Springfield Area Arts Council


Downtown New Year’s Eve will sparkle both in the skies and on Hoogland Center stages for the 36th annual First Night® Springfield.

This family-friendly celebration of the arts is co-produced this year by Springfield Area Arts Council and Hoogland Center for the Arts.  The City of Springfield is adding the annual fireworks spectacular.

These December 31st entertainments have been enjoyed by tens of thousands in our town since 1987.  It is the longest-running First Night west of the Alleghenies.

“The Arts Council is proud to continue bringing this event to downtown Springfield.  It has become a tradition for many, but newcomers are very welcome,” said Sheila Walk, Arts Council executive director.  “The community support for the arts is quite apparent during First Night, and everyone is in a festive mood.  And this year, we’re celebrating our host’s being open for twenty years.”

For the first time, the Arts Council is co-producing the event with the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  Center director Gus Gordon refers to First Night as a “Whitman’s Sampler” of the arts, giving everyone the opportunity to sample many different art forms, all in one place on one evening.

All activities will take place inside the Hoogland Center for the Arts at 420 South Sixth Street in downtown Springfield (except fireworks).  From 6:00 to 9:45 P.M., many performances will roll out inside the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  Already signed up to perform are David Cain, Capital Big Band, Capital City Improv, Central Illinois Irish Dancers, Mark Gifford, The Muni, Springfield International Folk Dancers, Springfield Theater Center, Zwie Damm Clowns, and more.

Sangamon Watercolor Society will exhibit its members’ work in the main floor gallery.

Evening tickets are $5 for youth and $20 for adults.  They may be purchased at the door or in advance by going to Hoogland’s website: www.hcfta.org/tickets.  Performances will take place on several stages inside the Hoogland Center’s spacious four floors.  Guests will receive detailed schedules and maps upon arrival.  Everything will wrap up around 10:30 P.M., giving folks time to make it home for midnight’s magic moment.

Light refreshments, provided by Hoogland Education Program, will be available during both afternoon and evening in the Hoogland Center lobby.


Once again, younger folks are invited for interactive activities free of charge from 1:00 to 2:45 P.M. on New Year’s Eve at the Hoogland Center.  Afternoon crafts will be provided by Garvey-Tubman Center, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lowe’s, and Sangamon Watercolor Society.

Garvey-Tubman Center, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lowe’s, and Sangamon Watercolor Society will provide crafts.

Hoogland Education Program, Lincoln Ring of Magicians, Sangamon Valley Chord Company, Springfield Dance Company, and others will perform.

No pre-registration is required for this children’s event.

Another option for the afternoon:  The ice skating rink in Union Square Park will be open from 3:00 to 6:00.  It also is free and is sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.


Fireworks will begin at 10:00 P.M.  People are invited to gather at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Fourth Street for the show.  Director Walk expressed appreciation for the assistance of the Springfield public works, police, and fire departments. “They help with so much around town, whether we see it or not.”


In addition to free on-street parking, those attending First Night at the Hoogland Center can park in the garage next-door for no cost.