Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

First Night to feature giant Lite Brite, more for families

Posted December 27, 2010 9:05 p.m. EST

First Night in Raleigh is now in its 20th year. The major downtown New Year's Eve celebration features all kinds of activities for families with kids of all ages from afternoon activities for toddlers to late night performances that older kids will enjoy.

And in the middle of it all is the early countdown at 7 p.m. for all those kids (and parents like me) with early bedtimes.

There will be lots going on across downtown. Check the First Night Raleigh website for all the details, a full schedule and description of the performers and activities. First Night buttons are $9 in advance or $10 for kids and $12 for adults at the door. Kids ages 5 and under get in free when with a button-wearing adult. And anybody who volunteers with First Night for more than 2.5 hours can earn a free button too. Volunteers, including families, are still needed. Read my earlier post for more on that.

So with that disclaimer, I thought I'd go ahead and point out some of the highlights for families. As Terri Dollar of Artsplosure, which organizes First Night, has always told me, it's always best to go with a plan.

  • The children's celebration is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Bicentennial Plaza, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the N.C. Museum of History. Lots to do, including crafts, performances and a red carpet photo booth where kids (and adults) can get dressed up and get their picture taken (the booth will be set up during the day and evening celebrations). Dollar expects a long line for that one. And Erica Berry of Jammin Baby will be at the N.C. Museum of History with activities best  for kids ages 5 and under. Check my earlier post about her for more information.
  • The First Night Light Circus, a collection of local circus performers, will be performing throughout the event with ongoing performances from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and circus jam shows at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. It's all on the Bicentennial Plaza, that area between the history and natural sciences museum. They'll move over to Fayetteville Street at 7 p.m. and feature a fire circus show at 9:45 p.m.
  • The People's Procession moves the party from Bicentennial Plaza to Fayetteville Street at 6 p.m. Giant puppets from the Paperhand Puppet Intervention will be there. And so will a lot of people. Always a fun time.
  • Then there is the big 7 p.m. early countdown, acorn drop and fireworks show at the Main Stage on Fayetteville Street, which will be ending the evening for me and my family and beginning the evening for many more. (There's an official midnight countdown too).

If you're out past 7 p.m., there are a couple new activities that are definitely worth checking out.

  • Light Up the Night is modeled after the Lite Brite toy, which I spent hours playing with as a kid. The giant version of the interactive illuminating toy replaces those teeny tiny pegs with 1,000 tinted recycled water bottles. Participants can add or rearrange the bottles into the backlit surface. You'll find that on Fayetteville Street from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • And there is "Ning Ning," an interactive swarm of LED lights that reacts to both stillness and motion. It will be installed in the Urban Design Center at the corner of Hargett and Fayetteville streets. You can sit outside or go inside the space and watch the sparkle and shine of the lights.

Happy New Year!