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Out with the Old, In with the New

A guide to New Year’s celebrations in Boston

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As we prepare to mark the end of another year and the arrival of a new one, we’ve put together a list of events in and around Boston for all of you who will be celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day locally. There are concerts, skating, family-friendly events at local museums, and of course, fireworks to usher in 2017 in style. Check out our list below.

We hope you have a happy, healthy New Year.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Festivities

2017 Boston First Night, First Day
Saturday, December 31, and Sunday, January 1

Looking to celebrate New Year’s Eve and the arrival of 2017 in a jolly way? Head over to Copley Square for First Night Boston, the country’s oldest and largest New Year’s Eve festival, now celebrating its 41st year. This celebration of the arts—with an emphasis on family-friendly events—is completely free and open to the public, thanks to several generous sponsors, and will take place over two days.

The more than 40 events on the schedule kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 31, with a Shakespeare exhibition at the Boston Public Library’s main branch in Copley Square. The day continues with magic shows, several live musical performances, face painting, dance lessons, comedy, and even a performance by a Yo Yo troupe, followed by a procession to Boston Common at 6 p.m. and a Family Fireworks display over the Common at 7 p.m. Live performances by local bands continue in Copley Square until midnight, when the evening comes to a close with pyrotechnics and a light show (see below for details). Ice sculptures are a perennial favorite; look for them throughout Copley Square, this year reflecting the theme Maritime Legends.

On Sunday, January 1, activities devoted to families and children’s entertainment and musical performances resume in Copley Square at noon and continue until 4 p.m.

First Night, First Day Boston festivities begin Saturday, December 31, 10 a.m. to midnight, and continue Sunday, January 1, noon to 4 p.m., at venues in and around Copley Square and the Boston Common. Find a complete schedule of events here. All events are free and open to the public. Take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Copley.

Boston’s Family Fireworks
Saturday, December 31

Want to add some dazzle to your New Year’s Eve celebration? The First Night Boston’s Family Fireworks will surely light up your night. The first fireworks of the evening, this 15-minute pyrotechnics display starts at 7 p.m. on the Boston Common to mark the arrival of New Year’s Eve at midnight Greenwich Mean Time—aka Universal Time—when most of the world observes the arrival of the new year. Local philanthropist David Mugar came up with the idea in 2000, and it’s been a part of Boston’s First Night celebrations ever since.

The 17th annual Boston’s Family Fireworks show lights up the sky on Saturday, December 31, at 7 p.m. at the Boston Common baseball field at the corner of Boylston and Charles Streets. Find directions here.

Midnight Pyrotechnics Show
Saturday, December 31

In a departure from previous First Night celebrations, this year’s midnight fireworks are being held exclusively at Copley Plaza (in previous years, there have also been fireworks over Boston Harbor). The First Night fireworks and light show will be set to live music provided by local rock band Tigerman WOAH. Those looking to catch the signature theatrics from home are encouraged to tune to New England Cable News and NBC Boston for live coverage.

The First Night Midnight Pyrotechnics Show is Saturday, December 31, in Copley Square at midnight. Tigerman WOAH will begin at 11 p.m.; fireworks will be set off from the roof of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel at midnight and are expected to run 15 minutes. Take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Copley.

Lance Carpenter sitting on stairs

Recording artist and songwriter Lance Carpenter performs all night at the Nashville New Year’s Eve Party at Loretta’s Last Call. Photo by Annette Kay, courtesy of Lance Carpenter

Loretta’s Last Call’s First Annual Nashville New Year’s Eve Honkytonk
Saturday, December 31

If you prefer to celebrate New Year’s Eve indoors, head over to Loretta’s Last Call in the Fenway for the annual New Year’s Eve event. This year it’s billed as the First Annual Nashville New Year’s Eve Honkytonk. For $40 you get the cover charge, a dinner buffet (fried chicken, coleslaw, and corn bread), a midnight champagne toast and balloon drop, and live music from award-winning singer-songwriter Lance Carpenter. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and as it usually sells out, it’s best to order as soon as possible. Be sure to don your best cowboy hat and boots.

The Nashville New Year’s Eve Honkytonk (21+) at Loretta’s Last Call, One Landsdowne St., Boston, begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $40 and must be purchased here. A guest list is used, so names must be given when purchasing a ticket. Find directions here.

Concerts

Boston Pops Swing Orchestra New Year’s Eve Concert
Saturday, December 31

Want to dance the year away? Head over to Symphony Hall for the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra’s annual New Year’s Eve concert, once again led by legendary bandleader Bo Winiker. There will be a cash bar and several dining options. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and the music and dancing start at 10:15 p.m.

The Boston Pops Swing Orchestra’s New Year’s Eve Concert is Saturday, December 31, at 10:15 p.m. at Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. Tickets range from $51 to $140 and can be purchased online. This event typically sells out, so be sure to buy tickets in advance. Find directions here.

