Hilltown Families Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Noho

With clear winter skies and no snow in sight, you couldn’t have asked for a better day to explore all the family activities happening on Sunday afternoon for Northampton (Noho) First Night. The day’s program of activities was filled with nearly 40 venues of entertainment, including dance, theater and music at 18 different performance halls, churches and public spaces in Northampton. Well worth the trip down from the hills with something for everyone, especially families!

At twelve noon the festivities kicked off at the Northampton Center for the Arts with a Caribbean Street Carnival, presented by the Enchanted Circle Theater (ECT). ECT has been infusing arts and education for 30 year! At Noho First Night they put on a spirited performance of music, dance and storytelling.

Walking through the halls to the performance space, audience members passed by the dancers from Conjunto de Bomba, clapping, stomping and twirling in colorful costumes and scarves, getting a taste of the act to come. When the performance began, infectious music from Brazil, Haiti and Puerto Rico, performed by Roots, Rhythm and Rapture filled the performance hall.

ECT is a theater company that supports schools with the development of creative academic and social studies curricula for students K-6th grade. They are also committed to supporting and building community through creative education projects. Their mission was brought forth to the audience of families during Noho First Night with their performance of colorful adaptations of traditional folktales from Carribean culture through music and dance.

Following their performance, ECT lead the audience outside and around Northampton, gathering momentum from families arriving to the city and joining in the parade. Drummers, stilt walkers and giant puppets colored the crowd in the midday winter sun, creating a festival atmosphere. Following the parade was a full schedule of events.

Paint Box Theatre (PBT) put on an excellent production of Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre 14. Many hilltown families came for the performance of this classic fairy tale. PBT has a “recipe” for their theater staging that is simple and successful. By projecting images of children’s illustrations and word prompts for audience involvement, they are able to incorporate community and audience participation into their productions. Children from the Jackson Street School After-School Program in Northampton created the images for this particular staging of Jack and the Bean Stalk.

The Beautiful Future Band lead a sweet interactive musical journey at First Churches Lyman Hall, perfect for families with younger children. Kids were asked to participate in movements and songs while exploringmany different cultures through language, including a rousing version of Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes in French. Younger hilltown families joined in with Kate O’Connor who lead them through different cultures and musical experiences.

One of the favorite performances for families during First Night had to be the Nield sisters at First Churches Sanctuary. The Nields shared songs with a packed audience from their recent album for families, All Together Singing in the Kitchen. Families from the hilltowns were able to end their day of events with a delicious performance by this local duo. Following their 5pm concert, fireworks lit up the evening sky – the icing on the cake of the day’s events in Northampton.

After a full day in Northampton experiencing the rich diversity of performances, there was no wonder why Noho was named one of the “Top 10 Family Friendly Towns” by Parenting Magazine.

Other performances that were scheduled during the day that were especially suitable for families included, John Porcino, Henry the Juggler, and Dennis Caraher.

If you had a favorite performance you would like to share, please submit below. We’d love to hear from you.

3 Comments on “Hilltown Families Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Noho

  1. We were one of the sad folks turned away at the door for the Taiko Japanese Drummers. We hope to catch them again at another venue! Mental note for next year … get there EARLY! ;-)

    They are performing again at UMass on Februrary 16 from 10-11am. I’d recommend getting your tickets early if interested in going! Their web site is http://www.taikoza.com.

    A phenomenal group of musicians and dancers, Taikoza have dazzled audiences worldwide with its electrifying performances. Drawing from Japan’s complex tradition of music, Taikoza has created a rich repertoire incorporating a variety of musical instruments. Founded in 1995 by former members of the internationally accalaimed taiko group, Ondekoza, Taikoza is more than a percussion group. Performing on drums hollowed out from a solid piece of zelkova wood, the group creates a new sound using shakuhachi (bamboo flutes) and the Koto, a thirteen stringed instrument. — Taiko drums have been an integral part of Japanese culture for over 1500 years. The drums can range up to 300 pounds in weight and reach lengths of six feet. They literally produce a thundering sound. Joining the drummers are traditonally schooled Japanese folk dancers for a unique visual and musical experience!

  2. I think our favorite was the Nields, though it’s hard to hear in that echo-ey old church. We saw lots of friends all day long and sat with Emmet and Gaby at the Neilds.

    Dance at the Academy was really impressive, especially when the soloist fell off the stage (!!) and then jumped back on and finished her dance. Wow!

    Olivia loved the theater and comedy. We stayed for the fireworks and then my little camper was pooped (recovering from virus). A lovely day.

  3. The Taiko Drumming was wild & maxed to capacity, many sad folk wishing they were doing 2 shows, maybe next year. The Yo-Yo’ers were fabulous, one wore a “kick me” sign as he cart-wheeled on stage. Dinner at Taipei Tokyo with 2 toddlers was especially fun & not busy pre fireworks. The talent show ended early so we missed that extravaganza, but we heard our friend Harpo sing. – No nap conked our gal out on the way home & we were in bed by midnight…

    Bye Bye 2006, Hello 2007 :-)

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