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First Night to celebrate the arts



"Ring, happy bells, across the snow: the year is going, let him go,"

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam

And ring they will, with the First Night event organized by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Mo Ideas Management.

First Night is Whistler’s annual alcohol-free arts and entertainment extravaganza, with a focus on creative, participatory fun for both families and visitors at New Year’s Eve.

"The plan for First Night has always been to grow the festival each year, and this year we also include the area known as the Village Common (near the Mongolie Grill). We’re emphasizing the interactive theme this year, with a number of events," says Maureen Douglas, director of Mo Ideas Management.

The additional venue, in between Village Square and Town Plaza in Village North, together with art installations, is a part of the development of the First Night vision, intended to help ring in a little auld lang syne – the Scottish expression that means the "good old days of one’s youth."

At 6 p.m. the People’s Procession will march with loads of hoopla, noisemakers, and colour. Life-size puppets made by the community will also be on show, and audiences are invited to dress up in their own brand of ringing-in-the-New-Year attire.

Town Plaza continues to be the main site for First Night. With feng shui flair, you can also toss out the regrets by burning bits of paper in fire bins at That is So Last Year.

There are 13 different acts booked for First Night, including fire jugglers Kira Schaffer and Alex Elixir, musicians and children’s entertainment. There’s also hat making at the Village Square.

There are a variety of musical offerings this year. Gordo and Brian are local favourites; award-winning children’s musician Bing Jensen will entertain the little ones; Joani Bye and Linda Kidder of Moodswings will provide extraordinary vocal harmonies; and there will also be performances by the Noodle Brothers (Bruce Coughlan and Laurence Knight) and the Moving Chords Youth Show Choir.

Two large illuminated tents are part of Go Towards the Light, where visitors can add their hopes and wishes for the New Year to this live art canvas.

Think your laundry pile at home could be a work of art? Local artists dig on the theme with the Airing Whistler’s Laundry exhibit that features art made from bedsheets and assorted linens.

Instructor Michelle Fulford will run percussion workshops, which take place every 30 minutes, in the Village Common. Once you’ve got the bass and melody down to a beat, join in a thunderous finale to greet the New Year.

A tent in Village Square will feature Arts for the Hip, including henna tattoo art, a Mendi technique whereby ornate design patterns are hand-painted on women’s hands. Graffiti chalk art, body painting and mad hatter headwear are also part of the mix.

Included with a ticket to First Night is entrance to the Millennium Place Show that includes a performance from Mother of Pearl, jazz divas from Vancouver. Prepare for grins and goofiness with the improv troupe Rock Paper Scissors, who test your trivia knowledge at the New Year’s Game Show and give body gestures a whole new dynamic.

The Youth Centre in Millennium Place will feature local DJs spinning for the 13-18 year old crowd. Meanwhile, Mike Battie keeps the ball rolling at a juggling workshop with the Carrot Top Circus. Carrot Top Circus is Jeremiah Kennedy and Georgia Williams, 10 and 8 year old jugglers.

Keeping your sides splitting outside is comedian Deborah Williams.

Alternatively, you could head to Meadow Park for the Ice Carnival and snow and ice painting. A shuttle bus leaves every 30 minutes from Main Street outside Zeuski’s restaurant. Meadow Park is open for public skating through the midnight hour.

First Night is an alcohol-free event and people are reminded that the RCMP and municipal officials will be following a zero-tolerance policy toward drunks and rowdies.

Transportation is free on the Whistler and Valley Express bus service for New Year’s Eve, starting at 6 p.m. There will be no in-bound bus service to the village between 10 p.m. and midnight.

Tickets for First Night – and you can’t get into the village unless you have a ticket – are on sale at municipal hall, Meadow Park Sports Centre and the Myrtle Philip Community Centre. Tickets are $15 for individuals or $30 for a family.

For a complete list of events at First Night log on to www.piquenewsmagazine.com. to see the program.

For information call the Resort Municipality of Whistler at 604-932-5535, or the Meadow Park Sports Centre at 604-935-8350.

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