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Massachusetts is proud to be first when it comes to First Night! After all, it was Boston that originated the First Night celebration back in 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial anniversary. The concept of family-style fun on New Year’s Eve quickly spread to Worcester and other cities and towns across the Commonwealth (and the rest of the nation), and today First Night remains a cherished Massachusetts tradition for ushering in the New Year.
So check out these ten First Night celebrations taking place on Thursday, December 31, 2015. Many events are free, while others charge a small ‘button’ fee to help underwrite the celebrations.
Beverly – Downtown
Star Wars is the theme of this year’s First Night in Beverly, so get ready for Jedi Knights and more. The Grand Procession Parade starts at 6 p.m. at the Montserrat College of Art on Cabot Street.
Boston – Copley Square and Boston Common
Celebrating its 40th year as the originator of First Night, Boston is hosting its first free celebration (no buttons, thank you), with dozens of events taking place in the Back Bay and Boston Common area, followed by midnight fireworks over the harbor.
Chatham – Main Street
The 25th annual First Night includes over 70 performances and events. Don’t miss the Town Photo in front of the Chatham Lighthouse Grounds at noon, followed by the Noise Parade at 6 p.m., and the early fireworks at 6:30 p.m.
Holyoke – Holyoke Heritage State Park
The 19th Annual “First Night Jr” Celebration at Holyoke Heritage State Park features activities at the Children’s Museum and Volleyball Hall of Fame, plus unlimited rides on the Merry-Go-Round.
Nantucket – Downtown
The Festival of Trees takes place at the Whaling Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the evening, join islanders at the 2015 Gala, “A Night to Remember”, where the Nantucket Hotel is transformed into a transatlantic ship, decorated in early 20th century themes.
New Bedford – Waterfront
The annual “City Celebrates” event includes free programming from 5 to 8 pm with magic shows, stilt walkers, jugglers and fire eaters, followed by fireworks on the waterfront at 8:30 p.m.
Northampton – Downtown
Since 1985, First Night Northampton has hosted this 12-hour (noon to midnight), family-friendly festival of the arts culminating in a traditional ball-raising from the roof of the Hotel Northampton.
Rockport – Downtown
Enjoy six hours of continuous entertainment in downtown Rockport from 6 pm to midnight. , with clowns, cowboys, magicians and musicians, plus ventriloquists, drama and more.
Sandwich – Route 6A and Downtown
The 4th annual First Night Sandwich on Cape Cod celebrates the “Town of Giants” theme this year, with 36 extraordinary sculptures by artist Michael Magyar, located along 6A and around the town.
Worcester – Downtown
The 35th annual First Night Worcester continues an exciting tradition of multicultural activities in dozens of venues. A free First Night Mobile APP provides a detailed schedule along with an interactive map.
In addition to First Night celebrations, here are some other cool ways to ring in the New Year on December 31 in Massachusetts:
Bring some Bach
The Berkshire Bach Society presents Bach @ New Year’s Rejoice Concert at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.
Go Gatsby in Lowell
Take in a Gatsby-style New Year’s Eve affair at The Ball, a black-tie gala in the city’s finest new ballroom, the Cathedral. Dance to 1920’s music and enter the best costume contest. Champagne and toasts at midnight.
Party in Provincetown
Party till the sun comes up P-Town at any of the clubs, restaurants, inns and lounges that are serving up live music, dance parties and party hats for all.
Swing in the New Year
Dance the night away at Boston Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra, fronted by legendary bandleader Bo Winiker.
And for those who want to keep New Year’s buzz going through the weekend, here are some First Day activities on Friday, January 1, 2016. Happy New Year!