Pittsburgh Raises the Ball and the Bar for New Year's Eve Celebration

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's grand New Year's Eve celebration, Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2014, is poised to be among the most fantastic New Year's celebration east of the Mississippi. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the family-friendly evening, Highmark First Night Pittsburgh features over 150 events, including visual and performing art, children's activities and music for all tastes. Produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, performances fill nearly 50 galleries and theaters and spill into the streets of the Cultural District, the nationally-renowned 14-square block area within Downtown. There are plenty of places to keep warm, too, as 90 percent of the activities take place indoors or in heated tents.

Some of this year's highlights are: Daptone Records national recording artist Charles Bradley, an American funk, soul and R&B singer, who has received rave reviews at his sell-out concerts throughout Europe and at some of the biggest festivals in the United States. A giant ice labyrinth will be designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary. The 90,000 pound sculpture is expected to be a 5-feet-high, 40-foot-by-30-foot walk-through maze with special LED lighting. Also, as a tribute to Pittsburgh’s steel heritage, two powerful films: Rhapsody in Steel (1959) and Steel Making: A Symphony Industry (1936) were remastered by Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area and are scheduled for screening between 6pm–11pm.

The most anticipated event of the evening, however, is the raising of a giant, glowing ball at midnight. Yes, Pittsburgh is raising the ball. The thousand-pound ball is called "The Future of Pittsburgh." When the midnight countdown occurs, it will be lifted and may be more impressive to explain its 150 feet above street level, highlighted by an impressive fireworks display. The raising of the ball is meant to signify the revitalization and continuous reimagining of the city of Pittsburgh.

"Highmark First Night Pittsburgh is not only a holiday favorite among locals, it also attracts visitors to our area because you can experience the best of Pittsburgh all in one night," says Craig Davis, president and CEO at VisitPITTSBURGH. "The city has been fortunate to host such a great event, for all ages, over the past 20 years. It's another time of the year when Pittsburgh shines."

"The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is proud to produce the 20th anniversary of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, an artistic and cultural celebration that contributes to the vitality of the city of Pittsburgh and the region," says J. Kevin McMahon, president + CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. "It is an honor to be one of the 200 innovative New Year's celebrations held worldwide. Thousands of people will visit the Cultural District on that evening, the Trust engages hundreds of volunteers, and Pittsburgh has a unique ball that rises to meet the occasion, not unlike the city of Pittsburgh."

New Year's Eve activities begin at 6 pm Tuesday, December 31, with an early fireworks display beginning at 6:15 pm. Visitors ages 6 and older need an $8 button to enter Highmark First Night Pittsburgh performances and seating is limited in some locations. While the event is alcohol-free, all Pittsburgh Downtown bars and restaurants are open for business. Check out www.TrustArts.org/FirstNightPG... for additional event details and to purchase the all-access buttons.

As the official tourism and promotion agency for Allegheny County, VisitPITTSBURGH is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh's most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country's largest land masses "curated" by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh's quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.