Ring in 2017 with these kid-friendly events
The typical party for adults on New Year’s Eve either climaxes soon after midnight, or just gets started and lasts until the wee hours. But what about parents with young kids, who can’t stay up that late?
Several Pittsburgh-area attractions host family-friendly celebrations on New Year’s Eve, with festive activities and an early countdown. That way, adults can go on to their own late-night activities and the kids can go to bed having celebrated.
“While events for kids offer fun and creative ways to celebrate the New Year, it is a great time to start a tradition as a family of enjoying the wonderful exhibits that attractions offer while reveling in unique New Year’s Eve activities,” says Connie George, marketing director at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which has an early celebration for kids and parents.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is inviting families to come to the Oakland conservatory for the New Year’s Eve Family Celebration, which runs 6 to 9 p.m., offers many activities for all ages, and an early countdown that begins at 8:45 p.m.
On Dec. 29 and 30, you can enjoy Phipps’ last two Family Fun Days of the year, with activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Families can pot plants, play games, and learn about botany in different ecosystems through Discovery programming led by Phipps experts. Visitors can create pinecone bird feeders and play games of cactus ring-toss. Family Fun Days and the New Year’s Eve activities are included with general admission of $17.95, $16.95 for age 62 and older, and $11.95 for ages 2 to 18. Details: 412-622-6914 or phipps.conservatory.org
Seven Springs Mountain Resort is offering two different events for families. The Family Tubing Party will be from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the snow tube park. Between runs, tubers can gather around a bonfire for pizza, hot dogs, fountain drinks and hot chocolate. $37, or $32 for ages 4-11. The Family New Year’s Party from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. in the Season Room will feature music by a DJ, face-painting, balloon animals and more kid-friendly entertainment, including a confetti launch at midnight. Parents must accompany children and alcoholic beverages will not be permitted. Admission is $15. Details: 800-452-2223 or 7springs.com
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has put a twist on New Year’s Eve with its annual Noon Year’s Eve, where kids and parents can enjoy a daytime celebration with a ball drop 12 hours early. The party, designed for the entire family, runs 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside the PPG Aquarium, where you can dance to live entertainment. Kids can learn about environmentally friendly ways to live, then commit to doing them by signing the ReZOOlution banner. Visitors also can stroll around the Highland Park zoo and check out the other animals on Dec. 31.
This may be your last chance to visit the zoo for the winter; in January and February, the zoo will close on weekdays — except for Jan. 16 and Feb. 20 for holidays — to do routine maintenance and repair. Saturdays and Sundays, the zoo will be open and offer the Penguins on Parade event at 11:30 a.m., weather permitting.
Noon Year’s Eve activities are included with general admission of $13, $12 for senior citizens and ages 2 to 13. Details: 412-665-3640 or pittsburghzoo.org
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 31 and closed Jan. 1, will host its annual Countdown to Noon from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with live music by Lee Robinson and his jazz quartet at noon. Visitors can make party blowers and tiny party hats in preparation for the festivities. Activities at the North Side museum are included with general admission of $16, $14 for ages 2 to 18 and senior citizens. Details: 412-322-5058 or pittsburghkids.org
The Carnegie Science Center‘s New Year’s celebration happens on the day, not the eve, with the annual MessFest. However, due to the Steelers game on Jan. 1, the North Side center is moving the event to Jan. 2. Throughout the day, kids can get as messy as they want with explosive demonstrations, finger painting, goopy Oobleck and other things. MessFest 2017 begins at 10 a.m. and runs through 5 p.m. Activities are included with general admission of $19.95 and $11.95 for ages 3 to 12. Details: 412-236-3400 or carnegiesciencecenter.org
The National Aviary has no special plans for New Year’s Eve, but the bird zoo in the North Side is open on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day; many attractions are closed on Jan. 1. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is $14 and $13 for ages 2 to 12 and senior citizens. Details: 412-323-7235 or aviary.org
Kellie B. Gormly is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.