It’s All About First Night–New Year’s Eve in Missoula

By TOM BENSEN

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Butte’s Dublin Gulch returns to First Night with a show at 4:15 p.m. at the University CenterBallroom.

New Year’s Eve marks the 21st annual First Night Missoula, the community-wide celebration of the arts with more than 80 events and activities throughout Downtown, University of Montana Campus, Southgate Mall, Glacier Ice Rink, McCormick Park, and Peak Health and Wellness Center from noon until midnight on December 31.  Admission buttons are $15 and are available at over 20 locations in Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley.

It all begins at noon at the annual Parade of Hats at Southgate Mall, and continues all day and afternoon throughout Missoula.

Quartet Caribe performs at the Wilma Theatre at 12:30 p.m.

The year 2015 marks Missoula’s 150th anniversary.  Look for Missoula 150 presentations throughout the day and evening at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts.

Butte’s Dublin Gulch returns to First Night with a show at 4:15 p.m. at the University Center Ballroom. 

The Jeanette Rankin Peace Center begins building the Luminary Community Peace Sign in Caras Park at 4:00 p.m.

Western Union performs in the UC Ballroom at 6:00 p.m.

The John Floridis Trio
plays the UC 3rd Floor Theater at 8:00 p.m.

The First Night Spotlight high school finalists all compete at the Wilma Theatre beginning at 8:00 p.m.

Tom Catmull and Radio Static are the Featured Artists this year, performing at the UM Dennison Theatre at 10:15 p.m.

The Drum Brothers and the Ed Norton Big Band ring in the New Year at the University Center at midnight.  and For more information about any and all First Night events, call 541-0860 or visit our website

Current exhibits at the Missoula Art Museum include  Kate Hunt: Recent Works through February 21, 2015 (pictured here); Elizabeth Dove: Corpus of the Unknowable through January 31, 2015; Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts: Selected Works through March 21, 2015; Pat Zentz: Trio through March 28, 2015.

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Western Union performs in the UC Ballroom at 6:00p.m.

During First Night Missoula, MAM hosts Blue Hour, Sid Gustafson, and Michael and Keleren Millham.

The Montana Museum of Art & Culture presents Amanda Browder: End of the Infinite in the Meloy Gallery (pictured here), and Vanessa German: Bitter Root in the Paxson Gallery.  Both exhibits run through January 10, 2015.  To honor MMAC’s 120th anniversary, the museum has published the first-ever guide to the permanent collection, The Art of the State: 120 Artworks for 120 Years. Learn more here

For those who may be wondering, there is a First Friday Gallery Walk this Friday, January 2.  For the listing of art openings and events, visit here.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre has embarked on a new collaboration with the China National Theatre for Children (CNTC) in Beijing.  CNTC will soon send two accomplished actors to Missoula to conduct a three-week internship, during which time they will train and work alongside MCT tour teams.  In late December, Mr. Yang Cheng and Ms. Wang Kun will arrive in Missoula for a three-week internship.  The training begins December 29 and concludes in mid-January with their participation in a residency week in Washington State, as they assist with a production of MCT’s original musical The Princess and the Pea. For more information, visit the website.

Missoula Public Library’s 7th Annual Writing Contest kicks off January 5, when long-awaited entry forms and rules brochures become available at the Library and its six branches.  Aspiring writers have already been asking about the contest, noted an MPL staff member. The contest is known as an opportunity for writers of any age to see their works of short fiction or non-fiction in print, as all qualified entries are bound into book form for check out.  It doesn’t hurt that there are cash prizes. First place winners in eight categories receive $100, $50 for second place, and $25 for third. Writers have until 5:00 p.m. on February 20 to submit their entries in the format required.  Entry forms and rules brochures can also be found online here or call 721-2665(BOOK) for more information.

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Tom Catmull and Radio Static are the Featured Artists this year, performing at the UM Dennison Theatre at 10:15p.m.

