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First Night Saratoga brings newcomers and local favorites together

First Night Saratoga brings newcomers and local favorites together

Poster, button unveiled; fireworks will be digital this year
First Night Saratoga brings newcomers and local favorites together
Photographer: marc schultz/gazette photographer

In photo: The unveiling of the First Night Saratoga 2020 poster and button was held Tuesday. From left are Joel Reed, Saratoga Arts executive director, and Meaghan Golden, artistic director for the poster. Charlotte Noruzi is credited with the artwork for the poster.

First Night Saratoga is right around the corner and it promises to keep the beat going into 2020. 

The New Year’s Eve event kicks off in downtown Saratoga Springs at 6 p.m. and features performances by well over 50 bands, which were announced at a press conference on Tuesday morning. 

Organizers at Saratoga Arts also announced a change in the way they're ringing in 2020. Instead of the usual fireworks display in Congress Park, they're bringing in a "Digital Midnight" format, which includes a digital fireworks show and a video of locally submitted photos from First Nights past. 

According to associate director Tanya Tobias, Saratoga Arts worked with CMI Audio Visual and Dave Bigler Studios to create a more accessible finale to the evening and one that fits the event's theme: "A New Dimension." 

While in previous years, the weather has prohibited the fireworks show, with a digital show, that won't be a problem, said Tobias. Those who can't make it out to First Night or those who can't get to the Saratoga Springs City Center, where the video will be shown, will be able to access it online. 

Saratoga Arts is accepting photos from First Nights past. Submissions can be sent to [email protected] prior to Dec. 17. The video will be shown at the City Center at 11:40 p.m., right before the digital fireworks display. 

Before the finale, there will be plenty of other festivities going on and with the packed schedule comes a variety of genres, starting with the headliners playing the City Center. The Grammy-nominated Joey Thomas Big Band, who are new to First Night, will bring in a swing sound with Big Band music, while Saratoga natives Wild Adriatic bring a rowdy blues-rock sound. The Figgs, another Saratoga favorite, will return to the event, bringing a rock sound. Sirsy brings in the pop-rock and Reprise offers up a heavy metal sound. 

The music doesn’t stop with the City Center; other performances will be held around Spa City, including Caffe Lena, which will feature performances by bluegrass band Blind Crow and jam band Let’s Be Leonard. The gypsy jazz quintet Hot Club of Saratoga will perform at Saratoga Arts, along with Sime Gezus and Nick Millevoi’s Desertion Trio. 

The Saratoga Springs Visitors Center, First Baptist Church, Empire State College and many other venues will offer a mix of music, from Celtic to Caribbean. There will also be country line dancing, face painting, martial arts, tarot reading Shakespeare improv, animal shows and other festivities around the city. 

The event, which runs from 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, to just after midnight is organized by Saratoga Arts and is perhaps the most popular New Year’s Eve event in the Capital Region, bringing in upwards of 10,000 attendees. Boston originated the “First Night” event in 1976, hosting an alcohol-free celebration with music and other festivities. Saratoga adopted the event 24 years ago and it’s one of the only remaining events of its kind in the area, according to Saratoga Arts. 

To see all the performances, attendees will need to purchase a $20 First Night Button, which is available at Saratoga Arts (320 Broadway) and select Price Chopper and Market 32 locations, as well as at saratoga-arts.org. 

Those who volunteer at the celebration will receive one complimentary First Night button and poster. All volunteers are required to attend one training session. For more information about the performances or to sign up to volunteer, visit saratoga-arts.org.  

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