Thanks to art communities, theater companies and other creative groups in cities around the United States, the excitement of New Years Eve and New Years Day is no longer a grown-ups only proposition. In recent years, First Night festivals popped up to welcome people of all ages to the party.
These vibrant street festivals not only celebrate the start of a new year, but also a city or region’s cultural and culinary riches in grand style. If your family is stay-cationing, your local First Night festival is, literally, a fantastic way to see your hometown in a new light. If the family is traveling, the First Night party is the perfect primer, introducing all of you to the best cultural and culinary spots a city has to offer families. And given First Nights are street festivals, it’s all but guaranteed there will be something for everybody, from concerts and street performers to heartwarming street foods and drinks to an opportunity to see a town dressed in holiday style at a leisurely pace — without the chaos of Christmas or Boxing Day sales shoppers.
Boston is said to be the first city to pull together a First Night gathering. In 1976, a group of hearty artists banded together to create an alternative, alcohol-free way to celebrate the New Year by staging indoor and outdoor performances the whole family could enjoy. Today, events have spread across New England with celebrations in Hartford, Bangor and Burlington.
Those coming to New England from out of town will appreciate how Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina in Newport, R.I., is itself a winter wonderland, with live holiday music in the lobby and complimentary hot toddys upon arrival. On New Year’s Day, visitors can witness the feats of daring outdoorsmen and women taking the annual Newport Polarbear Plunge.
The Nantucket Hotel and Resort in Nantucket, Mass., also taps into its New England island spirit and colonial heritage with its own New Year’s Eve Ball. However, those who don’t require the kick from Champagne can head to First Night Chatham and First Night Worcester.
The Post Hotel & Spa in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, has its own self-contained entry into 2018 set against the spectacular Canadian Rocky Mountains. On New Year’s Eve, families can explore the outdoors with horse-drawn sleigh rides and an ice skating rink just outside the lobby. Adult families traveling together and looking to indulge will have at their doorstep the hotel’s fabled black-tie optional affair.
Over in Oahu, Hawai’ians beeline to Ala Moana Beach Park to ring in the New Year by camping, grilling and watching the evening’s New Years fireworks display. For optimum views of the show, Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites, a 50 year-old Waikiki landmark (made famous in the credits of the original Hawaii 5-0), offers guests some of the island’s best vantage points.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, near Jacksonville and St Augustine, stages its Black & White masquerade gala for over 21 visitors with buffets that celebrate the bounty of the northern Florida Coast, including copious quantities of scallops, lobster, lamb loin, braised short ribs and a scrumptious display of desserts. Families with kids can drive into St. Augustine to take in its annual Nights of Lights festival.
Filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, Seoul invites travelers to unearth its many gems, and Seoul Tourism Organization is here to help travelers do just that. Through thoughtfully created initiatives like the Theme Tourism County Competition, Seoul Tourism Organization works closely with local districts to identify and showcase what makes each district unique and charming in all seasons.
Northwest Florida is a haven for beachgoers seeking the waters of Panama City Beach, Pensacola and Destin. But this region of Florida also has some extensive history, offering family travelers a great way to introduce young ones to Florida’s Spanish and indigenous past.
More than 1,000 miles from Spain’s capital city of Madrid, the seven Canary Islands are also part of Spain. They are the tallest peaks of ancient volcanoes rising out of the Atlantic, not far from the coast of North Africa. Two of these volcanoes, both still active, offer exciting adventures for families traveling to the islands.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
If you think you have to head into the wilderness just to get some hiking time in on your next vacation, rest assured. Cities across the country pride themselves on being great all-around family destinations, and that often includes fun urban hiking opportunities. These cities prove you don’t have to hike to a mountaintop to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. They are home to great parks and walking trails designed for easy walks that let you enjoy the fresh air, and get to know the personality, culture and history of the city you are visiting.