The celebration of New Year’s Eve has changed significantly in the hotel-casino industry over the past two decades. What once featured top entertainers in the showrooms at sharply increased prices is now a mere shadow of its former self. Indeed, most of the Northern Nevada and Northern California casinos will keep their showrooms dark this year as 2018 is ushered in more with a pop than a bang.
There are some bangs, though, as the traditional fireworks are set off from the tops of three downtown Reno locations, two levels of the Silver Legacy and the roof of Harrah’s Reno.
Another tradition will continue as well, and that’s one of crowds, so don’t expect to get anywhere with any kind of alacrity in downtown Reno (where Virginia Street will be closed) or Stateline (where Highway 50 will be closed).
South Shore will be further impacted with the annual giant Snowglobe electronic music festival, this year topped by Dillon Francis ($160-$200;snowglobemusicfestival.com).
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It just might be wiser to find entertainment in the days leading up to Dec. 31 or in locations far removed from all others.
For instance, try Thunder Valley, where New Year’s Eve will be celebrated with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. It was 1981, as of this weekend, 37 years ago when she recorded “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” and it is still consistently listed among the top 25 iconic rock songs of all time. It’s a rouser to bring in a new year and Jett is still capable of bringing powerful dynamics to the stage. (7:30 and 10:30 p.m.; $74.95-$89.95; thundervalleyresort.com)
Leading up to the big night we find Terry Fator, the first performer to build a win on “America’s Got Talent” into a solid career, indeed in his case a huge career. He brings his show from its home at the Mirage in Las Vegas to the Silver Legacy in Reno on Friday night with all his dummy friends like a cabaret singer and a turtle with a knack for impersonations. (8 p.m.; $74.50-$89.50; silverlegacy.com)
Cache Creek provides a free New Year’s gift Saturday with “Selena: The Ultimate Tribute,” starring Karla Perez as the Mexican-American powerhouse. (8 p.m.; cachecreek.com)
Straight No Chaser bring their a cappella quartet harmonies to the Grand Sierra in Reno Friday night. This is their Speakeasy Tour. (8 p.m.; $32-$68; grandsierraresort.com)
Surprisingly, the revitalized and largely remodeled Nugget in Sparks spotlights the most and, in some cases, the most intriguing entertainment of the season. Start with Todd Snider on Saturday in the showroom, celebrating 23 years since he released “Songs for the Daily Planet” and 10 since the bigger “The Devil You Know.” (8 p.m.; $50 booth, $40 table, $30 mezzanine). The Dan Band, which grew out of that desecration of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” performed at the wedding in “Old School,” plays Dec. 31 (9 p.m.; $50, $40, $30); and there’s an old-fashioned dinner show in the Nugget Ballroom on Dec. 31, featuring Under the Streetlamp, the male quartet composed of former leads in Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” (7 p.m.; $60-$100; nuggetcasinoresort.com).