Your Guide to New Year’s Eve in State College

Not heading to Tampa for the Outback Bowl? Nothing to do in your hometown for New Year’s Eve? Or are you one of the many State College High School students turned Penn State undergraduates who have the distinct pleasure of remaining in Happy Valley virtually year-round?

Worry not, my friend. There is plenty to do this New Year’s Eve in State College.

First Night State College

By far the biggest event planned is First Night State College, a community-produced celebration of the New Year designed to amuse and entertain revelers of all ages. With venues throughout downtown State College, First Night State College is a “family-oriented, alcohol-free, art and music centered celebration of the New Year.”

Festivities kick off the morning of December 31 with ice sculptors beginning work on their creations at 10:00 am. Ice art plays an integral part in the First Night experience, with one-block sculptures spread throughout the entire downtown area. Please, no licking.

The musical performances begin in the afternoon. A number of them require a First Night State College button for admission. They go for $8 and can be bought at a bunch of retail outlets in the borough.

Here are some of the performances and their locations:

  • Callanish (4:00 p.m. at State College Presbyterian Church)
  • Karen Alley (6:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church)
  • Earl Pickens & Family (8:00 p.m. at State College Presbyterian Church)
  • Hot Soup (9:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church)
  • Phil Spangler & Joel Bunk (10:00 p.m. at State College Presbyterian Church)
  • Skytop Blues (10:15 p.m. at University Baptist & Brethren Church)

That’s not nearly all of them though, so be sure to check out the full schedule. There will also be a number of ways to consummate New Year’s resolutions, like throwing a piece of wood with your resolution written on it into a fire sculpture or creating a mug with your resolution on the side at 2000 Degrees (though that will cost you a little extra). And you can’t forget the assortment of food vendors who will be doting the downtown State College landscape… can you say post-midnight strudel?

If you’re heading out to First Night State College, make sure to check out the special schedule and route for the White Loop (be warned though: the bus stops operating at 11:30 pm).

2011 5k Resolution Run

It’s part of the First Night State College, but I thought the 5k Resolution Run deserved its own spot on the list. Runners and “fast walkers” are invited to participate in the New Year’s Eve fun run that starts and ends on College Ave. Racers are encouraged to wear costumes. If you haven’t registered already, it will cost you $20 to participate. The first 640 to sign up will get a First Night State College long sleeve t-shirt. Call race director Dave Eggler at (814) 571-1960 with questions.

Other Links

There are a few other things to do in State College on New Year’s Eve, namely: drinking. Mad Mex has a special dinner option available, and The Atherton Hotel group is offering a number of special New Year’s Eve packages. also has a list of restaurants that will be featuring special New Year’s Eve menus:

  • Carnegie House (814) 234-2424
  • Duffy’s Tavern (814) 466-6241
  • Gamble Mill (814) 355-7764
  • Harrison’s Wine Grill (814) 237-4422
  • Kelly’s Steak and Seafood (814) 466-6251
  • Mt. Nittany Inn (814) 364-9363

Bar Bleu is hosting a Bleu Lowjacked NYE featuring Lowjack. The cover is $5 and there will be a half-price happy hour from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The Saloon is hosting a New Year’s Eve party with My Hero Zero as the musical guests.

Cafe 210 West has a special New Year’s Eve prix fixe menu available and the JR and Natalie Band will be playing throughout the night. The $5 cover gets you a champagne toast, party favors, and (of course) a NYE hat.

Indigo will also be a great place to be on New Year’s Eve, with local legend DJ Kid AV and his CVRBND partner-in-crime DJ Manik Mike at the turntables. The $8 cover gets you a champagne toast, hats, noisemakers, and snacks.

Here’s a video that shows off a few activities from last year’s First Night State College:

Did we miss something? Leave it in the comments!

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About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.

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