First Night New York New Year's Eve

Author: Mrs. Mecomber
Last update: 12/26/2007

If there's anything New York loves, it's a good party. After all, Upstate New York is the birthplace and launching pad for New Year's Rocking Eve maestro, Dick Clark! On New Year's, the massive mixture of New York's cultures come together for a festive and colorful New Year's celebration that only New York can give.

All across the state, New York's tourist attractions open their doors to diverse and inquisitive New Yorkers on New Year's Day. Our celebrations are showcases of brilliantly colorful light shows, parades, art displays, workshops, community sleigh rides, carol singing, and tours through holiday-decorated historic homes.

Many Upstate cities hold what is called "First Night." First Night is a day-long December 31st celebration filled with sight-seeing, community events, activities, and workshops, lasting until midnight. The First Nights are part of First Night International, a community-wide celebration of the New Year:

"First Night seeks to foster the public's appreciation of visual and performing arts through an innovative, diverse and high quality New Year's Eve program which provides a shared cultural experience, accessible and affordable to all. First Night International promotes, licenses and supports the development of First Night Festivals in communities around the world."

First Night began in Boston over thirty years ago. It became so popular that communities in other cities celebrated it, and it has now spread across the globe. First Night is very special to New Yorkers, because it is a family-friendly, alcohol-free festival designed specifically for families of all backgrounds to gather together and celebrate their community's very diverse traditions and cultures. Because New York is the home to so many diverse and multi-cultural communities, First Nights in Upstate take on an international and artistic flair.

First Night in Binghamton features special events just for families including a parade, kids' workshops, hayrides, a glorious community bonfire, and a fireworks show. Also in the city, the renowned Roberson Museum and Science Center celebrates New York's ethnic diversity with displays of trains, numerous cultural activities, diverse music events, and a tour through their lovely Victorian Mansion all decked out for the holidays.

In the central part of the state, Syracuse hosts the Lights on the Lake, two miles of glittering glory showcasing hundreds of trees decorated with icicles and lights. This New Year's celebration brings out people from all ages and backgrounds with their creative and colorful holiday displays, including a "Twinkling Fantasy Forest," a "Delightful Victorian Village," a "Lighter Than Life Oz," plus lots more.

There's First Night in Lake George, (one of the most beautiful Adirondack cities of New York) which is chock-full of winter activities like parades, boat cruises, and the scathing "New Year's Day Swim"! The Frostbite Cruise along the lake looks like fun, and is very popular! Lake George is so beautiful in the summer; it is even more breathtaking in the winter.

Buffalo, Saratoga, and Oneonta have their own stunning First Night celebrations, too. New York's capital city, Albany, is laden with glittering holiday events that challenge any party in Manhattan. The horse-drawn carriage rides are very popular with the children, as is the "Jingle Jog." The capitol building glimmers with beautiful showers of holiday lights in Albany's Empire Plaza. And of course, there are the ubiquitous New York fireworks displays.

Small-town Upstate has celebrations, too! Saranac Lake, a beautiful Adirondack town and one of the original First Night participants, has a huge roster of indoor and outdoor events for families. New Rochelle is hosting a very special performance by the Chinese Dance Company, and numerous more cultural events for people of all ages.

Some of the Upstate cities that are not holding First Night celebrations will be very festive, too. Spectacular fireworks are planned in Oneida as they celebrate their bicentennial. There's also "The New Year's Eve Show" at the famous Beck's Grove in Blossvale, NY. There is a display of elegant light sculptures in Clarence, and an old-fashioned Civil War-era tree display in Jamestown.

New Year's celebrations--and especially the acclaimed First Night events-- are celebrated all across the nation, but New York has adopted First Night celebrations in its own special way. Where else can you so thoroughly celebrate such special and diverse communities with such special and diverse peoples as are in New York?

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