First Night Alexandria celebrates family traditions

First Night Alexandria celebrates family traditions

December is drawing to a close and 2008 is just around the corner.  For many city residents, First Night Alexandria is the perfect way to ring in the New Year.

First Night is an alternative to typical New Years celebrations that transforms the streets of Old Town and Del Ray into a showcase for the arts. The night concludes with a midnight fireworks show at the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

The concept of First Night originated in Boston in 1976, but it was introduced to Alexandria in 1994.  Being an alcohol-free event, the celebration is ideal for families.

During First Night Alexandria, 36 community buildings become stages for 55 different acts. The majority of performers are musicians, but there is plenty of musical variety between acts.  Jazz, tango, bluegrass, zydeco, and even the Australian didjeridu are all represented at First Nights venues.

In addition to musical performances, First Night showcases storytellers, magicians, and dancers.  Childrens activities, such as face painting and puppet shows, are located at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center and Jefferson Houston Elementary School. 

First Night also reaches out to teenagers with its fifth annual Teen Talent Search. The competitions three finalists are scheduled to compete at the Durant Recreation Center for cash prizes and a chance to perform at First Night next year. Last years winner T.C. Williams sophomore Chris Green – will perform dances between acts.

King Street Mile
First Night starts earlier than usual this year with the inaugural King Street Mile run. Beginning at 5 p.m., the run goes from Alexandria City Hall to Union Station. The race, which is presented in part by Pacers, is limited to only 200 runners. Last-minute registrants can sign up at Another new addition to the First Night festivities is the drawing of the Virginias New Years Millionaire Raffle. At 11:15 p.m. four numbers will be drawn at the George Washington Memorial Stage, and each winning ticket holder will receive $1 million. Tickets can be purchased at any Virginia Lottery retailer, and all profits will go to Virginia public school education.

First Night Alexandria tickets are $15 for adults and can be purchased from now until December 31.  Children under 12 are free as long as an adult with a ticket accompanies them. To buy tickets and view a complete schedule of performances, visit the First Night website at www.firstnightalexandria