Arts Missoula celebrates its 29th year of First Night on Saturday, Dec. 31, as Missoula on Main with 30 free and ticketed events. In the past, this event was held at multiple venues across Missoula. To create a more unified experience, the majority of events will happen downtown on or near Main Street.
“Main Street is one of the most vibrant areas in Missoula with a world-renowned children’s theatre, a globally award-winning library, Missoula’s favorite arts community center, a fantastic symphony, an inclusive place of worship, a beloved philanthropic foundation, great hotels and many favorite eateries,” says Heather Adams, executive director of Arts Missoula. “It’s the best stage to present Missoula’s artists and celebrate the passage of time.”
While Missoula on Main resembles First Night in many ways, a few changes have been made to the traditional favorite that’s been a New Year’s Eve staple for almost three decades. The celebration offers 30 events from noon to midnight Dec. 31, and 20 of them are free.
From noon-5 p.m., the Missoula Public Library and its partners, spectrUM Discover Area, Missoula’s Community Media Resource (MCAT), UM Living Lab and Families First Learning Lab, will offer activities and classes for free to the public. Additionally, several local artists, including Sundog North, Turning the Wheel, All City Jazz, Chutzpah and the Drum Brothers, offer free performances and classes at the library.
Benjamin Headswift performs at noon for the opening of the First Peoples Market, sponsored by Indigenous Made Missoula and held in AC Hotel’s Merc Hallway, and again at 12:30 p.m. to dedicate the celebration with a song of honoring for the land and its indigenous roots. Other free events include Absolute Zero Ice Designs ice carving in front of the Wren Hotel, salsa and tango classes at the Union Club, and luminaria making with Jeannette Rankin Peace Center at the Old Library parking lot.
Ten events are ticketed (check the Arts Missoula website for discounts), and include showcases from 1-8 p.m. at MCT Center for the Performing Arts, The ZACC, and The First United Methodist Church. New participants, including the Missoula Symphony and Tangled Tones Rhythmos, join long-time favorites such as the Drum Brothers, The Spotlight Teen Singing Competition, MAMA, Celtic Dragon Pipe Band and Missoula Highland Dancers.
Bare Bait Dance, Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre, Ballet Arts, Show Tyme Academy, Salsa 406, Arts and Above, Tango Missoula and the UM’s School of Dance present the event’s first-ever Dance Showcase, 8 p.m. at MCT Center for the Performing Arts.
Two events wrap up festivities: the “Midnight Masquerade Under The Stars” with the Ed Norton Big Band at the Elks Lodge, and a free street party and “egg drop” sponsored by The Wren and held on Main Street between Washington and Pattee in front of the hotel.
The Roxy Theatre on South Higgins also chimes in with free Kung Fu movies all day.
“Let’s ring in the New Year downtown together!” says Adams.
For more information and a complete schedule, visit the website.