New Year’s Celebrations: First Night Raleigh and First Day Walks

Photo courtesy of First Night Raleigh

Looking to celebrate the New Year with your kids in the Triangle? Whether you’re seeking an early countdown to 2016 or a healthy start with a New Year’s Day walk in the park, lots of outings await.

Photo courtesy of First Night Raleigh

First Night Raleigh
Downtown Raleigh comes alive with a First Night Raleigh celebration on New Year’s Eve. The family-friendly alcohol-free event has been a Triangle tradition since 1992. Head to the Children’s Celebration with performances and activities from 2-6 p.m. on Bicentennial Plaza, inside the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Join in the “People’s Procession” beginning at 5:30 p.m. along Edenton Street, north of the State Capitol, and walk to the Main Stage at City Plaza. Enjoy entertainment there from Scythian and Chuck Davis of the African American Dance Ensemble, then watch the giant acorn drop and fireworks light up the sky at the early countdown for kids at 7 p.m. Children 5 years old and younger are permitted for free when accompanied by a pass-wearing adult.

If you decide to stay on past 7 p.m., you’ll find lots more entertainment, including a new ride called The Sizzler, Art Putt miniature golf, as well as Seed Art Share’s interactive theater play, “Who’s @First.” Don’t miss a ride in the 90-foot gondola-style Ferris wheel, an annual centerpiece in the New Year’s Eve Raleigh skyline. For more information, visit


Symphonic Celebration

Ring in 2016 with all your favorite Viennese waltzes, big band favorites plus much more at North Carolina Symphony's "New Year's in Eve Vienna" special performance at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31. Purchase tickets online.


First Day Walks

Start the year off on the right foot at the Town of Cary’s First Walk at the Annie Jones Greenway, 1414 Tarbert Drive, on Jan. 1. The free walk starts at 10 a.m. and lasts one hour on a 1.2-mile asphalt trail that meanders along streams and through woods. Park and meet with other walkers at the lot adjoining the Annie Jones Park. Registration is optional, but if you’d like to do so, browse this EZ-REG link, visit any Town Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts facility or call 919-460-4965.

In Wake County, the staff at Durant Nature Preserve, 8305 Camp Durant Rd, in Raleigh invite all to a free hike 10-11 a.m. Jan. 1. Be prepared to walk at least a mile over trails that are not stroller friendly. All ages are welcome, and registration is encouraged.

Join a park naturalist for a free walk 10-11:30 a.m. Jan. 1 on the trails at Wilkerson Nature Preserve, 11408 Raven Ridge Rd. in Raleigh. Enjoy hot chocolate after the hike. All ages are welcome. Register online.

Explore nature at North Carolina's state parks system’s First Day Hikes on Jan. 1, a popular tradition that last year drew 2,980 visitors on state park trails on New Year's Day. This year, 46 guided hikes scheduled for New Year's Day in the state, ranging from short "leg-stretchers" to 6-mile treks, and many of them feature interpretive programs by rangers along the way. All seasonal state park facilities will remain open on the holiday. Each state park and state recreation area puts its own stamp on its First Day Hike. William B. Umstead State Park in Wake County will feature a photography hike, while nearby Falls Lake State Recreation Area plans four scavenger hunts. Farther afield, Hanging Rock State Park will introduce a "polar plunge" in the park's lake to tempt more people to an outdoor adventure. A complete list of First Day Hikes in North Carolina can be found at

Photo courtesy of Business Images

New Year’s Traditions Park Program 

Historic Yates Mill County Park will host a program that explores New Year traditions around the world 11 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Jan. 2. “A Side of History: New Year Celebrations” is open to all ages, but is recommended for ages 5 and older. Participants will make a Chinese New Year lantern to take home. The fee is $3 per person or $5 per family, and registration is required. Historic Yates Mill County Park is located at 4620 Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh.

Stay Home and Get the Kids to Bed Early!
Would you like to ring in the New Year’s just with your significant other, but still let the kids have their own celebration at home? You may want to try Netflix’ tool to help kids get to sleep before the ball drops. Browse these six new kid-oriented specials just for New Year’s Eve

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