Here's a sampling of how people in different countries say goodbye to old Father Time and celebrate Baby New Year.">

New Year's Traditions Around the World


Published:

Photo courtesy of Pirina/Shutterstock.com

It's time to put away the holiday decorations, jot down a resolution or two and reflect on how quickly 2017 has passed. Another year has ended and it's time to usher in a new one. There are lots of ways to welcome in the New Year. Your family might stay up until midnight to bang pots and pans, pop open a bottle of bubbly and watch the ball drop in New York's Times Square. Many believe that sharing a kiss at midnight is a sign of good luck.

For some folks, the New Year signals a day to relax, watch football and unwind from the flurry of holiday activity. Others may review their successes with last year's resolutions before setting attainable goals for the coming year. 

People from all corners of the world participate in many customs and traditions, unique to their culture and history. Here's a sampling of cultural ways to say goodbye to old Father Time and greet Baby New Year. Perhaps you'll add one or two to your family celebration.


Good Luck Grapes

If you are in Spain or Portugal for New Year's Eve, you can share in the local custom of selecting 12 grapes from a bunch. Then, as the clock strikes midnight, eat them one at a time making a wishing with each grape as a way to bring good luck for the next 12 months. Latin American countries share this custom.

In Northern Portugal children go caroling from home to home and are given treats and coins.


Down Under Celebrations

In Australia and New Zealand, New Year's Eve falls when summer is in full swing. Fireworks symbolize the crossover from New Year's Eve, marking the end of the old year, to New Year's Day, which signals the beginning of the New Year. The largest and most elaborate fireworks occur at midnight in Sydney Harbor, an iconic Australian landmark. On this night, the harbor is lit with spectacular fireworks, where hundreds of cultures unite for the Harbor of Light parade.

Because New Zealand is located close to the international date line, it is one of the first countries in the world to welcome the New Year. It is celebrated as a day to relax, visit family and friends, and perhaps attend a horse racing carnival or other summer day fair. Instead of football, New Zealanders watch cricket.


European Festivities

Jan. 1 is an important date in Greece because it is not only the first day of the New Year but also St. Basil's Day. A traditional Greek celebration features Vasilopita, a cake with a silver or gold coin baked inside. On New Year's Day, the cake is sliced as a blessing to the home and to bring good luck for the New Year. The first piece is for St Basil, the second for the house, the next for the most senior member of the household down to the youngest member and often includes absent family members. Whoever finds the coin in their piece of cake will be lucky for the next year.

To predict the future, families in Germany and Austria melt a small amount of lead by holding a flame under a tablespoon, then pour the lead into a bowl or bucket of cold water. The resulting pattern is interpreted to predict the coming year. A heart or ring shape means a wedding, a ball means luck will roll your way and a pig signifies plenty of food in the year ahead.

South of the Border

Bolivians who want to travel in the New Year must take their luggage to the door of their house or go upstairs. Another custom is to wear underwear backwards: wear red to be lucky in love and yellow for wealth. At midnight, Bolivians turn their underwear frontward to symbolize moving forward into the New Year. Some Bolivian families make beautiful little wood or straw dolls to hang outside their homes to bring good luck.

Brazil may be the most celebrated locale to welcome in the New Year. Millions of people from around the world travel to Rio de Janeiro's shores, especially in Copacabana, to experience majestic fireworks that light up the sky above the beaches. Your good luck will increase if you can jump over seven different waves while making your New Year's wishes, one for each wave. Brazilians believe lentils signify wealth, so on the first day of the New Year they eat lentil soup or lentils and rice.

At midnight on New Year's Eve, Mexican families open the front door and symbolically sweep out the old year before tossing coins on the ground and sweeping them into the house wishing for prosperity in the coming year. To symbolize renewal, Mexicans also throw a bucket of water out the window.


"Auld Lang Syne" — a Scottish Creation

The most popular New Year's Eve song, "Auld Lang Syne," is actually an old Scottish song. Poet Robert Burns transcribed and refined the lyrics after hearing them sung by an old man. He published the song in the 1796 edition of Scots Musical Museum, a collection of six volumes of traditional Scottish folk songs and music. "Auld Lang Syne" translates as "old long since" and means "times gone by." Bandleader Guy Lombardo popularized the song in 1929 and turned it into a New Year's classic.

The birthplace of "Auld Lang Syne" is also the home of Hogmanay, a rousing Scottish New Year's celebration. Shortly after midnight on New Year's Eve, neighbors visit each other and impart New Year's wishes. They are called "first footers" and traditionally bring along a small gift. You will be especially lucky if a tall, dark and handsome man is the first to enter your house after the New Year rings in. The Scottish also believe that you should clear your debts before "the bells" ring at midnight.


Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year can fall between late January and the third week of February. This year it's Feb. 16. The exact date is fixed by the lunar calendar, in which a new moon marks the beginning of each new month. There are parades where thousands of people line the streets to watch the procession of floats. Dancing dragons and lions weave their way through the crowded streets. The dragon is associated with longevity and wealth. Inside the costumes are 50 dancers, twisting and turning the dragon's long silk body and blinking eyes.

