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Celebrations set to ring in 2013

FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENTS ARE SCHEDULED LOCALLY AS WELL AS IN RICHMOND AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA

BY LINDLEY ESTES

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

Overcast skies and chilly temperatures may exclude a warm welcome for 2013. But if you’re dressed for it, there are still plenty of ways to ring in the new year.

FREDERICKSBURG’S FIRST NIGHT

This year’s First Night in Fredericksburg is a “global event,” said organizer Gary Everett.

Instead of dropping a pineapple or a pear—both past practices—a globe will drop on the stroke of midnight.

“It’s first night everywhere in the world,” Everett said. “The globe is about unity, bringing the world together.”

Also new to the event this year will be confetti cannons, more moon bounces and nine new performers.

The event will feature about 30 performances, including music, dance, mimes and even a chain saw artist, in 19 different venues downtown.

The evening culminates in the globe drop and fireworks in Riverfront Park along Sophia Street.

Sophia Street, which will feature food vendors and a children’s area, will be closed to cars between William and Wolfe streets from 2 p.m. Dec. 31 to 4 a.m. Jan. 1. Parking will not be available in the lots within that area. In addition, George, Hanover and Charlotte streets will be closed between Sophia and Princess Anne streets.

Everett advised patrons to dress warmly and be prepared for crowds.

He also said the event is not pet-friendly because of the volume of people.

The family-friendly event is alcohol-free.

Admission buttons cost $10 in advance and $15 the night of the event. Children under the age of 3 get in free. Buttons are available before the event at Pohanka Nissan/Hyundai, Fredericksburg Parks & Recreation, Fredericksburg Visitor Center, Spotsylvania Visitor Center, Old Virginia Gourmet, Quantico, Dahlgren and online at fredericksburgfirstnight.com.

FIRST NIGHT WARRENTON 

Warrenton will ring in the new year with its own first night celebration.

Its first night includes 50 performances at more than 10 indoor locations in downtown Warrenton.

These performances, coordinated by the Bluemont Concert Series, cover classical music, puppet shows, theater, folk music, rock ’n’ roll, jazz and storytelling, among other activities.

The celebration will conclude with a candlelight gathering at the courthouse steps to sing in the new year at midnight.

Admission is $25 for a family, which includes parents and children; $8/individual; $6/seniors; $3/children 3–12; and free for children under 3.

Advance buttons are on sale at The Fauquier Bank (all locations), Fauquier Hospital Gift Shop, G. Whillikers Toys & Books and the Warrenton Visitor Center.

For more information, call Bluemont at 540/341-0988 or visit bluemont.org.

FIRST NIGHT ALEXANDRIA

Alexandria’s first night is touted as the largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region.

It will feature more than 100 music, dance and performing arts acts for all ages throughout Old Town. All performances are indoors except the finale at midnight.

Entertainers include bluegrass and classical musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns and magicians.

Beginning at noon on New Year’s Eve, food trucks from Washington will descend on Old Town Alexandria for event-goers. Performances last until midnight, when fireworks erupt over the Potomac River.

Admission is $20, but free for children under 12 and active-duty military.

Go to firstnightalexandria.com to buy tickets and for more information.

RICHMOND

There are a variety of celebrations to chose from in Virginia’s capital.

The Byrd Theatre in Carytown will ring in the new year with a ball rise on the roof.

The ball has 350 color-changing LED lights and rises for two minutes, reaching the top at midnight.

The Richmond tradition is now in its eighth year, and draws thousands of people to Carytown, but city officials warn, Cary Street will not be closed off.

For more family-friendly fun, try the Children’s Museum of Richmond, where the new year will be toasted with glasses of juice at noon.

Mascot Seymour and guests from Radio Disney will be present from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for their “Countdown to Noon.”

Along with the juice toast, children can enjoy prize giveaways and games.

All events are free with museum admission and available at all three Children’s Museum of Richmond locations.

Families can also spend New Year’s Eve together at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Family Frolic, enjoying live entertainment, family activities and crafts in the afternoon, and the GardenFest of Lights from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The GardenFest is an annual tradition at Lewis Ginter, featuring more than half a million twinkling lights, handcrafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners and family activities. It runs until Jan. 7.

Admission to Family Frolic is $10/adult and $6/child. Those who are in the facility when the GardenFest begins can stay and participate.

Admission to just the GardenFest of Lights is $11/adults; $10/seniors; $7/children ages 3–12; and free for children under age 3. Garden members get in for $5.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

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