First Night Winchester to bring in ’15 with bang

Crowds gather in Winchester for the annual Apple Drop that ushers in the New Year. Photo courtesy of First Night Winchester.

Come for the entertainment, stay for the apple drop.

First Night Winchester invites people to ring in the new year at its annual celebration on Dec. 31.

The event has had really robust years of entertainment and has been scaled back a little bit in recent years, said First Night Executive Director Christine Germeyer. “And we’re trying to bring back a larger show.”

Activities kick off at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, starting with Tricky-Person Productions, a team of face painters, a balloon artist and a magician, at 11 a.m.

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley as well as the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum will offer free admission throughout the day to those with event buttons.

As the sun sets and 2015 draws nearer, people can watch performances held at venues across the city.

Spinnabel Lee, a circus-inspired fire entertainment hula hoop performer, will wow crowds on W. Boscawen St. between Braddock Street and Indian Alley, starting at 7 p.m.

Variety performer Steve Mills will entertain kids with a mix of juggling, unicycling, acrobatics and comedy at the Handley Regional Library throughout the evening.

“I would say he’s one of the highlights for the children,” Germeyer said.

Other highlights include illusionist Mario Orsini, the Reptiles Alive animal show and the electric string quartet, Anthem, all performing at Christ Episcopal Church.

Folk singer and banjo picker Mean Mary will also perform at the church on Boscawen Street.

“She’s got a huge following,” Germeyer said. “When we start putting buttons online for sale, her fans are the ones who usually gobble them up first.”

The Dharma Yoga Studio will show the classic Cary Grant film, “An Affair to Remember,” at 8 p.m.

The night’s main event, the apple drop, begins lowering at 11:45 p.m. above the intersection of Cameron and Boscawen streets, with emcee Barry Lee counting down to 2015. The apple drop is followed by a fireworks display.

For $10, each First Night Winchester button provides an all-access pass to the day’s activities and events. Children 10 years old and younger can attend for free.

Buttons are sold at various Winchester businesses, and can be purchased online.

Preceding the New Year’s festivities is the inaugural First Find scavenger hunt on Dec. 27.

“It’s a way of First Night Winchester teaming up with a variety of locations so folks can find the hidden treasures of Winchester,” Germeyer said, hinting that there will be a lot of riddles involved.

People who participate in First Find can purchase First Night buttons for $8.

For a full list of programming and to buy tickets, visit

“It’s a fun, family friendly, safe alternative, and it’s affordable,” Germeyer said. “There aren’t many places where you can pay $10 and get this much entertainment in a single day.”

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or