New Years Eve & First Night Parades near Boston, Massachusetts: 12/28/08

The big event of the week is New Years Eve and I’ll be so disappointed if you go to a bar where the “New Years Celebration” is just like everyday business and your idea of a creative celebration of life is getting drunk and forgetting what happened. You can do better! I now present the biggest list of arty New Years Eve events in New England. I know it’s the biggest because I Googled every single town in the state, so much that Google briefly shut me out for too much searching. So here are some great ideas.

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First Night Celebrations
First Night Boston Dec 31 Boston Metro
Let’s start with the big one in Boston, First Night. You buy one ticket and get admission to dozens of dance, music, & participatory events, all within walking distance of each other downtown. It’s really fantastic and you must give it a shot. It’s the largest New Years celebration in the country. The trick is to stand in the back and don’t be afraid to leave & go next door midway through a performance. Starts in the early afternoon and goes through midnight.
Various Locations, Boston, MA. more
First Night Grand Procession & Fireworks Dec 31 Boston Metro
Don’t want to pay for a ticket? The parade is free and ends with a big bang in Boston Common, where there are usually ice sculptures. (Except last year it wasn’t cold enough and they had some kind of snow-plastic instead.) Starts at 5:30pm and ends with fireworks at Boston Common at 7pm, and then over Boston Harbor at midnight.
From Hynes Convention Center to Boston Common, Boston, MA. more
First Night Workshop @ New England Aquarium Dec 30 Boston Metro
Want to join in the parade? Head to the New England Aquarium a day early and make your own giant puppet on a stick to carry. 10am-3pm. Parade down Boylston Street on New Year’s Eve.
New England Aquarium, Boston, MA. more
Radio Drama for First Night Dec 31 Boston Metro
One of the First Night events I’ll single out is this 1940s radio drama. They have actors at microphones pretending to be in a sound studio doing a radio show. I’ve seen it and it’s interesting and fun. 7:30pm.
Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston, MA. more
First Night Tours @ Otis House Dec 31 Boston Metro
While you’re at First Night, make sure to visit this historic 1796 mansion right in downtown Boston. 11am-9pm.
141 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA.617-227-3956. more
Bright Night Providence Dec 31 Rhode Island
Tired of First Night Boston? Why not get a hotel room and visit another city? Everyone wants a stake in this game. Providence has a First Night experience, too, with two sets of fireworks, and world-famous acrobats as the headliners!
Providence, RI. more
First Night Worcester, MA Dec 31 Worcester
But wait! Worcester is getting in on the act, too! And they’ll have shuttles so you don’t have to drive.
Worcester, MA. more
First Night Northampton, MA Dec 31 Western Mass
Further away but trying harder than Worcester is First Night Northampton.
Northampton, MA. more
New Year’s Needham, MA Dec 31 Metro West
They’ll have a respectable First Night in Metro West as well.
Needham, MA. more
City Celebrates! New Year’s Eve, New Bedford, MA Dec 31 Southern Mass
There was a First Night New Bedford, but the city yanked it and replaced it with “City Celebrates”, which is similar. Here’s the website.
New Bedford, MA. more
New Years Rockport Eve Dec 31 South Shore
There will also be short 45-minute performances at 15 venues in the downtown area of Rockport.
Rockport Downtown area, Rockport, MA. more
Beverly’s New Year Dec 31 North Shore
There’s a parade at 6pm and the celebrations end early, at 8pm. And there don’t seem to be fireworks.
Cabot Street, Beverly, MA.978-922-8558. more
First Night Chatham, MA Dec 31 Cape Cod
This is the only one on Cape Cod.
Chatham, MA. more
Billerica Family First Night Dec 31 Northern Mass
In Billerica they’ll have ice sculptures and a parade in front of city hall, but no town-wide performances, and it ends at 8pm.
Billerica, MA. more
Brockton’s Blast into 2009 Dec 31 South Shore
Similarly, in Brockton there’s a celebration outside city hall until 8pm that goes no further or later.
Brockton, MA. more
First Night Newport, RI Dec 31 Rhode Island
They’re also having a smaller one in Newport.
Newport, RI. more
First Night Westerly, RI Dec 31 Rhode Island
Still smaller, but respectable — an ice skating rink and fireworks — is in Westerly.
Downtown Westerly, Westerly, RI.401-596-7761. more
First Night Portsmouth, NH Dec 31 New Hampshire
I couldn’t find anything in Concord, the capitol of New Hampshire, but they’re having a First Night celebration in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth, NH. more
First Night Wolfeboro, NH Dec 31 New Hampshire
This is the only other one in NH that I found.
Wolfeboro, NH. more
First Night Hartford, CT Dec 31 Connecticut
Fireworks at 6pm and midnight.
Hartford, CT. more
First Night Danbury, CT Dec 31 Connecticut
And in Danbury.
Danbury, CT. more
First Night Wesport, CT Dec 31 Connecticut
And more, in Westport CT and Weston, CT.
Westport, CT. more
First Night Burlington, VT Dec 31 Vermont
And it’s the Quadricentennial celebration in Vermont. Quadricentennial means it’s really old, except as compared to anything in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Burlington, VT. more
First Night Montpelier, VT Dec 31 Vermont
Burlington is not actually the capitol of Vermont. It’s Montpelier, the “smallest capitol in the nation”, which is doing it too.
Montpelier, VT. more
First Night St. Johnsbury, VT Dec 31 Vermont
St. Johnsbury, VT is about as far north as Montpelier. Maybe you could visit and go skiing, too.
St. Johnsbury, VT. more
First Night Quincy, MA Dec 31 South Shore
Quincy appears to have cancelled their First Night celebration, according to the Patriot Ledger. But it’s unclear so I’ll list it anyway. Call them.
Quincy, MA. more

