First Night® Springfield
Thirty-three years. That’s how long ago Springfield’s annual CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS began. It was the first one west of the Alleghenies and remains the longest-running in Illinois. Although there are fewer venues now than in 1987, the quality of entertainment offered is as great as ever.
Please venture downtown on New Year’s Eve to enjoy a fine and varied array of performing and visual arts. In the afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00, free children’s crafts and performances will be offered at Springfield High School. In the auditorium there at 4:15, Mark Gifford will perform on the Barton Theatre Organ ($5 admission or First Night wristband).
5:00 marks the start of the evening’s entertainment on multiple stages at the Hoogland Center for the Arts and the Lincoln Home Visitors Center. A display of art created by young people will be open on the lower level of the Hoogland Center, too, as part of the All-inclusive Space.
At 7:00, performances will begin at Dumb Records on Monroe Street.
The traditional First Night fireworks display will begin at 8:00 at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue. The fireworks are designed by Nostalgia Pyrotechnics under the direction of Carl Steinmacher.
Following the fireworks, another round of First Night performances will begin at Dumb Records, Hoogland Center for the Arts, and Lincoln Home Visitors Center.
The celebration concludes at 11:15 so that attendees can get home or to a favorite spot to ring in the New Year.
Sheila Walk, Arts Council interim executive director, notes, “During all those years I enjoyed attending First Night Springfield with friends, I never imagined that one day I’d help to organize the Arts Council’s signature event. There are so many moving parts, from city permits to publicity to program design, from piano tuning to performer contracts. I don’t know if one person could manage it all. I am so grateful for the help of summer interns, board members, and volunteers. Courtney Wick contacted entertainers and arranged the schedule. Misty Hagstrom is laying out the event program. Sue Shaw and Lindee Hall are managing the silent auction and (new this year) raffle. Ronda Brinkman is handling the afternoon at Springfield High. The board is selling program ads and finding sponsors, essential since this is our annual fund-raiser. Yes, it’s hard work – but it’s important to provide the community with a family-friendly, alcohol-free, handicapped-accessible way to bring 2019 to a close. I’m proud that the Arts Council can continue to fulfill its mission to enrich the community through the arts in such a fine and festive way.”
First Night Springfield admission wristbands: For adults, the cost is $18 when purchased by December 30 or $20 on December 31. The cost is $5 for children ages 5 through 18. Under age 5, free. Wristbands are available in-person at the Hoogland Center for the Arts box office or online at www.hcfta.org.