Saratoga’s New Year’s Eve Party is Back – Under a New Name  

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga’s wildly popular New Year’s Eve celebration – long known as First  Night – will be back later this year after a two-year absence brought about by a combination of funding issues and (of course) COVID concerns.  

Organizers of the annual event – which in past years has drawn upward of 10,000 people to the  downtown district – are promising BIG changes in what they call a “revive and reinvent” strategy for  both its immediate and future editions. First and foremost is the adoption of a new name.  Introducing… 

The Saratoga New Year Fest. The upcoming dates are: Dec 31,2022 and January 1, 2023.   

A consortium of city government, business-commerce and tourism interests are involved in this effort;  having teamed-up with a locally-based music festival producer to take ownership of the multi-venue /  multi-act affair. First Night was long organized by Saratoga Arts until its decision to refocus resources on initiatives more central to their guiding mission. They have happily and helpfully assisted in this  transition. Those new sponsoring organizations include: 

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce  

The Saratoga City Center 

The Saratoga Downtown Business Association 

The Saratoga Tourism & Visitors Bureau (Discover Saratoga) 

The City of Saratoga Springs 

Robert Millis, who through his 398Group has been involved in a dozen music festivals in NYS, New  England and Oregon, had agreed to act as the Producer & Promoter of the Saratoga New Year Fest. In  addition, he will take a quarterbacking role in guiding the Consortium though what they are calling a  ‘Go Big / Version 2.0‘ redesign here. 

When asked about the name change, Millis replied that “the national First Night organization is in a  bit of disarray, so we started questioning the assumption of needing to remain a paying franchisee. As  we got deeper into it, we learned how the terms of that contractual relationship actually prevent us  from carrying out many of the major new changes we were envisioning.”  

“For example, we would be not be able to: a) go ‘big names” on the musical lineup; b) expand into  New Year’s Day; and c) use great venues such as Putnam Place, The Parting Glass and others because of the no-alcohol clause,” Millis continued when pressed on those troublesome restrictions. “Suddenly, the idea of ending that legacy First Night relationship and simply creating a new name became an easy decision.” 

While the main Fest headlining band and four of the venue headlining acts are all under contract,  those announcements will not take place until the Labor Day time frame, as per agreements. But Millis is willing to drop “three hints”as to the identity of the big Who? at the top of the lineup: Multiple.  Grammy. Winner. 

Meanwhile, the team is hard at work (already), with attention now turned to adding a web site, family –  kids – arts programming into the early day-part, creating a Sunday Fun Day of leisure activities  (sporting tourneys, the 5K road race and more), on-site dining and craft brew options, and (in all  likelihood) adding a Friday Nite show to the mix, given this year’s convenient weekend calendar  placement. 

Mr Millis concluded the interview with a Joe Namath – style promise: “I will guarantee a whole lot of  fun” under this new format. 

From this early update: he’s probably right.  

1 Comment
  1. Belinda says

    Sounds good. Esp part about the 5k moving to New Years Day.

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