Illustration: K. Bonami
Your usual lackadaisical approach to New Year's Eve — just see what happens and go with the flow — is not going to cut it this year. Sure, the end of this decade may not have the same kind of new-millennium pressure as the last one, a year that sent you scurrying to your basement Y2K bunker or out on a Strange Days-like celebration of impending global collapse. But the plunge into 2010 is a milestone nonetheless. So to help you make this one count, we sent a team of future-thinking Predator drones all across the state of Maine, and a little ways down into Seacoast New Hampshire to sniff out any NYE happenings. We threw the results in our data centrifuge to spin out the good from the lame. And from that, we've distilled the 50 best goings-on, broken down by distance from Portland, from barely-off-the-couch to the Maine mountains, all the way to interstellar travel (we're not kidding!).
At arm's length
If you really can't be bothered to move for New Year's, stick tight to your computer and visit newyears.earthcam.com to see LIVE WEBCAM FEEDS of what everyone else is doing. Use that, and the party footage on www.newyearsnation.com, as motivation to get your butt in motion.
Don't get distracted by all the MUSICAL ACTS on TV: JLo and the Black Eyed Peas on ABC, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Green Day on NBC, and American Idol-ists on FOX. Seriously, head out of your living room and see the world as a new decade begins.
For an early start without leaving the peninsula, stop by the PHYZGIG show at the Portland Performing Arts Center. Starting at 2 pm (there's another show at 7), clowns, jugglers, slapstick, music, and a general variety show will take over the stage. $18, $16 students & seniors, $14 under 13 | 25A Forest Ave, Portland | phyzgig.org | 207.854.0065
If you're anticipating more silliness later in the night and want to start with sweet, swing in to Aucocisco for one of the two FOFER SHOWS (at 3 and 7 pm), featuring artist, musician, and storyteller Shana Barry and her creations, the Maine-island-dwelling furball Fofers. 89 Exchange St, Portland | fofers.com
It's going to be a long night, so take a break for sustenance (and be sure to call for reservations anywhere you go!). At PEPPERCLUB, there are two seatings (5:30 and 8:30 pm) with five courses of their scrumptious vegan/vegetarian/omnivore cooking for $35 (plus drinks). 78 Middle St, Portland | 207.772.0531
Just up the block at HUGO'S is a five-course meal of Chef Rob Evans's locavore-based cuisine for $75. 88 Middle St, Portland | 207.774.8538
VIGNOLA has a $48 prix-fixe upscale Italian menu with free prosecco at midnight. 10 Dana St, Portland | 207.772.1330
Portland's newest classy restaurant, GRACE, has a 6 pm seating for $70 per person for a five-course meal from their excellent menu. There's also an 8:30 pm seating but to that one you can add (for $20 per person) an after-dinner-party, complete with housemade chocolates, a champagne toast at midnight, and even a balloon drop! (Or get into the 10:30 "just the party" for $25.) 15 Chestnut St, Portland | 207.828.4422