2018 First Night Springfield
This year’s First Night® Springfield is the city’s 31st annual New Year’s Eve Celebration of the arts, presented by the Springfield Area Arts Council on December 31, 2017.
First Night originated in Boston in 1976 as a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration. Springfield’s First Night was the first in Illinois and remains the longest running.
Major sponsors of First Night 2018 (12/31/2017) include: Horace Mann; Bunn-O-Matic Corporation; Bank of Springfield; Maynerich Financial; Levi, Ray & Shoup Foundation; NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS; Lowe’s; Black Sheep Cafe; Memorial Health System; the City of Springfield; the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the Hoogland Center for the Arts.
We will open First Night events on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve—Sunday, December 31—with FREE children’s hands-on creative activities and entertainment in three areas from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at Springfield High School. Hands-on activities, including table crafts, clay sculpture, wood craft kits, and face painting as well as a puppet show and harmonica lessons. You’ll also find stage shows in the school auditorium: Cowboy Randy and juggler Troy Roark will perform. You may either download or print a schedule in PDF (Link coming soon). Performer photos appear there via a link.
At 4:15 PM, Mark Gifford will present a performance on the Barton Theater Organ in the Springfield High Auditorium. The organ originally graced the Orpheum Theater in Springfield, and the sound is unforgettable.
From 5:00 to 11:15 PM, Downtown will become a stage, with over 30 performances taking place on ten stages at four venues in Springfield. The early First Night performances, from 5:00 to 7:45 PM, will include magicians, singers, dancers, storytellers, and comics. Locations will include the Hoogland Center for the Arts, Lincoln Library (Springfield’s Public Library), and the Lincoln Home Visitors’ Center.
First Night also has a dedicated venue for teen bands at the Black Sheep Cafe Stage at Kari Bedford Photography, 314 East Monroe Street. The Black Sheep Café has established itself as a popular spot for young people in Springfield, presenting innovative music by local bands. The café will bring some of its bands to perform at First Night this year.
The traditional First Night fireworks display will begin at 8:00 PM at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue. Sponsored by Horace Mann, the fireworks are designed by Nostalgia Pyrotechnics under the direction of Carl Steinmacher, and he produces a great display each year. Following the fireworks, we will begin the next round of First Night performances at 8:30 PM. We will wrap up the event at 11:15, so that attendees will have time to get home or to a favorite spot to ring in the New Year.
First Night admission wristbands will be available after December 15. For adults, the cost is $18 in advance ($20 at the door) and $5 for children ages 5 through 18. Advanced sales will end at Noon on Saturday, December 30. Wristbands will be available in-person at the Hoogland Center for the Arts box office, online at www.hcfta.org, and in-person at four Bank of Springfield locations (Wabash, Stevenson, Chatham, and Madison).