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A Guide to First Night Boston

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First Night Boston
Photo courtesy Steve Rose/First Night Inc.
A New Year’s Eve celebration doesn’t have to be a raucous affair. That’s why in 1976, a group of Boston artists and residents started First Night, an alternative to New Year’s Eve revelry that had seemingly become the norm. Here’s what you need to know:
  • What: First Night is the country’s oldest and largest New Year’s Eve celebration of local arts. Now in its 35th year, the day-long, family-friendly event provides an alcohol-free outlet for all ages, complete with music, dance, ice sculptures, fireworks, and more.
  • When: Dec. 31, 2011, New Year’s Eve, 10 a.m. to Midnight.
  • Where: First Night 2012 will feature hundreds of artists in exhibitions and performances throughout more than 35 locations throughout Boston, including the Arlington Street Church, Museum of Science, Copley Square, the Improv Asylum, and many more. Click here for an interactive map of all locations, including where to locate all nearby hotels, T stops, and parking areas.
  • Cost: First Night buttons can be purchased at a number of retail locations throughout Eastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Click here for an interactive map that will show you the closest retailer near you. The buttons cost $15, plus $3 shipping if you order online at www.firstnight.org (children under 4 are admitted free), and provide entrance to all indoor events. All outdoor events, including ice sculpture displays, the Grand Procession, and the midnight fireworks over Boston Harbor, are free.
  • Highlights: You name it. Indoor events range from the New England Anime Society to the Roxbury Film Festival. Button holders can take advantage of limited admissions to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Ballet, and the Museum of Science. There’s the Boston Poetry Slam, the Gerwick Puppets, face painting, and soul singer Mavis Staple will perform at Symphony Hall. For a listing of all events, click here.

  • Family Festival: In addition to many other kid-friendly activities on the schedule, this series of events at the Hynes Convention Center is dedicated to families with younger children. Families can enjoy face-painting, music, puppet shows, and dance, among other events.
  • Fireworks: A 12-minute display will light up the Boston sky at midnight. For best viewing, make your way to Boston Harbor, or to the Boston Common ball field for a front-row seat.
  • Volunteer: First Night is recruiting more than 300 people to help out with New Year’s Even activities. Each volunteer will receive a First Night t-shirt, a button on the day of the event, and a $30 food/transportation stipend check. If you’re interested, visit their web site, or contact:

    Joyce Bishop, Volunteer Manager
    617 542-1399, ext. 26
    volunteer@firstnight.org

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