Family Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Has your New Year’s Eve become more about popping milk bottles than champagne? If so, you might desire a celebration that’ll not only entertain the whole family, but also one that takes place before midnight so you don’t have keep your kids awake and suffer the consequences later. We have plenty of places around here offering a good, family friendly time on December 31 (or some before and after). Here’s where you can ring in the New Year:   

Minnesota Children’s Museum (St. Paul: 5-9 p.m.; Rochester: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.): Both the St. Paul and Rochester locations will host celebrations. In St. Paul, the Sparkle-Rama party will include dancing, live music from Will Hale and the Tadpole Parade, and the chance to take the stage with inflatable guitars before counting down to the ball drop at 8 p.m. In Rochester they’ll celebrate Noon Year’s Eve, with food, music from a DJ to dance and sing along to, a guest appearance from Clifford the Big Red Dog, and a mid-day ball drop. Sparkle-Rama, $10 members, $14 non-members; Noon Year’s Eve, $7 members, $10 non-members, pre-registration required.

Lebanon Hills Visitor Center (5-8 p.m.): This ninth annual celebration includes hiking, snowshoeing, ice skating, or sledding, with more than 1,200 luminaries lighting your way, plus a bonfire to warm up at, live animals, storytelling, magic, and a ball drop. $8 if pre-registered by Dec. 30, $10 day of, ages 5 and younger free.

Mall of America (6 p.m.-midnight): Inside the Rotunda there will be live entertainment from Xelias Aerial Studio who will contort, juggle, ride unicycles, and more, then you can head over to Nickelodeon Universe and ride rides or enjoy lights, music, party favors, live entertainment, games, and more until the family countdown taking place at both 10 p.m. and midnight.

Edinborough Park (6-9 p.m.): In case you’ve never been to or heard of Edinborough Park, it’s one of the country’s largest indoor play structures with a toddler play area, bounce house, junior size Olympic pool, and performance amphitheater. Let the kids play while also enjoying special activities and a live DJ. $9 per child.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory (Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, starting at 10 a.m.): Ring in the “zoo” year with a mid-day celebration. Twin Cities Road Crew (formerly Disney Party Patrol) will host dancing, trivia, and games while a DJ provides music, and there will also be crafts, special animal enrichment, giveaways, and a countdown to noon when hundreds of beach balls drop from the ceiling.

Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (Dec. 30, 5-8 p.m.): Taking place in Lake Nokomis Park, this Night Before New Year’s Eve event features carnival games and prizes, a DJ, marshmallow roasting, and more.

Wood Lake Nature Center (6-9 p.m.): Follow hundreds of candlelit luminaries on a walking trail while on the watch for animals like deer, foxes, and owls as a part of the Candlelight and Ice event. You can also roast marshmallows by a fire, make crafts, and play other games. $4, free for friends of Wood Lake members.

Bielenberg Sports Center (6-9 p.m.): Check out the brand new facility, enjoy music, and take part in games, a moonwalk, obstacle course, and ice skating before the countdown at 8:45 p.m. $8 if pre-registered before Dec. 30, $10 day of.