First Night Raleigh to be all outdoors, COVID vaccine or negative test required for most activities


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Downtown Raleigh’s New Year’s Eve celebration will continue Friday evening, but with changes due to the recent rise in COVID-19.

Organizers of First Night Raleigh announced Monday that the event will be entirely outdoors. COVID-19 vaccinations or proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be required for people in the main event area.

The requirements mean visitors will have to show a COVID-19 vaccination card or prove a negative test from an official Wake County site within 48 hours of the event. First Night Raleigh will also require mask-wearing, with plans to enforce the rule throughout the gathering.

Organizers said the decision came after a discussion with leaders, including Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

“The main purpose of these festivals is to gather and celebrate with our community, and we want to do that safely,” said Cameron Laws, Program Director, with Artsplosure.

The rules apply to the central part of the celebration – amusement rides, children’s celebrations, performances, and the up-close view of the acorn drop at midnight. Organizers plan to close off City Plaza – the main part of the celebration on Fayetteville Street. Only those who meet the vaccine and testing requirements can get a ticket, and only those with a ticket can get into the closed-off area.

Those who are not vaccinated or tested will be able to enjoy certain festivities like the food and drink vendors. And they will be allowed on Fayetteville Street up until Davie Street.

Laws said most of the events that were planned indoors were able to transition to outdoor plans, but noted there are a couple of performances that could not shift.

However, at a time when so many events have again been disrupted by the recent surge in the virus, she said all organizers feel fortunate to be able to put this event on this holiday season

“More than anything, we’re really glad we can have this alternative and come together and have a good time,” Laws said.

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