31st Annual First Night Monterey on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31, 2023, with 9 Hours of Creative Interactive Activities, Live Music and Dance with Outstanding Entertainment For The Whole Family

31st Annual First Night Monterey on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31, 2023, with 9 Hours of Creative Interactive Activities, Live Music and Dance with Outstanding Entertainment For The Whole Family


Volunteers and Twilight Procession Participants Sought


December 20, 2023. Monterey, CA Don’t miss a fantastic New Year’s Eve celebration in beautiful Downtown Monterey. Enjoy an amazing array of top entertainment to choose from during First Night Monterey as it turns age 31!


Save the Date and Ring in the New Year on Sunday, December 31, 2023 with an unforgettable celebration in Monterey, CA that attracts people from around the world. The multi-award-winning annual First Night Monterey 2024 is a very special family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration on December 31, 2023 in historic downtown Monterey. Advance discounted buttons are available for purchase now. As New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday this year, the Monterey’s First Night celebration will give families a great way to ring in the New Year.


“The City of Monterey is a very special destination event on New Year’s Eve. Through the power of the arts, we can reflect on the past and celebrate our future.” said Ellen Martin, Executive Director of First Night Monterey explains. “First Night Monterey features a huge array of great live performances and cultural experiences for the whole family. There is something fun for everyone – from jazz to rock, from Celtic to classical --- located in many different venues and sites plus numerous interactive art activities.”


Become a Volunteer


You don’t have to be alone! Support First Night Monterey and the community and have a wonderful night by becoming a valued Volunteer.  First Night Monterey volunteers return again and again because it is such a joyous, happy family fun event! Learn more and apply now on the First Night Monterey website at www.FirstNightMonterey.org.


Here’s what’s planned for this year’s event which runs from 3 pm to Midnight on December 31st.


Kids’ Night Out! 3:00-5:00pm

Kids’ Night Out is not just for the kids as everyone will love making a celebration hat and doing the bubble stomp. Stop by and have your face painted and enjoy the roar of the Taiko Drummers and the wonder of the Aztec dancers.

Twilight Procession 5:30 pm

Join us for the Twilight Procession as we enjoy the lights, the magic, and the joy of First Night into the New Year! It's a Mardi-Gras-style walking parade that begins on Franklin and Alvarado Streets in Downtown Monterey and moves down Alvarado Street to Pearl Street, featuring bands, dance groups, large-scale movable sculptures, puppets, and costumed people. Successful elements include height, sound, lights and glow-in-the-dark materials. The Twilight Procession also serves as the finale for Kids' Night Out!

The Twilight Procession includes Art Cars, there are murals to take selfies by, and the Resolution Sculpture are just a few of the artful projects awaiting First Night’ers.


If you or your group would like to be part of The Twilight Procession, there is a form to complete on the website, www.FirstNightMonterey.org.


Incredible Live Entertainment:                                                     


First Night Monterey has a great entertainment line-up with two Live Grand Finales! Live music from featured performers will bring us into the New Year with a countdown to midnight! Special surprise guests may be dropping in to join the band - you never know what might happen at a First Night finale. Whether you want to be on your feet dancing or just sitting back and enjoying the tunes, you can guarantee a fun and exciting time into the New Year.


There will be two indoor finales this year: one at the Golden State Theatre with Jett Wolf, and the other in the Serra Ballroom at the Monterey Conference Center featuring The California Cowboys. Pick up your Finale Ticket after 8pm at the Plaza Kiosk (free to button-holders.)


The groups are listed below with a detailed schedule and a helpful grid listed on the website, www.FirstNightMonterey.org. (Subject to change - most up to date list is on the website.)


 YAOCUAUHTLI CULTURAL DANCE opens the First Night celebration with stunning costumes and traditional Aztec dances.

Hear the thunder of the drums! SHINSHO MUGEN DAIKO opens First Night Monterey with traditional Japanese drumming.

Fun and inspiring performers age 7-17, GUITARS NOT GUNS will perform a mix of Rock, Folk, Pop, and Blues.

