Raleigh ready for First Night

Saturday, December 31, 2016
First Night Raleigh
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Big plans for New Year's Eve.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Downtown Raleigh is getting ready to play host once again to First Night Raleigh, a labor of love by Raleigh's Artsplosure.

The rides are getting built, the barricades are going up, and the art installations are being placed along Fayetteville Street.

All of this as Raleigh prepares to host a party for an estimated 50-75,000 people. They've been planning First Night since June to bring a variety of fun to downtown Raleigh to ring in the New Year.

"That's what's so great about our event, is that there's really something for everyone," said Cameron Laws, the Marketing Director with Artsplosure. "If you want rock and roll music, we've got it, if you just want traditional classical music we've got that too, you can get a taste of everything."

"It's a New Year's tradition," Raleigh resident Travis Bradshaw said. "I do it every year. I'm looking forward to it."

Artsplosure's First Night Raleigh features fireworks, rides, food, art, live music, and - the highlight - when the Raleigh Acorn is lowered to ring in the New Year.


"For a lot of people, they look forward to getting their photos made or touching and rubbing that acorn for good luck every year," First Night Raleigh Producer Terri Dollar said. "I usually plant a kiss on the acorn for good luck."

"When the acorn drops you have to make a wish," Bradshaw said of the acorn tradition in the City of Oaks. "It's our signature landmark. I like looking at the acorn come down at 12 o'clock and to see all the people out enjoying themselves. It's a beautiful thing."

Dollar explained they've added a DIY festival this year to keep with the popular do-it-yourself trend. And there's symbolism behind it too.

"Folks can learn to weave, they can learn to play the ukulele," Dollar said. "They can learn to throw a pot. They can learn to do something new for the New Year. We've also added things like yoga classes, we've added things like mindfulness training, just to try to help people move into the New Year."

And with so many people converging onto downtown, Dollar said security will be tight with dozens of private security guards in addition to Raleigh Police officers.

"We've taken every precaution and the Raleigh Police Department is out in full force," she said. "They are on it. They have a safety plan in place. We have own security staff in place and our own volunteers in place. So folks should feel really safe in downtown."

Katie Fisher said she feels secure with the security measures in place and plans on attending.

"I know that normally when they have different events down here there's a lot of security out here," Fisher said.

You need to purchase a wrist band to attend First Night Raleigh. The cost is $10.

Also new this year is a free app you can download to plan your night before you even arrive.

For more information: http://www.firstnightraleigh.com/

"You can pre-plan your night. You can check out all the different performances and activities and you can actually organize them alphabetically, by category or by time so you can really get the most out of first night Raleigh because there is so much to see," said Laws.

And if you don't want to drive you can park and ride with GoRaleigh buses. The service starts at 5 p.m. and it will run from NC State park-and-ride lot at Oval Drive and Initiative Way and from North Raleigh's Triangle Town Mall. That location is new this year. Buses run every 30 minutes or less and will drop people off at Morgan and Wilminton streets downtown. The service runs until 1 a.m.