First Night Raleigh, presented by Artsplosure, features 20 blocks of entertainment and fun leading up to the big acorn drop at midnight.
A pass costs just $11 in advance ($15 on the day of the festival.) You don’t need a pass to be on Fayetteville Street for the outside activities, but the pass gains you access to everything all day, at every venue. It’s well worth the small cost.
You can buy a pass online, or at any of these locations:
- North Carolina Museum of History
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
- North Carolina Museum o fArt
- Quail Ridge Books & Music
- Marbles Kids Museum
- Harris Teeter
- CVS Pharmacies
The main components of the festival are the Daytime Festival, the People’s Procession, the Early Countdown, and the evening activities and performances, leading up to the WRAL Countdown to Midnight. There are some activities that are going on just in the afternoon, some that are just in the evening and some that are going on all day and night.
Here’s some of what’s going on, but make sure to explore the First Night Raleigh website to see everything.
See all of the performances here, including schedule and venue. But here are a few that you have to look forward to:
- African American Dance Ensemble
- Bebop Blues and Jazz and Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble
- Bradley Burgess Organ, and Classical Vocalists Susan Comer Fisher and Erica Jackson
- Comedy Worx
- Dave Gunning
- Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
- Dynamo Dogs
- Violinist Tyler Butler Figueroa
- The Harris Brothers
- The Glorifying Vines Sister
- The Collection
- Stacy Clearman’s Little Land Band
- Rod Abernethy
- New Reveille and Friends
- Rachel Clearman
Activities and Attractions
Just to give you an idea of the scope of activities, here are a few. Some will have a cost.
- Down Draft Carnival Ride on Fayetteville Street between Hargett Street and Martin Street (2 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
- Fantastical First Night Ferris Wheel at Fayetteville Street at Hargett Street (2 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
- Jolly First Night Raleigh Singing Trolley 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Load in on Jones Street; 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.:
Morgan Street at Fayetteville Street
- First Night Art Pianos
- WRAL First Night Globe at Fayetteville Street and Morgan Street (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
- First Night Raleigh Time Capsule at COR Museum (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
- First Night Sleigh Rides at Morgan Street at Fayetteville Street (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
- Neon Roller Skating Pop Up Rink at City Plaza (2 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
- Next Year I Will Wall at Bicentennial Plaza (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
- Pop Up Wedding Chapel (just for fun!) at PNC Plaza (7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
Get a head start on celebrating with the Daytimes Activities, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the N.C. Museum of History, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and outdoors on the Bicentennial Plaza. There is tons for kids to do.
Many of the children’s celebration activities focus on “New Year’s Eve Around the World.”
Some of what will be going on:
- Bingo in Germany
- Music Together in Ireland
- Origami in Japan
- Acorn Drop Wands in Raleigh
- Crowns in England
- Toddler Play Area
- Resolution Ornaments in Italy
- Ghana Fabric Printmaking
- Sparklers in Hungary
- Henna in India
- Prosperity candles in Mexico
- African storytelling
- Noisemakers in Scotland
- Scottish Dancers
- Lanterns in Switzerland
- Australian storytelling
- Leis in the Polynesian Islands
People’s Procession and Early Countdown
The People’s Procession begins at Bicentennial Plaza at 6 p.m., led by Paperhand Puppet Intervention, Helping Hand Mission Band and NCSU Pipe & Drum. The procession makes its way down Salisbury Street and ends at the intersection of Davie and Fayetteville Street.
The Early Countdown is hosted by Nickelodeon’s ‘School of Rock’ star Will Kindrachuk and ‘Halt & Catch Fire’ star Sussana Skaggs, and Sammy the Squirrel. Check out performances by Cane Mill Road and the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble. It’ll take place at City Plaza.
The early countdown will take place at 7 p.m. The acorn will drop and fireworks will be set off.
Countdown to Midnight
The WRAL Countdown to Midnight will culminate with the lowering of the giant acorn and fireworks.