When: Thu., Dec. 31, 4 p.m.-12 a.m. 2015
The First Night tradition was born in Boston in 1976 as a substance-free New Year’s Eve celebration focused on the arts. Both Burlington and St. Johnsbury carry the torch, swinging into the Year of the Monkey with amusements ranging from music, dance and movies to comedy, magic and circus arts — with some dazzling pyrotechnics for good measure.
St. Johnsbury residents can take their pick from what event president Jay Sprout estimates to be 56 unique shows by more than 200 artists in 20 venues, but music is the main attraction. Folk, rock, bluegrass, Broadway, country and classical players add to the lineup welcoming event first-timers such as the Atlantic Effect and Nisht Geferlach Klezmer Band alongside returning players Bob Amos & Catamount Crossing. For the more visually inclined, Phoenix Bazaar put on an incendiary outdoor fire show while the Catamount Arts Center shows Ma and Pa Kettle films and Three Stooges shorts. Out late? A pancake supper fuels nighttime revelers.
The Queen City keeps pace, transforming into a living, breathing showcase of local talent. Kid-friendly festivities include performing-arts classes, music, crafts, high-flying antics courtesy of Circus Smircus and a cartoon fest at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas. Grown-ups can get down to live tunes all afternoon and evening at venues across Burlington. With such an extensive roster, you may wish you could be in two places at once, but we think rising stars Madaila and Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band are must-sees at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Marking the first moments of the New Year with a bang is a midnight fireworks display on Church Street. Let’s do this, 2016!
Price: $10-20; free for kids 5 and under.