New Year in Byron Bay

Residents and visitors alike welcomed in the New Year in Byron Bay in a family friendly manner with a great time had by all. After the last few years being marred by alcohol fuelled violence in teh early hours of the morning a community led initiative saw the council undertake a plan for a much more family friendly event as was enjoyed by the community in the past. This began with the closing off of Jonson Street in the centre of Byron so that the entertainment could be enjoyed from 2pm onwards. A complimentary shuttle bus was offered from Byron High and the Sports centre to encourage as amny people as possible to shuttle in. I'm sure many punters would have enjoyed the entertainment and music provided on the Magic Bus - which is sometimes so much of a party you don't want to get off!

The street was set up with market stalls as well as 2 main entertainment areas and several entertainment spots throughout the area. We arrived as a group of 5 adults and 2 kids aged 6 & 11 around 5 and proceeded to test our juggling skills at the "play" area set up at Main Beach - my long rusty twirling stick skills were dusted off and even I had a go! There were families and groups of friends set up on blankets in the alcohol free picnic area enjoying the view of Main beach. As expectd the Main pub looked pretty busy but all under control.

We headed down the street eating delicious gelato to the silent disco which looked great! The concept is that you hire a headset for the night and the live DJ's music is streamed directly to you throughout the night - fun to watch all the dancers dancing in silence! Later in the night I saw quite a few people wandering around with them on while cruising around the area. The local restaurants and cafes were open and where possible spilling out onto the street - with customers people watching.

Local Celebrity Tommy Franklin aka "Dancing Man" from the TV show Australia's Got Talent was dancing up a storm and encouraging everyone of all shapes, sizes and ages to have go. Our 6 year old jumped up on a haybale and strutted his stuff along with one of his friends from school to the cheers of the crowd! We browsed the market stalls which included locally made arts and crafts through to food stalls. The area known as Railway Park was set up beautifully especially with the local "Wishing Tree". This is a wonderful tree there with low spreading branches that all kids love to climb, and this was covered with little hanging wishes that anyone could participate in writing. There was face painting and kid friendly activities in the area along with food stalls and a performance stage.

After fortifying ourselves with some locally made Bliss Balls we wandered over the enjoy the wonderful "Samba Blisstas" - a local drumming troupe who are always fabulous and do South American inspired drumming performances. If you're lucky you can catch them performing at a lot of local events and festivals including monthly markets.

As night fell we caught the brief fireworks display over Main beach at 9pm before heading home with the kids. Not the most exciting New Years Eve for the adults but the kids loved it! It was also great to be in a relaxed atmosphere with lots of other families in a great community event. Here's to 2014!



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