It’s a time-honored way to ring in the new year, and fun for the whole family to boot. First Night Boston, established in 1976, is a completely free outdoor extravaganza that celebrates New Year’s Eve in a big way. As long as you bundle up and plan ahead in terms of logistics, you can have a blast!

Despite its name, First Night actually begins during the day on New Year’s Eve, with activities like dance lessons, magic shows, and musical performances. Following the afternoon activities are the Frog Pond Skating Spectacular, a show which includes competitive figure skaters, and the People’s Parade from Copley Square to Boston Common. You can even join in the fun by becoming part of the Puppeteer’s Cooperative before the procession starts, and volunteer to carry a puppet as an excited audience cheers you on. The parade encourages dancing as well, so you can shake your groove thing while you head towards the festivities!

Then, the real fun begins. There will be a fireworks display, concert, and — of course — a countdown to the new year. This year, indie rock acts Air Traffic Controller and TigermanWOAH headline the musical portion of the evening. You’ll also want to check out the ice sculptures all around Copley Square. Each year centers on a different theme, and this year’s is “Maritime Legends.” Throughout the night, you can come and go as you please, shopping on Newbury Street or having a nice dinner at one of several amazing eateries in the neighborhood.

It’s not over yet, though! Once you’ve refueled the next morning with brunch at an area restaurant like The Met, Back Bay Harry’s, or Back Bay Social Club, head back to kick off the new year with the sweet sounds of 14 year-old piano prodigy Bradley Bartlett-Roche and soulful singer Ruby Rose Fox.

Concerts at First Night Boston

If you’ve ever driven in Boston, you know that it’s no easy task, so public transportation is highly recommended. You can hop on the Green Line to Copley for the easiest access to all the action that First Night has to offer. In terms of accommodations, Back Bay has a wealth of options, including The Colonnade, Sheraton Boston, and Courtyard Boston Copley Square.