Bo Winiker conducting orchestra

Bandleader Bo Winiker will once again lead the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra’s annual New Year’s Eve concert at Symphony Hall. Photo courtesy Theresa Johnson

Boston Baroque’s New Year’s Eve and First Day Concerts
Saturday, December 31, and Sunday, January 1

The Grammy-nominated Boston Baroque Orchestra will perform festive classical music on New Year’s Eve and again on New Year’s Day at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre. Led by musical director Martin Pearlman, a College of Fine Arts professor of music and historical performance, the concerts will include Handel’s Music for Royal Fireworks, Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, and Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Minor.

The Boston Baroque Gala New Year’s Eve Concert is Saturday, December 31, at 8 p.m., and the First Day Concert is Sunday, January 1, at 3 p.m., both at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge. Tickets are $30 to $90 for the general public and can be purchased here, or call 617-987-8600. The following discounts are available 90 minutes before each performance: student rush ($10, ID required), senior rush ($20, age 65+), and $30 under 30 (tickets for patrons age 30 and below, ID required). Take an MBTA Red Line train to Harvard Square.

Boston Baroque’s Annual Free Community Concert
Monday, January 2

Boston Baroque’s annual Free Community Concert, an encore performance of its Sanders Theatre concerts, is Monday, January 2, at Dorchester’s Strand Theatre. The inaugural community concert in 2013 was so popular that the Boston mayor’s office invited the world-famous, period-instrument orchestra to make it an annual event. The concerts draw music lovers from all corners of the city.

The Boston Baroque’s Fourth Annual Free Community Concert is Monday, January 2, at 2 p.m., at the Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Rd., Dorchester. Reserve tickets online, call 617-987-8600, ext. 413, or pick up tickets in advance at the Boston Public Library Upham’s Corner branch front desk, 500 Columbia Rd., Dorchester.

Theater and Comedy Shows

Improv Asylum’s The Holiday Show
Saturday, December 31, and Sunday, January 1

In need of a good laugh to end the year or ring in the next? Head to the North End to catch the Improv Asylum’s main stage cast’s production The Holiday Show. The 90-minute holiday-themed revue combines interactive improv segments and sidesplitting written sketches, creating a new experience every night.

The Holiday Show at Improv Asylum is Saturday, December 31, at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., and Sunday, January 1, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Improv Asylum is at 216 Hanover St., Boston. Tickets for the Saturday shows ($35) and the Sunday shows $20 to $25) must be purchased here. See walking directions from the Green Line’s Haymarket station here.

Improv Asylum, Comedy, Live, Boston, Theatre

Improv Asylum, one of Boston’s premier comedy clubs, will celebrate the new year with a hilarious holiday show running December 31 and January 1. Photo by Esther Ro (COM’15)

The Donkey Show
Saturday, December 31

You won’t find a more unique theatrical experience than the American Repertory Theater’s special late-night New Year’s Eve performance of its long-running production, The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that will unfold around you, complete with mirror balls, feathered divas, roller skaters, hustle queens, and a catchy soundtrack of disco hits from the 1970s. Even after the midnight champagne toast is made, the music and dancing continue.

The New Year’s Eve performance of The Donkey Show is at Oberon, the American Repertory Theater’s second stage, 2 Arrow St., Harvard Square, Cambridge. Purchase tickets, $45 for dance floor and $75 for VIP table seats, here. Doors open at 9 p.m., the performance begins at 10 p.m., and the post-show party goes until 2 a.m. Find directions here.

Shear Madness
Saturday, December 31

Shear Madness, the longest-running theatrical production in the country, is a whodunit comedy that relies on the audience to help solve the murder that takes place on stage. The production promises new clues and twists every night, making each show different from the last. Come see why this beloved theatrical event has been a staple of Boston’s theater community since its debut in 1980.

Shear Madness has performances on Saturday, December 31, at 5 and 8 p.m. at the Charles Playhouse Stage II, 74 Warrenton St., Boston. Tickets are $54 (plus a $7 service charge if bought online); avoid the service charge by purchasing tickets at the box office on Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., or Sunday, noon to 7 p.m. Find directions here.

ImprovBoston: 100 First Jokes 2017
Sunday, January 1

ImprovBoston adds some levity to the holidays with its annual 100 First Jokes show. Featuring 100 comics from around the city—50 perform at each of the evening’s two shows—this seasonal showcase is sure to leave you laughing. Each comic gets just two minutes to tell his or her best brand-new jokes of the new year. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Please note: because of the content, the show may not be suitable for all audiences and is not recommended for children.

ImprovBoston: 100 First Jokes 2017 shows are on Sunday, January 1, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect St., Cambridge. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online here. Find directions here.

Boston Winter at City Hall Plaza

For the first time ever, Boston’s City Hall Plaza has been transformed into a picturesque winter wonderland. Based on European-style holiday markets, City Hall’s inaugural open-air Boston Winter festival features dozens of local merchants selling food and holiday decorations, an 11,000-square-foot skating path, and plenty of spots to grab hot cocoa and a snack. It is perfect for all ages. The Holiday Market will close for the season at 6 p.m. on December 31, but the skating rink will remain open until February 26.

Boston Winter is at City Hall Plaza, One City Hall Square, Boston. Find general information here and information about the skating path here. Hours are Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 a.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Holiday hours and closures for the market, skating, and attractions are listed here. Admission is free, but some attractions do require payment. Take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Government Center.

