2016 First Night Springfield

This year’s First Night® Springfield is the city’s 29th Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration of the Arts, presented by the Springfield Area Arts Council on December 31, 2015.

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.

This year’s event theme is “Downtown To A Fine Art.”

Major sponsors of First Night include: Horace Mann; AIG; Bunn-O-Matic; Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.; Memorial Medical Center (Children’s Activities); City of Springfield; Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

On New Year’s Eve—Thursday, December 31—we begin First Night’s events with FREE children’s hands-on activities and entertainment from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at Springfield High School. Performers at the school are selected to appeal to young audiences, and we’ll have hands-on arts activities ranging from face painting to clay sculpture to harmonica lessons.  You may either download or print a schedule below.

A buffet dinner for which reservations and payment are required before December 22 will also be available through the Hoogland Center box office or by phoning the Arts Council office (217-753-3519).  The cost is $30 per person and includes an adult admission wristband ($20 for kids).  Dinner will be served from 5 until 7:30 PM in the Hoogland Center Dining Room with musical entertainment from 5 until 7.

From 6:00 to 11:15 PM, the city becomes a stage, with over 30 performances taking place on eight stages in downtown Springfield. The early First Night performances, from 6:00 to 7:45 PM, include magicians, jugglers, and dancers, along with jazz and classical guitar.  Locations include the Hoogland Center for the Arts, Lincoln Library (Springfield’s Public Library), Grace Lutheran Church, Central Baptist Church, and the Lincoln Home Visitors’ Center.

The traditional First Night fireworks display begins 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. Following the fireworks will be the next round of First Night performances starting at 8:30 PM. We wrap up the show at 11:15, so you’ll have time to get to your favorite spot to ring in the new year.

First Night admission wristbands are now available, and for adults, they’re $15 in advance ($5 for children ages 5 through 18), and $18 the night of the event.  Family packs (2 adults and 2 kids) are available only through the Hoogland box office or the SAAC Office at a cost of $30.  Once again, we have wristbands available for purchase at both Springfield Schnuck’s locations; at County Market locations in Springfield, Sherman, and Chatham; at Recycled Records; at Robbie’s Restaurant; at the Hoogland Center for the Arts Box Office; and online at www.hcfta.org.

See FN 2016 Performer Schedule – PDF

See Photos of First Night Performers

See FN 2016 Performer Information


First Night 5K

The Springfield Area Arts Council Board will not be hosting a First Night 5K this year.