ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Organizers of the ninth annual ‘Big Lick Downtown Countdown‘ are excited to be preparing once again for the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Star City, even if there are some COVID-19 restrictions in place.
According to Big Lick Entertainment, the massive festival in Market Square — which is produced alongside Center in the Square — was first held in 2013, but was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, organizers say the Big Lick Downtown Countdown will be fun for all ages with gaming, cocktails, food from some local eateries, and a ‘Roanoke Star Rise at Midnight’ to welcome the new year.
In addition, DJ Flex and several bands are scheduled to perform during the event — including The Low Low Chariot, Jared Stout Band, Harvest Blaque, and JoJo Stockton & Soulacoustix — which will take place from 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31 until 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.
However, Big Lick Entertainment tells WFXR News that ticket sales have already been cut by nearly half to allow more room for social distancing among the guests.
More specifically, the CEO of Big Lick Entertainment, J.D. Sutphin, says there will be no more than 1,200 attendees at the ninth annual Big Lick Downtown Countdown, even though the event is usually attended by more than 2,000 people.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure it was going to be able to happen this year because we did not host it last year as the cases were up and the restrictions were back in place on events,” said Sutphin.
Unless you are eating or drinking, visitors will be required to wear masks at all times when going into indoor locations like the Roanoke STARCADE, the Roanoke Pinball Museum, and the City Market Building.
On the other hand, Sutphin says the warmer weather forecast means that it will be easier for guests to spend time outdoors.
“We’re really lucky that it is going to be really unseasonably warm so somebody can enjoy the majority of the event, which is that outside space, and really be able to space out, enjoy that six-foot distancing, be outside in the fresh air in 50-degree weather,” Sutphin said.
According to Sutphin, even if the event is held in a socially distant manner with fewer people, his team is glad to bring in the new year with the community once again.
If you want to attend this New Year’s Eve celebration, you need to buy your tickets in advance either in-person or online through the Center in the Square box office.
Organizers say general admission tickets cost $15 — which allows you to get into the festival style concert at Market Square, the DJ party at City Market Building, and gaming at Center in the Square — but VIP tickets for the Center in the Square rooftop party cost $55. Meanwhile, kids age 12 and under get in for free.
After this year’s celebration wraps up on New Year’s Day, the Big Lick Entertainment team is set to start planning for next year’s event during the first week of January.