Family First Night is an annual New Year’s Eve event at North Vancouver‘s Mt. Seymour ski resort that includes fireworks, sledding and entertainment.
It’s a fabulous family-friendly event and highly recommended.
NOTE: The event was cancelled in 2019 due to heavy rain. The status of the 2020 event is to be determined, although things aren’t looking very good thanks to the current COVID-19 situation. As of December 27th, there is no mention of New Year’s celebrations taking place this year on the official Mt. Seymour website’s events page. This makes sense as all public events are supposed to be cancelled.
For information about December 31st events that take place elsewhere in the Lower Mainland (in years when there isn’t a pandemic), see our articles about Vancouver New Year’s Celebrations or New Year’s Eve Events for Adults.
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Family First Night at Mt. Seymour
Mt. Seymour’s Family First Night is the longest running annual family-friendly New Year’s Eve event on Vancouver’s North Shore. 2000 tickets are available and most years the event sells out.
Family First Night runs on December 31st most years from 5:30 until 8:30 pm, which is great as it’s early enough for young families with early bedtimes, but also for older folk wanting to stay up late and see the New Year elsewhere later in the evening.
First Night Admission
Tickets for Family First Night at Mt. Seymour last year cost around $30 (plus taxes) per person ages 3 and older. This compares to $25 in previous years.
Admission most years includes laser tobogganing, snowshoeing, s’mores, a scavenger hunt activity, face painting, crafts, family-friendly entertainment and the end-of-evening fireworks. Included in the ticket price is free shuttle service to and from Parkgate Village at the bottom of the hill in North Vancouver.
Not included in the price of admission is an hour of tubing at Mt. Seymour’s Snow Tubing Park which could be purchased last year for around $15 (but was limited to just 390 participants). Also, tobogganing is free most years, but the toboggans aren’t – you’ll need to bring your own or buy a sliding carpet at the event.
First Night Activities
The celebrations at Family First Night typically include live entertainment, laser tobogganing, snacks, fire juggling performers and fireworks. There are clowns and a magician to watch, s’mores to cook, fires to keep warm at, slopes to slide down and lantern-lit snowshoe trails to explore.
At the New Year’s Eve event there are also food vendors to buy food from and complimentary party favours.
One thing that’s really nice about the December 31st event at Mt. Seymour is the fact that there are so many different things to do. The tobogganing and snowshoeing are ongoing and there is some kind of live entertainment happening pretty much all evening.
New Year’s Entertainment
At Family First Night there are a couple of entertainment venues. There is a covered area featuring live music as well as an open outdoor stage where magicians perform and fire shows take place. On the outdoor stage performances run for 15 or 20 minutes or so, there’s a short break, and then the next act comes on.
TIP #1: The magic and fire shows are popular. If you find you can’t see very well, wait for the next show. At the end of a performance most of the crowd leaves and then returns a few minutes later when the next show starts up. Arrive a few minutes after a show, but at least 5 minutes before the next, and you’ll have a good chance of getting a front-row position (which is especially important for little people).
TIP #2: Especially for the magic shows (which can be harder to see), but also for the fire shows, the best place to watch from is close to the stage at the front.
Tobogganing, Tubing & Sledding
The tobogganing and snowshoeing at the Family First Night event is free, but you have to provide your own sled or buy one at the venue. Tubing costs extra and has to be booked in advance. Snowshoe equipment is provided for free. All three activities are a blast!
When we went a couple of years ago the line-ups for the tobogganing and tubing were both quite reasonable. In fact, whereas the queues to get free s’mores and to buy hot dogs were pretty long, the wait times for sliding were surprisingly minimal.
There are a couple of food trucks you can buy food from at Family First Night, like hot dogs and drinks. Free chocolate, marshmallows and graham cracker ingredients are also given out all evening for making s’mores by the fire pits.
TIP: The lineups for food, especially the free s’mores, can get pretty long. If hungry, arrive at the start and head to the food stations early, or eat beforehand. And if you really don’t want to wait in a long line to get a free marshmallow and a bit of chocolate, but you know your kids really will, take a chocolate bar or something else that you can bribe them with or console them with if you find the lineup just isn’t worth the effort.
At Family First Night there is also a face-painting station, arts and crafts opportunities and a couple of clowns that wander around. It’s a very family-friendly event and great for young children. Don’t forget your camera for photos with the clowns!
The fireworks at Mt. Seymour on New Year’s Eve are pretty good. They aren’t huge, and they only last about 4 minutes, but they are a perfect way to end the year and the night.
The fireworks blast off from the far side of the tubing park, a fair distance away from the crowds. People start to gather 15 minutes or so before 9 o’clock. Positions right up close to the barrier ropes can be a good place to see from, but so too is much further back. The fireworks shoot pretty high into the sky, so unless you’re short and right behind a crowd, you have a fine chance of getting a good view.
Tips & Advice
Below are some suggestions and tips to help you make the most out of your experience at Mt. Seymour’s First Night New Year’s Eve event.
TIP #1: If driving up the hill, make sure your vehicle has good winter tires. Winter tires are mandatory on the road up – if you don’t have them you may get turned back. Also if driving, head up early to beat the crowds and traffic.
TIP #2: Instead of driving up, take advantage of the free shuttle service. You can leave your car in the overflow parking lot just north of Parkgate Village in North Vancouver on Mt. Seymour Road. This way you don’t have to worry about the roads (which a couple of years ago were especially bad).
TIP #3: The complimentary shuttle buses usually leave the Parkgate Community Centre starting at around 5 pm. Get there earlier than that though if you want to be on the first one or two buses.
TIP #4: Buy your tickets well in advance – many years the event sells out!
TIP #5: Don’t forget to bring your own toboggan. Bring your own snowshoes too if you have them, although complimentary snowshoe equipment is available. Note though that inflatable and custom-made toboggans as well as sleds with steering devices are not permitted.
TIP #6: Don’t forget to take your camera, snow boots and extra warm clothing.
To buy tickets or for further details about Family First Night see the Mt. Seymour website.
For more information about the ski hill in general, click Mt. Seymour.
For a list of things to do in the New Year, see Vancouver’s January Calendar of Events.