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First Night Festivities in Pittsburgh

Each year at the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, approximately 40,000 people ring in the New Year at 150 events at 50 venues throughout the Cultural District.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh will kick off with children’s fireworks at 6 p.m. on the Dollar Bank Stage along with a performance by Beauty Slap. The new local sensation performs electronic music with five horns, a saxophone, a guitar and a DJ.

At the end of the evening, visitors will enjoy the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale: the countdown to midnight, raising of the 1,000-pound Future of Pittsburgh ball 150 feet in the air above Penn Avenue Place and a Zambelli fireworks finale. They also will be serenaded by the sounds of The Swon Brothers on the Highmark Stage. Arista Nashville recording duo The Swon Brothers (Zach and Colton) just released their new single, “Pray for You,” the follow-up to their Top 15 debut single, “Later On,” which shot to No. 1 on iTunes’ Country Top Songs chart within 24 hours of its release and helped earn them a nomination for Vocal Duo of the Year at the 48th annual CMA Awards. Originally from Oklahoma, the duo hit the national radar as finalists on “Team Blake” in Season 4 of NBC’s The Voice.

New attractions taking place throughout the evening include a special vouchered performance by Cello Fury and Texture Contemporary Ballet, which will unite classic, contemporary and rock styles with music and dance. Lee Terbosic Magic and the one-man variety show, Chris Ruggierro join the Highmark First Night lineup for the first year. Gemini Theater Company will present a children’s production that utilizes local landmarks and lingo in a story that challenges audiences to help “find a secret treasure on the Great Mon.”

Other vouchered performances will include Arcade Comedy Theater, featuring its in-house improvisation team, the First Night Comedy Club at the O’Reilly Theater, which will feature alternating performances by Player One and Aaron Kleiber and T-Robe.

With all of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust galleries offering extended hours, visitors can take in world-renowned exhibitions, and stroll along their own personalized gallery crawl on New Year’s Eve. From the creator of The Secret Life of Robots, Toby Atticus Fraley premieres The Lost Search Sound Machine in Pittsburgh, inviting visitors to find and playback old sounds floating by in the atmosphere at Eighth and Penn Avenue.

Additional performing art highlights include holiday plays by Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company and Playwright FJ Hartland’s “Postcards from a Dead Dog,” all of which will take place at 937 Liberty Ave.

In addition to new attractions and new venues, more traditional Highmark First Night visitors can participate in Pittsburgh perennial favorites including the FedEx Ground Parade at 8 p.m., themed “Imagination: Delivered” and featuring Grand Marshal and WQED producer Rick Sebak. Giant puppets, art cars, marching bands, and a bicycle parade will return as part of the festivities.

Kids and kids at heart can enjoy the hands-on activities in the First National Bank Family Tent.

River City Brass, the 28-member band, returns to perform in the Benedum Center, continuing its commitment to educating and engaging citizens locally, nationally and internationally in the American music culture.

Enjoy a four-hour long production featuring live ice carvings, fire dancers and a fire-breathing dragon at Fire & Ice Plaza located at the Eighth Street parking lot, which will again feature Ice Creations and Steel Town Fire.

Music lovers will be pleased that the WYEP music station will return and feature the Appalachian-inspired, three-part harmony group The Early Mays and native-Pittsburgher Joy Ike with her percussive, soulful and powerful-pop.

All programming is subject to change. Updates will be posted online at TrustArts.org/FirstNight PGH.

The Highmark First Night Pittsburgh website provides even more event details and allows users to sort through the schedule of events and customize plans. TrustArts.org/FirstNight PGH is mobile-friendly and will allow smartphone users to plan on-the-go during New Year’s Eve.

All-Access Highmark First Night Pittsburgh buttons are available at participating Giant Eagle locations; online at TrustArts.org/ FirstNightPGH; by phone at 412-456-6666; or at the box office at Theater Square, located at 655 Penn Ave. Children age 5 and under are admitted free.

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