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With over 200 artists booked to present over 60 live shows, Catamount Arts is set to bring the First Night North arts festival back to 14 venues in St. Johnsbury on New Year’s Eve.

Now in its 29th year, First Night North again features continuous live family-friendly entertainment from 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31, up to just past midnight.

First Night is mostly about music, of all kinds. Just a sampling of the wide array of vocal and instrumental offerings include the close harmonies of Bob and Sarah Amos and the Windborne quartet; jazz by the Caledonia Jazz Ensemble and the Maple Leaf Seven; classical music by the Heiland Consort and pianist Dan Kennedy; and music from different folk traditions by Rachel Clemente and Dan Houghton, Va-et-Vient, and the Newark Balkan Chorus. Among student performers are the Kingdom All Stars, a showcase of musicians from the St. Johnsbury Academy music and theatre programs, and dance troupes from Lyndon Institute and North Country Union High Schools.

Comedy is another mainstay of First Night with Her Majesty’s Secret Circus, Marko’s popular magic and hypnotism, and shows by stand-up and improv comedians. Storytellers like Willem Lange and Phoenix Bazaar’s fire artistry on the street round out the evening’s entertainment.

Then there are the fireworks, which are being moved up this year to the 8 p.m. hour, to better accommodate families with young children. Later, the giant First Night ball of lights will still rise at midnight to celebrate the official start of the New Year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s First Night was a pre-recorded broadcast.

“As much as the entertainment was appreciated by those who tuned in, most of our viewers told us they looked forward to the return of an in-person event,” according to committee chair Jay Sprout. “But since the pandemic still lingers, certain precautions are necessary in order for First Night North to offer a safe evening of revelry.”

To that end, First Night North wristbands, rather than the usual buttons, are to be affixed by First Night staff upon presentation of proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours. This requirement applies to everyone, including children of all ages. Face masks must be worn over the nose at all indoor venues.

For the complete schedule of First Night North 2022 performers and to purchase admission wristbands, visit firstnightnorth.org. Discounted prices are in effect until Dec. 24.

Limited edition First Night sponsor buttons are also on sale. These souvenirs do not take the place of the admission wristband. They are a way for citizens to show their support for the event and make free admission possible for those who could not otherwise attend.

Fully-vaccinated volunteers are needed to make the evening a success. Volunteers mostly serve as hosts and also earn free admission. Contact Martin Bryan at Catamount Arts at mbryan@catamountarts.org or call 802-748-2600, ext. 107.