First Night Winchester, a New Year’s Eve Tradition, brings friends and families together to unite our community in all its diversity through the visual and performing arts.
In 1986, a First Night organizer contacted Kathy Nerangis about contributing to a new event; a family-friendly, non-alcoholic, celebration of the arts event to be held on December 31st as an alternative way of welcoming the New Year.
Through several meetings of volunteer citizens and many community leaders, First Night Winchester held its first event on Dec. 31, 1987. To the delight of the organizers 1,800 people attended the inaugural event in Old Town Winchester. Since that time, First Night Winchester has become a highly respected event for the entire community and surrounding areas.
First Night Winchester has persevered for three decades thanks to the support of the churches, civic organizations, museums, service clubs, retirement communities, public buildings, government agencies and local business owners collaborating together to welcome its community members. The humble beginnings of the organization has grown into a time honored tradition; thousands perform and volunteer their time.
Now, First Night Winchester can attract 10,000 people in a single night. Over the years this has amounted to more than 100,000 that have attended, an accomplishment none anticipated in 1987.
First Night Winchester operates as a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. A dedicated, volunteer Board of Directors meets year-round to plan the event. At the peak of First Night USA, there were more than 250 cities, both nationally and internationally producing a First Night event. Today, First Night Winchester is one of only 24 remaining cities that continue the New Year’s Eve tradition, making it the 3rd oldest in the country. First Night Winchester celebrates 35 years on December 31, 2021.