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The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Announces Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2021 at Home

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This New Year’s Eve, the celebration comes to your home with an hour-long arts extravaganza on KDKA-TV with your favorite Pittsburgh Today Live hosts.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Announces Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2021 at Home

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has announced that Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2021 will deliver all of the favorite components of its New Year's Eve celebration, even when we cannot gather in person. In pure Pittsburgh style, Pittsburgh Today Live hosts Heather Abraham and David Highfield will host the one-hour, TV-only special edition of the Trust's signature New Year's event.

KDKA-TV will begin the broadcast at 11 p.m. on December 31, 2020. The special rendition of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh will unfold with music, magic, and more from an array of talented artists - just what Pittsburgh has come to expect from the celebration, delivered through KDKA-TV for a safe, fun way to ring in the new year.

Along with exciting performances, the evening promises favorite components of the in-person celebration, including the Williams Sing-Off, Fire and Ice, First Night Friends VIP experience, the countdown to midnight, fireworks, and the raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball.

"After the challenging year we've all seen in 2020, we thought it was more important than ever to celebrate a new year, a turning page through the healing power of the arts," says Sarah Aziz, Director of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. "While nothing can replace the joy of coming together for superior arts experiences in our Cultural District, we are thrilled to make this year's festival completely free and accessible to the entire community, right from their living rooms as they tune into KDKA."

Each and every year, the Trust would not be able to ring in the new year in artistic style without the event's title sponsor, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Especially this year during unprecedented times, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust thanks Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield along with all of its sponsors and supporters for keeping the arts alive in Pittsburgh, especially Highmark First Night Pittsburgh sponsors including corporate sponsors Allegheny Health Network, Giant Eagle, Dollar Bank, Williams, Citizens Bank, FedEx Ground, PNC, BNY Mellon, and Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, community sponsors The Buhl Foundation, The Fine Foundation, The Grable Foundation, and EQT Foundation, and media sponsor KDKA-TV.

Performances and featured artists will be announced on Friday, December 4.

Signature Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Events

Williams Sing-Off Competition

Every year, the Williams Sing-Off Competition crowns Pittsburgh's voice of the year. Singers in grades 6-12 whose video-auditions edge out the competition will be named finalists in the 2020-2021 Williams Sing-Off Competition and evaluated by special guest judge and Broadway star Eva Noblezada (Hadestown, Miss Saigon).

Following in the footsteps of Gabby Barrett, Trinity Wiseman, Dejah Monea, and others, this year's winner will be a featured performer during the KDKA-TV live broadcast on New Year's Eve!

First Night Friends

Stay cozy at home while still being able to enjoy a First Night Friend VIP experience. Support the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust by buying or gifting an exclusive First Night Friends in a Box, sponsored by Citizens Bank, filled with beloved local treats and gifts that will be delivered to your door in time for your New Year's Eve celebration. Your box will include specialty treats from Fancypants Popcorn, Milkshake Factory, and Sinful Sweets Chocolate Company. You'll also receive an exclusive Pittsburgh Cultural Trust candle from PGH Candle, limited edition Trust postcards, a deck of specialized playing cards from our Liberty Magic venue with instructions on how to do your own magic trick, and a curated Spotify playlist to get your NYE party started!

Most importantly, part of the cost of your First Night Friend in a Box will directly benefit the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust -a positive way to end 2020 and pay it forward in the New Year!

Fire and Ice

Ice Creations is a one-of-a-kind, high-energy fire and ice carving show with snow spraying chainsaws and power tools producing amazing ice sculptures, even with fire coming out of them! There will be special LED lighting and creative music with fire juggling, fire breathing, fire dancers, and master ice carver all performing together on your screen.

Steel Town Fire is Pittsburgh's premier fire performance company. For the past ten years, STF has been delighting audiences of all ages with their skilled manipulation of fire props. A favorite at Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, Steel Town Fire performs alongside Ice Creations for a night full of wonder.

Countdown to Midnight and Fireworks

It wouldn't be New Year's Eve without a fantastic countdown to midnight, headline music performance, and fireworks. This year, the countdown will feature highlights from previous years to bring the best of Pittsburgh fireworks to your screen while a special musician performs through midnight - musical acts to be announced December 4.

Future of Pittsburgh Ball

For almost a decade and a half, the raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball at Highmark First Night Pittsburgh has marked the arrival of a new year. First raised to ring in 2007, the ball is a physical embodiment of Pittsburgh's dedication to a bright, healthy, and sustainable future for all of its residents.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield originally commissioned and still owns the Future of Pittsburgh Ball. Pittsburgh's own Technique Architectural Products were brought on to engineer and fabricate the ball and its supporting structure. Technique Architectural Products continues to maintain and operate the ball on ever New Year's Eve.

The 1,000-pound ball is just as much a sculpture as anything else - and it is a sustainable piece at that. The outer shell, more than six and a half feet in diameter, is made out of 3form Ecoresin™, a non-toxic material created from post-consumer content. More than 1,000 high-efficiency LED lights arranged in the shape of Pittsburgh's three rivers give the ball its iconic sparkle and glow. And the platform and framing that hold the ball aloft are all made of recycled steel.

In the two minutes it takes the ball to rise, it climbs nearly 75 feet into the air, perching it over the city streets below. In those final minutes the ball's light show gradually increases in intensity. And, right as the clock strikes midnight, the Future of Pittsburgh Ball touches its apex, signifying that yet another year has come and gone.

While Highmark First Night Pittsburgh may look a bit different this year, the tradition of raising the ball will stay the same and arguably is more important than ever. Make sure to tune into KDKA at 11 p.m. on Thursday, December 31 to catch all of the night's performances and activities. And, of course, to see the ball rise for one more year!

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