First Night Boston welcomes 2023 with a huge New Year's Eve celebration and fireworks - the city's biggest New Year's Eve party!
First Night festivities include bedtime-friendly (for those with young children) fireworks over Boston Common at 7pm, spectacular fireworks over Boston Harbor launched across from the North End Waterfront and Seaport at midnight plus a dramatic pyrotechnic show at midnight in Copley Square, lots of family-friendly activities, the traditional People's Procession parade from Copley Square to the Boston Common, live musical performances, a special ice skating show on the rink at Frog Pond on the Common, and fantastic ice sculptures along the waterfront by renowned artists.
Most events (including those that are normally indoors) take place outside this year to keep everyone safer during the current Omicron covid surge, and the good news is that unlike last year, all the key events including the two fireworks shows that make First Night so wonderful will still take place. More good news: the weather forecast looks great with relatively balmy temperatures in the mid-40s.
Over 1 million revelers typically turn out for Boston's signature New Year's Eve event.
First Night Boston is the oldest New Year's Eve event of this type in the U.S., and has been going strong for over 40 years. It's fun, alcohol-free, and designed to entertain the whole family. It has inspired dozens of similar events across the country.
First Night has been part of what makes our city special since 1976, and continues to be the top Boston New Year's Eve celebration.
Plan to be among them for Boston's First Night gala!
Top photo: First Night ice sculpture by Frog Pond on Boston Common, (c) Boston Discovery Guide
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First Night Boston Events & Activities: What to Expect
Official First Night 2023 entertainment, ice sculptures, and other special attractions will take place in Copley Square and other locations in the Back Bay neighborhood, Boston Common, and on and around Boston Harbor this year.
- Family-friendly activities and arts performances start at 12 noon at the Main Stage in Copley Square, in the plaza outside of Copley Place Mall, and outside of the Boston Public Library
- Additional arts and music performances in Copley Square throughout the afternoon and non-stop through the evening until midnight
- At 5:50pm, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu will appear at the Main Stage in Copley Square to welcome everyone to the event.
- The People's Procession, a fantastic annual parade, marches up Boylston Street from Copley Square to the Common starting at 6pm
- Ice sculptures this year feature famous monuments from around the world in Copley Square. Look for more sculptures at Boston Public Library, other sites in Back Bay (Four Seasons Hotel at 200 Boylston, Newsfeed Cafe/WGBH at the corner of Exeter and Boylston, and more), and at Frog Pond in Boston Common
- An Ice Sculpture Stroll and other New Year's Eve activities take place along Harborwalk near the Waterfront - more information
- The Skating Club of Boston presents a figure skating show on the Frog Pond ice rink on Boston Common, at 6pm
- Family Fireworks light up the sky over Boston Common at 7pm
- At 7:30pm, Copley Countdown begins in Copley Square as music returns to the Main Stage.
- At 7:30pm, the Silver Arrow Band performs on the Main Stage
- Countdown to Midnight with pyrotechnics and a light show in Copley Square begins at one minute before midnight
- The Midnight Fireworks Show at 12am lights up the sky over Boston Harbor across from the North End and Seaport to welcome the New Year!
Essentials: First Night Boston
- When: New Year's Eve, December 31st, from 12 noon to just past midnight
- Where: Mostly the Back Bay neighborhood, including Copley Square, the area in front of Boston Public Library, and the plaza next to Copley Place Mall, plus Boston Common and Boston Harbor
- Cost: All official First Night entertainment and special attractions are free
- Boston hotels for New Year's Eve
- More about Boston New Year's Eve hotel discounts, special packages, and deals
- Public Transportation for First Night: MBTA provides an extended subway and commuter rail schedule for First Night until 2am. Find more information about subway, rail, and bus service on New Year's Eve here
- Parking: Parking bans will be in effect in some areas. Taking the T, Boston's subway, is best. If you do drive, you can find fee-based parking near Copley Square in Prudential Center, Copley Place Garage, and 200 Clarendon Street Garage.
- Road closures: Several streets in the vicinity of Copley Square will be closed on Dec 31 and Jan 1, and Boylston Street (parade route) will be closed on Dec 31 from 5:30pm-7:30pm.
- First Night Buttons: If you remember these from earlier years, good news: they're no longer needed. All First Night Boston events are now free.
