“Explore the Night” is the theme of this year’s First Night Saratoga, to be held from 5 until midnight on New Year’s Eve in downtown Saratoga Springs.
This year’s edition of the family-oriented, alcohol-free event presented by Saratoga Arts will feature a variety of new events ranging from a swashbuckling circus for young people to an international laser light show.
Jackie Marchand, First Night coordinator for Saratoga Arts, said the “Explore the Night” theme is all about people attending the event and “seeing something you haven’t seen before.”
“There will be your favorite bands playing but go out and hear something new,” she said. The event includes 35 performance venues on Broadway and on streets near Broadway.
Joel Reed, executive director of Saratoga Arts, said at Friday’s unveiling of First Night events that planning for First Night is a year-round project for Saratoga Arts.
Also Friday, Sharon Bolton of Ambrosino Design unveiled her latest First Night poster, which is also seen on the First Night buttons. Her past First Night posters have won national awards.
One of the new twists to First Night is a collaboration with General Electric Co.
“Kids 5 and under were always free,” Marchand said. But this year’s GE Kids In Free program will allow children 12 and under to attend free as long as an adult accompanying them buys a $15 First Night button. Each button will have a Kids Free voucher attached to it.
The First Night buttons go on sale Monday at Price Chopper supermarkets, Stewart’s Shops in Saratoga County, Adirondack Trust Co. bank offices, Crafter’s Gallery at 427 Broadway, Saratoga Springs branches of the YMCA, and at Saratoga Arts at 320 Broadway.
The buttons can also be purchased online at www.saratoga-arts.org and picked up at Saratoga Arts prior to the event.
Reed said First Night Saratoga has grown over the past 17 years to become “not only the largest First Night in New York state but also the largest New Year’s Eve event in upstate New York.”
Approximately 14,000 people attend the event each year, he said.
The live music includes everything from the blues to opera. Dance, film and artwork are also featured.
Most venues will be within walking distance of one another but all venues are accessible by free bus service provided from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. by CDTA.
Ingrid Capron, First Night’s volunteer coordinator, said at least 100 more volunteers are needed to staff venues in three-hour shifts. Those interested can contact Capron at 491-8080 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org,
The Saratoga Springs City Center is a focal point of First Night. Radio Disney (AM 1460) and its NBT (Next Big Thing) winner will perform at 5 p.m. to kick the night off.
The City Center will also host the Tartan Terrors and Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra.
A new laser light show by DayStar Lasers International will start and end First Night in the 1,200-seat main hall of the City Center.
In lieu of midnight fireworks, those with First Night Buttons will be invited to see “Explore the Light” laser light show inside the City Center.
The new First Fest, a mini-music festival with seven up-and-coming young bands, will perform on one stage at the City Center.
Buccaneer Bindlestiff’s Swashbuckling Cirkus from Brooklyn will perform at the Lake Avenue Elementary School, where many children’s’ events will be held. For a list of events see www.saratoga-arts.org.