By Kim McNeill

First Night Hartford
Hartford, CT
New Year’s Eve,
December 31st from late morning or early afternoon until 1 p.m.
Admission:  $10 adults, $2 youth 3 to 15, Free for 2 and under

Ice Skating
Bushnell Park – East Side
11 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.

Many activities begin in the early afternoon and continue through early evening.

Where can you spend all day celebrating New Year’s Eve? Which New Year’s Eve party will make sure even your designated driver is part of the fun? Want to create New Year’s Eve memories with the whole family? First Night Hartford is the solution!

Bundled up in a warm hat, gloves, scarf, coat, and walking shoes, with wonderful friends, is how I enjoyed my First Night. The festive atmosphere lent a glow to all of the events we saw. Walking in the midst of fellow revelers reminded me of old-fashioned community celebrations. No designated driver needed because all of the fun is alcohol-free.

Seeing children’s faces lit with joy as they watch dancers and demonstrations or compressed in concentration as they decorate a keepsake is a wonderful way to make a family tradition of New Year’s Eve.

First Night started as a collaborative effort between artists in Boston. The event became so popular that it is currently celebrated in numerous towns. In Connecticut, it is also celebrated in Danbury, and Westport and Wilton.Purchase a wristband on-line or at a number of locations to experience the scheduled performances.

event programming clip image001 0010 Guide to First Night Hartford

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Kid-Friendly Activities

The First Night wristband means a reduced admission to the CT Science Center. Another Hartford museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, will have kids create a mask.

Another activity specifically for kids is a face paint transformation that could turn a child’s whole face into their favorite animal. The Butler – McCook house is another location where kids can make a holiday craft. Carousel rides in Bushnell Park run until midnight.

Find even more performances for kids with a magic show at the Central Baptist Church.  The Old State House will have exhibits with costumed docents available for tours, a scavenger hunt for prizes, and a craft.

event programming clip image001 0017 Guide to First Night Hartford

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Adult Action

Along with kid-specific events are a number of events for adults. City Hall is the site of an art installation that the public can watch being created. After skating, watch a professional ice sculptor create a winter design. Horse drawn carriages (for an additional fee of $3 per person), fire spinners, jugglers, and clowns, will entertain all afternoon and into the evening.

Cultural offerings include a Caribbean dance troupe and a Masquerade Dance Party with a Beatles tribute band, Beatles Forever. Enjoy two other musicians during First Night entertaining with acoustic instruments, music, stories, and various folk music styles.

First Night is a huge event where much of Hartford is participating. City Hall, The Old State House, Bushnell Park, and other buildings will have some form of entertainment.

Here is a complete listing of First Night Hartford programming.

Kim McNeill writes at Nutmeg Families, is a publisher ofMacaroni Kid of Southbury, Middlebury, Roxbury, Bridgewater, and Oxford, Connecticut, a hyper-local community website for families, and also blogs about more Connecticut family fun at Hearst Connecticut Media Group.


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