Announcing: Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2018, Cultural District



Sunday, December 31, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. midnight
Cultural District | Downtown Pittsburgh 

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced this morning the complete programming lineup for the 24th annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh. For the 12th consecutive year, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will serve as the supporting sponsor for the event. Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2018 will begin at 6:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, providing exciting and family-friendly activities throughout the Cultural District to ring in the New Year.

“This year’s Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2018 festivities continue the tradition of bringing everyone together to ring in the New Year, as part of our Love, Peace, Pittsburgh theme,” shared Sarah Aziz, Festival Director of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “We are excited to present a variety of culturally diverse programming from comedy, music, dance, magic, and more that welcomes all ages to participate in our city’s New Year’s Eve celebration.  Our Future of Pittsburgh Ball will sparkle and glow brightly as the countdown to midnight begins, and as the ball rises it will again symbolize a remarkable city and its community of people always ‘on the rise.’ The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust acknowledges presenting sponsor Highmark for its long-standing commitment and support of this community event, the region’s largest one-day festival, and to all of the sponsors, performers and attendees whose participation make this evening together in our beautiful Cultural District unique and memorable, year after year.”

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh will kick off with the Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks at 6:00 p.m. on the Highmark Stage. Immediately following the fireworks display, steelpan band, Barrels to Beethoven, will launch the musical programming for the evening with an engaging, entertaining and interactive performance.

A crowd favorite, the Allegheny Health Network Parade returns! This year’s honorary Grand Marshal is artist and Pittsburgh icon Randy Gilson, creator of Randyland. The 24th annual parade will be packed with performance groups and loaded with artistic surprises, including the traditional art cars and signature giant puppets from Studio Capezzuti.

This year’s headliner, Lee Fields & The Expressions, is sure to make it a special night. Apologies to the late, great James Brown, but you’d be hard pressed to find another singer who’s ever worked as hard as Fields, a man who’s been making soul and funk anthems since 1969. Fields has toured the world with musical legends like Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. Recorded with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig. And somehow found a newer, younger audience and become more prolific as the years transpire. Fields will perform in Pittsburgh on the heels of his most recent album release, “Special Night.” Fields’ performance will culminate in the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale, taking place above the Highmark Stage. As the crowd counts down to midnight, the Future of Pittsburgh ball will rise in the air above Penn Avenue Place with a spectacular Zambelli fireworks finale.

Admission Buttons provide access to more than 100 events in 30 venues throughout the Cultural District. Some of the most in-demand events also required seat reservations, free with purchase of an admission button. Reservations are available on a first-come, first served basis and seating is general admission on New Year’s Eve. These performances include Penny Arcade and Player One in the new Arcade Comedy Theater. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and Texture Contemporary Ballet will present shows in the August Wilson Center Theater. Now in its second year, the New Year’s Eve Comedy Showcase has moved from CAPA to the Byham Theater due to high demand. At the Benedum, the Williams Sing-Off Competition winner will open for Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers. The Cabaret at Theater Square will feature Pittsburgh’s own CLO Ministars. In the Highmark Auditorium, Littsburgh will present “Creative Firsts.”  

Family friendly-activities like face painting, caricaturists Jordan Callahan and Shawnelle Dodds, and hands-on crafts with the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse will be at Fifth Avenue Place. A family tent at Penn and 7th Street will feature hands-on activities with Assemble, as well as storytelling from the Citizens Bank Children’s Theater Series and EQT Bridge Theater Series. The Fort Pitt Museum and Allegheny County Park Rangers will also be at the Family Tent with hands-on activities related to the history, environment and wildlife of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania.

In all, there will be over 100 activities in the Cultural District to help you ring in 2018! Visit for the complete schedule of events. The Highmark First Night Pittsburgh website provides event details and allows users to sort through the schedule of events and customize plans. is mobile-friendly and will allow smartphone users to plan on-the-go during New Year’s Eve.

Download complete HFNP 2018 Media Kit, images, logos:

Admission Buttons are $10 each (children 5 and under FREE) and grant access to all attractions in the Cultural District on New Year’s Eve. First Night Friend VIP experiences ($40) are also available and provide access to seating, parking, a private lounge, and more! Admission Buttons and First Night Friend VIP Packages are now available for sale at, in person at the Box Office at Theater Square (655 Penn Avenue), or by phone at 412-456-6666. Additionally, participating Giant Eagle store locations will have Admission Buttons available for sale at a $1 discount with Advantage Card®. If you purchase Admission Buttons at participating Giant Eagle locations, you will be directed to register your button at Some indoor performances also require free reserved seating, events requiring vouchers are listed at

Sponsors & Media Partners
Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2018 sponsors as of the release date include: presenting sponsor Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Allegheny Health Network, FedEx Ground, Giant Eagle, Williams, PNC, Dollar Bank, and Bobby Rahal Automotive Group. Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2018 community supporters include The Buhl Foundation, The Fine Foundation and The Grable Foundation. Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2018 media partners currently include 90.5 WESA, 91.3 WYEP, Pittsburgh City Paper, Trib Total Media, and KDKA TV.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh
Culminating with the city’s Countdown to Midnight and raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball, the six-hour celebration sprawls downtown’s renowned 14-block Cultural District — inside theaters, galleries, and unique spaces and along city streets on outdoor performance stages. Acclaimed national artists and Pittsburgh’s vibrant artist community ring in the New Year for revelers with live music, dance, theater, visual arts, comedy, magic, kids’ activities, and a signature parade along with two Zambelli Fireworks displays at 6 pm and midnight. Admission Button prices remain among the most affordable in the nation: $10 per person (kids 5 and under FREE).

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Cultural Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts. For more information, visit

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