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New Year's in Denver: Things to do that (we sincerely hope) won't suck

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We posted this last week, but just in case you were on vacation and missed it, we thought it might be handy to post it again, because, well, tomorrow's New Year's Eve and all, you know? And you might still be in need some ideas on how to ring in the New Year. So have at it, friend! For good measure, we refreshed the post with a new pic of Sound Tribe Sector 9, because, evidently, the one we were using was, like, four year's old and stuff, and we added a link to the various Q&As we did with Leftover Salmon's Vince Herman and archived Q&As with the members of STS9. Oh, and Happy New Year!

Another year is heading out the door, and this guide is packed with options for sending it off in style. For free New Year's Eve fun, you can't beat downtown Denver's annual fireworks display, a bang-up show choreographed to music and offered at both a family-friendly 9 p.m. and again at midnight; RTD will offer free bus and light-rail service to the festivities as well! But there's much, much more to do in Denver and surrounding communities on December 31. We've packaged up entertainment opportunities for some of this city's more ubiquitous types -- hippies, hipsters and outdoors lovers. Find more New Year's events at westword.com/calendar.

A HIPPIE NEW YEAR'S EVE It's been a great year for hippies in Denver: Phish played several shows at Red Rocks, the medical marijuana industry exploded -- and on New Year's Eve, you can choose from an array of jam-infested options. Among them:

Hot Buttered Rum

Organic newgrass Bay Area jam band Hot Buttered Rum has had a hot, buttered year with the release of its new album, Limbs Akimbo. The act is building up to its New Year's Eve performance at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street, with shows on December 29 (with the Nershi-Law Duo and the Gristle Gals) and December 30 (with WhiteWater Ramble). On the 31st, Hot Buttered Rum will be joined by the Motet. Tickets are $15 to $50, but a pass to all three shows is a mere $65. Call 303-297-1772 or visit www.cervantesmasterpiece.com.

Leftover Salmon

This band has a long and noble Colorado history, having formed when the Left Hand String Band and the Salmon Heads merged into one. That hallowed event allegedly took place on New Year's Eve 1989; for its twenty-year anniversary, the band is returning to its roots and playing two shows at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street. Admission to the December 30 concert is $44.50; the New Year's Eve gig is $56. For more information, visit www.bouldertheater.com or call 303-786-7030. And if you haven't already, be sure to read our Q&A with Leftover's Vince Herman.

Sound Tribe Sector 9

Last year's big jam-band news was Widespread Panic; this year, it's STS9, the five-piece instrumental group hailing from Northern California via Atlanta that sold out Red Rocks earlier this summer. Appropriately, Sector 9 refers to the current era on the Mayan calendar, and the band will bring us all one step closer to whatever the hell is supposed to happen in 2012 on December 30 and 31 when it plays the Wells Fargo Theater in the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street. Tickets to the show on the 30th are $32.50 to $35; New Year's Eve tix will run you $65 to $70. To buy yours, go to www.denverconvention.com. And be sure to check out our Q&As with the various members of STS9.

Yonder Mountain String Band

Another band with close Colorado connections (it formed in Nederland in 1998), Yonder Mountain String Band will play the Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street, on New Year's Eve, making that venue the place for hippies to be on the 31st. But the act will also be at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder, on December 29, and at the Fillmore on December 30 for a show with the Wood Brothers, the Travelin' McCourys and Darol Anger; on New Year's Eve, Yonder Mountain will be joined by the Lee Boys and Darol Anger. Considering that single-day tickets start at $56 to $61, multi-day passes are a steal at $86.50 to $117.50; buy them at www.livenation.com.

A HIPSTER NEW YEAR'S EVE Life is tough for hipsters outside of Williamsburg, New York, since people are likely to mistake your Diesels for Wranglers and assume that your pride-and-joy hair is just the result of not getting your style redone since the '80s. Well, whatever. But in Denver, you've still got plenty of options this New Year's Eve, places and events where the PBR will flow like water and your sense of fashion will be appreciated -- even encouraged -- rather than ridiculed. For example:

New Year's Eve at the Mercury Cafe

The Merc, 2199 California Street, is a reincarnation of an original hipster hangout, harking back to the era of Kerouac and Beat poetry. And because the venue is authentic, you know the entertainment will be, too. Marilyn Megenity's kitchen will serve dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., accompanied by classical and jazz musicians. The annual Erotic Poetry Festival (with tribal belly-dancing) will take place at 7 p.m.; a Jungle Room performance with local fiddle champion Katie Glassman starts at 10; at 10:45, local favorites DeVotchKa and Gregory Alan Isakov play together; and starting at 1:30 a.m., an all-night Swing Breakfast and Jungle Room dance party will kick off 2010 in style. Prices vary; get more information at www.mercurycafe.com or 303-294-9281.

