beginning at 9 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. Admission is $32.50 in advance ($35 at the door); call 303-786-7030.
No more funny stuff? Save it for the day after, when you're making resolutions. Tonight, rubber-faced funny man Happy Cole laughs it up at Comedy Works, 1226 15th St. in Larimer Square; for showtimes and ticket reservations call 303-595-3637. And Impulse Theater does its annual New Year's Eve schtick tonight at 7 and 9:45 beneath the Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th St., mixing fast-paced improvisation with bubbly and toasts. Admission ranges from $30 to $45; call 303-297-2111.
Kwanzaa celebrants can forego New Year's depravity by saluting resilient African-American culture and community at Kwanzaa Karimu 1998, an annual family event featuring live music and poetry, hands-on crafts for the kids, ethnic food and an African market from 5 to 10 tonight at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. Admission is free; call 303-377-2511.
Then again, if you've got to be first on your block, the Brown Palace Hotel has announced its A Moment in History as Recalled by Henry C. Brown millennium package for next New Year's Eve, featuring appropriate turn-of-the-century folderol--for a price: Tickets run between $1,799 and $1,999. Reservations deposits are due by January 15; for information call 303-297-3111 or 1-800-321-2599.
The music is as lush as a Viennese pastry at A Salute to Vienna, an annual concert patterned after the original celebration in Vienna, Austria, that occurs simultaneously in several North American cities. The Strauss Symphony of America, conducted by Peter McCoppin, performs a compendium of Strauss waltzes and Lehar operetta excerpts today at 2:30 p.m. in Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis streets, in what's fast becoming a New Year's Day tradition for local classical music devotees; for tickets, ranging from $23 to $65, call 303-830-TIXS.
There are still a few days left to enjoy the holiday Blossoms of Light display at the Denver Botanic Gardens--the attraction remains on view through Sunday. But today and tomorrow, there'll be an added enticement, especially for the kids, when folks from the Prairie Wind Animal Refuge show off Ahote and Kachika, a beautiful pair of six-month-old lynx cubs, from 6:30 to 8:30 nightly. Otherwise, enjoy the twinkling lights, vivid poinsettias, hot drinks and other delights from 6 to 9; gate admission ranges from $1 to $5. The gardens are located at 1005 York St.; call 303-370-8187.
Get it together: Time waits for no one, and this is the day to firm your resolve to face the fledgling year with high ideals. Or whatever. Nothing clears the head better than a tramp in the great outdoors, just what's offered this morning at the Barr Lake Nature Center near Brighton. A Resolution Hike around the nine-mile circumference of the lake, with observations provided by a park naturalist, begins at 9; as long as you pay $4 for a park pass on the way in, the casual trek is free. Barr Lake is at 13401 Picadilly Rd.; to register in advance call 303-659-6005.
In a different spirit, throw caution--and other stuff--to the wind at the annual Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs. Fruitcakes begin flying at 10 a.m. in Memorial Park, 606 Manitou Ave.; competitions, continuing until around 1, range from your mundane hurls, launches and relays to glamour contests for the ugliest and most beautiful fruitcakes. Admission is free, but it's BYOF; call 1-800-642-2567.