Assorted artworks on display at the ICA

First Light, a special exhibition on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, celebrates the museum’s 10th anniversary on the waterfront by showcasing work it has collected over the past decade. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography

Ice-Skating

There’s no more invigorating way to spend a winter afternoon or early evening than by donning a pair of ice skates and heading to a nearby rink. Happily, there are several excellent skating venues in and around Boston.

Boston Common Frog Pond Ice Skating

What better place to enjoy outdoor skating than the Frog Pond skating rink on Boston Common, where the trees are festooned in bright holiday lights. Admission is $6 for people 58 inches and taller, free for those shorter than 58 inches. You can bring your own skates or rent them ($12 for adults, $6 for kids). You can also rent a locker for $3, get your skates sharpened for $10, and rent a Bobby the Skating Seal aid for $10 an hour. After spinning around the rink, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or a hot dog, hamburger, or homemade mac and cheese at the Frog Pond Café.

For New Year’s Eve, the Frog Pond’s annual First Night Skating Spectacular returns with a free show, produced by the Skating Club of Boston and featuring national and international competitive figure skaters, soloists, and Team Excel Synchronized Skating and Theatre On Ice of Boston teams. The show is followed by the Family Fireworks display at 7 p.m.

The free First Night Skating Spectacular starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 31, at the Boston Common Frog Pond, opposite the corner of Beacon and Walnut Streets. The rink is open for public skating Monday, 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (but closing at 4 p.m. on December 31), and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find directions here.

Community Ice Skating @ Kendall Square

Looking for a great outdoor skating venue on the Cambridge side of the Charles River? Community Ice Skating @ Kendall Square’s outdoor rink offers a great experience for skaters of all ages and skill levels. There are skating lessons for novices, skate rentals and sharpening, and a café full of treats perfect for a holiday date. Find a full list of prices and services here.

Community Ice Skating @ Kendall Square is at 300 Athenaeum St., Cambridge. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students with ID and seniors, and $1 for children age 13 and under. Find directions here.

December Vacation Week at the Museum of Fine Arts
Monday, December 26, through Saturday, December 31

The MFA will once again offer hands-on art programs for people of all ages during its annual December Vacation Week. The theme this year is winter travels; visitors can explore Greece, the South Pacific, Europe, and America’s Southwest by looking at paintings and objects from these areas in the museum’s collection. Then, drawing inspiration from what they have seen, children can paint their own winter scenes, create a clay perfume jar, or draw a navigation map of their own neighborhood. Find a full schedule of events here. These activities are free with general admission.

The Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, vacation week activities are offered daily between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., except for Wednesday, December 28, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, December 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find hours and admission prices here (free to BU students with ID). Find directions here. Find directions hereNote: the museum is closed New Year’s Day.

William Merritt Chase at the Museum of Fine Arts

While everyone is familiar with the work of French Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Berthe Morisot, fewer are familiar with the American Impressionists. One of the most gifted among them was William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), the subject of a dazzling retrospective on view through mid-January at the Museum of Fine Arts. It is the first complete exhibit of the artist’s work in more than three decades and offers a range of the artist’s work that includes portraits, landscapes, and elegant interiors. Eighty of the painter’s finest works in oil and pastel shed new light on an artist the museum hails as an “important and overlooked master.”

William Merritt Chase is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, through January 16, 2017. Find hours and admission prices here (free to BU students with ID). Note: the museum is closed New Year’s Day. Find directions here.

men's basketball team celebrating after a win

The men’s basketball Terriers begin Patriot League play when they host Holy Cross on December 30 and Lehigh on January 2. Photo by Alexandra Wimley (COM’17)

First Light: A Decade of Collecting at the ICA

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is marking its 10th anniversary at its Boston waterfront home with the special exhibition First Light: A Decade of Collecting at the ICA, and you have only a couple of weeks left to catch it. The largest and most ambitious presentation of the ICA’s collection to date, the show includes more than 100 works, including audience favorites and new acquisitions, and aims to encapsulate the ICA’s history of collecting and the visions of curators and collectors. New and permanent collections have been blended to form different thematic, historical, and artist-specific smaller exhibitions. You can view an online catalogue of the exhibit here.

First Light is at the ICA, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, through January 16, 2017. Find admission prices, hours, and directions here. Admission is free with a BU student ID. Find more information here, by phoning 617-478-3100, or by emailing info@icaboston.org. Note: the museum is closed on Sunday, January 1, and Monday, January 2.

Sports on Campus

The campus may be largely empty during intersession, but the men’s basketball team will be hard at work, hosting two home games as they launch league play. First up, they’ll take on Holy Cross on Friday, December 30, at 7 p.m. They will host again on Monday, January 2, when they face Lehigh University at 2 p.m. Both games will take place at Case Gym.

Tickets to events at Case Gym can be purchased at the Case Center ticket office, 285 Babcock St., one hour before games. Tickets are $12 for the general public; $7 for BU students, faculty, and staff; and free for students with a BU sports pass.

Connor Lenahan can be reached at lenahan@bu.edu; follow him on Twitter at @ConnorLenahan.

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