Arts & Culture

First Night Raleigh rules New Year’s Eve, but there are other parties in town

The People’s Precession march though downtown Raleigh during First Night Raleigh.
The People’s Precession march though downtown Raleigh during First Night Raleigh. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

Anderson Cooper, the recurring host of CNN’s New Year’s Eve special, once wrote of the celebratory holiday: “Despite hundreds of years of pathetic parties and hellish hangovers, we continue to cling to the notion that it’s possible to have fun on that night. It’s not. There’s too much pressure, too many expectations, too few bathrooms.”

Cooper was being wry and a little cynical, but he has a point: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options and pressures surrounding New Year’s Eve.

Luckily, the Triangle features many fascinating, unusual, or simply creative celebrations – pathetic parties they are not!

First Night Raleigh

The annual downtown celebration features two countdowns to 2015: an early, kid-friendly one at 7 p.m., and then the big Acorn Drop proper at midnight. A wristband gets you into the dozens of First Night performances and events, which kick off at 2 p.m. The celebration offers something for everyone, with shows including everything from classical, gospel and rock music to comedy – there’s even a Ferris wheel.

Here are some First Night highlights:

Wristbands for First Night are $10 ahead of time, or on the day of: $14 for adults and $11 for children 6-12. Maps, schedule, and full lineup are at

Other celebrations

Yet First Night isn’t the only option. Many restaurants and most bars and clubs have some kind of celebration, from the upscale to the casual. Beyond that, we’ve compiled an admittedly partial list of interesting choices. Consider it a starting point.

Morehead Planetarium’s Night Lights

Run in the New Year

DSI Comedy Theater

There’s also nothing wrong with staying home.

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