First Night festivities ring in the New Year

Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe

Midnight fireworks over the harbor aren’t the only thing back this New Year’s Eve. 

First Night, the annual festival that has taken over Boston every New Year’s for about 40 years now, will return to bid 2017 adieu with 12 hours of activities planned for Dec. 31 and some daytime entertainment on Jan. 1. And yes, you can officially call it First Night First Day.

Live music by Eli “Paperboy” Reed and other bands, comedy shows from ImprovBoston, ice sculptures, and a variety of other cultural events are among the many attractions around Back Bay this Sunday, a schedule of which is laid out on First Night’s website


There are two major highlights Bostonians won’t want to miss on New Year’s Eve, said First Night project manager Nicole Francouer, who works for Conventures, the Boston-based event planning company sponsoring the festival. The first is the People’s Procession to Boston Common, a lively parade that will march down Boylston Street at 6 p.m., and the second is the evening’s first batch of fireworks at 7 p.m. over Boston Common. 

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These fireworks, put on by the Mugar Foundation, offer an earlier alternative for kiddos who can’t stay up until midnight to watch the harbor light up, Francouer said. The pyrotechnic display is made even greater by the historic setting, she said. 

A new twist to the celebration this year is a mobile scavenger hunt in which people can download an app to their cellphones and complete a series of “missions” for points. Missions include finding hidden photos of unicorns — the event’s mascot this year — scattered throughout Back Bay. Winners will receive prizes, ranging from a free night’s stay at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel to gift certificates to local businesses.

One not-so-festive element in this year’s fun? The bitter cold snaking around New England. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has urged Bostonians to be prepared if they head out in the frigid weather, taking extra precautions and dressing in layers. Francouer’s advice for staying on top of the day’s events is to use Copley Square as a “home base,” where people can warm up inside the Boston Public Library before embarking on their next activity.

Francouer said they’re getting ready for the cold as best they can, noting that preparations are already in motion to get snow-clearing crews together for Saturday’s expected snow and keeping performers warm while onstage. 


“That’s part of event planning: finding a Plan B and making the show go on,” she said, 

Kaitlyn Locke can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @ke_locke.