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First Night North: Generations of Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Fun

By Adam LouisDec. 8, 2023

Catamount Arts and First Night North 2024 invite revelers near and far to come to St. Johnsbury for the 31st year of Vermont’s favorite and longest-running New Year’s Eve performance festival.  Featuring about 175 performers in nearly 70 shows in venues throughout St. Johnsbury, First Night North guarantees a full nine hours of fun for the whole family. The eagerly anticipated festivities, presented by Catamount Arts in partnership with the First Night North committee and countless community supporters, will take place Sunday, December 31st, from 3pm to midnight.

The fun begins an hour earlier than usual with early bird entertainment for all ages, especially those whose bedtime falls well before midnight. Celebrants with enough stamina for the full nine hours of live entertainment will have 70 shows to choose from, including storytellers, dance, magic, circus, comedy, juggling, and music, culminating in a community countdown, the raising of the First Night North Ball of Lights, and a midnight dance party to welcome the New Year. 

Musical acts include a wide range of soloists, duets, choirs, and bands offering nearly every imaginable genre: bluegrass, folk, jazz, Celtic, blues, R&B, contemporary and classic rock, polyphonic, country, Latin, and swing, not to mention riveting performances on harp, organ, didgeridoo, and more.

Tried and true favorites will include Fairbanks Planetarium shows, Bob and Sarah Amos, Tritium Well, Marko the Magician and Hypnotist, and the Family Fun Fair. Two dozen new attractions are slated this year, including karaoke, hosted by Open Stage, and performances by Cirque Us, Halcyon Chorale, and Alyx the Magician. 

There will be plenty to eat throughout the festival, both indoors and out, as food trucks, community centers, and venues up and down Main Street prepare a variety of tasty vittles ranging from full dinners to desserts and snacks as well as First Night’s traditional and beloved pancake supper.

Patrons are encouraged as always to sample a variety of entertainment, and shuttle service will include RCT electric buses running continuous 15-minute loops among performance venues. Buses can be flagged down anywhere along the route. 

Since 1993, First Night North (formerly First Night St. Johnsbury) has been a family-friendly, substance-free festival aiming to redefine New Year’s Eve as a community-wide holiday, gathering friends, families, neighbors, visitors, long-time First Night revelers and first-timers alike to celebrate the New Year in a season typically characterized by short days, cold temps, and long, dark nights. First Night North unites community through shared cultural celebration, deepens appreciation and access to visual and performing arts, and encourages people of all ages to come out, despite the dark and cold, and share a magical evening of joy and spectacle with loved ones and new friends. 

For many, both in and outside the Northeast Kingdom, First Night North is a cherished family tradition, drawing generations together year after year. Indeed, for many local families, an entire generation has been raised coming to First Night, and are now bringing their own children to the event. First Night North families know the special magic that comes with spending the first moments of every New Year among community.

Catamount Arts First Night Ball Drop Countdown

First Night North is very much a community function, relying not only on regional performers, businesses, organizations, and vendors, but on a large and dedicated team of volunteers. Volunteers get free First Night admission in exchange for one two-hour shift. 

For more information about First Night North 2024, including the complete schedule of performers and how to purchase admission or become a volunteer, visit www.firstnightnorth.org, call 802-748-2600, or visit Catamount Arts at their pop-up box office in the Caplan’s Building on Railroad Street. Buy admission buttons before Christmas to take advantage of early bird pricing.

Please be reminded that Catamount Arts’ Eastern Avenue building will remain closed through First Night, but buttons will be on sale that day at the info booth on Main and Eastern, St. Johnsbury School, and Catamount’s pop-up box office in the Caplan’s Building on Railroad Street.

By Adam LouisDec. 8, 2023
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