The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will ring in the new year during its 20th Highmark First Night Celebration with a giant ice labyrinth and new entertainment, as well as many of the old favorites, including Zambelli fireworks.
The family-friendly event capped by the raising of the 1,000-pound ball above Penn Avenue Place at midnight is expected to draw 40,000 to 50,000 to Downtown's Cultural District. About 150 arts-focused events will be held in 50 indoor and outdoor venues.
Darcy Kucenic, director of Highmark First Night, said among the new performances will be soul/R&B and funk singer Charles Bradley at the Highmark stage beginning at 10:45 p.m.
"He's going to sing another song or two after 12 o'clock," Ms. Kucenic said.
Among other new attractions will be a presentation by playwright F.J. Hartland and his award-winning play "Funeral in the Rain"; a visual art exhibition by students of Edinboro University; a dance party by iQ Kids Radio, a commercial-free education radio station developed by WQED Multimedia and SLB Radio Productions; and a special variety show -- "It Was the Coldest Winter Ever" -- by Miniature Curiosa. Bricolage Production Company also will present "First Look First Night: An Immersive Urban Adventure."
The FedEx Ground Parade will begin at 8 p.m. and will feature grand marshals Mr. McFeeley of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," First Night Pittsburgh founders former Mayor Tom Murphy and Jamee Todd, giant puppets, art cars, marching bands and a bicycle parade.
The 5-foot-high and 40-foot-by-30-foot ice labyrinth, created by Ice Creations of Churchill, will feature a walk-through maze of giant ice blocks with LED lighting. It will be located next to Fire & Ice Plaza at the Eighth Street parking lot.
Rich Bubin of Ice Creations said he's been working at First Night for all 20 years, but he's particularly proud of the ice Royal Labyrinth constructed by his 12-person team.
"It's 300 blocks of ice, 90,000 pounds of ice," he said. "Royal Labyrinth has a king and queen throne inside it. It's a place for posing for pictures."
"The ice labyrinth is going to be terrific," added J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Trust. "I've just never seen anything like this before. ... Everything is a lot of fun. This will attract attention."
He added that most of the First Night activities will be held inside. "People don't realize that weather doesn't matter. In bad weather, they can still enjoy it. People come here feeling wonderful about the night out," he said.
All-Access Highmark First Night Pittsburgh buttons can be purchased at participating Giant Eagle locations, online at TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH, by calling 412-456-6666, or at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave. Buttons cost $8 in advance and $10 at the event Dec. 31. Children aged 5 and under are free.
Some indoor performances will require free seating vouchers, but must be reserved by calling the Trust phone number or at the Box Office at Theater Square.
For full schedule and details, go to TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH.
Pohla Smith: email@example.com or 412-263-1228.