Steampunk: A Post-Apocalyptic Ball The Thin Man Tavern and Ubisububi Room have been laying the groundwork for New Year's Eve since October 14, when the Steampunk Movie Fest got rolling. At 8 p.m. every Wednesday, a different steampunk movie has screened -- Sleepy Hollow, Van Helsing, City of Lost Children and more. (Psst: You can still get amped for the party on December 16 with Steamboy; on December 23 with Perfect Creature; and on December 30 with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.) The Steampunk Ball starts at 9 p.m. on December 31; altered and appropriate attire is required for this romance-meets-technology event. There will be drink specials all night and a midnight champagne toast; the fun runs until 2 a.m. at the Thin Man, 2015 East 17th Avenue. Tickets are $17 for singles and $31 for couples; call 303-321-7814 or visit www.thinmantavern.com.

Steuben's Leave it to Steuben's to come up with a New Year's special to end all New Year's specials. Last year, the restaurant was open for 24 hours to celebrate the start of 2009; this time, not only is Steuben's staying open and serving its full menu, but it will be box-roasting fifteen whole pigs starting at 2 a.m. on December 31. That should guarantee enough pork and eggs for all through the close of business on January 1; the kitchen will serve up a standard pork-and-eggs plate as well as a Cuban-style plate, or you can order a side of pulled pork. Steuben's is at 523 East 17th Avenue; call 303-830-1001 or visit www.steubens.com.

Paper Bird How hip is this? Paper Bird is playing at the hi-dive, which is technically as close as you can possibly get to Brooklyn without crossing state lines -- and it's playing with These United States and Dovekins. Mixing in the excitement of New Year's Eve should take this hipster haven to a whole new level. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 the day of show, which is 21-and-up only. The hi-dive is at 7 South Broadway; call 720-570-4500 or visit www.hi-dive.com.

AN OUTDOORSY NEW YEAR'S EVE/DAY Some Denverites live for all that healthy, outdoorsy stuff. We know you're out there, because you keep skewing the results on all of those "healthiest city" polls. During days dedicated to drunken debauchery, what could there possibly be to interest you? Plenty, as it turns out. Head for the hills for these celebrations:

Frozen Buns 5K Resolution Run Why wait until January 1 to work on your New Year's resolutions when you can get a head start on December 31? This run starts at 5 p.m. New Year's Eve at the Crested Butte Visitors' Center (601 Elk Avenue in Crested Butte) and travels through a course lit with tiki torches, glow sticks, flashlights and alpenglow; there's also a one-mile Are We There Yet? run for kids, making this a comprehensive family event. As for those resolutions: Participants are encouraged to drop a piece of paper bearing one into a cauldron of fire at the halfway point, where they can also partake in cider, hot chocolate and cookies. The race is $25 in advance, $30 the day of the race, and $5 for kids; proceeds benefit the Gunnison Valley Health Foundation. Pre-register at www.active.com or by calling 970-641-0798.

Full Moon New Year's Eve Party at the Yurt Not only will this New Year's Eve be a full moon, but it will also be a blue moon. (When a single month contains two full moons -- which happens once every thirty months or so -- that second full moon is the blue one.) This yurt party includes a ski-and-snowshoe tour to Magic Meadows for a four-course meal created by Sally Johnson, along with fine wines, New Belgium beer and a toast to the new year. The Alpine Soul acoustic trio will provide musical accompaniment. It all starts at 7 p.m. and costs $75 per person. Make your reservations at 970-349-1707, ext. 3.

Polar Bear Plunge Consider this the Ultimate Hardass Competition. On New Year's Day, if you take the plunge into the icy waters of Evergreen Lake, 29614 Upper Bear Creek Road in Evergreen, or the Boulder Reservoir, once you emerge -- and you will, though your skin might be slightly blue -- you'll be a member in good standing of the Polar Bear Club. And if you take part at the Boulder rez, you'll also be helping out the Alzheimer's Association. Way to start on those resolutions! For more info, visit EvergreenRecreation.com or alz.org.

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