Saratoga’s New Year’s Eve is back – under a new name


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga’s wildly popular New Year’s Eve celebration – long known as the first night – will return later this year after a two-year absence caused by a combination of funding issues and (of course) COVID concerns.

Organizers of the annual event – which in recent years has drawn more than 10,000 people to the downtown district – promise BIG changes in what they call a “revive and reinvent» strategy for its immediate and future editions. It is first and foremost about adopting a new name. Presentation…

the Saratoga New Years Festival. The upcoming dates are: December 31, 2022 and January 1, 2023.

A consortium of municipal, business, commercial and tourism interests is involved in this effort; partnering with a local music festival producer to take ownership of the multi-venue/multi-act business. first night has long been organized by Saratoga Arts until its decision to refocus resources on initiatives more central to their guiding mission. They happily and helpfully helped in this transition. These new sponsoring organizations include:

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

Downtown Saratoga

The Saratoga Downtown Business Association

Saratoga Tourism and Visitors Bureau (Discover Saratoga)

The town of Saratoga Springs

Robert Millis, who through his 398Group has been involved in a dozen music festivals in New York, New England and Oregon, had agreed to act as producer and promoter of the Saratoga New Years Festival. Additionally, it will take a quarterback role in guiding the Consortium through what they call a ‘Go big / Version 2.0‘redesign here.

Asked about the name change, Millis replied that “First Night’s national organization is in a bit of disarray, so we’ve started to question the assumption of remaining a paying franchisee. As we delved deeper, we learned how the terms of this contractual relationship actually prevented us from implementing many of the major new changes we were considering.

“For example, wWe couldn’t: a) go “big names” on music programming; b) extend to New Year’s Day; and c) use large venues such as Putnam Place, The Parting Glass and others because of the no-alcohol clause, Millis continued when pressed about these inconvenient restrictions. “Suddenly the thought of ending that legacy relationship from First Night and just going for a new name became an easy decision.”

While the main Fest headlining band and four of the venues’ headliners are all under contract, those announcements won’t take place until the Labor Day date, per agreements. But Millis is ready to give up “three clues”as to the identity of the great Who? at the top of the list: Many. Grammys. Winner.

Meanwhile, the team is (already) hard at work, with attention now on adding a website, family-kids-arts programming in the early part of the day, the creation of a day of leisure activities on Sunday (sports tournaments, the 5K road race and more), on-site food and craft beer options, and (in all likelihood) the addition of a show from Friday night to the mix, given the convenient placement of this year’s weekend schedule.

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

From this first update: he’s probably right.


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