OK, I'm going to have to confess to a certain level of ignorance about this destination - while growing up my only association with Raleigh was the racing bike I used to get around on, I had little idea that it was also the capital city of the US State of North Carolina, boasting a population of almost half a million.
I was very pleased then to find that this is another city that has enthusiastically embraced the almost uniquely US phenomenon of the the First Night party to celebrate new year's eve, holding a large scale public event to draw crowds for entertainment, music and of course fireworks to welcome the new year. I was further relieved to discover that this isn't another one of these such events to have fallen victim to budget cuts, and that it will indeed be returning for NYE 2016!
The crowds in Raleigh head down to the downtown area on new year's eve for a full day of events under the city's First Night Raleigh banner, a family friendly event that attracts visitor numbers measured in the tens of thousands. As is common with these events you do need a ticket or "button" to gain access to the festivities - an all day pass will only set you back 10 dollars though so it's very reasonably priced - you can get yours online here.
The main events get underway at 2pm, with the start of 4 hours of entertainment aimed at the city's children, before moving on to the People's Procession at 6pm, which culminates in the family fireworks display at 7pm. There is then live entertainment throughout the evening at various venues before the climax of the evening at midnight, where along with the spectacular fireworks we have the unique spectacle of an Acorn Drop! Performer details to follow.
One big act that has confirmed early they will be in Raleigh this NYE is The Avett Brothers, who will be appearing live in a special New Year's Eve show at the PNC Arena. This likely to be a very popular event and sell out quickly so get your tickets asap.
Another very popular traditional new year event in Raleigh will appeal to the more culturally inclined - the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra's special new year's eve concert, which gets underway at the Meymandi Concert Hall at 8pm, and they make sure they finish before midnight so you don't have to miss the fireworks! Ticket details to follow.
Elsewhere, the local hotels, bars and restaurants host an impressive range of parties to mark the occasion - top venues include the Raleigh Marriott City Center Downtown, North Raleigh Hilton and the Progress Energy Center.
If you're looking for somewhere to dine out in Raleigh on new years eve there is an excellent range of locations to choose form, with most cuisines and budgets covered. Top recommended joints are the Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern, Caffe Luna and 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill. Top veggie choice is Azitra Restaurant. See the full range of local eateries here.
Places to watch live online - no TV coverage that we're aware of, but there are some decent webcam views of the city skyline available which should help you catch a look at the fireworks if you so desire:
If you're planning on visiting Raleigh and North Carolina over the New Year period, then it will be busy so you really need to be making your reservation as soon as you can. You can search, check availability and book local hotels here.
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