With over 35 years under its belt, the “First Night” celebration certainly knows how to throw a party, especially in Boston. While many cities across the country stage similar programs for New Year’s Eve, Boston’s First Night Festival of the Arts is the oldest and largest of its kind in North America! So when you’re looking for family-friendly things to do on New Year’s afternoon and evening, check out what’s in store in downtown Boston.
For example, imagine viewing the works of 1,000 different artists in 200 performances and exhibits at 35 indoor and outdoor venues throughout downtown. First Night Boston typically attracts about one million people from throughout the region, who flock to see the many free cultural offerings.
Some of the biggest draws for families are the Fedex Family Festival at Hynes Convention Center, the Grand Procession down Boylston Street, amazing ice sculptures found throughout the downtown area, ice skating at the Frog Pond, and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.
Some of the festivities actually begin around 9-10 am on Saturday morning with events at the Boston Children’s Museum, the Old Statehouse, Boston Harbor, the Museum of Fine Arts, and other attractions.
Fedex Family Festival at Hynes.
For a brief snapshot of what to expect at Hynes Convention Center, here’s a short list of some of the featured performers and activities: Boston Children’s Theater, Improv Boston, Ellis Paul, Dinoman, Skyriders, Magpie Puppets, Tanglewood Marionettes, Puppet Showplace Theater, Alicia Quintano, Gerwick Puppets, Rumba y Timbal, Chu Ling, Morgan White Jr., Evan Dean Dance, Boston Bhangra, Sean Fielder & the Boston Tap Company, B.J. Hickman, and the New England Anime Society.
Other attractions around town.
Want more? Go to the First Night website for a complete list of artists and performances, including storyteller Mike Daisey at Huntington Theater Company/Boston University Theater, singer/storyteller Suzanne Vega at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, jazz guitarist Julian Lage at Berklee Performance Center, and soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples at Symphony Hall, among many others. The schedule can be viewed at http://schedule.firstnight.org/
Get your buttons.
Admission to all the First Night outdoor activities is free; purchase of a special First Night Button gets you general admission for all the indoor events. Buttons are $18 for adults (children under 4 are free), and are available at numerous locations, including Shaw’s Supermarkets, Tedeschi Food Shops, and Au Bon Pain. For a complete list of locations, check the First Night webpage list of retailers.
First Night benefits the neighborhoods.
The most wonderful thing about First Night Boston is the work done all year long. At the heart of the First Night organization is the First Night Neighborhood Network, a year-round outreach and arts education program conducted in the neighborhoods of Boston, benefitting underserved children and teenagers. Each year, about 1,500 children and teens participate in visual and performing arts workshops culminating with the activities on Dec. 31st.
How to get there?
You’ll want to visit the First Night website for parking and public transit details, which can be very helpful, especially when so many people will be travelling to downtown throughout the day.
For more information, go to the First Night website or call 617-542-1399.