Light Up 2023 Bash features Prop Drop, food vendors, live music and new entertainment
Ringing in the new year on Fountain Square has quickly become a Somerset tradition, and 2023 brings more to love about this community festival.
The Light Up 2023 Bash begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 at Fountain Square and will include everything thousands of attendees have come to expect — local food trucks, spirits vendors, a Prop Drop countdown, local music, and a dance party to welcome the new year.
The Company Band, a high-energy ensemble that hails from Chicago, has led this dance party the last two festivals, but members had a conflict this year. Thankfully, they had an equally exciting alternative waiting when See Somerset Tourism Director Leslie Ikerd came calling.
“We’re so excited to welcome The Next Level Band of Charlotte to our Light Up Bash this year,” Ikerd said. “They’ll perform popular songs from the decades that I know will keep us all dancing until the prop drops at midnight.”
The Somerset Big Band — featuring musicians from around the Lake Cumberland area who perform the big band era stylings of Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Nat King Cole and more — kicks off the Light Up 2023 Bash at 6 p.m. They are followed by duo Heidi and Ryan at 8 p.m., a Somerset couple who performs everything from bluegrass to gospel to country.
The Next Level Band of Charlotte will take the Lake Cumberland Tourism stage at 10 p.m. and carry the crowd through the new year. This year’s festival will be emceed by Kevin Wilson with Somerset 106.
The music isn’t the only thing to keep festivalgoers occupied — while cornhole is a Somerset festival favorite and will be available again for the Light Up Bash, the event will also feature a new activity: axe throwing.
“East Kentucky Axes will join us this year, bringing axes and a trailer of four targets for people who want to have fun testing their aim,” Ikerd said. “This activity is growing in popularity, and I’m thrilled this local group has signed on to provide entertainment at all of our festivals in 2023.”
Fountain Square will be surrounded by local food, drink and spirits vendors, Ikerd said, and a large tent with tables and seating will be available for anyone who wants to escape the elements. Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.
Those who want to purchase alcoholic beverages must first purchase a $5 spirit wristband, which be available at any of the festival’s three entrance gates. Entrances are located at Judicial Center Plaza, the intersection of Maple and East Mt. Vernon streets, and the intersection of North Main and Columbia streets.
“As always, safety is our No. 1 priority,” Ikerd said. “We are dedicated to ensuring everyone who consumes alcoholic beverages at our festival does so safely and legally. Please drink responsibly and make sure you have a safe ride home, and don’t forget your ID.”
Safe rides to and from the Light Up 2023 Bash are sponsored by The Law Office of Jeremy A. Bartley and provided by You Ride, We Drive. Festivalgoers who live locally can pre-book transportation by calling (262) 484‑6365. A driver will be scheduled to pick up customers from their location and take them to the festival, with a return ride home at the time they choose.
Those who drive to the festival but feel they need a ride home also have that option. Just call the same number, (262) 484‑6365, to schedule a ride. You Ride, We Drive will be stationed behind the festival stage at the intersection of Vine and West Mt. Vernon streets to pick up those who’ve scheduled a ride home.
Streets in the festival area will close at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 to ensure motorist and participant safety. Anyone who needs to do business on or near the square on New Year’s Eve should be aware and locate another route to access the area, Ikerd said.
All roads leading into Fountain Square (East and West Mount Vernon, North and South Main) will be closed around the square, as well as North and South Maple from the intersection at Columbia Street to the Judicial Center parking lot. These roads will remain closed until the festival is over, all barricades are removed, and festival area streets swept.
North and South Central Avenue will remain open for thru traffic. The following roadways may be useful for detouring the festival area: Central Avenue, Limestone Avenue, Oak Street, Vine Street, Crawford Avenue, South Richardson Drive, Murphy Avenue, Jarvis Avenue, College Street and Barnett Street.
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said he looks forward to welcoming people downtown and celebrating the way the community has come together to light up Somerset.
“When we set off on this journey to tell our community’s story four years ago, we said we would light up Somerset, allowing it to shine by making the impossible possible,” Keck said. “We’ve done that through so many community projects. Our New Year’s Eve event is called the Light Up Bash as a symbol of that goal. I can’t wait to keep making that light shine as we enter the new year and work to make Somerset an even better place to live.”