Holidays are simply more fun once you have children: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and even Thanksgiving are more magical when you witness them through a child’s eyes. With a multitude of kid-friendly holiday festivities to choose from, finding ways to celebrate these occasions as a family is not difficult.
New Year’s Eve can be a different story. After all, New Year’s Eve is a celebration that revolves around donning your fanciest clothes, staying up late, drinking champagne, and kissing strangers at midnight…not exactly kid-friendly. Finding ways to ring in the new year with children in tow can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Whether you plan to stay in and celebrate or make it a night out to remember, we’ve compiled this countdown of the best ways to make this New Year’s Eve a family affair.
10 Noon Year’s Eve
Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus brings the sights, sounds, and excitement of Times Square to Denver—all during daylight hours. Hourly ball drops and countdowns make it convenient for families working around nap times or other parties to enjoy the festivities. The celebration is filled with rainbow confetti, bubble wrap fireworks, art projects, music, and special characters.
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Infants are free, $13 age one and guests over 60, $15 ages two to 59
Members receive 50 percent off event day pricing. Museum admission included in event price.
9 Sharkey’s New Year’s Eve for Kids
Ring in the new year with your favorite fishy friends at the Downtown Aquarium. Sharkey’s bash is in its sixth year, and includes a buffet, beach ball and balloon drop, sparkling-cider toast, animal interactions, and photos with Sharkey, the aquarium’s mascot. Aquarium admission is included in the event cost, so schedule some extra time to explore all the exhibits.
Time: 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m.
Cost: Kids’ Buffet (ages three to 10): $20, Adult Buffet: $29. Reservations required.
8 Family New Year’s Eve Doubles Pong Tournament
Serve up a great start to 2018 with the family ping pong tournament hosted by Ace Eat Serve. Teams should include one adult or teen and one child, and prizes will be awarded to the tournament champions. Ace Eat Serve is within walking distance to Civic Center Park, which makes it a great place to eat before taking in the downtown fireworks.
Time: Open for service at 4 p.m., tournament begins at 6 p.m. Registration suggested: email@example.com
Cost: Registration is free, food prices vary.
7 New Year’s Eve at Steuben’s Arvada
Join the Steuben’s family for a New Year’s Eve celebration full of all-American comfort food, party hats, and giveaways for kids. Enjoy countdowns at 6 and 8 p.m., with champagne for adults and sparkling cider for kids.
Time: Special entrees and drinks starting at 5 p.m.
Cost: Varies. Reservations strongly recommended.
6 Zoo Year’s Eve at Denver Zoo
Let your little ones enjoy the holiday and still get home early for bed. Zoo Year’s Eve features fun activities for the entire family, like dancing, face painting, and an early New Year’s Eve countdown at 9 p.m.
Time: 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $17 adults (age 12 to 64), $12 children (age three to 11), $14 seniors (65 and up), free age two and under. Members get a $2 discount on all tickets. The zoo is offering a $2 online discount on tickets to help guests avoid long lines.
5 Bunk with the Beasts at Denver Zoo
On New Year’s Eve, the zoo’s regular Bunk with the Beasts program lights up with holiday cheer. Children age five and up are invited to ring in the new year at the Zoo Year’s Eve Kids-Only Bunk on December 31. Kids explore how wild animals adapt to winter habitats, enjoy Zoo Lights, and sleep overnight at the zoo.
Time: 6 p.m. until 10 a.m. the next morning
Cost: $65 member, $75 nonmember
4 New Year’s Eve Lunch on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad serves up a bistro menu with grill items such as Angus burgers, nachos, sandwiches, and more at an additional cost, made with fresh Colorado ingredients. Diners are seated at tables of four, and seating is limited.
Time: 12:30 p.m. departure. Arrive 45 minutes prior to collect your tickets.
Cost: $39-$54 per person. Children age eight and up.
3 WOW!’s New Year’s Eve Parties
Ring in the new year at WOW! Children’s Museum with noisemaker crafts, face painting, refreshments, and a countdown.
Time: 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.
Cost: $11 child, $6 member, $5 adult
2 New Year’s Eve Extreme Rodeo Challenge
Ring in the new year at the 12th annual First National Bank New Year’s Eve Extreme Rodeo Challenge and witness rodeo favorites, such as bull riding and mutton bustin’. VIP ticket packages are available for $125 and include an unlimited buffet, host bar for select beverages, and floor seating in the VIP pit.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $17-$32 adults, $12 children ages two to 12. Ticket prices increase $3 the day of the event.
1 Downtown Denver’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Make your way downtown to take in a full fireworks celebration complete with music, magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt walkers, and comedians. Plan ahead; between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., RTD Light Rail trains will not cross 16th Street Mall and mall ride shuttles will stop temporarily due to the fireworks shows.
Time: Fireworks shows at 9 p.m. and midnight
Staying in for New Year’s Eve?
Make the holiday one your family will look forward to every year with these special traditions.
Fancy Dinner Date: Rather than fight the crowds, bring the celebration home. Pretend you’re at a five-star restaurant and plan a special three-course meal (dessert included, of course) to enjoy from the comfort of your home. Decorate the dining table with linens, flowers, and candles, and dress up: black tie optional. Older kids can try their hand at making and serving dinner, while younger kids can play dress up and bring their best stuffed friends for a tea party unlike any they’ve hosted before. Use this as an opportunity to teach restaurant etiquette in a fun and memorable way.
Family Game Night: As a family, collect and plan a series of games you’ll play into the night. Families with older kids might decide to make it a friendly tournament, with a prize for the winning players. Make sure to have plenty of appetizers and snacks on hand, and choose a few active games to keep you awake when the clock nears midnight.
Apple Party: Hosting friends for your New Year’s celebration this year? While you wait for the ball to drop in the Big Apple, fill your evening with apple-themed food and activities. Kids can bob for apples, bowl with apples, and play an apple-toss game. Set up an apple bar, including presliced apples, caramel, melted cheese, peanut butter, and cinnamon sugar. Adults might enjoy hot cider and rum, while the younger set can enjoy a toast with sparkling cider.