Pure Drop Celtic! BANISH MISFORTUNE plays traditional music of the Emerald Isles. Come join us for a wee drop of fun!
**NEW FOR 2024**

Local Indie band, THE DEAD CASSETTES deliver powerful vocals and intimate song writing, a modern, energetic indie alt-rock band hailing from Salinas.  

NĀ HAUMĀNA brings the spirit of Aloha to First Night!  Nā Haumāna (“the student”, in Hawaiian) is a Marina based hālau hula (hula school) that brings the islands of Polynesia to life,  

RIVER VOICES is a local Americana group with lush harmonies, soaring violin and driving guitar.

Listen to a diverse group of local authors from SALINAS LIVING POETRY AND PROSE, helping authors in Monterey County publish their work!

Playing styles ranging from traditional to contemporary, SINGING WOOD MARIMBA brings high-energy music from Zimbabwe.

Enjoy a program of cultural music and dance featuring WILLIAM FAULKNER AND PILAR MENDOZA, WITH TRIQUI DANCERS

Jalisco Harpist and world-renowned harpist William Faulkner will tickle your ears with enchanting sounds of the Mexican harp. Pilar Mendoza, folkloric dancer will join William, presenting her interpretive dance of original choreography.

FLASHPOINT ENTERTAINMENT will entertain you with their LED light shows incorporating dance and juggling.

You're the star! BEST BUY PRESENTS "JUST DANCE!" VIDEO GAME Step to the beat and get into the rhythm as you play the Just Dance video game!  

Perennial FNM favorite BLACK IRISH BAND opens the night with their highly entertaining Folk, Americana, and Celtic Pub-Rock!

Local dance troupe DI FRANCO DanceProject will present a fun-filled program of dance!

JAYSON FANN RHYTHM presents Rhythms of Life—a Celebration of rhythms from across the globe!

Up-tempo, danceable gumbo of NOLA-influenced music from RED BEANS AND RICE — It’s more than just a tasty dish!

We can all use a good laugh! Brought to First Night by new local improv troupe CONTROLLLED CHAOS!

Learn line dancing with HEIDI DEE DANCEMONSTERS! Learn to line dance between sets of the California Cowboys!  

THE ROBERT TURNER & KEVIN O’NEAL TRIO plays Soul-Jazz: where Jazz, Blues And Gospel meet. Music from the heart.

SUNNY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN will lift your spirits and leave you with a smile on your face! Sunny Side of the Mountain is a high energy string band rooted in bluegrass, folk, and country.  

**NEW FOR 2024**

Dance the night away with JONAH AND THE WHALEWATCHERS The Monterey Bay's premier reggae group!

Welcome the New Year with MONTEREY BAY LION DANCE TEAM symbolizing the arrival of prosperity and good luck.

SHANNON AND THE NIGHT DIVERS will make the whole family dance with great live funk/disco tunes!

With rowdy, foot stompin’ original songs THE CALIFORNIA COWBOYS will get you up and dancing into the New Year!

R. W. Smith and the California Cowboys deliver a powerful sound, with the clear punch of tight three-part harmonies.  

WOLF JETT and their “Cosmic Mountain Music” will make you dance, sing, and possibly even howl!
**NEW FOR 2024** **FINALE BAND**

Their music is a celebration of perseverance, infusing folk, blues and americana into what can only be described as "Cosmic Mountain Music.”  



Park at Del Monte Center by the MST transit stop and be picked up by MST bus to take you downtown. Got strollers? No problem! A great way to get free parking and be taken to downtown by MST! You can also ride the bus for free and get to First Night. All the details on www.firstnightmonterey.org. Thanks to MST for this awesome partnership!

About First Night Monterey Buttons 

First Night Monterey tickets are actually a colorful button with a theme this year of “Together in Monterey”. Designed by a CSUMB student every year, attendees use it to check in all of the indoor sites. The winner this year was Tatiana Cabrera Rojo.

Buy Buttons (First Night Tickets) Now and Save!!  


From 3pm to midnight, multiple venues with 70+ Performances

4 Interactive Art Stations

Twilight Procession

Countdown-to-Midnight Finale Performance!

