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30th Anniversary!

Happy New Year! You're invited to attend First Night — Northampton's most beloved signature event. On Wednesday, December 31st, the Center for the Arts and PeoplesBank welcome you to the 30th anniversary of this city-wide New Year's Eve party. Since 1985, First Night Northampton has filled the Paradise City with a 12-hour, family-friendly festival of the arts culminating in a traditional ball-raising from the roof of the Hotel Northampton. Gather with friends, neighbors and visitors at 20, yes, 20, downtown venues for an astounding array of entertainment presented by hundreds of terrific performers. Our efforts are supported by generous local sponsors and dedicated volunteers. All proceeds benefit community arts.

Get started at noon with our fabulous opening show at the Academy of Music where "Circus Wonderland" promises to delight and amaze. Or swing through the jungle to see "Paintbox Theatre: Tarzan" at 1 pm at Theatre 14 at Smith College. By 2 pm, the First Night party is in full swing. Our performance program is filled with hours of excitement for kids and adults. In the afternoon, treat yourself to a cornucopia of dance, puppetry, a cappella voice, classical trios, quartets, and duos — not to mention a guitar orchestra. Get giddy with Jody Scalise, the Motion Man, at the Hallie Flanagan Theatre. Have some fun with storyteller/musician John Porcino at the Forbes Library or check out the hot Caribbean grooves of Jose Gonzalez y Banda Criolla at First Churches Sanctuary. You can even catch the Valley Light Opera, making a second First Night appearance with back-to-back performances of "Zoo" at Theatre 14.

Fireworks at 6:15 cap the afternoon and signal the start of the evening entertainment. After that, the festivities continue with more magic and merriment — including an incredible line-up of bands at the Academy where Monte and Joan of 93.9 The River emcee the stage for rock wonders And the Kids and folk marvels Darlingside. Wanna dance? Take a stroll down Conz Street to catch the world beat rhythms of the Pangeans or party out with Trailer Park at the World War II Club. Move to the reggae of Rebelle in our newest venue, the Arts Trust Building at 33 Hawley Street. The Parlor Room presents the chamber pop of The Winterpills, while St. John's Episcopal Church chimes in with acoustic luminaries Tracy Grammer and Jim Henry. Kick back to the Bach archguitar mastery of Peter Blanchette at Sweeney Concert Hall. And don't forget indie-rock quartet Bunk at TD Bank. Bunk at the Bank!

Later, it's time to gather at the Hotel Northampton for the iconic raising of the ball. For the 30th anniversary of First Night Northampton, Johnny Memphis will be broadcasting the best party hits of 1985 on to King Street starting at 11:30. A single bargain-priced button opens the doors to every event at every venue. Buy one early at a local vendor or online, and check out the companion performance schedule as well as the logistical tips that follow to plan for a happy new year.


Parking: On First Night, there is free parking in all of Northampton's municipal lots EXCEPT the parking garage. Smith College parking lots and the Smith College garage on West Street are free and open to the general public all day. There are also lots at Forbes Library, the Northampton Senior Center, and the World War II Club.

Please remember that access to and from the E.J. Gare Parking Garage will be restricted from approximately 5:45pm to 6:45pm because of the fireworks display. The same is true for the adjacent municipal lots.

Button Sales on Wednesday, December 31st: Of course, the easiest and most economical plan is to buy your First Night button in advance. Online sales continue until midnight on Tuesday, December 30th. There are no additional fees for buying buttons online. Locations for purchasing buttons on December 31st are limited. Your best bet is the First Night box office located on the second floor of Thornes Marketplace, open from 10 am until 9 pm with payment by cash or check only (ATM available). You can also purchase buttons downtown at State Street Fruit Store (credit cards accepted) and the Hotel Northampton. They are for sale (cash) at the door of these performance venues: Academy of Music; Theatre 14 at Smith College; World War II Club; Northampton Senior Center. They are also sold at Cooper's Corner in Florence and A.J. Hastings in Amherst.

At the venues: In order to accommodate our audiences and to make things easier for the volunteers, please cooperate by lining up at entrances in an orderly fashion and exiting the venues after each performance. This also keeps things running on time. Note: Many shows are offered twice, so if you don't make it into the first one, you'll probably catch the second.

Official Schedule

Download a PDF file [1.4 Mb] that illustrates the performance schedule by venue and time which also includes a map of Northampton and the First Night venues.

Get the App!

Download our free First Night Northampton App at the iTunes store! Click here.