First Night Tacoma-Pierce County is a family-friendly, arts-centered, alcohol free celebration of New Year's Eve that takes place throughout the downtown Tacoma theater district. A First Night button costing approximately $10 is all it takes to gain admission to the Washington State History Museum, The Tacoma Art Museum, the Museum of Glass and the Children's Museum of Tacoma during the daylight hours. Children under the age of 10 are admitted free of charge. The main event kicks off with the Last Mile fun run at 6pm and is followed by a participatory parade that includes marching bands, costumes, masks and giant puppets. As the parade ends music, dance, laughter fire and magic light up 20 different stages and spaces until midnight. The outdoor events are free to all festival goers.
In its 18-year history, First Night has developed a reputation as a safe, exciting, family-friendly alternative to traditional New Year's celebrations. Tacoma's was the first First Night to take place west of the Mississippi. In 2000, First Night Tacoma won the prestigious Prism Award from First Night International for the Best Programming among all of the 300-some cities in the First Night world. In a normal year between 10,000 and 20,000 will attend this celebration. This is truly a community-building celebration, utilizing many community cultural groups, allowing Tacoma-Pierce County actors and performers to "strut their stuff" for their neighbors and friends. The event draws from King and Thurston Counties as well.
The theme for this coming year is built around the Year of the Dragon. We'll feature activities that will play with various aspects of the theme, utilizing artists from the community. Everyone can write their wishes on a special slip of paper which will burn at midnight, sending all those wishes and resolutions to the stars. And of course, everyone gathers at the outdoor main stage at midnight to join in music, dance, fire and wonder as we wish well the New Year.