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First Night to bring Ferris wheel to downtown Raleigh

Posted December 21, 2011

First Night to bring Ferris wheel to downtown Raleigh.

Christmas isn't here yet, but it's not too early to make plans for New Year's Eve.

I'll have more on First Night, Raleigh's big New Year's Eve celebration, next week. But there are some major plans this year for the event's 21st annual celebration, which will take on a French theme.

The biggest plan, perhaps, is a 90-foot Ferris wheel, which festival organizers are calling La Grand Roue de Raleigh (like La Grand Roue de Paris, the large Ferris wheel found in the French capital).

It all starts at 2 p.m., Dec. 31, with a children's celebration at the state history and natural science museums. Kids can participate in hands-on crafts such as creating impressionist paintings, making miniature sailboats and decorating their own versions of the Eiffel Tower. "The Owl Tree," an interactive sculpture, encourages revelers to make a wish for the coming year. You'll also find circus performers, storytellers, giant puppets and more. A mini French film festival will take place inside the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. It includes a screening of "Madeline" at 4:30 p.m.

The People's Procession takes the party from the museums to Fayetteville Street for an early countdown at 7 p.m. with live music,  fireworks and the descent of the Raleigh Acorn. (There's a countdown, acorn drop and fireworks at midnight too).

To participate in the children's celebration activities; attend the performances and movie screenings; and ride the Ferris wheel, you'll need an all-day pass. They are $9 per person. Kids ages 5 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.

For all the details, click here.

Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh also will have some kid-friendly New Year's Eve fun. The celebration begins at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 31, and includes an opportunity to ring in the "noon" year with bubble wrap "fireworks" and what's called a "jammin' ball drop at high noon." Guests wearing a First Night Raleigh button receive buy one, get one free museum admission vouchers (limit 4) and a free small popcorn with the purchase of an IMAX movie ticket on Dec. 31.


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