World-Wide Cinema at the Missoula Public Library presents Grigris, Friday, January 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the Library large meeting room. Despite his bum leg, 25-year-old Grigris has hopes of becoming a professional dancer, making some extra cash putting his moves to good use at a local club.  Drama in French and Arabic with English subtitles Call 721-BOOK.

Grammy award winning Tennessee fingerstyle guitarist Bill Mize will be in concert in support of his latest CD release “The Back of Beyond”, an homage to his East Tennessee roots, at the Crystal Theater, January 10 at 7:30 p.m.  Call 829-0508.  Tickets on sale 12/19 at Rockin Rudys and Bill’s website.

The Light Our Bridges Missoula committee has raised money over the past two years to light the two Missoula pedestrian bridges. Light Our Bridges recently illuminated the Van Buren Street footbridge with white LED lights, and will light up the Madison Street walkway in the spring. To participate in the “Light Our Way” fundraising campaign, donors can “buy a light” for $25 each in honor or in memory of a loved one.  For more information or to donate, visit the LOB website.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre invites school-aged kids to follow the intrepid space traveler, Gulliver, in his rocket ship to explore strange new lands.  Get ready for Gulliver’s Travels…in space! MCT’s winter after school performing arts class of this original, world-premiere musical begins January 21 and 22.  The classes culminate in performances February 28 and March 1.  For more information or to register, visit the website or call 729-1911.

The Clay Studio presents Wintersession Classes, starting January 12.  Some classes are full or filling quickly. Call 543-0509 or email here

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The John Floridis Trio plays the UC 3rd Floor Theater at 8:00p.m.

Aikido Missoula presents Classes for Beginning Adults.  Discover the strength of a peaceful spirit in the New Year.  The 4 Week Intro for beginning adults starts Tuesday, January 13 at 5:30 p.m.  This class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m., through February 5.  For more information, call 549-8387 or visit the website.

The Art Associates of Missoula monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 21, at 10:00 a.m. in the Education Center of the Missoula Art Museum. Dale Manning, 2013 Best in World Waterfowl Taxidermist, will be sharing  his artistry at the gathering. All Art Associates meetings are free and open to the public. For more information please call Susie at 544-0891.

The Montana Repertory Theatre begins its 2015 national tour of The Great Gatsby with a Gala on January 23 at the Montana Theatre at the University of Montana beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Curtain time for the show begins at 6:30 followed by an elegant dinner and dancing.  For more information call 243-6809.

Zootown Arts Community Center the 3rd Annual {mini} Benefit Show in March 21.  Deadline for submission is February 1. The gala event on March 21 will bring together Missoula’s creative community to celebrate all things mini. This year {mini} just got more mightier. Enjoy artworks now measuring 12″ square. Attend the gala event to fight to the last bid for your favorite and/or read the requirements below and submit your own work.  Attend the art opening on March 13 to get a sneak peak of the artwork, pick your favorite piece,and start bidding on the silent auction pieces.  For more information visit the website.

The International Wildlife Film Festival is now accepting submissions for the 2015 festival, happening in Missoula, Montana April 18-25 at the historic Roxy Theater.  Now in its 38th year, the week-long event will feature new and exciting films, special guests, workshops, seminars, field trips, technology sessions, product demos, parties and dynamic networking events. With 6,000 annual attendees, IWFF engages Missoula’s progressive community with dozens of screenings and events like the WildWalk Parade. A filmmakers’ festival, IWFF focuses on films and filmmakers, and celebrates emerging artists and the future of wildlife & environmental media. Our expanded programming welcomes all films about the natural world, from environmental and conservation films, to issue driven explorations of earth and its inhabitants.

For more information about arts events in the Missoula area, visit our website

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Tom BensenTom Bensen has lived in Missoula since 1986, and has been the executive director of the Missoula Cultural Council since June 2004. He has directed First Night Missoula each New Year’s Eve since 1997.   He is a member of Missoula’s choral ensemble Dolce Canto, and enjoys being outdoors, whether it is hiking, biking, skiing, walking the dogs, or mowing the lawn.  His wife Susan works for Montana Public Radio, and their son Peter attends Hellgate HighSchool.