Ring in 2013 at First Night in Boston

| December 12, 2012

First Night in Boston buttons First Night Boston, an annual celebration of culture and the arts, was founded in the mid-1970s as an alternative to the usual New Year’s Eve events. It has since evolved into a major festival showcasing artists from around the world and hosting a million visitors every year.

Use the following guide to help plan your visit on Dec. 31, 2012, whether you’re already in town or traveling to Boston to ring in 2013. And be sure to check out the Dex listings to learn more about restaurants and accommodations nearby.

Buy your button

You’ll need to purchase a button to join in on the fun and take advantage of discounts at local museums, galleries and historical sites. (Don’t lose it — it’s good for special offers after the 31st.)

Buttons are $15 each and available online (U.S. only) or by calling 617-542-1399. Several premium packages, ranging from $35 to $80, get you a First Night button plus premium seating at the headliner concert of your choice and a ticket to the Midnight Fireworks Cruise in Boston Harbor.

Just for kids

Starting at 10 a.m., several businesses around town are offering family-friendly deals for First Night button holders. It’s a perfect way to see the sights with your kids.


A few highlights include free admission to the Boston Children’s Museum from 10 a.m. to noon, hands-on art activities at Made in Fort Point from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (refreshments are provided) and free admission to the Museum of Fine Arts for the first 300 button holders.

Performances galore

A dazzling array of other activities and performances will be held throughout the day at indoor and outdoor venues around town. Enjoy modern dance, puppet shows, Shakespeare, face painting, poetry slams and much more. Several of the activities, such as Simply Circus, are interactive and hands-on.

Don’t miss the festival’s signature parade from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and be sure to catch one of the following concert headliners at 9 p.m.:

  • Indie pop group Magnetic Fields in its First Night debut at Symphony Hall
  • R&B artist Lee Fields at NEC’s Jordan Hall with Truth & Soul’s house band the Expressions
  • Jazz guitarist John Scofield on stage with Uberjam at the Berklee Performance Center

See the First Night Boston website for a complete schedule.


Watch the skies at the stroke of midnight for the grand finale, a fireworks display over Boston Harbor. If you purchased a premium package, you’ll be able to watch aboard a ship with DJ entertainment and cash bar. Otherwise, head to the area as early as possible to claim a good spot.

Plan ahead

It’s a good idea to take public transportation, dress in layers and arrive on time for the events because they tend to fill up quickly. You’ll also want to review the schedule of events before you go and have backup plans in case an activity is full when you get there.


Several hotels around the city are offering First Night packages with buttons. The First Night website has details.

Celebrating 37 years and still going strong, First Night is hosted in communities throughout the United States. If you can’t make it to Boston this New Year’s Eve, let Dex show you how to celebrate New Year’s in your town.

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Category: New Year's

About the Author ()

Katy is a Chicago-based journalist with an eclectic background in print publishing, web design and paralegal work. She's been writing and editing web content full time since 2010.