…”The Autism Clinic at Hope also will have a quiet zone set up in the Hoogland’s social room, and refreshments and a chance to meet some superheroes will be available in the lobby.”
First Night Springfield will celebrate its 36th year — and the Hoogland Center for the Arts’ 20th anniversary — with a Sunday afternoon and evening of family-friendly arts and entertainment bidding farewell to 2023 and welcoming 2024.
“For the past 20 years, (the Hoogland has) been a venue for us, along with several others,” said Sheila Walk, executive director of Springfield Area Arts Council, which has produced First Night from the beginning. “This is their 20th anniversary and we thought it would be fitting to celebrate with them. The center opened with First Night on Dec. 31, 2003.”
The two have a full lineup of activities and performances planned Sunday, starting with free events from 1 to 2:45 p.m. in 10 spaces at the Hoogland. Garvey Tubman Cultural Arts & Research Center will oversee children’s crafts sessions from 1 to 1:45 p.m. and from 2 to 2:45 p.m., while the Sangamon Watercolor Society will have an exhibit and demonstrations, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will have crafts sessions, the Lincoln Ring of Magicians will offer magic shows starting at 1 and 2 p.m. and Springfield Dance Company will perform shows starting at 1 and 2 p.m.
Sangamon Valley Chord Company will perform at 1 p.m. in the Board Room, followed by Zwie Dumm Clowns at 2 p.m.
The Autism Clinic at Hope also will have a quiet zone set up in the Hoogland’s social room, and refreshments and a chance to meet some superheroes will be available in the lobby.
Tickets for the evening’s lineup, which runs from 6 to 9:45 p.m. at the Hoogland, are $20 for adults and $5 for youths.
“It’s going to be a very full afternoon and evening,” Walk said. “The Muni and the theater center will have the main stage all evening long. We’re happy about that.
”Springfield Municipal Opera and Springfield Theatre Centre will alternate performances at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. in the Hoogland’s LRS Theater.
Other performers during the evening include organist Mark Gifford and the Capital Big Band in Ryder Theater; Springfield International Folk Dancers, Central Illinois Irish Dancers and Springfield Poets and Writers in Theater 2; and David Cain and storyteller-musician Mike Anderson in the Board Room,
Crafts and coloring, face painting, a selfie station, refreshments and a watercolor art exhibit also will be available.
Those looking to fill time between the afternoon’s free offerings and the evening’s events can take advantage of free ice skating in Union Square Park. The skating is available through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Walk said.
Evening activities will end at 9:45 p.m. to give people a chance to get from the Hoogland at 420 S. Sixth St. to the area around Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue, where the city will have fireworks starting at 10 p.m.
“The best viewing is at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue,” Walk said. “That’s where people tend to congregate. Some go to the parking garage at the Hoogland, too”
The fireworks at 10 p.m. wrap up First Night activities, giving people a chance to get home — or to another gathering — before the clock strikes midnight, Walk said.
The fact that First Night 2024 will end before midnight signals an end to 2023 is deliberate.“In ancient calendars, the first day of the year began at dusk,” Walk said. “So it’s the first night” of the new year, even though the first day is yet to come.
First Night Springfield will run from 1 to 2:45 p.m. and from 6 to 9:45 p.m. Sunday at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield. Admission for the afternoon events is free. Admission for the evening events is $20 for adults and $5 for youths.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will offer free ice skating at Union Square Park from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday in connection with First Night, and the city’s free fireworks show will be at 10 p.m. Sunday at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue. Parking in the garage next to the Hoogland will be free.