We can thank Boston for introducing the performance-rich, artistically driven concept of First Night, as Beantown was first to initiate the New Year's Eve celebration some 40 years ago.
And, while I personally think the name is a misnomer, given it is a bona fide event in cities around the country on the LAST NIGHT of the year, I still delight in the revelry whatever it may be called. Like Shakespeare might say: First Night by any other name would be as fun.
And, that's just what Highmark First Night in Pittsburgh is - serious good fun. Saying there is much to do Downtown on this night is like saying there are many bridges in Pittsburgh. Speaking of bridges...make a point to check out the "Energy Flow" light installation display on the Rachel Carson (9th Street) Bridge. Super pretty, super cool, super smart: More than 27,000 wind-powered LED lights illuminate the bridge and depict real-time wind speed and direction.
Consider this about Highmark First Night: there are some 88+ "featured events" happening between 6 pm and midnight in about a 14-block area. It's a scene, I tell you, a family friendly, event driven scene with way cool performances to check out, thanks to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust pulling it all together.
The $10 admission button all but guarantees a fun night out - whether it's indoor venues or outside performances. Think: Japanese sword dancing, Afro-American Music Institute Boys' Choir, complimentary dance lessons (no swords involved) at Arthur Murray Dance Center, Balmoral Pipes and Drums, magicians, tarot card readings (what WILL the new year bring?), ice sculpting, movie trailers at the Harris Theater, caricaturists, face painting, and 18th Century toys and games at the Fort Pitt Museum.
And that's just the proverbial tip of the First Night iceberg. One of my faves, Meeting of Important People- WYEP's 2017 Local Artist of the Year - will be performing twice at the Trust Arts Education Center. That right there is enough reason to head Downtown!
And, oh yeah, there is not one but two sets of fireworks! The Dollar Bank Children's Fireworks takes place at 6 pm and the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale gets started at 11:58 pm with the countdown to midnight when Pittsburgh foregoes tradition and raises, instead of lowering, the "Future of Pittsburgh Ball." And, of course, Zambelli Fireworks will welcome in 2017.
The fun doesn't stop after midnight. Book a hotel room now to enjoy a variety of entertainment after your First Night adventure. From the first NFL Steelers game of 2017 on New Year's Day to the Carnegie Science Center's hands-on MessFess on Jan. 2, there are loads of fun things to see and do. Don't miss the simply stunning Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. It's a must-see for sure.
So get busy and put planning your New Year's adventure in Pittsburgh on your resolution list! It'll be one that you'll want to cross off again and again and again!
Lynne Glover is a Pittsburgh native and bridge lover. She’s been known to stop in her tracks to collect a particularly nice rock (or pinecone) and finds joy in the simple act of looking up. She’ll turn 40 next September. Again. Contact her at and follow her on Twitter