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Ringing in the New Year

Events around the city from December 26 to January 1


Celebrate a brand-new year by checking out the activities and happenings Boston has to offer. Explore new museums, see new musical groups, and get to know this beautiful city better.

First Night

For the past 35 years, First Night, a local nonprofit that promotes Boston’s artistic and cultural diversity, has become synonymous with New Year’s Eve in Boston through its now-famous First Night festival. The name is something of a misnomer, as events begin as early as 9 a.m. December 31 and culminate with a spectacular fireworks display over Boston Harbor at 11:59 p.m. The festival features performances at venues all over Boston and Cambridge, somewhat akin to a giant block party. Concerts, film screenings, dance performances, puppet shows, and dazzling ice sculptures are just some highlights.

Many First Night events are free and open to the public, but others require a button for admission. Buttons are $18 and can be purchased online. The first 500 button holders get free admission to a number of museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as to a performance of the Boston Ballet’s classic The Nutcracker.

More information about First Night can be found here and a complete list of events here.

New Year’s Eve parties

Red Hat

Ringing in the New Year at one of Boston’s clubs or restaurants will cost you big bucks. (It’s not uncommon to pay $100 to $200). Happily, cheaper options exist, among them Boston restaurant the Red Hat’s New Year’s Eve party, which has a James Bond theme. The event is 21+ and tickets are $20 and include prizes and party favors, as well as Bond-inspired food and a champagne toast.

007 New Year’s Eve takes place at the Red Hat, 9 Bowdoin St., Boston, on December 31, from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets are available at the restaurant or online. By public transportation, take the MBTA Blue Line train to the Bowdoin stop. More information about the party can be found here.

Lansdowne Pub

Want to celebrate New Year’s with an Irish inflection? Head to the Lansdowne Pub. The evening will feature the Boston hard rock group Bearfight, as well as music from DJ Cutz and a champagne toast at midnight. The event is 21 + and tickets are $30.

New Year’s at the Lansdowne will take place at the Lansdowne Pub, 9 Lansdowne St., Boston, on December 31, from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tickets can be bought here. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to the Kenmore stop.


If you prefer to ring in the New Year by dancing the night away, check out Mojitos Lounge’s New Year’s Eve Gala. The Latin dance club will feature music from DJ Juan Madrid, DJ Feeno, and DJ JM. Bring your dancing shoes and show off your salsa and flamenco dancing skills. At midnight, toast 2012 with champagne and make some noise with complimentary party favors. The gala is 21+ only.

The New Year’s Eve Gala will be at Mojitos, 48 Winter St., Boston, on December 31, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets are $25. By public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line trolley to the Park Street stop.

A full listing of Boston New Year’s parties can be found here.

Winter Activities

Boston Common Frog Pond ice-skating

Ice-skating on the Boston Common Frog Pond. Photo courtesy of Smart Destinations


The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a little ice-skating, and there’s no better place than the Boston Common Frog Pond. Practice your skating during public skate hours, or just come to watch professionals practice.

The Frog Pond is in the Boston Common, at the corner of Beacon Street and Walnut Street and is open for public skating Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Adult admission is $5 and skate rentals are $9. By public transportation take a MBTA Green Line trolley or the Red Line to Park Street. Phone: 617-635-2120.


Experience a winter wonderland of a very different kind at Stone Zoo’s ZooLights, an annual seasonal light show that has become a favorite of Bostonians. The zoo is decked out in holiday lights strung along pathways and covering trees. Visit Yukon Creek, home to bald eagles, a gray fox and yes, reindeer.

ZooLights at Stone Zoo, 149 Pond St., Stoneham, takes place daily from 5 to 9 p.m. through January 1. Admission is $5 for nonmembers and $4 for members Monday through Thursday, and $6 for nonmembers and $5 for members Friday though Sunday. Purchase tickets online here. Phone: 781-438-5100. More information can be found here.


Three Pianos, Obie Award, Alec Duffy, Rick Burkhardt, Dave Malloy

Dave Malloy, Alec Duffy, and Rick Burkhardt in Three Pianos, at the American Repertory Theater through January 8. Photo Ryan Jensen.

