As 2011 gives way to 2012, there wont be any shortage of ways to ring in the new year in Macon.
While the Cherry Blossom Ball Drop will be the centerpiece of the downtown festivities, dances and a fireworks display are also on tap for New Years Eve revelers.
And just hours earlier, at 8 p.m., blues legend B.B. King takes the stage at the City Auditorium.
Box office officials said ticket sales have picked up, and promoters are expecting 1,200 to 1,300 fans for the concert. Tickets are $49.50 and $69.50, and are still available at the Macon Coliseum Box Office, through Ticketmaster or by calling (800) 745-3000.
The thrill, however, wont be gone once King finishes his set. In whats becoming the most prominent local tradition for the holiday, the Cherry Blossom Festival will be presenting the Cherry Blossom Ball Drop at midnight for the third straight year.
Karen Lambert, the festivals president and CEO, said additional sponsorship has allowed the festival to add a fireworks show that will take place above Terminal Station just after the ball drops at midnight.
This event has been so successful, said Lambert, who added that last years ball drop attracted about 5,000 people. The crowds have grown every year. Were really excited to be adding fireworks this year.
Lambert said the festival will be selling noisemakers and other items at the ball drop, which is free to the public and will take place at Cherry Street Plaza in front of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
WGXA will be broadcasting parts of the event as well as broadcasting the 40th annual Dick Clarks New Years Rockin Eve at the plaza, which will feature acts like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Florence + the Machine, Nicki Minaj and others.
The Telegraphs Charles Richardson and Liz Fabian will be hosting the local event live, along with local DJ Laura Starling.
Mere yards away, the Advocacy Resource Center-Macon will be hosting its fourth annual New Years Eve Big Dance, featuring the Grapevine Band, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Terminal Station. Tickets are $45 per person, $80 per couple and $300 for a table of eight. For more information, call (478) 477-7764 or visit www.arc-macon.org.
Other dances around town include the New Years Eve Social at Threshing Floor Christian Fellowship Church, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., beginning at 7 p.m. The event will feature recording artist Are Jay and comedy, and has limited child care available. For more information, call (800) 691-3221.
There also is the New Years Eve Cabaret at the Mother Katherine Drexel Center, 131 Ward St. It begins at 9 p.m. and features food, dancing and a midnight toast. For more information, call (478) 745-1970. The VFW Post 658, 4864 Harrison Road, will host a dance featuring the Winchester Band, also beginning at 9 p.m. Call (478) 218-5815 for more information.
For those who want music in a more intimate setting, the Hummingbird Stage and Taproom, 430 Cherry St., will host Col. Bruce Hampton beginning at 11 p.m. Local music heavyweights Roger Riddle, Floco Torres and Jubee & The Morning After will perform at Roasted Cafe, 442 Second St., from 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
If singing and dancing arent your cup of tea, football fans can watch bowl games beginning at noon. Among the five games featured Saturday include Georgia Tech facing Utah in the Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. on CBS, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta when Auburn squares off against Virginia at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Saturday also will be the final chance to catch some local exhibitions, including the Festival of Trees at the Museum of Arts & Sciences as well as Christmas at the Hay House.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.