First Night Raleigh: Time to make your plans
Posted December 22, 2013
Updated December 23, 2013
It always makes me a little sad to write about New Year's Eve when Christmas isn't behind us yet (because it means it's almost behind us). But, thankfully, we here in the Triangle have a great event like First Night in downtown Raleigh to ring in the new year.
My family has gone for the last several years. It's a great way for families to celebrate together with the early countdown and fireworks at 7 p.m. Or, it can make for a fun date night with the significant other.
The day includes all sorts of music, shows and activities for all ages. You can just walk down to Fayetteville Street to enjoy the countdowns and fireworks (no official First Night button required for that). Or, you can spring for a button and get the full experience - taking in all of the performances and activities that are offered.
You can buy your passes now for a discounted rate of $10 online and at local stores and museums. Click here for details. Children 5 years and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult with a First Night Raleigh admission button or wristband. Buttons are $13 at the festival on Dec. 31.
What are some highlights for families? Read on:
The children's celebration at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, N.C. Museum of History and outside on the Bicentennial Plaza in between runs 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. You will need First Night buttons to attend. The activities here can get very busy. So, if you can swing it, I recommend getting there as early as you can. There's everything here from storytelling, live performances and animals to a variety of make and take crafts. Kids can make noise makers, kites and more. For toddlers, the history museum is home to a special toddler play area.
The children's celebration ends as the People's Procession begins at 6 p.m. It leaves from the museums and makes its way down to Fayetteville Street for the early countdown. Anybody can be in this parade, which also includes the large puppets from the Paperhand Puppet Intervention. This is always a highlight for my girls.
The early countdown, acorn drop and fireworks are at 7 p.m. at the Main Stage on City Plaza on Fayetteville Street.
A "rock star ride" and carousel will take over part of Fayetteville Street from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Lines were very long for the rides last year, so I'd recommend, again, getting there as early as you can to avoid the crowds. (I'm thinking of lining up at 2 p.m. actually). First Night button required.
Some other things that caught my eye on the schedule (Again, First Night button required):
Tim Gabriel's Little World, model displays of little villages, will be on display at Artspace from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Gold Leaf Sleigh Rides will offer rides from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Mark Nizer, "one of the greatest entertainment comedians and jugglers performing today," will be at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts with shows at 5:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. I'm told his show is incredibly family friendly. If you're looking to beat the crowds, go to the 5:30 show. You'll be out in time to catch the early countdown and fireworks.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., All Children's Choir will perform at 7:15 p.m., at the First Baptist Church (Wilmington Street).
Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble will perform at 7:30, 8:30 and 10:30 at the First Presbyterian Church.
The Durham Ukulele Orchestra will play at 8 p.m. at First Baptist Church (Salisbury Street).
And Theatre Raleigh will host a Broadway Musical Sing-along from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Artspace.
Or, your could volunteer! Some families celebrate the new year by volunteering at First Night. Volunteers who commit at least 2.5 hours to First Night will get a free First Night button so they can enjoy the festival once their shift is over. Help is needed all day and all night on New Year's Eve. For details and to sign up, click here. You must be at least 16 to volunteer without a parent. School aged kids with their parents are welcome.