Need weekend plans?
The best events in the city, delivered to your inbox
Why does New Year’s Eve get all the hype when New Year’s Day can be just as fun?
That’s the idea behind the latest changes to First Night Boston, the city’s annual year-end celebration, which attracts hundreds of thousands of revelers to downtown Boston each year. For the first time, First Night Boston will include programming on January 1 as well, bringing live musical performances to Copley Square on New Year’s Day.
According to T.K. Skenderian, a spokesman for First Night Boston, part of the thinking behind expanding FNB’s programming to New Year’s Day was to give visitors who stay in the city overnight something to look forward to the next day.
“This event is a major economic driver for the city and the region, and we know that hundreds of thousands of people come to Boston to enjoy it,” Skenderian said. “In the past, we’ve observed many of these people enjoying the ice sculptures on New Year’s Day, so this gives them some of our region’s best performers to enjoy as well.”
Beyond the additional performance times, many of the First Night Boston’s staples have returned, including the ice sculptures, parade, and fireworks.
Here’s what you need to know about First Night Boston 2023.
The fun begins on Saturday, Dec. 31 at noon, with dozens of local musicians, artists, and performers sprinkled throughout the Back Bay. Perusing the full schedule on First Night Boston’s website, you’ll find dance troupes, figure skating events, free museum admission, and dozens of performances.
Following a pair of midnight fireworks displays, the revelry will start again at noon on January 1, with a pair of musical performances in Copley Square.
The main hub of First Night Boston activity will be based around Copley Square. The event’s main stage will be located in front of the Boston Public Library, and additional programming will be held at nearby churches and hotels in the Back Bay.
There will also be activities happening at Boston Common, including First Night Boston’s annual parade and early-evening fireworks at 7 p.m.
To see a full schedule of events based on location, visit the First Night Boston website.
Performers on the Copley Stage include Boston-based R&B singer Nancia at 8:30 p.m.; Lynn native Amanda Mena, a former contestant on “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “American Idol,” at 9 p.m.; Guess Method, a five-piece funk group based in Rhode Island at 9:40 p.m.; a performance from Grammy-nominated musician Debo Ray and saxophonist Seba Molnar at 10:30 p.m.; and The Sultans, a veteran group billed by GQ as America’s greatest wedding band, at 11:30 p.m.
A full list of performers is available on the First Night Boston website.
As is tradition, the First Night Boston Parade will bring together community groups and local musicians to march through the city streets. This year’s parade begins in Copley Square at 6 p.m., and heads toward Boston Common, wrapping up at 7 p.m.
Among the participating groups in this year’s parade are the Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association (GBCCA), the New Magnolia Jazz Band, the Puppeteer’s Cooperative, the Hot Tamales Brass Band, and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.
If you’re seeking fireworks on New Year’s Eve, First Night Boston has a pair of opportunities for you. At the conclusion of the annual First Night Boston Parade (which runs from 6-7 p.m.), fireworks will fly over Boston Common, courtesy the Mugar Foundation and the City of Boston.
Then at midnight, revelers will can head to the waterfront, where the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park will light up fireworks over Boston Harbor. For those who want to stay near the musical performances, First Night Boston’s show at Copley Square will feature a “laser and pyrotechnics display” at midnight that will last for a few minutes.
Like most other First Night Boston activities, the hub for ice sculptures will be at Copley Square, with the main ice sculpture pavilion set in front of Trinity Church. There will also be sculptures in front of WGBH’s studio in the Boston Public Library, and set up at various Back Bay establishments. Many of this year’s sculptures will reflect First Night Boston 2023’s theme, a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.
While not affiliated with First Night Boston, visitors can also find a number of ice sculptures along the Waterfront thanks to Boston Harbor Now. From 1-5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the organization will host a Waterfront Sculpture Stroll, with 32 sculpture sites located near the Harborwalk.
As part of the celebrations at Copley Square, the city of Boston will close a number of nearby streets to vehicle traffic: Dartmouth St. (between St. James Ave. and Boylston St.) from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Boylston St. (between Ring Road and Charles St.) from 4-8 p.m.; and Charles St. (between Boylston St. and Beacon St.) from 5-8 p.m.
First Night is not partnered with any parking garages, but lists the Copley Place, Prudential Center, Boston Common, and Clarendon Garages as potential parking spots.
The organization is, however, partnered with Spot Hero, which allows you to book a spot in advance and save 50% on parking rates through the First Night Boston SpotHero Parking Page.
You can also get to the celebration via the MBTA, with both bus lines and a number of stations on the Red, Green, Orange, and Commuter lines serving areas with First Night Boston programming. The MBTA plans to operate on a normal Saturday schedule until 3 p.m., at which point it will increase train frequency to weekday levels.
The best events in the city, delivered to your inbox