Music, dancing and a giant Lite Brite will highlight this year’s downtown celebration, which is in its 20th year.
The party kicks off at 2 p.m. Friday with a children’s celebration.
The annual People’s Procession, which features colorful puppets and costumes, will head down Fayetteville Street at 6 p.m.
The evening will feature bands, including Donna the Buffalo, improv performers Comedy Worx and Chuck Davis & The African American Dance Ensemble.
The First Night Light Circus will perform on the 100 block of Fayetteville Street from 8 to 11 p.m., with a special fire circus show at 9:45 p.m.
Nearby, visitors can create their own designs on a giant Lite Brite, modeled after the late 1960s toy.
"This will be the first time we've ever done anything like this. It really got out of hand," program director Terri Dollar said of the 1,000 recycled water bottles that have been colored with special paint for the interactive element.
Volunteer Connor Lillis wasn't even born when the first, Raleigh First night was celebrated two decades ago, but he said he is making up for that that by paying some good feeling forward.
“There’s some satisfaction in seeing the smiles on people's faces when they come downtown and the kids get to do all the arts and crafts,” Lillis said.
A 1,200-pound steel-and-copper acorn will drop twice on Friday in the City Plaza – once at 7 p.m. for the children’s early countdown and at midnight.