Can you watch the First Night fireworks at Castle Island?
Questions: 1) What is the First Night Premium Package? 2) Is it possible to see fireworks at Castle Island? Is it a great view or not? 3) First time going to Boston for New Year and need some tips to avoid traffic or violence. - Thanks!
Susan's response: The First Night Premium Package was offered for the first time this year. It provided a ticket for orchestra (front and center) seating for a few "headliner" concerts and shows held in larger performance spaces such as Symphony Hall and Huntington Theatre, or a Boston Harbor Midnight Cruise, along with a First Night Button for the rest of the events. My understanding is that these packages sold out, but you can look on the First Night website (www.firstnight.org). Keep in mind that you can attend the concerts and shows as long as you have the regular $18 button. You need to stand in line to get a ticket before the event, and it's usually a good idea to line up in advance.
I've never watched the fireworks from Castle Island, but I would expect that it or any of the beaches along Pleasure Bay would be a good viewing spot if it's not too crowded. You might have to move around a bit, just to make sure that nothing's blocking your view. The fireworks go fairly high up in the air, so as long as you're not positioned behind something tall, you should be OK.
That's very exciting that you're coming to Boston for the first time for New Year's Eve. First Night is a wonderful celebration, and it's a magical time in the city.
The best way to avoid traffic is to take the Boston subway (the "T"). The MBTA has just posted its New Year's Eve schedule. Go to www.mbta.com to find it - you'll see the link to the New Year's Eve schedule in the lower left.
The good news is that the T will run until 2pm, and commuter rail lines are also offering late service. However...keep in mind that LOTS of people come in to this event by train and/or subway, so you DON'T want to wait until the last moment before 2am to try to get on the T, because people will be packed in the cars like sardines.
As for avoiding violence, NYE in Boston is normally very peaceful. The First Night events are all non-alcoholic, and people attending them are usually very mellow and good-humored - lots of families with small kids, groups of teens, older people. Of course there's lots else going on the city - lots of private parties, people having dinner in restaurants, and quite a bit of action around some of the bar. However, there are typically quite a lot of police security to make sure that nothing gets out of hand (this is generally true at other times as well, which is why Boston is normally such a safe city). I tend to be very cautious about personal safety, but feel very comfortable walking around the city at night.
So I don't really have any tips for avoiding violence, since I don't expect there will be any. However, what I would suggest is to exercise normal "street smarts" - for example, if you're walking around near a bar and the noise level makes you uneasy, just head in a different direction. Absolutely don't wear anything provocative, such as a New York Yankees cap. Also, if you're not familiar with Boston, don't drink yourself, as Boston's narrow, winding streets, especially in the older downtown area, can make it easy to get disoriented at night if you're not familiar with the city - I can't tell you how many times I've ending up leading lost visitors back to the Common or wherever - they have a drink or 2 at Faneuil Market, start to walk back to their hotel, and get totally lost in the Financial District or Chinatown. And finally, I would definitely leave well before 2am when the bars stop serving and everyone who's had too much to drink will be hitting the streets. Keep in mind that the temperature is likely to be cold - so most people won't linger too long once they're outside.
Hope you have a wonderful time, and visit Boston again on New Year's Eve.
Boston Discovery Guide