SARATOGA SPRINGS — “It’s a major part of our mission to make the arts accessible.” So stated Saratoga Arts’ Executive Director Joel Reed, noting that while other First Night New Year’s Eve celebrations have fallen by the wayside First Night Saratoga 2014 has grown in both size and prominence. “First Night Saratoga has become the foremost New Year’s Eve activity in Upstate New York, and one of the largest First Nights in the country. Saratoga Arts is extremely proud to present this family-friendly and high-quality event that showcases all the region has to offer, while encouraging a focus on the arts and the community.” “First Night Saratoga is also one of the most affordable exciting ways to ring in the New Year in the Capital Region.” This year’s theme is “Color Me First Night,” accompanied by the requisite companion poster and button artwork that has become a collectible to many. An exhibit, The Art of First Night, showcases 18 years of poster art at Saratoga Arts’ reception gallery (320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs) this month. As presenter, Saratoga Arts will bring over 70 regional and touring performing groups to over 20 venues throughout downtown Saratoga Springs. The entertainment lineup includes live music, dance, comedy and visual arts, attracting over 10,000 celebrants each year. First Night buttons, which entitle the wearer to admission to all venues and free bus rides during the course of First Night, are $15 and available at Saratoga Arts, the Saratoga Springs branch of the YMCA, Price Chopper Supermarkets in the extended Capital/Saratoga Region, Saratoga County Stewarts Shops, Adirondack Trust Banks, and Crafter’s Gallery at 427 Broadway. Buttons can also be purchased online at www.saratoga-arts.org and picked up the night of the event. Kicking off with the First Night Saratoga 5K Run at 5 p.m., the evening’s entertainment spreads throughout town and culminates in a fireworks display at Congress Park at Midnight. Most venues are within easy walking distance of Broadway, and all venues are accessible by free bus service supplied by CDTA. Supplying a broad-base of interesting entertainment is a delicate balancing act between old favorites and new programming, said Reed, who noted that over 40 percent of the entertainment this year is brand new to First Night Saratoga. Here are but a few of the intriguing new musical offerings: - Headlining on the Saratoga City Center main stage will be upstate New York favorite soul band Soul Session. Led by “soulist” Garland Nelson, former lead vocalist of the New York Players, Soul Session emotes supernatural passions from material by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Bill Withers and many others. Visit soulsession.com. - Also sharing the Main Stage will be an engaging theatrical experience of classic Beatles’ songs by the band Hey Jude – The Tribute. Showcasing the talents of John Lennon impersonator Tom Lennon Raider, Paul McCartney impersonator Brad “Paul” Jarvis, drummer Don “Ringo” Ackerman and Guitarist/Vocalist Rick Bedrosian as George Harrison, band members dress in a variety of Beatles costumes and bring a wealth of humor, history and hubris to their stage show for Beatles fans of all ages. Visit imagininglennon.com/hey-jude-the-tribute. - Six of the best area bands and musicians will be performing in a mini-music festival called EXIT Fest, which features performances by Pete Donnelley and The Wise Easy, Molly Durnin, Ashley Sophia and others. EXIT FEST will be in Meeting Room Two of the Saratoga City Center and is co-sponsored by WEXT 97.7. Visit exit977.org/2013/11/10/saratoga-first-night-2014. For additional information on performers, schedules and everything else visit saratoga-arts.org/firstnight.
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