What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Thousands gather to ring in 2016 with acorn drop

Posted December 31, 2015
Updated March 31, 2016

— Thousands of revelers crowded the streets of downtown Raleigh Thursday to help ring in 2016 during the annual First Night celebration.

This year's First Night theme was "Celebrating North Carolina Firsts" and included several new attractions leading up to the WRAL Countdown to Midnight.

Festivities kicked off at 2 p.m. with the Children’s Celebration at the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and outdoors on the Bicentennial Plaza.

The wet weather didn't ruin the holiday plans for many families as organizers moved all activities, including the popular Henna tattoo and arts and crafts booths, indoors.

"We actually made this a family tradition where I take the day off work and we spend the day together, " said Amanda Troutman, who has been attending the First Night celebration for three years. "I'm hoping that at some point the rain will stop."

The interactive art exhibit Art Putt also started at 2 p.m. This new attraction is a miniature golf course featuring nine "North Carolina Firsts" themed holes designed by local artists.

The First Night Ferris wheel was back this year and was joined by a new ride, "The Sizzler." . ​

Main stage performances started at 5 p.m. and the People's Procession parade kicked off the nighttime portion of the New Year's Eve celebration at 6 p.m.

Headliners Scythian hosted a special performance at the early countdown at 7 p.m. They returned to the stage later to help ring in 2016.

Ira David Wood III was back as the countdown master of ceremonies and by time the acorn dropped, the weather had cleared up to make way for the celebration.

In addition to Scythian, First Night Raleigh hosted many performances throughout downtown. Artists included Carolina Harmony Chorus, Jonathan Byrd, Josh Dumbleton, Raleigh’s own See Gulls, T0W3RS, African American Dance Ensemble, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, North Carolina Opera singers, John Dee Holeman, Comedy Worx, Transactors Improv Company and Flor y Canto.

While the acorn was dropped in Raleigh, other North Carolina towns celebrated with unique traditions, including the Mt. Olive pickle drop.

Performances and guests

Acorn drop rings in 2016

N.C. State grad teaches through song

Local singer, actress keeps things close to home

First night entertainment kicks off as rain lets up

People's Procession kicks off nighttime First Night celebrations

Early acorn drop lets kids celebrate New Year's Eve

Singer turns bad experience into a good thing

Duo finds success through social media performances

Jeanne Jolly performs song off sophomore album

Rain moves out, revelers move in for First Night celebration


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  • bigwilliejohnson4phun Jan 1, 2016

    Entertainement for metrosexual men and soccer mommies.

  • Mike Blackwell Jan 1, 2016
    user avatar

    I enjoyed myself and thought it was fun HOWEVER I felt ripped off because I was under the impression that there would be things going on that I could use the all day pass with. I paid 10 bucks for nothing.

  • John Snow Jan 1, 2016
    user avatar

    We were all watching the dick Clark show to see the ball drop and in the last 10 seconds the local abc station cuts to a double screen dominated by the acorn. Everyone in the room complained in unison. We tuned in to see the ball drop in Times Square, not to see an acorn statue on a crane in Raleigh! I wish they would stop that.

  • LetsBeFair Dec 31, 2015

    with cops watching every move you make and sniffing anything you are drinking. No fun.

  • BigWillie Johnson Dec 31, 2015
    user avatar

    So "family friendly, (metrosexual men and soccer mommies)," it is BORING!!!!!!