First Night Parties
New Years’ Eve Contra Dances Dec 31 Metro West
OK, let’s say you’re afraid of walking in the cold and just want to stay in a single place for New Years. Pick up any paper and you’ll see that restaurants and bars are having their usual non-special special celebrations. Here are some parties that are out of the ordinary. The first one is a fantastic folk dance in Concord. 8pm-1am.
Scout House., 74 Walden St., Concord, MA. more
New Year’s Eve Dance Party at Folk Arts Center of New England Dec 31 Boston Metro
Or, try this folk dance, which is more easily subway accessible.
Church, 11 Homer Street, Newton, MA. more
Nudist resort New Years’ Dec 31 Connecticut
Or, perhaps you’d like to try a party at a nudist resort.
Woodstock, CT. more
New Year’s Eve @ Wachusett Mountain Dec 31 Worcester
Most ski resorts are having a New Years celebration. I’ll list only a couple for you. The best one like Wachusett Mountain have firworks and let you ski at night until midnight! And they have snow tubing, too. There’s a shuttle from the Commuter Rail you can take. See their website.
Princeton, MA. more
Nashoba Ski Area New Year’s Eve Celebration Dec 31 Northern Mass
Skiing, riding, tubing until 11:30pm and then a parade and fireworks! Let’s hope the fireworks don’t start an avalanche.
Westford, MA.978-692-3033. more
Roaring 20s New Years Eve @ Beechwood Mansion Dec 31 Rhode Island
Doing the New Year 1920s style in an old Newport mansion sounds like so much fun!! Call immediately; they may already be sold out.
Astors’ Beechwood Mansion, 580 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI. more
Framingham History Center New Year’s Eve Dec 31 Metro West
And here’s another historical society closer to Boston. But it’s unclear from their website if they’re doing it “old timey”.
Framingham, MA. more
New Year’s Eve Sober Dance (Wareham) Dec 31 South Shore
They’ll have folk dancing in Wareham, also.
Wareham, MA. more
New Year’s Eve at the Irish Cultural Center of New England Dec 31 South Shore
OK, if none of the above appeals, I give up. I have failed to separate you from the desire to just get smashed and dance. Here are a few of the more exceptional of the normal parties.
200 New Boston Dr, Canton, MA. more
Spirit of Boston New Year’s Cruise Dec 31 Boston Metro
Here’s a creative idea: seeing the fireworks from a ship. Call for reservations.
Commonwealth Pier, Boston, MA.617-748-1450. more
The Resolution Ball Dec 31 Boston Metro
A young professional event, i.e. a singles thing, black tie optional, Boston’s longest-running New Years’ Eve gala, dinner included, cocktails, dancing.
Westin Boston Waterfront, 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA.781-444-7771. more
New Year’s Dancin’ Eve Dec 31 – Jan 4 Metro West
This one’s not just a party, it’s an entire weekend for dance lovers! So I decided to include it.
Marriott Hotel, Burlington, MA. more

New Years Day
New Years Day Kite Fly Jan 1 North Shore
You can learn to fly a kite in Nahant alongside some pros.
Call for location, Nahant MA.978-937-8290. more
Free Day at Roger Williams Park Zoo Jan 1 Rhode Island
Admission is free. It’s a great excuse to check out the best zoo in Rhode Island.
1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI.401-785-3510. more
First Day Free @ Gardner Museum Jan 1 Boston Metro
It’s also free at the Gardner Museum, the museum that never changes (except the garden, and the performances, and they’re building an addition.).
280 The Fenway, Boston, MA.(617)566-1401. more
Free Admission to the Old State House Museum Jan 1 – Jan 31 Boston Metro
Going a step further, the entire month of January is free for Massachusetts residents (bring an ID) at the Old State House Museum.
206 Washington St , Boston, MA, Boston, MA. more
L Street Brownies New Year’s Day Swim Jan 1 Boston Metro
Every year, crazy people go for a swim on New Years. Why not show up and cheer them on? What a way to eliminate a hangover. 2009: 10am registration, 11am swim.
Curley Community Center, 1663 Columbia Road, Boston, MA.617.635.5104. more
Penguin Plunge Jan 1 Rhode Island
Or they tell special needs kids they should jump in. 2009: 12pm.
Mackeral Cove, Jamestown, RI. more
Hangover Classic (race and polar swim) Jan 1 Boston Metro
This one’s near Newburyport, MA.
Salisbury Beach, 3 Broadway Street, Salisbury, MA. more
New Years’ Day Polar Bear Plunge Jan 1 Rhode Island
Insane people dip into the water. 2009: 11am-12:30pm.
Easton’s Beach, Memorial Blvd, Newport, RI.401-846-0028. more

The Week in Weird
Moby Dick – The Marathon Jan 3 – Jan 4 Southern Mass
OK look there’s more going on in January, just… Not much more. Here’s a gem. People gather and listen to a nonstop reading of Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick. It takes 25 hours.
New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA. more
Sleigh rides & smores at Point of View Farm Jan 2 – Feb 28 New Hampshire
Weekends through February, you can get a real sleigh ride in New Hampshire.
160 South Road, Deerfield, NH.603-463-7974. more
Kimball Farm Horse-Draw Sleigh Rides Jan 2 – Feb 28 Northern Mass
Or closer to Boston in Haverhill, MA, if there’s snow.
Kimball Farm Corn Maze, 780 East Broadway, Haverhill, MA.978 521-3990. more
Quadtrantids Meteor Shower Jan 3 – Jan 4 Metro West
Or stay up late Jan 3rd to see the meteor shower, which peaks at 1am Jan 4th. Go someplace without any city lights, like a large field or lake.
Everywhere. more

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