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If you only know First Night Boston as the one day the MBTA is free, here’s a rundown of what happens: arts and entertainment programs run from 1 p.m. on Dec. 31 through midnight on New Year’s Day. All outdoor events are free. Full or discounted admissions to indoor events are available to those wearing a special First Night button. You can snag one for $10 at participating CVS and Bank of America locations or BosTix booths in Copley Square and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
Over 200 events, spanning from ice sculptures to shoegazing, will be playing out in less than 12 hours. Here are the 15 events I suggest going to at First Night:
- Winter on the Waterfront offers six unique schedules of morning and afternoon programming for families at six different locations around Boston. From Downtown to Charlestown, the festivities include jaunts to the USS Constitution and ukulele lessons.
- 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.
- Six locations around Boston
- Simply Circus is teaching adults and kids about circus arts with a workshop and some demos. Kids 3 years old and up are welcome to marvel at fancy cartwheels, tight-wire walking, and aerial tricks (a failed hula-hooper can dream).
- 1:00– 1:30 p.m. (Workshop), 2:30– 3:30 p.m., 4:30– 5:30 p.m.
- Hynes Convention Center
- 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
- Historic African Meeting House
- Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association Workshop gives visitors a chance to make lanterns, firecrackers, and traditional figurines.
- 1- 5 p.m.
- Hynes Convention Center, Hall A
- Boston Public Library opens its doors for a look at its art and architecture highlights. This is a free abridged version of the usual offering.
- Every 15 minutes from 1- 5 p.m. (last tour starts at 4:30pm)
- Tour starts at McKim Building vestibule
- 1:15– 1:45 p.m., 3:00– 3:45 p.m .
- Hynes Convention Center, Ballroom C
- 6:00- 6:50 p.m.
- Boston Common Frog Pond
- Can’t hold out until midnight? Boston Family Fireworks, presented by Mayor Marty Walsh and the Mugar Foundation, hosts a ten-minute display for those turning in early.
- 7:00- 7:12 p.m.
- Boston Common Baseball Field
- Boston Saxophone Quartet, which has gained recognition throughout New England, finds young talent from the Boston Public Schools and offers them the chance to compose an original work or rearrange an existing piece for the First Night concert. The student winner will perform his or her work with the quartet.
- 7:30– 9:30 p.m.
- Hynes Convention Center, Room 310
- 7:30- 11:00 p.m.
- Hynes Convention Center, Room 201
- Dom Flemons has impressed crowds from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo. At First Night, he’s bound to thrill the folk with his breezy banjo twang and unaffected confidence.
- 8 p.m.
- Berklee Performance Center
- 8:10- 9:00 p.m.
- Copley Square
- 9:00– 9:45 p.m.
- King’s Chapel
- Indie rock favorite Yo La Tengo rounds out the last night of 2014 with selections from the wide-ranging repertoire that have kept them comfortably just below the radar.
- 9:30- 11:00 p.m.
- Hynes Convention Center, Ballroom B
- 10:30- 11:10 p.m.
- Copley Square
Holly Van Leuven is a writer, publisher and musical theater historian in Boston. She is the recipient of the inaugural BIO/Hazel Rowley Prize for her forthcoming book on Ray Bolger.
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