Bring On The Fun

First Night Ocala promises to light up downtown this New Year’s Eve.

Written By Cynthia McFarland

Looking for a family-friendly way to welcome the new year?

Ocala Main Street’s First Night Ocala is a fun-packed alternative to traditional New Year’s Eve activities.

If you enjoy toasting with champagne and raising a celebratory glass, that’s still available, but First Night Ocala provides a slew of options that aren’t alcohol-based.

Photo by Tommy Cuevas, courtesy of First Night Ocala

Encompassing an eight-block area, the event incorporates live music and entertainment, dance groups, a magic show, artisan alley and gallery, interactive art experiences for all ages, and a host of food and beverage choices.

There’s too much happening that night to pack it all into one location. You’ll be entertained all along the OTRAK, which runs from Citizens’ Circle behind City Hall up to the train station and Magnolia Art Xchange.

Attendees can walk the whole event or take advantage of the shuttle, which runs between all activities from 6-10pm.

First Night is a national event held in big cities around the country, and this is the second year in Ocala.

“We’re very excited to have partnered with the City of Ocala and have been planning this since last January. There really aren’t any similar events in nearby towns,” says Jessica Fieldhouse, executive director of Ocala Main Street.

Celebrate with the Highway 40 Band, Ocala Civic Theatre’s Tinsel Tunes, Synergy Dance Force performers, the always-popular LED robot performers and much more. Don’t miss the 40-foot light tunnel where it feels like you’re inside a disco ball.

From 6-10pm, the focus is on family friendly, but live music continues with the countdown to midnight on the Downtown Square. 

“We encourage people to patronize the downtown businesses, get dinner and then participate in the event. There are lots of activities depending on your preferences and how you want to build your night. We were very selective in choosing entertainment. There’s something for everybody,” says Fieldhouse.

“We are blessed to have a very walkable downtown, but if you have little ones or don’t feel like walking, the city is providing shuttle buses from mid-town to downtown,” she adds.

There’s no cost for parking in public lots and on the street. 

Tickets are available in advance on the website or at the Art Park or downtown square that night. Tickets are $15. Kids 5 and under are free with an adult ticket purchase. Your event button with ticket purchase provides access to all locations and micro-events from 6-10pm.

First Night Ocala

New Year’s Eve, 6-10pm