By Jann Wiswall

Ellicottville is the perfect place to celebrate the new year. With two ski areas, a bounty of restaurants, great shopping and spas, a picturesque village and gorgeous scenery everywhere you look, you can customize your celebration in an endless number of ways.

The biggest New Year’s Eve party in town is at Holiday Valley Resort, where thousands gather for a torchlight parade and midnight fireworks. After a day of skiing and boarding, stow your gear and get ready to party at the family-friendly event at 9 p.m. on the main floor of the lodge and the party for adults at the T-Bar on the top floor. You’ll enjoy food and beverage specials, music and entertainment in both spots, as well as a great view of the spectacular parade down Cindy’s that begins at 11:15 p.m. The evening ends with a spectacular fireworks show at 11:45 p.m. Admission to the New Year’s party is free.

HoliMont also offers a New Year’s Eve Gala to members and their guests. This reservations-only event kicks off at 7 p.m. and features a three-course meal, live music, dancing and more. Make your reservations soon!

Ellicottville’s many wonderful restaurants are planning their own celebrations with special NYE menus and drink specials, lively music and much, much more. Check out their websites or call for more information. Contact information is available in our visitor’s guide on page 10.

New Year’s Day Activities

After your night of revelry, you’ll want to spend the first day of 2017 in the great outdoors. Grab the skis, boards, skates or hiking gear and enjoy the beauty of the season throughout the region! Of course, Holiday Valley will be open to the public all day (weather permitting) and HoliMont will be open to members.

For a change of pace, take the family to Olean for an afternoon of free ice skating at the William O. Smith Recreation Center. It’s a great way to ease into the new year! Free skating ($2 skate rental) is available from 1-4 p.m. Visit

If a hike is more to your liking, head to Allegany State Park for its annual First Day Hike. The self-guided, easy-to-moderate hike takes place in the Summit Area on the Red House side of the park. The off-trail, two-mile hike follows the scenic ridge line to Stone Tower and then loops back to the warming hut where you’ll enjoy a New Year’s Social with chili and warm beverages. The First Day Hike runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants should stop by the Summit warming hut to sign in and pick up a trail map. Weather permitting, snowshoes and trekking poles are encouraged. For more information, call (716) 354-9101 ext. 236.

Another great location for a New Year’s Day nature hike is the Pfeiffer Nature Center in nearby Portville. Its second annual “Hike for Your Health” event starts at 10 a.m. at the Lillibridge Preserve and takes about an hour. Visit for more info.

For those who would rather enjoy the outdoors while seated and wrapped in blankets, how about a horse-drawn sleigh ride through snow-covered countryside?

Weather permitting, The Crosspatch Ranch in Salamanca will be open Dec. 31 and has limited availability on New Year’s Day. Call (716) 938-6313 for reservations. In the town of Cattaraugus, the Boyd Family Ranch also is taking reservations for sleigh rides on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Call (716) 713-1699.