Celebrate New Year’s Eve in downtown Gainesville with fireworks, a concert and a countdown to midnight


Come out and celebrate this New Year’s Eve in downtown Gainesville. The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is expanding your downtown New Year’s Eve experience with a grand celebration. All festivities are free and open to the public, so there is something for everyone this year! 

The evening begins at Depot Park, located at 874 SE Fourth Street. At 5 p.m., bring blankets and chairs and find a spot in the park to enjoy the last sunset of 2019 while a DJ hosts a family-friendly dance party on The Hill. At 6:30 p.m., the fun continues with “Sparks in the Park,” a musically choreographed fireworks show over the main pond. Following the fireworks display, guests will be guided by a glowing rainbow of lights through downtown to enjoy dinner, drinks, festivities and all that downtown has to offer. 

The Downtown Countdown begins at 9 p.m., and continues until midnight in Bo Diddley Plaza, located at 111 E. University Ave. The event features two bands and a countdown to ring in 2020 with the sounds of noisemakers provided free to the audience. Headlining this experience are Heavy Petty (local Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band), with Philip “JazzDad” Thomas and The Forever Miles Band (popular cover songs) opening the concert. Revelers are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to the plaza for seating.

Heavy Petty grew up in the culture, music and community of Tom Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, cultivated in the same rock and roll scene where Tom Petty grew up. Known for their energy, showmanship, authenticity and their own Gainesville grown rock and roll style, they were dubbed the “Hometown Tribute Band” by friends and family of Tom Petty, and have been carrying on Tom Petty’s music legacy and entertaining large audiences for 10 years. Heavy Petty plays a diverse catalog of Tom Petty songs, ranging from callouts like “American Girl,” to B-side songs like “Something Good Coming.” They also play songs from any of Tom Petty’s solo or group projects, such as The Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch, with songs like “Handle With Care” and “Scare Easy.”

Phillip “JazzDad” Thomas is the lead vocalist for the talented Forever Miles Band, based out of Gainesville, Florida. Thomas is known mainly as a smooth jazz and R&B singer, but the band also performs many other genres of music such as light rock/pop, country, Top 40, R&B and soul. Thomas has traveled across the country and abroad, performing at various venues and jazz festivals, while accompanying Grammy Award-winning jazz artists on stage. At the Downtown Countdown concert, you can expect to hear many genres of music with covers of The Temptations, James Taylor, Steve Miller Band, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and more, all infused with a smooth jazz twist.

The Downtown Countdown is sponsored by classic rock radio station WIND-FM (92.5, 95.5, 107.9).

The New Year’s Eve celebration is produced by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, and is funded in part by grants from Culture Builds Florida and Visit Gainesville. For general information, contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at or 352-393-8532. For more information about Sparks in the Park, contact Tiffany Coogan at or 352-393-8511. For more information about Downtown Countdown, contact David Ballard at or 352-393-8746.