There´s a rumor spreading around town that the best New Year’s Eve party in the state happens in Spokane. First Night (now in its 10th year) easily trumps anything going on in Seattle, Tacoma or even the Tri-Cities.
This New Year’s Eve event ain’t no ride on the traveling carnival carousel — although our magnificent and antique Looff Carousel just so happens to be operating all evening and also happens to be offering free rides until midnight.
Take that, Seattle. And while you and the family ride in circles on Spokane’s crown jewel and listen to the merry sounds emanating from the Ruth and Sohn band organ, all around you — despite the cold weather — the city core will be in full bloom.
“Spokane has come a long way in the 10 years since First Night began,” says John Hancock, the former executive director of the Spokane Symphony.
Just to the west of the Looff, the Rail Jam will feature some of the best snowboarders and skiers around taking their chances on this vertical frozen Slip ‘N Slide.
The Riverfront Park Ice Palace sits just north of the carousel. Kids, parents and the occasional wayward twenty-something will skate the remainder of the year away in the middle of the best end-of-the-year celebration around.
But sliding around on ice isn’t even close to all that goes on New Year’s Eve. There’s also tons of art. Conrad Bagley — a 10-year veteran and a major player in First Night — will be teaching people how to make their own magical flute at Merlyn’s Comic Book Shop. Another First Night regular, the Celtic Nots/Haran Irish Dancers, will perform at the Convention Center Ballroom.
Since First Night’s inception, many local top acts have performed as part of the New Year’s celebration.
Must-see artists this year include 6 Foot Swing (lead singer Heather Villa is an ad representative for The Inlander), who will be playing swingin’ tunes from the ‘30s and ‘40s on the first floor of the Bank of America building. Koreshakti Tribal Fusion, lead by the talented Nicole Richardson, will bring their own style of belly dancing to the Saranac Art Projects located near Division Street on Main Avenue.
Looking for events for the little ones? Visit Kids Night Out at the Spokane Convention Center.
For the last decade, according to Hancock, First Night has helped nourish the continued revitalization of downtown Spokane. The jury may still be out on which city owns the best New Year’s, but the introduction to 2011 will see Spokane at its liveliest and most spectacular.