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Ludington's New Year's Eve Ball Drop: Time Square in West Michigan

Can’t make it to Times Square for New Year’s Eve? Hop in your car and enjoy one of West Michigan’s biggest ball drops only 90 minutes from Grand Rapids instead – the Ludington New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. Celebrating 14 years of lighting up the night on New Year’s Eve, Ludington packs a punch for its most famous annual event and one of its biggest annual celebrations.

This is your quintessential New Year’s Eve celebration – complete with outdoor beer garden, music, fireworks, and the ball drop with 6,000 LED lights – all set against the charming backdrop of downtown Ludington. Think of it as one giant street party, as Ludington’s main intersection of James Street and Ludington Avenue is open only to pedestrians that night after 9 p.m.

Book dinner earlier in the evening at one of Ludington’s many unique downtown eateries – from brewpubs like Jamesport Brewing and Ludington Bay Brewing, to fine dining standouts like Blu Moon Bistro, and Timbers Prime.  Many stores are open until midnight, so peruse the downtown and pop in for some shopping and a warm-up. At 9 p.m., head toward the pavilion and beer garden at Legacy Plaza, featuring a deejay at the entertainment stage. Domestic and craft beer, wine and seltzers are available for purchase, along with commemorative light-up drink glasses. Ludington’s main street also shuts down to car traffic at that time, so thousands of pedestrians can spill onto the street to get a good view of the New Year’s Eve Ball (one of the largest in West Michigan) touching down at midnight. At the stroke of midnight, look skyward to watch the ball drop, followed by confetti and a dazzling fireworks display over the rooftops of downtown. The event is free, though drinks are available for purchase.

Make a safe, walkable evening of it and book lodging within walking distance of downtown Ludington such as Stearn’s HotelLudington Beach House, or one of the historic bed and breakfasts lining Ludington Avenue.  Area businesses are sponsoring free rides and towing service that evening. Ludington Mass Transportation Authority provides free rides to and from downtown from 9 p.m. Dec. 31 through 4 a.m. Jan. 1 by reservation at 231.845.6218. Those wishing to have their car towed home can call one of four towing companies (Abrahamson Towing: 231.843.2990; Oceana Auto: 231.843.6500; Auto Ranch Towing: 231.425.6206; and Fiers Towing: 231.757.4479). Towing and driving services are available in Ludington city limits. Taxi services also are available with Judy’s Lakeside Rides (231.233.7200).

Start the New Year on the right foot (and burn off those partying calories) Jan. 1 with Ludington’s Resolution 5K at 11 a.m. through downtown. The $25 entry fee includes a custom die-cast finishers medal and a #RunLudington fandana. Register online or on race day from 10 to 11 a.m.