Plan ahead – New Year’s Eve will be jampacked in downtown Sacramento

The annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show in Old Sacramento kicks off at 9 p.m.
The annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show in Old Sacramento kicks off at 9 p.m. Sacramento Bee file

Revelers, be forewarned: The last day of 2016 in downtown Sacramento also may be the most crowded.

More than 30,000 people from around the region are expected to converge Saturday for several major events, including the annual Sky Spectacular fireworks show in Old Sacramento and an afternoon Kings game at Golden 1 Center.

Others are expected to come downtown for ice skating on K Street; afternoon and evening shows at the Community Center Theater; and to ring in the new year at restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

The Crocker Art Museum is also hosting its free Noon Year’s Eve festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to celebrate at a reasonable hour for children with early bedtimes. The popular event will occur just blocks from the Golden 1 Center.

Saturday’s events are prompting city officials to warn about the potential for traffic congestion. Officials are urging people to use the city’s SacPark online parking reservation service, which allows drivers to pick a garage, pay in advance and have a space guaranteed for them when they arrive.

Fortunately, the two biggest events Saturday happen at different times.

The Kings’ game begins at 2 p.m. and finishes before 5 p.m. The free fireworks show in Old Sacramento launches at 9 p.m. and will last for 20 minutes. There will be only one fireworks show this year. In previous years, the city sponsored two fireworks shows.

Streets in Old Sacramento will be closed after 4 p.m. Saturday, and the Tower Bridge will be closed to traffic from 7:30 to about 9:30 p.m. so people can watch the evening’s fireworks display.

There will be music and other activities before and after the fireworks show in Old Sacramento. The activities before 9 p.m. will be geared toward children and families.

City officials are warning of heavy traffic downtown before and after the fireworks show.

Sacramento Regional Transit will offer free bus and light-rail rides on its system Saturday. Extra light-rail trains will operate after the Kings game as well as after the fireworks show. For more detailed information, go to the SacRT online schedules.

Rideshare companies say they plan to have a large contingent of drivers working on New Year’s Eve to take advantage of their services.

“It will be our biggest night (ever), it is not going to be even close,” said David Kunst, general manager of Lyft Sacramento.

Increased demand on New Year’s Eve will likely prompt higher rideshare prices, called “prime-time pricing” on Lyft and “surge pricing” on Uber.

To reduce traffic hassles, Sacramento city officials will have message boards in place on several local freeways directing drivers to the best exits, in hopes of keeping congestion to a minimum on J Street near the Interstate 5 north and south offramps.

City officials are advising arena-goers on freeways coming from the east and south to use the 10th Street exit from the W-X freeway to avoid mixing with early arriving visitors to Old Sacramento.

The city will have a traffic operations center staffed at City Hall to monitor traffic flows.

For more information about different ways to get downtown, go to

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak