Arts Missoula presents First Night Missoula, the 26th annual New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts in Missoula, with over 60 performances and activities in 20 venues. Festivities begin at noon with the Children’s Hat Parade at Southgate Mall, and are capped at midnight with performances at midnight with music by The Loose String Band (Free Cycles), the Ed Norton Big Band (University Center Ballroom) and Bill LaCroix (Union Hall).
Since 1994 this festival of local art and music has been a New Year’s Eve tradition, providing unique and exciting performances alongside one-of-a-kind hands-on art for all ages. This year’s celebration sets an artful tone for 2020 with a plethora of music, theatre, dance, children’s programs, visual arts and workshops.
Special events include the First Night Spotlight high school talent competition, 8:30-10:30 p.m. at the UM Dennison Theatre; a Kung Fu Movie Marathon, noon-midnight at the Roxy; the Last Comedy Show on Earth, 7:30 p.m. at the Zootown Arts Community Center; the MAMA Showcase, hosted by the Missoula Area Music Association, 6-9 p.m. at the Downtown Dance Collective; and a Bluegrass Festival, featuring Pinegrass, The Acousticals and Lochwood, 5:30-9:30 p.m. at Free Cycles.
Participatory experiences abound, including Contra dancing a Native American round dance, jazz improvisation, a blacksmithing workshop, and the creation of peace luminarias at Caras Park. Performances by Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre, Mime Christian Ackerman, Trillium Brass, and Gamelan Manik Harum are among the offerings that reflect the depth and breadth of Missoula’s vibrant arts scene.
Hear music by some of the community’s favorites, including the Big Sky Mudflaps, Full Grown Band, Celtic Dragon Pipe Band, Salsa Loca, Drum Brothers, John Floridis Quartet, Zeppo Blues, and The Fredrico Brothers. For jazz enthusiasts, the UC Theatre hosts performances by the Absent Wilson Conspiracy, Jazz Graffiti, the Carlson/Troxel Quartet with Jim Driscoll and Rhanda Johnson and Easy Living.
In keeping with tradition, the Union Hall will host local songwriters and folk artists, including Bill Rossiter, Dan Dubuque and Aran Buzzas; and a new venue, the West Side Theater, will offer world music performances.
Admission buttons are $12 ($15 on Dec. 31) and children 10 and under are free. Buttons are available online at www.artsmissoula.org and at more than 20 locations throughout Missoula and in the Bitterroot Valley.
First Night 2020 is produced by Arts Missoula, connecting art culture and community through education, advocacy and celebration. Visit www.artsmissoula.org.