Couples + Family

First Night Boston: Where to Make Merry at Midnight (With, or Without the Kids)

In Beantown for New Year’s Eve? Celebrate with fireworks at First Night Boston. (Photo: Getty Images)

As one of America’s oldest cities, Boston claims quite a few of the nation’s “firsts.” But the Hub’s massive “First Night” New Year’s celebration is probably the most fun. This free (and alcohol-free) festival of the arts boasts live music and dance as well as magical ice sculptures, when lit up after dark. It began 40 years ago, and has inspired dozens of such parties across the country.

First Night is technically two full days. Festivities start at 11:50 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and run all afternoon through to the midnight countdowns. They pick up again New Year’s Day, with more performances and kid-friendly activities.

Even though most of the 39 events take place in or near Copley Square, you still can’t do it all. Choose a handful, including those indoors because NYE in Boston can be frigid. Then join the one-million-plus holiday revelers in celebrating New Year’s Eve, Boston-style. It’ll be “wicked pissah.”

Toast Talent

Narrow your itinerary based on interest and location (six in all, color-coded on the schedule). Dance devotees will be wowed by traditional and modern Chinese dances performed by the Chu Ling Dance Academy, and by the hip hop, African and contemporary moves of OrigiNation. Love live music? Check out a saxophone quartet or organist early in the day or have a late-night listen to Ripe, a Boston-based dance/pop-funk/party rock band.

The details
: Get around on Boston’s subway, the T, free from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The stops you’ll want, Copley Station, Prudential Station and Park Street (for the Boston Common), are all on the green line.

Resolve to Kid Around

First Night’s not all about counting down, so if you have kids too young to stay up, head downtown early on New Year’s Eve. Boston Common is one possible starting place: Let the roughly 40-ton ice sculptures at Frog Pond dwarf you, then stay to skate around the rink.

Alternatively, view the glacial works of art in Copley Square before heading inside to the nearby Shops at Prudential Center for a photo op with Elsa from “Frozen,” face painting and a magic show. If your kids can hack it, follow the People’s Procession, a parade with floats and marching bands, starting in the square at 6 p.m. and ending at the common.

The details:
 After the 7 p.m. “family fireworks” light up the sky over the common, call it a night.

Pahty Like a Bostonian

Get your groove on with a six-band lineup beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Copley Square. Eventually, though, you’ll be faced with a conundrum: Where to have your midnight kiss? Choose between the square’s countdown and pyrotechnics show (new this year and hosted by Ripe) or the traditional Boston Harbor fireworks, both scheduled for midnight sharp. Afterward, toast to 2016 at Boston’s bars and clubs, which stay open until 2 a.m.

The details: Need New Year’s Day hair of the dog? From 9 until 2, Anthem Kitchen + Bar in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall will offer a “Hangover Brunch.” Replenish those electrolytes with a breakfast burger or lobster eggs benny, made with native lobster and a toasted Portuguese muffin. Perk up with one of the restaurant’s four variations on a bloody Mary or a blood-orange bellini for something sweet.