First Night 2014: Best of Pittsburgh Comes Together in Cultural District to Celebrate the New Year

Dec 30, 2013

Organizers expect huge crowds as Pittsburgh First Night 2014 celebrates the New Year with a lineup of music, art, theater, comedy and fireworks.

The biggest New Year's celebration in Pittsburgh had around 36,000 individuals attend last year. As a part of the festival, there will be more than 150 family-friendly performances, art installations, and events at different indoor and outdoor venues throughout the Cultural District.

The evening kicks off with a performance by country artist NoMAD and the Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks at 6 p.m. The event is a favorite of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust President and CEO Kevin McMahon.

“Of course everybody loves fireworks and especially in Pittsburgh we all love fireworks don’t we?" he said. "But we try to recognize that Pittsburgh Highmark First Night is a very family-friendly place and we want to make sure that families, particularly children, feel that they have an opportunity to participate in everything.”

The festival is alcohol free and is meant to promote community, culture and art.

At 8 p.m. a parade of puppetry, art cars, and more march through the Cultural District with special guest Mr. McFeely of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.

“It is a unique parade,” says McMahon, “it’s not like any of the other parades that you see around town and around the country it’s very participatory and in fact towards the end of the parade we invite everybody to participate in the parade so we have lots of additional parade marchers, so to speak, at the end of the parade every night.”

Live music will be featured throughout the evening, and festival headliner Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires take the stage at 10:45 p.m.

“(Bradley) performs all over the country and in Europe, he’s an amazing R&B soul singer and he will put on an amazing show,” said First Night Director Darcy Kucenic

There will also be 14 visual arts exhibitions and events featuring a variety of media including photography, animation, painting, short films, and even robotics. One of the exhibitions will be showing an animated Disney film commissioned by U.S. Steel in 1959. "Rhapsody in Steel" is a unique industrial cartoon that follows the history of steel throughout the ages featuring music by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 

No New Years celebration would be complete without a countdown to midnight, though First Night has chosen to put a twist on the usual highlight and raise their ball instead of dropping it. “The Future of Pittsburgh” Ball is raised to represent that the city itself is on the rise.

The full schedule of First Night events can be found here.