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Your guide to a low-cost New Year's Eve

HARD ROCK CAFE

City of Niagara Falls welders Jeff Kimball, left, and Romeo Scrivano prepare a 10-foot-tall fiberglass guitar that was dropped last year during an outdoor New Year's Eve party outside the Hard Rock Cafe. The event will be held again this year. (Buffalo News file photo)

The annual ball drop is on in Buffalo. Niagara Falls will plunge an oversized guitar 120 feet. The Barenaked Ladies will broadcast live from Niagara Falls, Ont.

There is plenty of free or low-cost entertainment to welcome in the new year.

If you're looking for outdoor crowds, free entertainment or family-friendly events, we've got you covered. Here's a look at a few of the public events planned to welcome in the new year. Events are free unless noted. 

BUFFALO 

Ball Drop: The 23rd annual ball drop at the Iskalo Electric Tower will kick off with live music and entertainment starting at 10:30 p.m. and will lead up to a midnight ball drop and fireworks display. The event will start with quizmaster Dennis George warming up the crowd at Roosevelt Plaza at Main and Huron streets. Local band "More Than Me" will headline the stage performances. 

First Night Buffalo: The city's drug- and alcohol-free celebration will offer a lineup of kid-friendly activities, including laser tag, skating and games, from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The lineup of entertainers includes Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics, Skyhunters Birds of Prey, Comedy Hypnotist The Incredible Boris and In Jest Comedy and Juggling featuring Nels Ross. Tickets, which include rides and activities, are $8 in advance at Wegmans, $10 at the door and free for children 2 and under.

First Night Parking: Free parking will be available at Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps at Main Place Mall, Fernbach Ramp and Turner Ramp.

Transportation: The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will extend Metro Rail service past midnight on New Year's Eve. The last outbound train will leave downtown Buffalo at 2 a.m. 

NIAGARA FALLS 

Guitar Drop: Smash Mouth will headline a free outdoor street party on Old Falls Street outside the Hard Rock Cafe that will lead up to the dropping of a 10-foot replica of a Gibson guitar at midnight. The all-ages event will start at 8 p.m. and will include live music, heated tents, concessions and fireworks.  

The United Way of Greater Niagara will offer free family activities from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Old Falls Street. 

NIAGARA FALLS, ONT.

Concert by the Falls: Free outdoor party in Queen Victoria Park will include two fireworks displays over the falls and live music by Great Big Sea and Barenaked Ladies. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. with fireworks at 9 p.m. and midnight. 

NORTH TONAWANDA

Gateway Harbor: Community event, "New Year's on the Canal, Gateway Harbor," features a lighted ball drop at midnight at the corner of Webster and Sweeney streets, followed by a fireworks display over the canal. The Eric Spahr Band will perform in a heated tent on Sweeney Street from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Alcohol-free children's events will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at St. Francis of Assissi in Tonawanda and Rainbow Roller Rink in North Tonawanda. Tickets for the Kids Fun Zones are $5 in advance or $6 the day of the event.

--Denise Jewell Gee

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