What’s New and What Favorites are Returning for Pittsburgh’s First Night

First Night festivities include new tours of the Byham Theater and Benedum Center, the return of the ice maze, fireworks and live performances.
Ice Maze 2

PHOTOS COURTESY PITTSBURGH CULTURAL TRUST | THE WALK-THROUGH ICE MAZE RETURNS THIS YEAR AT PITTSBURGH’S FIRST NIGHT NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION.

Pittsburghers will ring in the New Year Dec. 31 with a celebration filled with bright lights, glistening ice, bursts of colorful fireworks, live performances and cultural experiences for the whole family.

First Night will feature the return of the 5-foot tall immersive, walk-through ice maze, located at Backyard at Eighth Street and Penn Avenue, designed by Richard Bubin, master ice carver and founder of Ice Creations. 

“Pittsburgh’s Cultural District is a special destination on New Year’s Eve. Through the power of the arts, we can reflect on the past and celebrate our future,” said Sarah Aziz, director of Festival Management for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, in a press release. 

For the second year in a row, most events at First Night are free and open to everyone, although there are special First Night VIP Friends experiences available for a charge. Purchase your $50 experience for access to the First Night Friends Lounge sponsored by Citizens, located inside the O’Reilly Theater lobby (621 Penn Ave.). Guests can enjoy food, beverages and entertainment at a convenient indoor street-level destination.

If you upgrade to a $75 First Night Friends VIP Experience, you can watch special performances at Liberty Magic, featuring Mr. Messado and Ran’D Shine.

Free First Night Events

Hiroaki Umeda

HIROAKI UMEDA WILL BRING HIS ENERGETIC ‘INTENSIONAL PARTICLE’ TO PITTSBURGH’S FIRST NIGHT CELEBRATION AT THE WOOD STREET GALLERIES.

Choreographer and multidisciplinary artist Hiroaki Umeda, a leading figure in Japan’s avant-garde art scene, will bring his high-intensity dance and digital imagery installation, Intensional Particle, to Wood Street Galleries (601 Wood St.) during the First Night Celebration.

Familiar favorites and traditions abound, too, starting with the Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks at 6 p.m. on the Dollar Bank Stage in front of the Benedum Center on Seventh Street.

Immediately following the kick-off event, the winner of this year’s Williams SING-OFF Competition will perform. The winner will be introduced by the competition’s special guest judge, Nick Cortazzo — Pittsburgh native and New York transplant performing as Link Larkin in the National Tour of “Hairspray,” part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh at the Benedum Center, Jan. 3-8, 2023. 

INEZ, self-proclaimed “FireShorty,” multi-faceted artistic Renaissance woman and Homewood resident, headlines the Highmark Stage (enter from Liberty Avenue and Stanwix Street) from 10:45 p.m. to midnight. The 91.3 WYEP 2020 “Pittsburgh Artist of the Year” is a Berklee College of Music alumna. The performance concludes with the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale, featuring the annual raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball, high atop Penn Avenue Place. The fireworks finale will be by Pyrotechnico.

Inez

PITTSBURGH-BASED SINGER-SONGWRITER INEZ WILL HEADLINE PITTSBURGH’S FIRST NIGHT CELEBRATION ON THE HIGHMARK STAGE.

First Night also will feature a number of attractions for families, such as the Highmark Holiday Block Party & AHN Family Zone, 6-10 p.m., at Seventh Street and Penn Avenue, where you can win prizes, warm up and celebrate the New Year with creative activities curated by community organizations.

“Better World” will be the theme of the New Year’s Eve Parade, presented by Giant Eagle, which steps off from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center at 8 p.m. and marches through the Cultural District along Penn Avenue. The annual arts-focused parade will be packed with performance groups, loaded with artistic surprises and led by signature giant puppets and art cars created by Studio Capezzuti.

Guests also will be treated with behind-the-scenes guided tours to the nearly 95-year-old Benedum Center (237 Seventh St.) and 118-year-old Byham Theater (101 Sixth St.). 

Face-painting; caricaturists Sam Thong and Vince Ornato; and tarot card readers Amber the Witch and Elizabeth Kivowitz, co-owners of Arts & Crafts: Botanica & Occult Shop; will be available near the theaters for guests to stop and experience before heading to the outdoor Graffiti Gallery at Trust Oasis (Seventh Street and Penn Avenue), featuring seven large-scale murals by talented regional artists in celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Pittsburgh-based artist, Sire, also will perform live graffiti painting at Trust Oasis from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

There also will be a reggae performance by 4-Yaadi on the Dollar Bank Stage, as well as jazz performances in the First Night Jazz Lounge at the Trust Arts Education Center (805 Liberty Ave.), where the Alumni Theater Company also will offer three First Night performances.

Guests wanting to grab a popcorn and take a seat at the Harris Theater (809 Liberty Ave.) will find Laurel & Hardy shorts on the big screen.

Trust visual arts galleries will be open all night, including Wood Street Galleries, SPACE, 820 Liberty Gallery, 937 Liberty Gallery, and 707 Penn Gallery — all with previously announced gallery exhibitions.

For more information, a full schedule of First Night festivities and VIP packages, visit the website here

Categories: The 412, Things To Do