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.
Zermatt’s colorful ski boutique-lined Bahnhofstrasse, stylish apartment-style lodgings of every description and views of the Matterhorn from every angle make up one of Europe’s most family-friendly destinations — and it certainly does not hurt that it is proclaimed the “world’s best ski resort” by organizations like SnowOnline.com year after year. During the warmer months, meanwhile, you will see many family groups with kids strolling the shopping streets (sometimes alongside a herd of about 50 free-range Valais Blackneck goats around 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.), enjoying fondue and pizza at nearby cafés, and taking advantage of the many hiking and bike trails.
In a recent survey by Orbitz, 63 percent of millennial travelers said the hotel amenity they'd like to see more of is plants in hotel rooms. The same number said they seek plant-filled spaces and activities on vacation, including parks and botanical gardens.
The movies and cruise vacations actually have a lot in common: fascinating ports of call, making friends with interesting people, new sensory experiences, the constant change of scenery. When you think about it, it’s no surprise many classic comedies and romances are set aboard cruise ships, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Royal Wedding (1951), An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant, the more recent and kid-friendly Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and the long-running television series Love Boat.
Mana is the life force Tahitians believe connects all things. Feel the mana for yourself on a visit to the islands of Tahiti, and sample some of these activities as you connect with the breathtaking nature of the South Pacific. Fly Air France from the United States to Tahiti in the most convenient and comfortable way and let your holiday start on board.
Downton Abbey swept into family rooms and show-binging homes back in 2010 and is now resurfacing with a new story — this time on film! For Downton Abbey enthusiasts, this is a highly-anticipated event; for newcomers, this is a great chance to binge the show ahead of the film’s release; and for families looking for any excuse to get away, this is the time to take advantage of CIE Tours lineup of Downton Abbey-themed stops.