Are you looking for a way to enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities with your family, minus the tipsy champagne-and-party hat environment? Consider First Night celebrations, held across the United States. This alternative revelry started in 1976 with local artists in Boston, and celebrates a community's unique cultural life. Consequently, First Night events have a local, playful, and artistic bent. They're also easy on the budget and largely alcohol-free, so don't hesitate to bring the whole family!

The Original First Night in Boston, MA The FedEx Family Festival, at the Hynes Convention Center, is a kid-friendly gala event that kicks off at 1 p.m. Families can expect music and dance performances ranging from folk to ethnic, hands-on crafting stations where kids can make their own New Year's hats, a dinosaur exhibit, and more!

First Night in Austin, TX The “Live Music Capital of the World” rings in First Night in a big way. Join in an interactive musical concert from the cast of the award-winning PBS show "The Biscuit Brothers." Check out hip-hop troups, juggling acts, and art exhibits. First-Nighters take over Congress Avenue in a Grand Procession Parade, culminating in the ignition of a 34-foot tall working clock tower which will illumnite Auditorium Shores. Throughout the day, participants are invited to attach their resolutions to a wooden chain running the height of the clock. As fireworks light the sky, the clock's flames will take those dreams and hopes into the night and usher in 2010.

First Night in Spokane, WA This celebration includes close to 100 different artistic presentations, such as Salsa dance, Celtic music, gospel, and juggling. Don't miss the ice forest, which includes an ice castle and ice slide, presented by Northern Ice Works, along Spokane Falls Blvd. Midnight fireworks go off in a blast of light at Riverfront Park.

First Night in State College, PA The vibrant young community at the home of Penn State throws a lively party. Over ten tons of ice blocks are turned into sculpture, there’s a procession with giant puppets, and music from brass bands to pipe bands to a flute choir to bluegrass. Be sure to check out the live reindeer exhibit!

First Night in St. Petersburg, FL Activities run on stages throughout the parks, art museums and The Pier tourist attraction that front Tampa Bay. There are hands-on crafts, such as making your own New Year's mask, a musical petting zoo, magicians, singers and bubble-making fun with the folks from Great Explorations Children's Museum. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the five-hour fireworks frenzy that begins at 8 p.m. 

Now, families have a New Year’s Eve that fosters an appreciation of the arts and a sense of community – not a bad way to start the new year!