Vevay businesses plans to kick off the new year with a Mardi Gras-themed First Friday event this month.

Downtown merchants and restaurants will stay open a little later with special events and late-night shopping planned during the first event of the year. Art studios and galleries also open with new featured artists and collections during First Friday activities from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Switzerland County Visitors Center, 128 W. Main St., encourages visitors and area residents to wear a mask, beads or other attire in honor of "Mardi Gras," an old Vevay New Year's tradition. Mardi Gras decorations, noise makers and a "Become a Jester" photo opportunity will also be available during the activities.

Kathy Williams of Vevay plans to display her collection of masks throughout the month at the visitors center.

The collection will be featured and on display during the First Friday events.

Free carriage rides also will be available during the activities, weather permitting.

Visitors are encouraged to board the carriage near the Switzerland County Courthouse.

First Friday events are held each month throughout the year. Musicians plan to return to the First Friday lineup in the spring.