More than 70,000 people are expected to ring in the new year in downtown Oklahoma City with the 27th Opening Night.
The event is organized by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City.
It's an alcohol-free, family-friendly event that will assemble more than 40 performers on 16 different stages across nine venues, with the festivities starting at 7 p.m. Monday.
The night is expected to wrap with the countdown to midnight and local R&B band Shortt Dogg.
That will be the culmination of a night that's a virtual variety show of performers.
“For one price, you get to go to all these different places and see a wide variety of performers that perhaps will be the first time you've ever had the chance to see them.
“So Opening Night makes the performing arts very accessible. That's what's wonderful about it,” said Arts Council of Oklahoma City Executive Director Peter Dolese.
The Oklahoman and NewsOK are sponsors of the event, where for the second straight year, the traditional raising of the giant lighted ball will take place at the Myriad Gardens, where local R&B band Shortt Dogg will get people revved up for the final moments of 2012.
“Shortt Dogg is gonna be amazing,” Dolese said. “They've got that power to really just slowly build the energy and then crescendo at midnight. I think it'll be a wonderful way to ring in the New Year.”
He said an estimated 70,000 people gathered last year at the Myriad Gardens to count down and watch the big fireworks display.
“You've got a Barons game that night, you've got a Thunder game that night, and you've got everybody partying all over the place ... but people literally leave wherever they are and come there,” Dolese said.
Old and new favorites
Organizers mix up the lineup with a few new entertainers each year.
Bluegrass band Travis Wackerly & Honey Creek Pass, rock fusion group Squirrel & Friends, songbird Allie Lauren and Latin American duo Alegria Real are among the new faces at this year's Opening Night.
Classical pianist Wayne McEvilly also will make his Opening Night debut playing two sets in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's lobby.
When they visit the museum, Opening Night attendees also get free admission to the exhibits, including the “American Moderns” traveling exhibition closing Jan. 6.
“We bring many new people into their venue,” Foss said.
“It's a really neat partnership to have with them, and it gives people another kind of avenue to see some more types of art.”
Attendees can take a step back into the past with the classic big band the Al Good Orchestra at Leadership Square.
Meanwhile, partiers who want a little more action in their entertainment can check out the OKC Roller Derby skaters.
Familiar Opening Night favorite Edgar Cruz returns in a new venue — the recently opened Devon Energy Center's Garden Wing corridor adjacent to Nebu restaurant. Cruz, described as a “New Year's Eve tradition” by Opening Night director Christina Foss, has a classical guitar style.
Other returning favorites include the Ambassadors' Concert Choir, OKC Improv and Dave Thomas, who is returning with his popular World of Magic.