First Night gets French twist

Posted November 27, 2011

First Night, the annual New Year's celebration in downtown Raleigh, will have a distinct accent this year.

Planners have scheduled dozens of performances and activities designed to reflect French influences and perennial First Night Raleigh favorites like the African American Dance Ensemble, Transactors Improv Company, Comedy Worx and the Lenny Marcus Trio plan to adapt their work to the theme.

The centerpiece of the night will be a 90-foot ferris wheel to be installed on Fayetteville Street. Dubbed “La Grande Roue de Raleigh,” the ferris wheel is a nod to the annual tradition of Paris’s Tuileries Garden.

First Night Raleigh 2012 begins at  2 p.m. Dec. 31 with the Children’s Celebration at the North Carolina Museums of History and Natural Sciences and on the Bicentennial Plaza. Children are invited to participate in hands-on craft activities including creating impressionist paintings, making miniature sailboats and decorating their own versions of the Eiffel Tower.

Cirque performances, storytellers, musicians, giant puppets and various other artists will be featured throughout the afternoon. A mini festival of French films will take place all day inside the NC Museum of Natural Sciences auditorium.

The People’s Procession down Salisbury Street and an early countdown at 7 p.m. will kick off the evening entertainment. Performances and activities will take place in over two dozen venues throughout downtown Raleigh.

New York-based fusion-funk band The Pimps of Joytime will headline the main stage. The evening concludes with the countdown to midnight, the descent of the Raleigh Acorn and fireworks to ring in the new year.

Admission passes for access to all venues and activities go on sale Dec. 1 for $9.



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  • bitsyfae1 Nov 29, 2011

    Dwntwnboy...First Night is alcohol free, or at least the event is. It doesn't mean the people will be. I just want to know why they need a theme? Perhaps they would be better suited to pick "themes" from around our own state. My goodness we have plenty! Just think about it :-)

  • dwntwnboy Nov 28, 2011

    Boo hoo- the complainers are out if force today. They pick a theme, this year it's French. As Americans- we have a jumble of all kinds of cultures and influences. THIS year's party just happens to have a French theme. The theme is a backdrop for everything else to happen- we would get bored if it was the same tired old stuff year after year with nothing to promote a fresh way of looking at the event- a Ferris Wheel? GREAT IDEA!! It's not been done before, will be something new and different- great going on a unique theme for what otherwise can be a drunkfest for the evening. Wish I could go, but have to work downtown instead during all the festivities.

  • bitsyfae1 Nov 28, 2011

    Hello? North Carolina...a mix of ALL cultures not just Parisian. Not impressed event planners. No wonder I never go!

  • Pseudonym Nov 28, 2011

    La Grande Frommage de Raleigh. C'est suis Velveeta.

  • ncouterbanks69 Nov 28, 2011


  • Frank Downtown Nov 28, 2011

    Myrrdin: You need to go directly to the website for the complete list:

  • westernwake1 Nov 28, 2011

    Why would First Night organizers choose a theme to celebrate French influences. How about celebrating local American influences in the First Night celebration?

  • Myrrdin Nov 28, 2011

    Great family fun: Pimping music.

  • this is my Screen Name Nov 28, 2011

    No musical group name says family value entertainment like the Pimps of Joytime. Really?