The Chinese believe evil spirits dislike loud noises so they decorate their houses with plastic firecrackers. The loud noises are intended to frighten away evil spirits and bad luck that these spirits might bring.

Families give out lucky money in red envelopes with their family name and good luck messages written on them in gold, but only to the unmarried and children of the family.


How to Say ‘Happy New Year’ Around the World

Brazilian: feliz ano novo
Brazilian Portuguese: feliz ano novo no brasileiro
Chinese (Cantonese): Sun nien fai lok
Chinese (Mandarin): Xin nian yu kuai
Czechoslavakia: Scastny Novy Rok
Finnish: Onnellista Uutta Vuotta
French: Bonne année
German: glückliches neues Jahr
Greek: ef?tychisméno to néo étos
Hawaiian: Hau’oli makahiki hou
Italian: Buon anno
Portuguese: Feliz Ano Novo
Philippines (Tagalog): Manigong Bagong Taon
Spanish: Feliz Año Nuevo; Prospero Ano Nuevo


Claire Yezbak Fadden is an award-winning freelance writer and mother of three sons. Follow her on Twitter @claireflaire.

 

This article was updated Dec. 26, 2017.

 

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Calendar

February 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Join park staff in collecting data for the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville , NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Cost: $10/adult, $5/preteen. Free for ages 5 and younger

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Dorton Arena
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Cost: Free

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Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
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Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Cost: Free

Where:
Studio School of Durham
1201 W. Woodcroft Pkwy.
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: Studio School of Durham
Contact Name: Danielle Clark
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Cost: $18

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Open Arts
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Morrisville, NC  27560
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Cost: $10/person; free for ages 3 and younger

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Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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1001 Airport Blvd.
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
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Cost: $32 and up

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Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
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Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Carolina Ballet presents Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers, dueling families, intrigue, deception and a tragic twist of fate. Dramatic sword fights, stunning costumes and...

Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


Website »

More information

Carolina Ballet presents Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers, dueling families, intrigue, deception and a tragic twist of fate. Dramatic sword fights, stunning costumes and...

Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville , NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Join park staff for games and activities in celebration of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Ages 5 and older. Register online. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

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1001 Airport Blvd.
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New HIll, NC  27562
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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There are many kinds of raptors or birds of prey that call Harris Lake County Park home. Some stay all year like the Bald Eagle and others like the Osprey live here only part of the year. Discover...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919.387.4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
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Cost: $2/person

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Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Our PlayHouse Preschool
3501 Highway 54 W.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Telephone: (919) 967-2700
Contact Name: Elizabeth Lenn
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Support the American Red Cross by making thank-you cards for its staff and volunteers. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course code #111616.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center Ballroom
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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Cost: $30

Where:
Baby + Company
226 Ashville Ave
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Telephone: 773-495-8117
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Read "Secret Pizza Party" by Adam Rubin and make personalized pizzas. Register online. Choose course #109612.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
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Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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Historic Stagville and Morehead Planetarium will present a stellar program that focuses on the astronomy and night sky myths and legends told in African cultures, as well as the related stories...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy.
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Telephone: 919-620-0120
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See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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More information

See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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Website »

More information

Explore the imagination behind the creation of riveting novels as D.G. Martin, of UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch,” hosts a candid conversation between top-selling authors John...

Cost: $45-$175

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.996.8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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More information

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Scraps, who intends to go her own way until she happens onto an adventure that broadens her understanding of herself and the world around....

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
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Relive the magical adventure of Harry Potter's second year at school like never before. This concert features "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in high-definition while...

Cost: $50-$80

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $35-$89

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Durham Performing Arts Center
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Cost: Free

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: $55/child

Where:
SMILE Camp
6301 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: SMILE Camp
Telephone: 919-538-5278
Contact Name: Sheila Marsh
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Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Cost: $5 for 10 swings

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Chapel Hill High School
1709 High School Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Chapel Hill High School Baseball Team
Telephone: 856-952-3054
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Cost: Free

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North Carolina State Capitol
1 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

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City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
Cameron Village Library
1930 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
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Website »

More information

Rags to Riches Theatre for Young Audiences performs three spider tales,"Ananse and the Talking Melon," "Ananse and the Moss Covered Rock," and "Ananse Goes...

Cost: $10/person

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Durham, NC  27703
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Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 919-213-1278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
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Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
Website »

More information

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Scraps, who intends to go her own way until she happens onto an adventure that broadens her understanding of herself and the world around....

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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Enjoy a family-friendly comedy show from The Un-Intentionals Improv Troupe. Purchase food and beverages at the The Comedy Cafe before, during and after the show.

Cost: Free

Where:
First Baptist Church Morrisville
209 Church St.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: The Un-Intentionals
Telephone: 919-475-4211
Contact Name: Marc Moore
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Relive the magical adventure of Harry Potter's second year at school like never before. This concert features "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in high-definition while...

Cost: $50-$80

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.996.8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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The Town of Cary’s 22nd annual celebration of African-American history and heritage features live entertainment and informative discussion. See the website for hours and fees. 

Where:
The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.