When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, it of course signals a New Year.

For some it might be nothing more than a day, but for many it’s the chance to dress to impress and hit the town. And this year there’s a soirée in Whitehorse inviting you to do just that.

The Yukon Convention Centre is about to be transformed for the Wonderland Gala; an event dreamt up by arts promoter Lauren Tuck and mixed media artist Emma Barr.

“It’s time Whitehorse had a New Year’s party. It’s been a long time since there’s been a really big one,” Barr says.

“And it’ll be a time for the community to get together, not just our age group. We want our parents to come. New Year’s is a special time. It’s a time when you want to be with family and close friends.”

The two have been working on the design and concept since August, which is evident from not only the detailed sketches Barr had made of the entire party layout, but also by the organization Tuck has put into the entertainment portion.

Big Soul, an eight-piece band fronted by Dave Haddock, brings the soul and the funk to the party and Tuck says, “They’re sure to pack the dance floor.”

Plus, DJ Jetpac will also be spinning tunes for the masses from a variety of musical genres (see his story on Page 26).

In a small workspace, Barr and Tuck explain the lavish evening they have in store. The pair is surrounded by a wealth of materials, ranging from stone water fountains to packaging foam and a large paper-mâché moon shape dangling from the ceiling. These odds and ends are what will convert the convention centre from a bare room into a magnificent landscape.

“I knew we wanted to do a sort of winter wonderland Yukon theme, with animals and actual trees in the building. And then I realized we needed a name for this, we need this to be something,” Barr explains.

“I came up with Wonderland. And then I thought of Alice In Wonderland and going back through old movies and fairy tales and just wanted to create this magical place.”

She admits to keep costs down and to evoke creativity she’s working almost entirely from recycled materials.

Sheets of lightweight foam are meticulously cut into petal shapes and wrapped around bustles of lights to create exotic and delicate hanging flowers.

Silhouettes of animals are cut from simple flats of cardboard, which will be painted and ultimately line the lobby hallway as you step into the main ballroom filled with real trees, art installations and an all encompassing feel of bringing the outside in.

And while the decorations are still in the works, their artistic impact is already tangible.

“I want you to walk into this fantasy world where your jaw hits the floor. And you notice all the attention to detail and the beauty. And everyone looks amazing and the ambiance is really important,” Tuck says.

“You’ll be amongst friends and people you’ve never seen before. It’s a full-on experience where you just get to go to Wonderland for a while and dance away and not care that it’s minus 35 outside.”

“It’s going to be by far the most decorated party that Whitehorse has ever seen,” Barr adds.

Some NYE bonuses are also on the bill: midnight sweets, party favours and a special something from the Yukon Brewing Company. All in all, it looks to be a rather big affair.

Tuck and Barr admit it’s been a huge undertaking, but one that’s leading them both down bigger and better artistic paths.

“Every once and awhile I wonder why we’re doing this because it’s such a big project. It’s so huge. I mean, the convention centre for sure is a big place and there’s a lot to do to make it different and special. And Lauren reminds me that it’s our next … what is it?” Barr says with a pause and a laugh.

“It’s the next obvious step for both of us,” Tuck says with a smile.

Wonderland Gala tickets are $60 and available at the Yukon Brewing Company.