Ringing in a North Carolina new year

Every New Year's Eve, the acorn is dropped during the countdown to the new year. (File photo)

RALEIGH — Across the state, towns come together to celebrate the new year every December 31st. Countdowns, ball drops, festivals, and resolutions bring individuals close for this holiday. North Carolina offers numerous ways to celebrate the new year in many different cities; a perfect opportunity for those who are looking for an enjoyable ending to a busy holiday season.

On the Crystal Coast, Morehead City hosts a New Year’s festival featuring two crab pot drops, one earlier in the evening targeted for younger children and families and one at midnight for adults. 

“At the earlier event, which this year is from 5 to 7 pm, we will have music and games, glow sticks for kids to wear as the sun goes down, and a face painter,” said Kathryn Metts, Assistant Director for Downtown Morehead City Inc.

The Morehead City Parks and Recreation Department organizes the event each year for locals and visitors to ring in the new year in Carteret County. 

“Last year, we had a local artist painting on really big sheets for picnic tables. She was drawing outlines of sea creatures and area figures like the lighthouse, and kids were sitting around the tables with crayons coloring in her outlines,” Metts said.

At the later event, adults are invited to visit the different bars and restaurants surrounding the Big Rock Landing, where the event takes place. After the crab pot drop at midnight, fireworks begin from Sugar Loaf Island, which is in perfect viewpoint for those who are at the landing celebrating the new year. 

Mount Olive, a town well-known for their delicious pickles, hosts a pickle drop for New Year’s Eve. The Mount Olive pickle drop has been happening since 1999 and has become a tradition for families in Wayne County and beyond. The symbol being dropped for this celebration is a glowing, three feet tall pickle that drops into a jar from one of Mount Olive’s volunteer fire department trucks. 

The event includes live music, free pickles courtesy Mt. Olive Pickle, and food truck vendors around the location of the drop.

Across the state towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hendersonville features a New Year’s Eve apple rise located at the historic county Courthouse Plaza. Hendersonville has ideal climate conditions for apple growing, which is what makes this symbol so special to individuals in the area.

The event features merchandise giveaways, a DJ dance party, and food and beverages. This celebration is targeted at families with an earlier bedtime, which is why the apple rise is at 7 pm. 

The City of Oaks, Raleigh, hosts the acorn drop. Artsplosure has been hosting the iconic First Night Raleigh New Year’s party since 1991. Artist David Benson created the massive half-ton copper acorn sculpture that has been dropped in the downtown city plaza year after year.  

“It’s special to me because I think it’s Raleigh’s most iconic event,” said Cameron Laws, Creative Director at Artsplosure/First Night Raleigh. “It’s been going on for so long that I actually went as a kid, as a teenager, and really throughout my entire life, so it’s really special for me to be now organizing it.” 

This year’s event features a children’s celebration, including activities, performances, and other entertainment geared toward a younger audience. It features two amusement rides, a Ferris wheel and the 90-feet tall Sky Hawk. There are also over a dozen indoor venues featured, which range from live music to comedy shows to interactive art installations. 

“The way First Night Raleigh works is anyone that wants to join us would want to buy one of our 12$ all-day passes, and they do exactly what they sound like they do,” Laws said. “They get you into everything happening.”

From Murphy to Manteo, North Carolina is offering New Year’s traditions for families all over the state.