The traditional noon kick-off at the Academy of Music boasts twice as many thrills with two performances of SHOW Circus Studio’s eye-popping Holiday Party. There’s also plenty of action at “The Great Race of the Tortoise & the Hare,” presented by Paintbox Theatre at 1 and 2 pm at Theatre 14 plus a repeat of last year’s double feature starring the A2Z Yo-Yo Team and Mad Science of Western New England in the 2-4 pm slot at John M. Greene Hall.
The afternoon program is filled with options for all ages: jugglers, magicians, dancers, puppets, a cappella voices plus classical and contemporary music from solo to quintet, acoustic to electric, not to mention a knock-out guitar orchestra. Drum with Ellen Clegg at the Friends Meeting house. Jam with Sam at Forbes Library. Treat yourself to a Valley Light Opera performance of “Hansel and Gretel,” a delightful kid-sized version of the Humperdinck classic.
Fireworks at 6:15 signal the start of evening entertainment. The City of Northampton hosts a fabulous display that lights up the sky from the roof of the central parking garage. After that, the festivities continue with a diverse range of offerings, including back-to-back performances by the beloved Northamptones at the Academy followed by the stunning harmonies of Lula Wiles and capped by one-man wonder The Suitcase Junket.
Dancing? Stroll down Conz Street where Trailer Park rocks the World War II Club. Or walk up Green Street to catch the high energy Senegalese beat of Boston band M’Bolo at Hallie Flanagan. Prefer to sit back and listen? First Night favorite Brooks Williams makes a solo appearance at The Parlor Room, while dynamic duo Evelyn Harris and Miro Sprague jazz up the night at First Churches. As for trios, the rhythms of Jose Gonzalez and Criollo Clasico take the audience on a magical trip to the Caribbean at Edwards Church.
As midnight approaches, it’s time to gather at the Hotel Northampton for the iconic raising of the ball. D.J. Johnny Memphis pays homage to First Night’s unique COUNT-UP by spinning up-beat tunes that will have everyone dancing in the streets.
A single bargain-priced button opens the doors to every event at every venue. Buttons are good all day and evening on December 31. They cost $16 for adults if purchased by December 30. The price goes up to $20 on the day of the event. There are special prices for seniors 65+ ($10) and kids 2-10 ($8). There’s also a $10 Adult Day Only button that’s good until 6 pm. Kids under 2 are free. Buttons may be purchased online (no fees) or at area sales vendors listed at firstnightnorthampton.org. The First Night website includes a complete schedule of events and details about each performance.
Attached images: First Night poster (Photo by Bill Dwight, Design by Alexis Neubert; Gaslight Tinkers; Motion Man)