New Year’s Eve Community Celebrations Support a Sense of Place Through Social Connections

Community Celebrations of the New Year Offer Embedded Learning Opportunities


As 2018 comes to a close, opportunities arise for families to engage with their communities in meaningful ways. Communities across western Massachusetts hold special celebratory events of many kinds, offering families opportunities to share in the joy of celebrating all that has happened in the past year and to learn about and reflect on how we celebrate.

Many family-friendly New Year’s celebrations offer opportunities to not only celebrate, but to explore – inviting families to visit many locations or landmarks for a variety of reasons, including performances, art shows, hands-on activities, ceremonies, and even sometimes food! This exploratory element of such events provides a place-based component to the cultural learning that New Year’s celebrations invite; families can use their explorations to solidify their sense of place as they learn about and become a part of local culture. Moving through the local landscape, whether familiar or not, allows physical context to be added to families’ understanding and experience of celebration – offering them insight as to how the celebration they’re engaging in has developed and deepened a sense of place. Here are several to consider this New Year’s Eve, celebrating the last day & night of 2018:

Holyoke from 10am-4pm: The Holyoke Merry-Go-Round and Holyoke Children’s Museum present the 21st Annual First Night Junior. Activities include rides on the Merry-Go-Round, Forest Park Zoo on the Go, face painting, crafts, and a New Year’s Eve ball drop. For more information and a complete list of events, visit Holyoke First Night Jr. – 413-536-7048. 444 Dwight Street, Holyoke, MA.

Pittsfield from 10am-2pm: Welcome the new year at the Berkshire Museum. Join Boston-based magician David Hall as he performs impressive magic and astonishing illusions and astonishing magic/mind reading effects with elements of telepathy and audience participation. – 413-443-7171. 39 South Street (Route 7), Pittsfield, MA.

Northampton from 12pm-12am: Welcome the new year at First Night Northampton, a 12-hour, family-friendly festival of the arts culminating in a traditional ball-raising from the roof of the Hotel Northampton. Gather with friends, neighbors, and visitors at over 20 terrific downtown venues for an astounding array of entertainment presented by hundreds of talented performers. Fireworks at 6:15pm. – 413-584-7327. Downtown, Northampton, MA.

Westfield from 4-7:30pm: Celebrating 350th years, Westfield is hosting a First Night celebration for families. Many events and features planned at the Amelia Park Ice Arena & Gardens, Amelia Park Children’s Museum, and the Westfield Boys & Girls Club. There will be a family parade, ice sculpting, entertainment, fireworks, ball drop, and so much more! Westield, MA.

Orange starting at 6pm: 23rd Annual Starry Starry Night, with a fabulous line-up of performers as well as hayrides, ice sculptures, our Parade of Stars and fireworks. – Orange, MA.

Hancock at 10pm: Welcome the new year on the mountain! The New Year’s Eve celebration is a tradition at Jiminy Peak. Join or just watch the Torchlight Parade, led by the Ski Patrol down the mountain to JJ’s Lodge. Then enjoy the fireworks display. – 413-738-5500. 37 Corey Road, Hancock, MA.

These annual cultural celebrations include all kinds of unique and exciting things to see and do, and include everything from magic shows to wintertime fireworks! For youngsters, the element of fun is the real draw to community events celebrating the New Year – as it should be. While spending an evening wide-eyed and excited, children engage in the deeper embedded socially-based learning that community celebrations have to offer without awareness that they are doing so, and such experiences can help to build the foundation upon which authentic understanding of culture is built.

[Photo credits: (cc) carol and co; (cc) Edd Sowden]

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