Guide: What to Do on First Night 2013-2014

The perfect schedule for every type of New Year's Eve.

first night boston

First Night by Allison Taylor on Flickr

Soaking up all of Boston’s arts scene in one night seems completely impossible, but that is what First Night offers year after year. Despite a scare this summer that the yearly event would be cancelled, Mayor Menino and the City of Boston have brought back the New Year’s Eve extravaganza with the help of Highland Street Foundation to bring the public free outdoor events and an all-access pass to indoor events.

You can purchase a trusty First Night button at CVS, Bank of America, the City Hall To Go Truck, or the BosTix Booths at Faneuil Hall or City Hall Plaza for $10. And for $100 you can have VIP access to all events, or pay $35 for premium seating, available on a limited basis for specific events.

With all the First Night events to choose from–there are 10 events even before noon–navigating First Night can be a challenge. We’ve sifted through the events in store and created the perfect schedule for you. Check out this list of the top five events each for families (i.e. kid-friendly fun), for adults, and for free.


1. Family Festival at Hynes

For children attending First Night, Hynes Convention Center is the place to be. From 1-6 p.m., stroll around the room for everything from face painting to 3D printing to multiple shows from the Puppet Showplace Theater, and more. A new addition to the festival, “First Light,” features three rooms of interactive sound and light exhibits. For the crafty child, children can create their own hats or participate in eco-friendly crafts. With Maximum Velocity bike tricks and aerial acrobatics, even the most adventurous child will be satisfied at Hynes.

1-6 p.m., Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000

2. Scott Jameson Magic Show

The First Night magic doesn’t have to be contained in the beauty of the city or the high-flying fireworks; Scott Jameson’s magic show is the perfect afternoon performance to keep your kids entertained through a day of celebrations. With comedy and enchantment, Jameson makes drawings come to life, pull umbrellas from thin air, and even picks lucky audience members to tap into telekinetic powers.

2-2:30 p.m., Hynes Convention Center Room 302, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000,

3. The Skyriders

Acrobats, a Guinness World Record in hula-hooping, and snowboards. What do these things have in common? Nothing–except that they make up The Skyriders. These award-winning trampoline acrobats perform “neck-breaking” acts with skis, snowboards, and wakeboards. If your children are looking for excitement at First Night, the Skyrider show is just the place to find it.

3-3:15pm, Hynes Convention Center Hall D, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000,

4. Boston Family Fireworks

Kids that get tuckered out far before midnight don’t have to miss out on the New Year’s fireworks. Directly after the Bank of America procession, there will be a ten-minute firework performance on the Boston Common ballfield at the corner of Boylston and Charles Streets. Whether you plan on continuing on to more events that night or this pyrotechnic display caps off your 2013, the show promises to impress.

7-7:10 p.m., Boston Common, Corner of Boylston and Charles Streets

5. Improv Boston

For a nighttime family-friendly activity, ImprovBoston does what many comedy troupes fail to: create shows for all ages. Weaving audience suggestions into challenges, songs, and even “As-Seen-on-TV” games into their shows. This event will keep both you and your children happy.

7:30-8:15 p.m., Hynes Convention Center Hall C, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000,


1. Beantown Outloud

Celebrating the end of 2013 also means celebrating our city at this event. Through a dedication to all that is Boston, Grub Street co-sponsors this meeting of the literary minds between authors Sue Miller and Chris Castellani, emceed by Boston native Steve Almond, who will also do a reading. Grub Street’s Teen Slam Poetry team will also be there to boast their Boston pride. And a side benefit–it’s right off the Copley stop and next to Copley Square in the hub of many First Night activities.

3-5 p.m., Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., 617-536-5400,

2. Boston Poetry Slam

It’ll make you laugh, cry, and clap your hardest. Poetry Slam is an energetic and creative, fast-paced competition in front of a panel of random judges, and Boston Poetry Slam is one of the foremost teams in the game. Part competition, part story, part stand-up performance, this is a First Night activity you won’t want to miss. If you got enough poetry at the Boston Outloud event, get a different take on slam with MassMouth Story Slam. Similar to poetry slam, story slam works with a combination of the story and how it’s being told. Challengers can sign up at the door, as well, so it should prove for an interesting competition. While there are five Boston Poetry Slam shows, there is only one Story Slam, so make sure to plan accordingly.

