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First Night Saratoga 2019: "Let's Celebrate!"

Saratoga Arts Executive Director Joel Reed
Lucas Willard
Saratoga Arts Executive Director Joel Reed

First Night will return for its 23rd New Year’s Eve celebration in Saratoga Springs. Organizers provided details of the annual event today.

More than 70 musical and performing acts will appear in more than 30 venues in downtown Saratoga Springs on December 31st for the 23rd annual First Night Saratoga.

Organized again by Saratoga Arts, the New Year’s Eve celebration is billed as the largest north of New York City. Around 15,000 visitors are expected in the Spa City for the celebration that also includes a 5K and fireworks at midnight.

Joel Reed, Executive Director of Saratoga Arts, debuted this year’s theme at a press conference Tuesday morning: “Let’s Celebrate.”

“We wanted to show that it’s young people, it’s for families, it’s for everybody.”

People who purchase a First Night button can visit each of the performance venues throughout town. One child under 12 is allowed in free with each paid adult. All performances are alcohol-free and indoors.

First Night performer Mike Grutka played a few songs at the press conference.

The night kicks off with the 5K run that once again begins at Skidmore College. The 5K requires registration and is limited to 1,500 runners.

The evening ends with fireworks in Congress Park.

First Night Coordinator Alix Jones said something new will happen this year at midnight. In addition to Congress Park, New Year’s countdowns will be held with the closing acts at the Saratoga Springs City Center and Courtyard Marriott hotel.

“So, if you don’t want to walk to other end of the town to see the fireworks, and you want to stay in place with your favorite artists, you can do that,” said Jones. “And I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for some of our artists and the audiences as well.”

The Capital District Transportation Authority will provide free transportation across town. Hundreds take advantage of the service each year.

Jonathan Scherzer, CDTA Director of Marketing, says guests should still plan to dress warmly.

“But the reason we’re involved with tonight is certainly to make it easier for everybody. So, if you’re coming in from a little further away, you’ll want to find something on the outskirts, but we’re certainly going to be able to get you back and forth quickly, warmly, happily, and comfortably,” said Scherzer.

First Night Saratoga is sponsored in part by Price Chopper/Market 32, where a button can be purchased for $15 through December 25th, and then $20 until New Year’s Eve.

Price Chopper/Market 32’s Mona Golub says the company also sponsors the annual holiday parade in Schenectady, which was held on November 17th.

“That event truly ushers in the holiday season. This event is truly the grand finale and sends the holiday season off into next year,” said Golub.

Buttons can also be purchased online here.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.