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It’s about time to say goodbye to 2019 and welcome 2020, and First Night State College will once again help the community celebrate with family-friendly, alcohol-free events around downtown throughout the day and night on Tuesday.

A New Year’s Eve tradition in State College since 1994, First Night, a production of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, kicks off at 10 a.m. and features music, theater and comedy performances, ice sculptures, workshops, ice skating and much more.

This year’s event includes dozens of traditional favorites and new additions for the celebration which “promotes the performing and visual arts as catalysts for unifying citizens on New Year’s Eve through imagination, creativity, and community participation.”

Here’s a look at what’s in store for First Night State College.


First Night buttons help cover some of the costs of the festival and are required for entry to workshops, indoor performances and Pegula Ice Arena throughout the day and night. Buttons are $10 and children 12 and under do not require one if accompanied by an adult with a button. They can be purchased at locations around State College (see the list here) or at performance and information sites on Tuesday.


Ice sculptors will carve more than 100 blocks of ice, creating large walls and sculptures. Visitors can check out the impressive array of sculptures starting at 10 a.m., and they’ll be on display until 6 p.m. Wednesday (unless Mother Nature disposes of them first).

The always popular ice piggy bank and Russian ice slide will be located in Sidney Friedman Park and many more will be on display on the 100 block of South Allen Street, in front of the State College Municipal Building and in front of downtown churches and businesses.

Check out the full list of ice sculpture locations.


 Start the new year off on the right foot with Centred Outdoors’ First Night Hike. The guided walk begins at 2 p.m. at the Centred Outdoors ice sculpture in Sidney Friedman Park, touring the ice sculptures that line the streets of downtown State College and offering a chance to watch ice carvers in action on Allen Street.


First Night State College’s most popular event, ice skating sessions will be held on the hour between 5 and 10 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena. Music will be provided by Larry Moore Productions. A First Night button is required for entry but skates can be rented for free.


The First Night Grand Procession steps off at 6:30 p.m. from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 208 W. Foster Ave. It’s a community event that anyone is welcome to join. Local drummers are invited to bring their own drums or use one of the African drums provided by First Night. People of all ages can be part of the procession, carrying one of the various giant papier-mâché puppets.

Anyone who wishes to participate should meet at the St. Andrew’s Education Building no later than 6 p.m. 

The 5K Resolution Run starts at 6:30 p.m. at the corner of College Avenue and South Allen Street. Runners and fast walkers, as well as spectators, are encouraged to wear costumes, and the runner or group of runners with the best costume will receive a plaque. The top three male and female runners also receive a plaque and other top runners in various age groups receive a certificate.

The certified course is mostly flat and loops through the Penn State campus before concluding near the Wesley Center, 256 E. College Ave. Chip timing is provided by Runners High. See the First Night website for information on registration and costs.


Two carriages drawn by Percheron draft horses will be available for rides from 7 to 10 p.m. through downtown State College starting from Mayor Welch Plaza at the State College Municipal Building. Rides — which require a First Night button and $5 fee — are in high demand, and not all can be accommodated. 


A wide array of performers will take to indoor and outdoor stages around State College starting at 11 a.m.

Musical acts at First Night come from a variety of genres including jazz, blues, soul, folk, children’s music, choral,, doo-wop, swing, bluegrass, traditional Irish and Scottish, chamber and honky tonk, with a wide range of popular local and regional performers. (See the schedule here.)

State High Thespians will feature princes, princesses and special guests with a musical theater performance at 1 and 3 p.m. in the Municipal Building. Middle-earth Studios presents an interactive storytelling experience in this year’s show, “The Legend of the Unicorn” at 2 and 4 p.m. in State College Presbyterian Church, 132 W. Beaver Ave.. And Fuse Productions presents “The World Goes ‘Round,” a Broadway revue featuring works by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriters behind musicals such as “Chicago” and “Cabaret,” at 4 and 10 p.m. in State College Presbyterian Church.

Variety act Geoff Marsh — a juggler, magician, clown, mime, circus arts instructor and fire manipulator — brings a fun performance to The State Theatre at 3:30, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Comedy hypnotist Peter Gross performs at the Municipal Building at 5, 6:45 and 9:30 p.m. And magician Earl Houser Jr. offers a free show at 1:30 p.m. in Woskob Family Gallery.

Shannon Bishop’s Black Cat Belly Dance performs at 3:30 p.m. at University Baptist & Brethren, 411 S. Burrowes St., and Hot Styles Dance Company members show off their skills at 2 p.m. in Hyatt Place, 219 W. Beaver Ave.

Happy Valley Improv returns for a second year at First Night, performing shows at 4:30, 7 and 10 p.m. in the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center.


First Night includes a number of workshops for kids and adults to get creative. From 11 a.m to 9 p.m. make a resolution mug at 2000 Degrees ($7 plus a First Night button; last seating at 8 p.m.). A children’s arts and crafts workshop for parents and kids to work together making bead and button bling will be held at 2 p.m. at the State College Presbyterian Church social hall. 

Allegheny Ukulele Kollective’s noon workshop at State College Presbyterian Church’s Westminster Hall offers a chance to learn and jam (bring your own if you have one; a limited number also available on-site for use.) Black Cat Belly Dance will hold a workshop offering an introduction to improvisational style belly dance at 1 p.m. in the State Theatre Attic.

Happy Valley Improv’s workshop at 3 p.m. in the State Theatre Attic will use games and activities to introduce participants to theatrical improvisation. Attendance is limited to 25. Brian Transcend presents at hip-hop dance workshop at 4 p.m. in the Hyatt Place ballroom.


Several resolution-themed exhibits will populate the downtown. Among them is Burning Man, which collects wishes, regrets and unkept resolutions at the State College Municipal Building Lobby from noon to 10:45 p.m. and is then ignited in Sidney Friedman Park at 11p.m. Other resolution exhibits include the Resolution Tree across from the the Municipal Building; First Bells, a sound sculpture installation in Sidney Friedman Park; fire sculptures from 5-10 p.m. in Sidney Friedman Park; the Bucket List at Schlow Centre Region Library; Edison’s Clothesline along South Allen Street; First Night Phoenix in the Municipal Building lobby; and the Resolution Yeti outside the municipal building. 


Starting at 6 p.m., look for First Night’s roving revelers who will be handing out light-up accessories to help celebrate New Year’s Eve in style.

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