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Family New Years Eve Celebrations

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At some phases in life, "New Years Eve" is an instant-message for "crazy party". And at other phases, December 31st is a night for festivities that include the kids. Below are ideas for a memorable family New Years Eve.

"First Nights"

Family New Year - Fireworks photo by Susan Cole Kelley, courtesy of First Night Boston.
Photo by Susan Cole Kelley, courtesy of First Night Boston.

In Boston, St. Louis, Boulder City, and many more cities, "First Night" events celebrate a family-friendly New Years Eve, with parades, fireworks, and, most of all, performances-- by musicians, dancers, acrobats, you name it. First Nights are low-cost, too. Typically, guests buy and wear a First Night button, which gives admission to all the fun.

Family New Year Celebrations in the Southeast

Photo of First Night Alexandria Fireworks Display: Michael Geissinger
Photo of First Night Alexandria Fireworks Display: Michael Geissinger

About.com's Guide for Southeast US travel offers a round-up of "First Night" family New Years celebrations in North Carolina, Arkansas, and more.

In Toronto

Family New Year fun at the Toronto Zoo - photo courtesy of Tourism Toronto.
Family New Year fun at the Toronto Zoo - photo courtesy of Tourism Toronto.

About.com's Guide for Toronto covers family New Year events, such as Toronto Zoo's Annual New Years Eve with countdown, and Citytv New Years Eve Bash ( a general-age event that's free to attend and free of alcohol). Toronto is also a good place for Christmas windows, and of course has plenty of family-friendly sightseeing --see more about Toronto - Top Things to Do.)

Hershey PA

Photo courtesy of Hotel Hershey.
Three hours from NYC, two from Philadelphia, and aka as "Chocolate Town USA", Hershey PA is a big draw for families, mainly because of the summer-time Hersheypark theme park. Many families visit in December too when Hersheypark reopens during for "Christmas Candylane". On December 31, the town of Hershey has New Year's Even celebrations with music and entertainment; a giant Hershey Kiss gets raised at midnight, followed by fireworks. Meanwhile, the Hotel Hershey has a New Year's Eve package that includes a grand dinner and dessert buffet, a family party at Hershey's Chocolate World, and New Year's Day breakfast. Book early, this package sells out!

Disney World

Photo courtesy of Disney World Resorts.
Photo courtesy of Disney World Resorts.

Throughout December, many special Disney Christmas events take place in Disney World, and December 31st brings a big night of festivities, with fireworks, a special version of IllumiNations at Epcot, live entertainment, and more.

Panama City Beach

Family New Years Eve - beach ball drop - photo courtesy of Panama City Beach.
Photo courtesy of Panama City Beach.

Panama City, in Northwest Florida, shines a big spotlight on family New Year fun: street festivities and live entertainment at Pier Park; early in the evening, activities for families include bouncy houses, stilt walkers, live music. A countdown leads up to a Beach Ball Drop, and a grand finale of fireworks. Free to the public.

More Florida Family New Year's Eve Celebrations

About.com's Guide for Florida Travel highlights family-friendly events in Jacksonville, Orlando and St. Petersburg.

Wilmington and Cape Fear Coast, North Carolina

Giant Lighted Beach Ball, photo courtesy of Wilmington-Cape Fear Coast CVB.
Giant Lighted Beach Ball, photo courtesy of Wilmington-Cape Fear Coast CVB.
The Wilmington and Cape Fear Coast area of North Carolina starts its family-friendly New Years Eve with a countdown at noon at the Children's Museum of Wilmington. Families can enjoy the rest of the day at attractions such as the Wilmington Railroad Museum or Wrightsville Beach Museum, and at 9 p.m. head to an oceanfront Island of Lights Countdown Party at the Kure Beach Pier, with street dance, beach ball drop, and fireworks.

LEGOLAND California Theme Park

Family New Year, at LEGOLAND - Fireworks over Miniland - photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California.
Fireworks over Miniland - photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California.

At this theme park in southern California (ideal for ages under 12), celebrations for Holly Jolly Holiday are included with regular admission, and lead up to nightly fireworks in late December and big family New Year bash. Midnight strikes at 6 p.m.; like the famous party in Times Square, there's a countdown and a huge LEGO brick drops 22-feet; performances and fireworks, too.

Great Wolf Lodges - "Snowball" Family New Year's Party

Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.
Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.
Great Wolf Lodge is the biggest brand of indoor waterpark resorts, and celebrates the holidays season big-time with its "Snowland" festivities (including indoor snow in the Grand Lobby) throughout December, and finishing up with "Snowball", a family New Years Eve celebration. Events vary at different Great Wolf Lodges, and might include games, a dance party in the Grand Lobby, family karaoke, a balloon drop, and more.

New Year's Eve at Okemo Family Ski Resort

New Year's Eve fireworks, photo courtesy of Okemo ski resort, Vermont.
Photo courtesy of Okemo ski resort.
Okemo is a family-run ski resort, whose owners pride themselves on being a great place for families. New Year's Eve festivities are made especially good for kids by celebrating "midnight" at 9 pm. Activities include ice skating, wagon rides, cookie decorating, marshmallow roasting, a bouncey-house, bingo, a dance and pizza party, and fireworks. Read more about Okemo family ski resort at the link above.

Celebrations Around the World

A torchlight procession starts Hogmanay New Year celebrations in Edinburgh.
Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images.
A round-up of events, from New York and DC to Edinburgh and Paris and Italy and Brazil... brought to you by two dozen About.com Guides. Many of these celebrations are great for families.

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