Last Year Got You Down? Have a Little Fun, North Jersey

The new year is a time for reflection and discovery... we sure do need it. Thankfully, Northern New Jersey offers many opportunities to immerse oneself in culturally enriching, mentally stimulating, and just plain fun activities. Consult the list below for some ideas to kick off the New Year with a bang.

  • 01 of 06

    Learn How to Be a Circus Performer

    Circus artist
    Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images

    Who isn't wowed by the high-flying skills of circus performers, those who artfully swing from the trapeze and walk the tightrope with the greatest of ease? What if you could learn the same skills?  The New Jersey Circus Center breaks it down for you in classes that teach the fundamentals of aerial arts, tumbling, juggling, balancing, swinging, and all kinds of circus acrobatics. An added benefit: New Jersey Circus Center makes aerobics fun by adding a whole new dimension to exercising. These classes offer an opportunity to truly learn what your body can do, and discover a newfound appreciation for the intersection of physics and art. Children as young as 3 can join in on the fun and there are a variety of classes open to adults. Step right up, and try your hand at the New Jersey Circus Center! 165 Amboy Road, Suite 701, Morganville

  • 02 of 06

    Dance to 80s Music With Stephen Colbert

    ​On February 4, 2017, you have the chance to don your most neon of 80s attire and sing and dance with everyone's favorite Montclairians: Late Show host, Stephen Colbert, and actor Patrick Wilson at I WANT MY MFF, a 1980s dance party benefiting the Montclair Film Festival at The Wellmont Theatre. Trust us, you don't want to miss this - and spring for the $100 tickets which get you access to the dance floor. $25 tickets get you in the door and up to the balcony, but with live music by The Losers Lounge setting the scene, we're sure you'll want to be dancing the night away. Refreshments will be "80s nostalgic nibbles". Doors open at 8pm. 5 Seymour Street, Montclair

  • 03 of 06

    Enjoy Highly Regarded Local Film Festivals

    Speaking of the Montclair Film Festival, this year's is running from April 28 to May 7. Check the website for constant updates, including more appearances from Colbert, the list of film screenings and venues, and other special events.

    If you're from Northern New Jersey, you likely know that one of the area's most famous residents was Thomas Edison. If you've ever toured Edison's factories in West Orange or in Edison, you've probably seen some of Edison's early films and movie-making equipment.  The inventor's pioneering impact on motion pictures inspired the Black Maria Film Festival, an annual cultural event in which independent filmmakers from around the world submit original films to be judged and screened during the Festival. Screenings are shown throughout New Jersey, and a full schedule can be found on the Black Maria website. AMC's Dine-In Theater in West Orange (495 Prospect Avenue) offers an annual screening, complete with pre-purchased seating and full meal options. Especially exciting is the opportunity to engage with the filmmakers and actors of the featured films, many of whom show up to answer audience questions. The Festival has something for everyone with categories featuring animation, shorts, documentaries, and local films. You'll leave feeling both entertained and enlightened. Screening times to be determined

  • 04 of 06

    Take Advantage of the New Jersey Winter

    In keeping with the adventure theme, Mountain Creek offers family-friendly skiing as well as snowboarding, snow tubing, mountain biking, a water pike, hiking, and for worn out parents: two luxury day spas. Mountain Creek first opened its doors in 1965 as a ski resort and in 1971, merged with neighboring Vernon Valley and Great George resorts. In 2010, Mountain Creek was purchased by the adjacent Crystal Springs Resort. Now, the Creek encompasses 167 ski-able acres on four different mountain peaks (Vernon Peak, Granite Peak, South Peak, Bear Peak). To test your family's true sense of adventure, try night skiing or snowtubing. Each mountain operates under different hours and in general is open for the winter season only. Adults can purchase Mountain Creek tickets for as low as $21.99 online. Children under the age of six can enter for free with the purchase of an adult ticket. For more ticket information, see the rates section of the website200 McAfee Vernon Rd (Route 94) Vernon; (973) 827-2000

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Release Your Inner Child

    For some real fun, you've got to transport yourself back to your childhood and truly let loose. Head to Imagine That!!!, a children's discovery museum in Florham Park, is filled with an awe-inspiring amount of interactive exhibits. From the Imagination Train Station and the Shadow Room to the Science Discoveries area and the Around the World exhibit (and so much more), kids and adults can let their imaginations soar as they create their own adventures in a variety of settings. The popular hands-on museum boasts "over 50 unique exhibits" and attracts "more than 75,000 children and 30,000 adults" per year. The museum may just become your child's new favorite place - or even yours. 4 Vreeland Road, Florham Park; $10.95 per adult and $9.95 per child

  • 06 of 06

    Escape to the Wild, Wild West

    Want to experience Westworld without all the sentient robots?  You're in luck!  You can experience an authentically-recreated 19th century western town right in Sussex County. Slip on boots and a bandana, and you just might forget you're no longer in present-day New Jersey. Wild West City brings to life all of the excitement of the Gold Rush of 1849, a reenactment of a Jesse James bank robbery, and a whole cast of realistic townsfolk. You'll hear different stories about the town depending on which colorful characters you approach during your visit. Kids and adults alike will have a rollicking good time at Wild West City, all while learning about what life was like in a different time and place. 50 Lackawanna Drive, Stanhope; reopens on April 29, 2017; hours will be available closer to the reopening date; $13.50-$17.25, plus $4.00 for rides

    How are you kicking 2017 off in style? Tell us on Facebook or​ Twitter.