Thursday, January 1, 2009

First Night Austin Festival

If you are living under a rock somewhere or you are from parts other than Austin, you may not have heard of the First Night Festival in Austin on Dec 31st. It is a "Public celebration of the arts that revives the ancient tradition of marking the passage of time with art, ritual, and festivity". And it certainly is that! Lots of interactive art displays, music, a Grand Procession down Congress featuring all types of artsy dance, music, insect and critter-shaped conveyances, and fantabulous costumery, and a wooden life-size replica of a clock tower that they light up in a big-ass bonfire complete with fireworks. It is a great time and my kid really digs it. Here are some photos from the event last night (apologies for some of the blurry photos - everything was moving every-which-way ever so fast!):

The Grand Procession begins!:

This rattlesnake was keen. It has 4 or five people peddling bikes inside it to keep it slithering along:

This bat was by far The Kid's favorite (she wanted a turn to peddle it!):

There were lots of groovin tunes:

Bees performing acrobatics:

Performers roller skatin' and tossing fire about:

Bug band:


Bats (there were many bat-themed presentations as a tribute to the bats that live under the Congress Ave. Bridge):


More butterflies:


Kids dancing and pushing a big-ol twig ball down congress:

More kids singin' and dancin':

GAH!! A big scary face-thing. Bwhahahhaha!:

Steel Drum Band:

The glowy plastic people on sticks were my favorite. They were actually kinda disturbing in an aliens abduct you sorta way, but I loved them!!:

More creatures:

There were a couple of different chinese dragons that simply refused to stay still long enough for me to get good photos:

Glowy Hula Hoop dancers:


Butterflies all in a row:

It wouldn't be a parade without a few bagpipes!:

Panda forest:

Navaho costumery:

Roller Derby girls. These gals were really awesome - they were roller skating all over the place moving much to quick for my camera:

Nicaraguan folklore:

And at the end was the Praying Mantis with the groovin' band:

And now on to the clock tower. This is the New Year's Resolution Clock Tower. Local Artists built it and anyone can write down their new year's resolution on the clock tower. The when, the sun goes down, they set it ablaze! Woot! Now that's a good time!

Clock tower:

Here it is goin' up in flames:


Kaboom! Totally Engulfed! YAY!!!! Fire!!

Not only does it have flames, it has fireworks! Wheee-Hawww!!:

This is why I really love Texas sometimes. Where else would a city let you light off a monstrous bonfire complete with fireworks with thousands of people all crowded around?!? It is like an old-time pagan ritual or something. Outstanding!

Here it is starting to burn down. You can make out the skeleton of the clock tower through the flames:

Reduced to a pile of ash and embers:

Needless to say, we had a great time. I love this artsy-festival type stuff and Austin is a great town for it! Happy New Year everyone!


Pam/Digging said...

Thanks for showing me what I missed. We've only been to the first First Night in Austin. In fact we were in the parade tossing bread loaves out to people. Strange, huh? But fun!

That clock tower bonfire is really cool. And you're right--with the nature themes in the parade, it does all seem very pagan and Earth-worshipping. Very Austin.

Lee17 said...


Sure thing! It was a good time ;)

You were one of the people throwing out bread? Cool! I think we caught some of that bread!

Annie in Austin said...

Wow - thanks for the photos, Lee17 - this isn't at all how I imagined First Night.

We saw the white snake and a couple of those butterflies at Maker Faire Austin last fall - they'd be fun in a parade.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Lee17 said...


You are quite welcome! It really was quite fun. I like it much better than a regular-old boring parade/festivities. First Night is so much more unique!