9 Hours of fabulous Art, Music and New Year's fun!

About the Admission Buttons

Admission Buttons can be purchased online through December 28th at many retail locations throughout December, and at the event. Buying a button ensures that First Night Monterey offers the best in community arts and performing acts.

Your button supports the First Night Monterey celebration and directly supports the artists fees.

Many First Night venues are indoors, and an admission button is your ticket to these performances!

Buttons are non-refundable and available for pickup at Will-Call on December 30th and 31st. There is a nominal handling fee of $2 per order. Online sales close December 28th; buttons may be purchased after the 28th in local stores or at the event.

Children 5 and under are admitted FREE!

NOTE: Prices change at 8pm online on December 31st or at store closing

Save money by buying early!

Admission Buttons are a work of original art and will be on sale for Will-Call pickup at Advance Purchase prices. The buttons can be purchased at select local stores including all Monterey County Safeway stores, Andronico’s and Grove Market in Pacific Grove. Your Purchase Directly Supports the Artist Fees. Prices and dates are subject to change.

Admission Buttons can be purchased at pre-event prices through December 28 online, and at many retail locations now through December 30:

Safeway - All Monterey County Stores

Andronico’s Market - Monterey

Grove Market - Pacific Grove

First Night Monterey is dedicated to ensuring affordability for all attendees. With Adult and Youth buttons, as well as special online family pack savings, First Night guarantees inclusivity for everyone. Children under age 5 are free! Purchasing a button not only ensures your access to all venues but also directly supports the vibrant community arts and performances. Don’t forget that First Night Monterey Buttons make exceptional stocking stuffers, Hanukkah, and Secret Santa gifts.

Buttons purchased online are not shipped and can be picked up at Will Call on December 30 and 31, 2023. Please bring your receipt with the confirmation number (printed or on your cell phone) and identification/purchasing credit card. A nominal handling fee per order applies. Buttons can be purchased on December 31st at several sites, too. 

ADULT BUTTON (16 and older)

$29 Advance Purchase Price (December 11 thru December 30)

$32 Full Price (December 31, available at the event)

YOUTH BUTTON (6-15 years old)

$18 Advance Purchase Price (December 11 thru December 30)

$20 Full Price (December 31, available at event kiosks)

Children five and under are admitted free!

Online sales end on December 28th, after which buttons can be purchased at designated local stores or at the event.

For updates and additional information, visit www.firstnightmonterey.org.

More About First Night Monterey

The mission of First Night Monterey is to bring families together and unite the community through the arts. First Night Monterey is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) arts organization with a commitment to excellence in presenting programs that are affordable, accessible, and alcohol-free. First Night programs broaden and deepen public appreciation of the arts, actively involve the whole family, and create a more caring community through shared experiences of our diverse cultural heritage. 

First Night is a North American artistic and cultural celebration on New Year's Eve, taking place from afternoon until midnight. Some cities have all of their events during the celebration outdoors, but some cities have events that are hosted indoors by organizations in the city, such as in churches and theaters. Since it happens on New Year's Eve, First Night celebrations are actually held on the last night of the old year. First Night celebrates a community's local culture, often featuring music, dance, comedy and art.

First Night Monterey (FNM) was started by Paulette Lynch and her husband Ken Peterson in 1992, aided by a group of artists and Monterey Peninsula residents who wanted a creative alternative to the traditional New Year’s Eve revelry. Paulette came to Monterey from the Boston area and brought the First Night model to Monterey. The event premiered with First Night Monterey 1993 on December 31, 1992 and received wide acclaim.

Stay overnight! There are many large and small hotels in Downtown Montereyhttps://www.oldmonterey.org/directory/lodging/hotels including many others throughout the area listed here: https://www.seemonterey.com/hotels/hotels/.

There are also a wide array of nearby restaurants in Downtown Monterey as well as at the nearby Old Fisherman’s Wharf. For more details, check out https://www.oldmonterey.org/directory/food_and_drink/dining and http://www.montereywharf.com https://www.montereywharf.com/dining.html.

First Night Monterey is supported annually by many outstanding sponsors including the Arts Council for Monterey County, thanks to support from the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.

For more information:  www.firstnightmonterey.org or call 831-373-4778.