First Night, the once heralded event on New Year’s Eve where thousands of people came to Saratoga Springs to ring in the new year, returns this year in a revamped form.
It was absent for two years due to COVID and funding concerns.
It also has a new name—the Saratoga New Year’s Fest—and is a multi-day attraction with live music, family-friendly activities, a 5K and fireworks.
One of the headline acts will be the Cowboy Junkies, a popular alternative country and folk rock band from Canada.
Rock, blues, jazz and country artists are among the festival’s growing lineup. Other acts include The Samples and the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, who will perform on the main stage at the Saratoga Springs City Center (as will the Cowboy Junkies).
Other acts announced include the Grateful Dead-inspired Garcia-inspired Deadgrass & Friends, country music rising star Jenny Grace, Grit N Whiskey, Kevin Richards, Cait Devin, Danielia Cotton, Albert Cummings, Jeffrey Gaines and Heather Maloney.
The Saratoga City Music Hall will also host contra dancing. The weekend-long festivities will begin with a Friday night kick-off party on Dec. 30 at Putnam Place.
On Saturday, New Year’s Eve, starting at 1 p.m. free children’s activities will be offered, leading up to a fireworks display that will go off from the City Center parking facility. It will take place at 6 p.m., a family-friendly time, officials said.
The 5K race will happen on New Year’s Day, called the First Day 5K. Other Jan. 1 activities will include games like cornhole, darts, poker and bridge as well as a food festival.
On New Year’s eve, some of the venues will offer alcoholic beverages, a change from the past. Post-fireworks that night will continue with live entertainment at participating downtown sites until midnight, with reserved seating available for the main stage concerts.
“It’s a signature event for Saratoga Springs,” said Todd Shimkus, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “We know people love coming here, and now we’ve just given them another excuse—a great event with some unbelievable performances and also some family-friendly activities they can’t get anywhere else.”
Saratoga New Year’s Fest buttons, which will serve as admission tickets to all of the entertainment venues on the night of Dec. 31, are available for a $20 advance purchase price online at www.SaratogaNewYearsFest.com, along with VIP packages.
Saratoga New Year’s Fest is being produced by Saratoga Springs-based event agency The 398Group, in partnership with presenting organizations the City of Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Discover Saratoga, the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association and the Saratoga Springs City Center.
More details about the event, including future lineup additions and programming announcements, can be found online at www.SaratogaNewYearsFest.com.