- More New Year's Eve Events in Boston
- Find out about New Year's Eve parties in Boston
More about First Night Ice Sculptures
Giant ice sculptures by renowned ice artists are a signature event of First Night and draw huge crowds of spectators.
Look for the huge sculptures at Copley Square, Back Bay, and Frog Pond in Boston Common.
If you've never see ice sculptures taking shape before, you owe it to yourself to head over to Copley Square and watch these magicians at work.
Each finished sculpture weighs 30-45 tons, so you can imagine the massive blocks of ice required for making them. Sculpturing chunks of ice this huge is not a dainty process - ice artists use chain saws to carve their elaborate works of art.
The best time to watch the ice artists carve the sculptures is usually in the morning of New Year's Eve, December 31st.
The artists start as early as 9am - sometimes even earlier if the temperature is abnormally warm. If the weather is going to be reliably cold, some sculptors may start working a few days in advance. Sculptures usually are finished by noon on the 31st.
The huge ice sculptures look spectacular after dark on New Year's Eve when they're lit by brilliant colored lights.
First Night Family Events and Fireworks
First Night Boston offers numerous family oriented events from 12 noon to 4pm in the Copley Square area, as well as early-evening fireworks at 7pm on Boston Common.
You'll find plenty of children's events throughout the afternoon hours. Puppets, acrobats, face painting, arts and crafts, music, jugglers, story tellers, crafts, and performers provide family-friendly entertainment.
The sparkling lights on about 80 trees on the Common and in the Public Garden add to the festive spirit.
At 7pm, 12 minutes of Boston Family Fireworks launch from the Common's ballfield. The best place to watch the fireworks is from the sloping hill across from the field, but you can also get a decent view from most other parts of the Common.
If you have young children, the early hour lets you celebrate the New Year with them - and get everyone to bed at a reasonable hour.
If you have older kids or teens, head back to Copley Square after the fireworks and enjoy the live music and other activities from 6pm - midnight.
New Year's Eve Fireworks on Boston Harbor
Head over to the waterfront to ring in the New Year by watching fireworks over Boston Harbor at midnight.
The best place to watch? Any spot along the waterfront overlooking Boston Harbor, such as the North End (including Christopher Columbus Park), the Downtown Waterfront, South Boston Waterfront, East Boston, Charlestown, Castle Island.
Another fun way to watch (or to celebrate New Year's Day:
- New Year's Eve Cruise - Say goodbye to 2023 and welcome 2024 on this elegant Boston Harbor cruise with fireworks, live music, and gourmet appetizers; purchase the beverage of your choice onboard - or pre-order a bottle of Moet & Chandon when you book - Book now
- New Year's Day Brunch Cruise - Welcome the New Year with a tasty hot 3-course brunch on this relaxing sightseeing tour around Boston Harbor - perfect start to the New Year! - Book now
- Gift Card - Give the perfect holiday gift! Shop now
The fireworks display is sponsored by Friends of Christopher Columbus Park, the organization that is also responsible for the gorgeous lighted trellis and all the many activities that take place in this gorgeous waterfront park - the gateway to Boston's North End!
Countdown to Midnight on New Year's Eve - Where to Watch
At just before 12am, Countdown to Midnight begins at Copley Square. When the clock strikes 12, a fabulous pyrotechnics display and light show over Copley Square welcomes the first day of the New Year.
The best place to watch will be in Copley Square - or, if you want to stay warm, from your room at a hotel room overlooking the Square.
The two hotels with the best direct views are the luxurious Fairmont Copley Plaza and the affordable Charlesmark Hotel. If you want a room overlooking Copley Square, be sure to confirm availability directly with the hotel.
First Night (& First Day) on the Waterfront
In addition to the Midnight Fireworks on Boston Harbor, an Ice Sculpture Scroll with 19 locations plus lots more mostly free fun First Night activities take place along the North End, Downtown, and Seaport Waterfronts on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Q & A about First Night: You ask, we'll answer . . .
Folks I know are going to Chinatown for dinner and then to First Night fireworks on Boston Common at 7 pm. I'm vegetarian and they're not.
Where would you recommend . . . see our recommendations about vegetarian and vegan places to dine in Chinatown and near Copley Square
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