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Celebrate New Year’s Eve with ‘Downton Abbey’

Published:   |   Updated: December 26, 2013 at 11:13 AM

To herald the return of the hit series “Downton Abbey” in January, numerous events are planned for the coming week, including an English New Year’s Eve Party in Tampa themed to the Roaring ’20s.

The PBS “Masterpiece” drama that follows the lives, loves and tragedies of an aristocratic British family and its servants returns for a fourth season on Jan. 5, and PBS outlet WEDU, Channel 3, is going all out for the fans.

You can eat, drink, dress and dance like Lord Crawley’s family and friends and get a sneak preview of Season 4. The station is joining numerous PBS outlets throughout the country in celebrating what is arguably the most successful drama in “Masterpiece” history.

Up to 500 are expected at the “Downton”- inspired New Year’s Eve Party at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the David A Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Events that night include a cocktail party, vintage cars on display, live music and dancing, a “Downton Abbey” trivia contest, a costume contest, a screening of the 2014 premiere episode and a midnight toast (cost of admission is $150 per person).

“You don’t have to dress in costume, but a lot of people really get into it and come out in full garb,” says Allison Alvarez Hedrick, vice president of communications at WEDU.

There also will be themed food available with pre-dinner fineries such as Oysters Mignonette, Salmon Toast, Caviar and Cream, and Lampchop Lollie.

“Last year, we had a preview screening, and it was a success and we are doing much more this year,” says Hedrick.

Other “Downton Abbey” events include:

A free preview screening at 7:30 tonight at the Polk Theatre in Lakeland. Seating is limited, reservations requested online at: www.wedu.org/downtonabbey.

A “Downton Abbey” Dinner at 7 p.m. Jan. 3 at Café L’Europe, Sarasota. The $250 dining experience includes a five-course wine-paired dinner inspired by the dining scenes from “Downton Abbey;” pre- and post-dinner themed cocktails; and entertainment between courses, including Sarasota Opera. People are encouraged to dress in period costumes. Seating is limited. Reservations must be made in advance online at www.wedu.org/ downtonabbey.

♦ Tea and Scones at 2 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Dale Mabry and Kennedy. Admission is free. In addition to the tea, there will be a “best teacup” contest; a fox hunt; a “Downton Abbey” trivia contest; and a kid’s story time with “Mouseton Abbey.”