The American Repertory Theater, in Cambridge, presents Three Pianos, the 2011 Obie Award–winning musical. The play depicts what happens when three friends find a copy of German composer Franz Schubert’s Winterreise and decide to reenact a Schubertiad, one of his famous musical salons. The story, written by Alec Duffy, Rick Burkhardt, and Dave Malloy, is at once hilarious and heartbreaking.

Three Pianos is being presented at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge, through January 8. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25, $40, and $55, include a beverage, and can be bought online. By public transportation, take the MBTA Red Line to the Harvard Square. Phone: 617-495-2668. More information about the show can be found here.


Awkward Compliment

Get a jump on New Year’s festivities and head to the Somerville Theatre on Thursday to catch Boston-based improv comedy group Awkward Compliment. All of the comedians in the company have appeared at Boston’s premier comedy club, the Improv Asylum and are graduates of the Improv Asylum Training Center. Awkward Compliment performs sketch comedy and improvisation games.

Awkward Compliment performs at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, every Thursday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. By public transportation, take the MBTA Red Line to the Davis stop. Phone: 617-625-5700.


Seth Altman takes his Jewish hipster act to Cambridge in his mostly one-man show, Jewmongous, billed as an evening of “unkosher comedy songs.” Altman, founder and former leader of the a cappella group Rockapella, which was a regular feature on the PBS series Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? debuted his show in 2006 and has since toured 25 cities to great acclaim. Experience his satirical musical commentary about growing up Jewish. And come hungry, because you can order food from Veggie Planet during the show.

Jewmongous will be at Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge, on Thursday, December 29, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be bought here. By public transportation, take the MBTA Red Line to the Harvard Square stop. More information about Club Passim and the show can be found here.


Sailors on a NYC Subway photo by Harold Feinstein photographer, Grunts: The G.I. Experience, Boston University Panopticon Gallery

Harold Feinstein’s 1957 photograph Sailors on a NYC Subway. Feinstein’s work will be displayed at the Panopticon Gallery through January 10.

If you’re a history buff, consider checking out the current photography show commemorating the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor at the Panopticon Gallery. The exhibition, Grunts: The G.I. Experience, showcases Robert Capa’s iconic images from World War II as well as Harold Feinstein’s photographs taken during the Korean War. Curated by Jim Fitts, the exhibition provides an inside look at the daily life of a soldier outside of battle. Not just a historical record, the photographs are intended to help visitors understand the spirit of the American military during the 1940s and 1950s.

Grunts: The G.I. Experience is at the Panopticon Gallery, inside the Hotel Commonwealth, 502c Commonwealth Ave., until January 10. The exhibition is available for viewing 24 hours a day and admission is free. By public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line trolley to the Kenmore stop. More information about the exhibition can be found here.


Degas and the Nude

The French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas is known chiefly for his drawings and paintings of young dancers. But a new show at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts explores another dimension of his work. Titled Degas and the Nude, it explores Degas’ portrayal of nude figures through his drawings, paintings, and sculptures, with special emphasis on his early works.

Degas and the Nude will be at the Museum of Fine Arts through February 5. The museum is open Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., closed New Year’s Day. Admission is free with a BU ID, and general admission is $22. By public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line trolley to the Museum of Fine Arts stop. More information about the exhibition can be found here.

In the Dark

If you’re looking for a museum experience of a different sort, head to the Museum of Science exhibition In the Dark. Visitors can explore replicas of ecosystems at night, underground caverns, and life under the sea. Learn how animals have adapted to operating at night, and explore how humans relate to darkness in residential and urban settings. The exhibits include physical models, hands-on chemical experiments, and a short theatrical presentation.

In the Dark is on view at the Museum of Science, One Science Park, through January 8. The museum is open Saturday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $22. By public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line trolley to the Science Park stop. More information about the exhibition can be found here.

Allison Thomasseau can be reached at althoma@bu.edu.

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