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First Night Boston
A Celebration of Arts and Community
Once a year on New Year's Eve, the city of Boston begins its festivities with a celebration called First Night Boston or just First Night. The festivities include a variety of music, dance, theater, comedy, arts and crafts, ice sculptures, and fireworks.
First Night Boston began in 1976 by a group of artists and local residents as a way to bring neighboring communities of the city together in one large celebration.
During this combining of communities into one celebration, this group of individuals sought to give visitors an alternative way to ring in the new year by incorporating local culture while banning the public consumption of alcohol.
Other surrounding towns and communities started their own First Night celebrations and has since spread to cities all over the world.
Beginning at 1 pm and ending at midnight with the Boston Harbor fireworks, the New Year's Eve activities are spread out throughout downtown Boston and include both outdoor and indoor venues.
Literally covering one end of the city of Boston to the other, there are over 30 event locations to enjoy. Even though public transportation like the T (Boston subway system) is the way to go, plan on doing a good amount of walking.
When I was at First Night Boston, it was very cold outside, windy and freezing rain was in the forecast. I saw a lot of people walking around ill-prepared for the weather so I was glad I had looked at the weather forecast ahead of time and dressed accordingly.
I would definitely recommend not driving through downtown Boston during the celebration as roads may be closed at the discretion of Boston Police with traffic being very slow to allow the free-flowing of pedestrian traffic.
If you do want to drive to Boston and park your car, the "official" parking garage for the First Night Boston celebration is The Garage @ 100 Clarendon. Parking on New Year's Eve is $12. There are a few other parking garages throughout Boston with T stations relatively close by:
Helpful Tips and Information
To enjoy the day and night's activities to their fullest, you'll want to know some practical information before coming to First Night Boston.
Before coming to First Night Boston, you'll want to make sure you get your button. At retailers, the cost is $18 and free for children under 4. Purchasing the button on www.firstnight.org will give you the special advance price of $15.
Some of the retailers the buttons can be purchased at are Au Bon Pain, Shaw's Supermarket, Tedeschi Food Shops/ Store 24, AAA Southern New England, and Borders.
By purchasing your button, you'll be able to enter many of the events and performances throughout the First Night Boston festivities. There's also extended value and discounts from time of sale, end of November, through the month of January; named First Month.
Events and Attractions
Throughout the day and night, First Night Boston hosts several events, attractions, fun things to do and see. The city itself is filled with festive lights and Christmas displays along the way such as in areas like Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall.
If you like parades, be sure to be in the area before 5 pm as street side views fill up quickly.
The Metro Boston Grand Procession begins at the Hynes Convention Center at 5:30 pm, travels down Boylston Street, takes a left onto Charles Street in Boston Common. Included in the procession are over 800 artists from all over Boston; marching bands, puppeteers, jazz bands, circus acts and many others.
The attractions at First Night Boston found on the program guide (and also found on their website) can be divided into categories such as music, dance, magic & stunts, storytelling, puppets & theater, film, workshops, visual arts & exhibitions and outdoor activities.
Here is a list of the event locations at First Night Boston:
One of my favorite things to see at First Night Boston was the ice sculptures in Boston Common. You can really see how talented the artists are through their work in creating these large and intricate displays.
As you pass by the ice sculptures walking through Boston Common, you'll also see families and friends ice skating at Frog Pond. If you like, you can rent skates and ice skate also, but be prepared to wait in line for quite some time.
We were there watching for 10 or so minutes and didn't see the lines moving much at all. I believe there's a maximum capacity for the ice and people can only go in once the same amount of others comes off. Best to come back another day when there's less crowds to deal with.
Fireworks displays happen twice during the night. One set occurs at 7 pm in Boston Common at the Boston Common Ball field and is touted as "Boston's Family Fireworks Celebration." This is great for kids and everyone else not wanting to stay up for the midnight display.
The second set of fireworks takes place at midnight on Boston Harbor celebrating the New Year with a brilliant display of light, color and sound. We found a spot right behind the Rowes Wharf hotel, through the archway, and I was lucky enough to get some very nice shots (cold as it was outside!).
First Night Boston Essentials
Location: Downtown Boston - 30+ event locations throughout the city as listed above
Phone: First Night Boston Phone: (617) 542-1399
Dates: December 31st. - First Month discounts from end of November (first day button goes on sale) through month of January
Hours: First Night events occur from 1 pm to 12 am.
Prices: $18 for purchase of button, Children under 4 - Free.
Buttons can be purchased at Au Bon Pain, Shaw's Supermarket, Tedeschi Food Shops/ Store 24, AAA Southern New England and Borders.
Attractions: Cultural events including music, dance, magic & stunts, storytelling, puppets & theater, film, workshops, visual arts & exhibitions and outdoor activities. List of even locations are above. Also included are ice sculptures at Boston Common, Fireworks at 7 pm at Boston Common and 12 am at Boston Harbor and the Metro Boston Grand Procession starting at 5:30 pm at the Hynes Convention Center.
Parking: Parking Garages as listed above.
Hotel Search: Lowest prices for Boston hotels!
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