Downtown Countdown celebrates 20th year

Barrie is set to host over 10,000 people at their annual Downtown Countdown New Year’s Eve event in the city centre. Already in its 20th year, the celebration is one of the biggest that central Ontario has to offer, and has seen lots of changes since starting in 1998.

For starters, it is no longer televised, but does tout strong media partners like Rock 95, 107.5 Kool FM, and the Barrie Advance. Arin Donnelly, Community Events Coordinator has seen “a variety of different performers and great family programming” in the 12 years she has been working on it.

She describes it as “somewhere that people can look forward to ringing in the New Year together at a free event in downtown Barrie.” Past headliners include the Sheep Dogs, The Trews, Sloan, April Wine, Big Wreck, Finger Eleven, Arkells and Kim Mitchell and will be announced closer to the event.

Stage programming begins at 7 pm with a family entertainer and early fireworks for the kids who can also take horse drawn wagon rides. Other family friendly activities include skating, a mini tube slide, street performers and a bonfire warming zone.

Local dignitaries are also expected for the countdown and big fireworks show at midnight along with anyone having dinner or attending a party downtown. Although there will be a few winter friendly food trucks on site, organizers encourage attendees to head on over after dining.

“We’re so close to downtown so we really encourage people to go downtown and if they want to have a bite to eat or have a drink,” says Donnelly.

“There’s a lot of people who will make reservations downtown for a nice New Year’s dinner and then they’ll come up for the headliner and the countdown and all of those things so it’s a really nice spot to be,” she continues.

She also advises to dress for the unpredictable weather as New Years Eve “can be anything from fairly warm for a December evening to snow, to rain, so dressing for the weather is definitely the number one thing to keep in mind.”

All of the activities offered at the event are run by local businesses while the city will act as facilitator overseeing the evening. “It’s a really great event, lots of fun and a great way to celebrate altogether in the downtown so something that people will want to check out,” says Donnelly.

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(Photo Credit: Downtown Countdown 2016 by Stan Schurman)

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