Ginger ale toasts, drag queens and s'mores: Family-friendly events to ring in the new year

Events at The Forks, Assiniboine Park and the Manitoba Children's Museum have you covered for somewhere to bring the kids as the clock ticks down on the last few hours of the decade.

The Forks, Assiniboine Park, Children’s Museum organizing all-day NYE festivities for kids and adults

The skating rink at The Forks was a popular stop for families last New Year's Eve. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

If you're still looking for somewhere to bring the kids as the clock ticks down on the last few hours of the decade, some of Winnipeg's most popular gathering spots have you covered.

At Assiniboine Park Zoo, the new Zoo Lights Festival, which runs until Jan. 5, will be open from 5 p.m. until midnight on New Year's Eve. Red Moon Road is on deck as the house band, along with Ariel Posen, Michael Jordan and Alex Campbell.

Performers also include Kelly Bado, Tracy Bone, Sol James, Patrick Alexandre, Son Gully (of the Lytics), JD Edwards and Rayannah. 

"They're really, really good," said Laura Cabak, the zoo's communications and public relations manager, on CBC's Weekend Morning Show on Sunday. 

"And I don't know that that's necessarily something people are expecting when they come to a Zoo Lights event, so it's a really great addition."

Music will run from 5:30 to 9 p.m. that night. Family-friendly drag performances by Synonym Art Consultation and workshops will also happen during the concert, Cabak said.

There will also be several indoor and outdoor events throughout the zoo. The late-night party will continue to the Tundra Grill Ice Bar with DJs, dancing, a s'mores bar and a fire pit until midnight. 

"Having a bit of indoor [and] outdoor on New Year's Eve is just so iconically Manitoban and just something different and I think it should be a lot of fun," said Cabak.

Admission to the Zoo Lights Festival costs $12 in advance or $15 at the door.

CBC to broadcast live

Over at The Forks, there will be pick-up hockey games, fire pits, skating trails, warming huts and Indigenous storytelling throughout the day, said marketing and communications manager Larissa Peck.

The events at The Forks, which include a performance by Juno Award-winning folk singer William Prince in the food hall, will be part of CBC's national New Year's Eve celebration hosted by Rick Mercer. The cross-country musical celebration will broadcast live on CBC and the free CBC Gem streaming service on Dec. 31 at 11 p.m.

"We're really looking forward to that show," Peck said on the Weekend Morning Show. "That'll be a great performance."

The fireworks at The Forks will light up the skies at 8 p.m. and at midnight. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Manitoba Children's Museum is hosting Top Hats and Tiaras, a fancy dance party for the little ones that's included with the museum's $11 admission cost.

"They do a ginger ale toast and you get all dressed up, and there's the dance party and a photo booth and some other fun activities there," said Peck.

Later on in the afternoon, a DJ dance and skate party will break out at the CN Stage rink, and people can make their own 2020 glasses at a workshop put on by Art City inside The Forks Market.

"This year, we've got lots of programming happening during the day, [and] family-oriented kind of stuff all day long," said Peck.

At 8 p.m., there will also be a family countdown and mini fireworks show in CN Field by the Winnipeg sign, she said. It's a bite-sized version of the main fireworks event that will happen when the clock rolls over to Jan. 1 in The Forks Historic Port.


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