Family-Friendly New Year's Celebrations
Find a fun place in the Triangle to ring in 2019 with the kids
Here in the Triangle, your family can ring in 2019 at one of several family-friendly options — from an acorn drop in downtown Raleigh to a scientific celebration of the night sky in Chapel Hill.
If your family would rather stay home, consider taking an international approach to welcoming 2019 by examining New Year's traditions from around the world.
On New Year's Day, look for a nearby trail to participate in one of North Carolina's scheduled First Day Hikes.
1. First Night Raleigh
Transforming the streets of Downtown Raleigh into a giant celebration, First Night Raleigh has been the go-to for celebrating the new year in the capital city with 20-plus blocks of programming throughout downtown. Beginning at 2 p.m., learn a new hobby for the New Year with hands-on global workshops (listed below) at the daytime Children’s Celebration primarily at the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Bicentennial Plaza. Children ages 5 and under are permitted free when accompanied by a pass-wearing adult. This year's theme is "New Year's Eve Around the World" and the following activities and workshops are offered:
- Acorn Drop Wands in Raleigh
- African Story Telling
- Cartoon Island and Leis in the Polynesian Islands
- Crowns in England
- Henna in India
- Lanterns in Switzerland
- Noisemakers in Scotland
- Oragami in Japan
- Properity Candles in Mexico
- Resolution Ornaments in Italy
- Scottish Dancers
- Sparklers in Hungary
- Story Time in Australia
- Bingo in Germany
- Music Together in Ireland
- Fabric Printmaking in Ghana
There's also the opportunity to hit some rides, including taking a spin 90 feet in the air atop the gondola-style Fantastical First Night Ferris Wheel and the thrilling Down Draft amusement ride. Like a slower pace? Take a leisurely sleigh ride or stop in at the toddler play area designed for the youngest attendees to get out of the strollers and join in the fun, too. You can also see interactive art installations like playing a song on one of the beautiful First Night Art Pianos painted by local artists, tying your resolution for the New Year onto a Resolution Oak sculpture tree created by artist Jennifer Van Orden or adding your new year’s resolutions on the “Next Year I Will” chalkboard. The First Night Globe created by Keith Satow with neon by Nate Sheaffer will also be on display. For performances, you can enjoy the roaming Imagine Circus’ Mirror Man, Time with Tain Juggler, and dance instruction and performances from the USA Ballroom dancers. From 2-10 p.m., you can roll into the night with Neon Roller Skating Pop-Up Rink listening to Classic Disco Music.
A perfect way to end the daytime Children’s Celebration is to attend the The People's Procession and Early Countdown. Don’t worry about keeping the kids out too late to ring in the new year — they can enjoy all of the excitement early in the evening. At 6 p.m., join in the annual People’s Procession with Paperhand Puppet Intervention, Helping Hand Mission Band, and NCSU Pipe & Drum team leading the way. The procession begins at Bicentennial Plaza, makes its way down Salisbury Street, and culminates at the intersection of Davie and Fayetteville Street at the Main Stage where you can enjoy a performance by Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba as the famous acorn drops and fireworks are set off at 7 p.m.
For information about First Night Raleigh past the 7 p.m. celebration, see the full line-up of fun at firstnightraleigh.com. A First Night button, $11, is required for entry.
2. Noon Year's Eve at Marbles Kids Museum
If First Night Raleigh's early 7 p.m. celebration is too late for your little ones, ring in 2019 at Marbles Kids Museum's Noon Year's Eve celebration from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., which includes line dances, wacky activities and bubble wrap fireworks. The marble drops at noon. Arrive early to get a good view and make your own New Year's flair. It's free with admission, which is $7 per person.
3. Night Lights: A Family New Year's Eve
For families looking for festivities before the wee hours, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s Night Lights will have your family looking to the stars to kick off 2019. From 2-6 p.m. enjoy science activities, planetarium shows, Science LIVE! performances and photo booth fun. Kidzu Children’s Museum will be bringing a science activity, Studio A DanceArts will perform a magical light and dance show, and the Bouncing Bulldogs will put on a performance in the front quad. The popular food truck Dusty Donuts will be on site for snacking or visitors can enjoy one of many nearby downtown restaurants for dinner. There will also be a special New Year's Eve countdown. Tickets for the planetarium show are $5 and are only available online. Space is limited, so registration for the star show is required. All other activities and games are free and open to the public.
4. New Year's Eve: Vienna with a Twist
For a more adult, date night option, welcome the New Year as the North Carolina Symphony presents unforgettable Viennese waltzes, plus Big Band classics with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra. Enjoy favorites from Strauss and Tchaikovsky to Ellington and Gershwin — and join in singing “Auld Lang Syne” with the biggest band in the state.