First Night Tonight

Tonight is the 20th annual First Night Virginia New Year’s Eve celebration on the Downtown Mall. The usual impressive line-up of events are scheduled from 3pm until 12am, including concerts and puppet shows, ice skating and face painting, theater and, of course, fireworks at midnight. An all-admission pass is just $10 for adults, $5 for kids, and toddlers are free. City buses will run until 1am, and they’re free to anybody with a First Night pass. For those of you too cheap to spend $10, or with an urge to volunteer, First Night is desperate for dozens more volunteers. Give them two hours, they’ll give you a pass for the night. Call 434-975-8269 for more information.

5 thoughts on “First Night Tonight”

  1. I’d like to register my discontent with First Night this year, on the basis of the relatively small percentage of the events that were downtown, requiring participants to drive around town. This is bad for a few reasons. First, the idea behind First Night is that it’s a family affair. You can take the kids downtown and split up, going to various events knowing that everybody is safe wherever they are, and that you can meet at a landmark. That’s impossible with events at STAB, the Cage at UVa, the county office building (a little far for most people to walk in the cold) and various churches that may or may not be downtown. It’s also weird because First Night is supposed to be a safe alternative to the usual drunken festivals, and should keep people off the roads. Instead, people are forced onto the roads. Finally, the mall was dead, so there was no sense of community. In past years, I’ve felt like I’m celebrating the new year with thousands of my fellow Charlottesvillians, because there they are, all around me. This year, it was me and about 50 people on the Omni parking garage. Not exactly a community celebration.

    I hope that future years will see more events immediately on the mall, keeping people physically together. This provides a sense of safety and community, and certainly a great deal more convenience.

  2. I agree; that’s why I didn’t participate in First Night this year. As cold as it is, why would you want to walk all the way up to the Presbyterian Church (last year’s site) from downtown and as for driving around — you’re right. It makes no sense to have everyone on the road. I found it interesting that Robert Van Winkle had to broadcast from the Albemarle Office Building too.

    Also, this year seemed to have very little promotion — at one point, I wasn’t sure if we were having a First Night — usually there is some kind of promotion with lists of event (maybe I missed it) and the downtown banner was the first sign that I had that it was continuing.

  3. I agree completely. I have two young children, one who is nearly one, and one who is nearly three. First Night is one of our favorite Charlottesville events, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely this year and last year. However, last year’s event had a lot more energy. There were more people mingling on the downtown mall, and individual events seemed better attended, with more excitement, and where appropriate, more dancing.

    I don’t think it was any colder this year than last. And I do believe that spreading out the events detracted from the downtown atmosphere. With my children, for instance, it would be impractical and difficult to attend events at St. Anne’s as well as the downtown mall. We had to prematurely choose to forego the great options at St. Anne’s and could not venture to events such as John D’Earth.

    Unfortunately, I suspect there are not enough facilities on the downtown mall to sponsor all of the entertainment options, especially as First Night grows. And having events at St. Anne’s and the Cage may draw in people who wouldn’t otherwise attend.

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