Highmark First Night to hop into the New Year with giant rabbits, fireworks, and more | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Highmark First Night to hop into the New Year with giant rabbits, fireworks, and more

click to enlarge Highmark First Night to hop into the New Year with giant rabbits, fireworks, and more
Photo: Parer Studio
Intrude by Parer Studios, part of Highmark First Night
As 2021 draws to a close, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has announced the many spectacular sights and sounds set to ring in the New Year for Highmark First Night Pittsburgh.

The organization announced the programming for one of the city’s biggest, most anticipated events, set to take place over a 14-block radius of the Downtown Cultural District. What’s being described in a press release as an “arts-focused, family-friendly celebration” will include the usual live music and fireworks, along with a few surprises for this year.

One of those surprises is Intrude, a public art project featuring three enormous inflatable rabbits from Parer Studios in Australia. Sarah Aziz, director of festival management for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, says Intrude will take over the Eighth Street block of the Cultural District, with the largest rabbit measuring 50 feet tall.

Aziz adds that the piece will be inflated and deflated daily, signifying “when the three rabbits wake and go to sleep.”

Parer Studio created Intrude as an “opportunity to juxtapose the rabbit’s fairytale-like innocence with the great destruction and imbalance they are causing in Australia,” using humorous imagery to also draw attention to environmental issues. Rabbits were brought from Europe to Australia in the 1800s, and since then they have become the most invasive species in the country, causing massive damage to crops and natural habitats.

Also presented as part of the EQT Children’s Theater Festival, Intrude will be on view in the Eighth Street Lot and Trust Oasis at 133 Seventh Street from Fri., Dec. 31 through Fri., Jan. 28, 2022, its closing coinciding with the Cultural Trust’s Winter Gallery Crawl.

Crowds can also expect outdoor activities across four stages and other spaces, starting at 6 p.m. with the Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks display and a performance from the Williams Sing-Off Competition winner. There will also be the traditional New Year’s Eve Parade presented by Giant Eagle, featuring giant puppets by Studio Capezzuti.
click to enlarge Highmark First Night to hop into the New Year with giant rabbits, fireworks, and more
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Puppets by Studio Capezzuti, part of Highmark First Night
Guests can enjoy comedy, dance, magic, theater, visual art, and more, as well as hands-on activities for every age, all of which culminate in a performance by The Byron Nash Trio and the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale at midnight.

Select indoor, ticketed performances will also be put on at Liberty Magic, Bricolage, and the Harris Theater, all on Liberty Avenue.

Those looking for something more exclusive can invest in the First Night Friends VIP experience, which offers special festival perks, including access to the First Night Friends Lounge, priority seating at limited ticketed events, and a reserved, pre-paid parking spot in Theater Square Garage.

In terms of COVID-19 safety measures, proof of vaccination and face masks will not be required (but are encouraged) for outdoor events. Face masks will be required to enter galleries. Ticketed indoor events will require face masks and proof of vaccination, as well as a valid ID.

Guests under the age of 12 are not required to be vaccinated but must wear a mask and be accompanied by an adult.

Highmark First Night. 6 p.m.-12 a.m. Fri., Dec. 31. Cultural District, Downtown. Free. firstnightpgh.trustarts.org