Join the Fun with a Variety of First Night Activities!
Ring in 2024 with First Night State College!
As fall nights lengthen into winter, let us celebrate how we decorate the exteriors of our homes. From the electric candle in a window to the over-the-top extravaganza of the Griswold family in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, our decorations are a way we share holiday joy with friends, neighbors, and people we’ve never even met. Homes and groups of homes anywhere in Centre County are eligible to participate in our second annual holiday decorations contest. Learn more here.
Runners and fast walkers can speed into the New Year on a certified, mostly flat, wheel-measured course on the streets of downtown State College and Penn State’s campus in one of the most popular events of First Night. The 5K Resolution Run starts and finishes on College Avenue. Even if you aren’t a runner (or fast walker) and would never run (or walk fast) in a million years, you can join in the fun by cheering on the participants. Learn more here.
First Night State College is known for its large display of ice sculpture. Celebrating over twenty-five years, the First Night State College Ice Sculptors will carve over 100 blocks – that’s more than 10 tons! – of crystal clear Pennsylvania ice. The large walls and sculptures are created from blocks that are produced in a special Clinebell freezing process that makes beautifully clear ice. Large ice walls are constructed and carved on the 100 Block of South Allen Street. The First Night Giant Ice Piggy Bank and our Ice Slide – especially popular with children – can be found in Sidney Friedman Park. Learn more here.
Resolution sculptures are created by artists to help us publicly declare our hopes, dreams, and promises to ourselves for the New Year. Some are simple and perhaps abstract, like a wire strung with Christmas lights. Others are take the shape of animals, or even a person – like State College’s Burning Man. Writing a resolution on a piece of paper, or a strip of fabric, and pinning it next to resolutions made by friends and neighbors helps us know that despite our differences, we’re remarkably similar. We may not look the same, dress the same, or eat the same foods, but we can all resolve to do better in the New Year than we did in the passing one. Learn more here.
One high point of First Night State College, the Grand Procession, steps off St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 6:30 pm. The Grand Procession features an array of giant papier-mâché puppets consisting of birds, lions, wizards, and other animals – even dachshunds! – brought to life by your friends and neighbors. Local drummers are also welcome to join in on one of our African drums or by bringing their own drum. Learn more here.
First Night Workshops are a great way to expend a little creative energy—and receive some from fellow artists—as we enter the new year. You can paint a ceramic mug with a resolution, or learn about about songwriting, or even find your core belly dancing! Some workshops are appropriate for children, others for adults. Learn more here.
At Mayor Welch Plaza, two carriages drawn by Percheron draft horses take you back in time as they carry you through downtown State College. Dress warmly – it’s difficult to turn up the heat in an open carriage. Rides are offered from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on a first come, first served basis. Due to high demand, not all of those wishing to ride may be accommodated. Carriage rides are $5 a person and require a First Night Button.
Reindeer, also called caribou, spend the other 364 days a year as residents of the polar regions of North America, Siberia, and Europe. Our friends from Spruce Run Farm in Bloomsburg will be visiting us with two of their reindeer.