Just because you’re traveling with kids doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the new year in style. As more parents jet-set with their kids, cities and resorts are offering family friendly New Year’s Eve festivities that appeal to both generations. The following 5 New Year’s Eve events for families combine celebration with relaxation, starting your year off right.
1. London, England
The famous London Eye makes for a dramatic backdrop for New Year’s Eve fireworks. Over 135 meters high, the Eye is the world’s tallest observation wheel, and the focal point for a stunning (and free!) fireworks display. The visual display starts immediately after Big Ben chimes midnight and always lasts approximately 15 minutes. Yes, it will be crowded, so make a day of it with the kids and scope out a good spot in the afternoon. Where you’ll want to head: Westminster Bridge or the north side of the River Thames.
2. Whistler, BC, Canada
Come for the Christmas holiday skiing and stay for New Year’s! Whistler’s First Night celebration takes place throughout Whistler Village, along the pedestrian-only “Village Stroll”. Best of all (when crowds and kids are concerned) Whistler’s First Night is an alcohol-free public event. While not free, it’s a cheap night out for ski resort standards at $15 for adults and $5 for kids. Families will count down to midnight listening to live music, enjoying art workshops, and watching street entertainment. At midnight, the firework display rivals that of large cities. (And if you have small kids, there’s a 9:30 pm countdown as well.)
3. Glenwood Springs, CO
In my opinion, this is one of the best places for New Year’s Eve in the U.S. Ring in 2013 with your family in the comfort of a Colorado swimming pool! Don’t worry, this one’s heated… naturally. At Glenwood Hot Springs, the world’s largest natural hot springs pool will stay open until 1am. This outdoor pool is fed by the nearby Yampah spring so you can soak while you party the night away. Go ahead and spend the day (or days!) before skiing or snowboarding at nearby Colorado ski resorts.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona’s Noche Vieja is a literal dance party in the streets. Unlike most dance parties, however, kids will learn cultural dances from ballroom dance to salsa to flamenco to rock — all over the city. Festivities last for as long as a week, making this New Year’s Eve celebration flexible for families’ schedules. At midnight on the 31st, a great clock strikes twelve, and families can experience the old Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes (one for each bell sound). Don’t leave on January 1st: kids will love to see Barcelona’s Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Parade) on January 5th. The Three Kings, much like Santa Claus, arrive by boat at the waterfront and proceed through the streets of the city throwing sweets to the children lining the route.
5. Sydney, Australia
Be among the first in the world to ring in the new year from Sydney Harbour. One of the top green cities in the world, the Sydney fireworks are legendary, and accompanied by music filtering over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Like in London, you can expect crowds (more than a million people traditionally attend the Midnight Fireworks), but there are plenty of vantage points from which to get a good view. If you get the chance, the best spot is from one of the many boats dotting the harbor. Don’t forget it will be summer in Sydney: wear your swim suit and don’t forget sunblock!
Where will you be on New Year’s Eve? What are your top family-friendly places to ring in the new year?