Boston Poetry Slam, 7, 8:15, 9, 9:45, 10:30 p.m., Hynes Convention Center Room 208, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000,; MassMouth Story Slam, 9:30-10:30 p.m., Hynes Convention Center Room 207, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000,

3. Safety Last!

In this performance, Safety Last! is anything but silent. Alongside the classic Harold Lloyd film, the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra will play its new original score alongside the comedy. This is the seventh silent film scored by the orchestra, and a classic silent picture. So drift back to the days of Charlie Chaplin, watch Lloyd perform hilarious stunts, and listen to the musical magic in the Cutler Theatre this New Year’s Eve.

7:30-9:30 p.m., Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St., 617-824-8000,

4. The Blind Boys of Alabama

This gospel group has had a longstanding Grammy-winning history, with five in the last 13 years on top of four Gospel Music Awards. They are more than their awards, however, and perform just for the love of soul. Anaïs Mitchell, who will perform songs from her recent album Young Man in America, will join the group. After a sold-out U.K. tour and performing with Bon Iver, Mitchell should make for a great New Year’s Eve show.

7:30-9:45 p.m., Hynes Convention Center Ballroom, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000,

5. Patti Smith

There aren’t many opportunities to see a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer perform for $10, and at First Night you get even more than that for the same price. Patti Smith, who started with “Horses,” is a performance that you can’t miss this New Year’s Eve. Performing with her is budding solo artist, Dean Wareham, former member of indie rock band Galaxie 500. Wareham’s indie rock-vibe will make for a good show with Smith, the legend of punk.

8:30-11 p.m., Hynes Convention Center Auditorium, 900 Boylston St., 617-954-2000,

Totally Free

1. Zebbler Studios Video Mapping Installation

The Boston Public Library has never looked like this. Thanks to Zebbler Berdovsky, a MassArt graduate, the wall of the library will be transformed into a full projection show. Culminating in a 10-minute Boston tribute just before the fireworks at midnight, the light show will dazzle with undoubtedly impressive technology.

5 p.m.-12 a.m., Copley Square, Boylston St.,

2. Bank of America Grand Procession

The centerpiece of the day, the Bank of America Grand Procession will take place again this year from Boylston Street and Dalton Street down to the Common. Dancers, duck boats, puppeteers, and more will represent the light of the moon, the light of the city, and the light of imagination in line with this year’s theme: “Rise and Shine.” This year’s parade will even have special participation from the Gay Pride Parade. For all of the First Night energy in one place, this parade is the way to go.

5:30-6:30 p.m., Boylston St., finishes at Boston Common

3. Skating Spectacular on Frog Pond

Nothing says holidays like watching skaters on the Frog Pond. The Skating Club of Boston, comprising local and national competitors, will perform a spectacular show for First Night. Check out what the club has been working on and see their new tricks in action.

6-6:50 p.m., Boston Common Frog Pond,

4. FIGMENT Boston

Merging artists and the public who views them, FIGMENT Boston is all about getting audiences to interact with the art. Including fire spinners, a dome with 360-degree video projections, and much more, these installations will take First Night to new heights. Over the past four years, FIGMENT has brought art to downtown Boston, bridging the gap between spectator and artist, and on New Year’s Eve, First Night guests will get to play with more than 15 creative art projects on the Common.

7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Boston Common, Northeast Corner,

5. Copley Square

If you know that moving back and forth around the city is too much for you and you will only make it to one location this year, no need to buy a button, spend the night in Copley Square. With projections on the Boston Public Library beginning at dusk, reggae group Giant Panda Guirella Dub Squad, and the synthesizers and headliners Gentlemen Hall, there will be plenty going on to satisfy. The famous ice sculptures will also flank the Copley Stage, giving you the full First Night experience.

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, 9:30-10:45 p.m., Liberty Mutual Copley Stage,; Gentlemen Hall, 11:15 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Liberty Mutual Copley Stage,


No matter which schedule you choose, finish off the night right at the strike of midnight with a fireworks show. If you prefer to celebrate 2o14 from the comfort of your own home, pop open a bottle of bubbly and turn of WBZ-TV for their First Night live broadcast from 11 p.m. on.

For more, check out the full First Night schedule.

Plus, here’s our roundup of other New Year’s Eve events happening in Boston.