Your guide to First Night Boston 2022 fireworks, festivities and fun

A crowd watching a performance during a previous First Night Boston. (Courtesy First Night Boston, Inc.)
A crowd watching a performance during a previous First Night Boston. (Courtesy First Night Boston, Inc.)

First Night Boston, the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31, will return in-person after last year’s programming went virtual due to the pandemic.

From circus performers to musical acts, with styles ranging from jazz to country to rap, the event’s dynamic schedule is bound to entertain and fill revelers with joy.

On Thursday, Mayor Michelle Wu announced that all First Night activities will be outdoors. There will also be two vaccination and booster clinics. One, run by Whittier St. Health Center, will be on Copley Square from noon to 7 p.m. Then the Boston Public Health Commission will vaccinate and provide boosters at the Boston Public Library until 11 p.m.

Whittier St. will also have 1,000 rapid COVID-19 tests to distribute.

Ring in the new year with this handy guide to Boston’s First Night and decide which of its features you won’t want to miss.

An ice sculpture from a previous First Night Boston. (Courtesy First Night Boston, Inc.)
An ice sculpture from a previous First Night Boston. (Courtesy First Night Boston, Inc.)

Ice Gallery

Glistening, expertly designed ice sculptures will debut around Copley Square as part of a themed “Wonders of the Frozen Ocean” display. You’ll be able to view “animals of the icy poles” near the Copley fountain and around the Boston Public Library. These beautifully crafted works of art will be on display for the public from noon until 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Chu Ling Dance Academy

Students from the school will perform both traditional Chinese dance and more contemporary works, at an outdoor space outside the Copley Place Mall, beginning at noon. Acts include a graceful fan dance and a “long-sleeved dance,” which is intended to serve as a reflection on the pandemic. A younger student will perform an umbrella dance, which incorporates gymnastics, and another solo performance will represent the style of Chinese folk dance. New to this year will be a fashion show. The academy primarily teaches its pupils classical ballet and Chinese dance, with occasional lessons in hip-hop and Latin.

Puppet Showplace Theater

This family friendly act will charm and delight children and adults alike, as resident artist Brad Shur brings unique puppets to life. The performances can be watched at an outdoor space at the Copley Place Mall, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Shur will be presenting a set of short shows, which are excerpts from a production that he wrote called “Cardboard Explosion.” Featuring all cardboard characters, the show is a lively and energetic exploration of forms and fun, and viewers will marvel at how boxy, brown dragons and cityscapes take center stage. The Puppet Showplace Theater has existed for 47 years and hosts performances by professional puppet companies in its intimate Brookline Village theater.

Boston Youth Chamber

The group, composed of classically trained youth musicians, will perform at an outdoor space outside the Boston Public Library beginning at 3 p.m. Jae Min Ahn, a senior at Wellesley High School, will play the violin, while Albert Tang, a senior at Boston University Academy, will be on the cello. The duo will play works from Kodály and Hoffmeister, as well as other classical pieces, such as “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” by Mozart and “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel. Holiday favorites, including “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World,” will also be heard at their concert.

Opening Ceremony and People's Procession

March from Copley Square to Boston Common with the annual People’s Procession, beginning at 5:50 p.m. The vibrant array of marchers includes giant puppets, dancers, motor vehicles, a blues band and performers playing steel drums. You’ll see groups such as the Jamaica Plain Honk Band, the Hot Tamale Brass Band, the Openair Circus and more.

Frog Pond Skating Spectacular

At 6 p.m., the Skating Club of Boston present a stunning figure skating show, giving viewers a chance to see “national and international competitive figure skaters, soloists, groups, wee skaters, Team Excel Synchronized Skating and Theater on Ice of Boston, all at a historic venue.” The Skating Club of Boston has been committed to the sport and exhibited excellence for over 100 years and teaches students of all ages and abilities through the Skating Academy.

Family Fireworks

Following the parade, watch the skies over Boston Common sparkle, as the City of Boston and the Mugar Foundation host an evening of fireworks, beginning at 7:01 p.m.

Sons of Levin

This “band of brothers” was formed in 2018 by Connecticut natives Connor and Dylan Levinson, and it has been active locally and elsewhere since then. The group draws inspiration from classic rockers like Phish and the Grateful Dead, and they jokingly refer to themselves as performers of “dad rock,” paying tribute to previous greats. At 10:40 p.m., they will perform a high-energy set in Copley Square, with some original songs, some covers, and one Britney Spears favorite.

A pyrotechnic display during a previous First Night Boston. (Courtesy First Night Boston, Inc.)
A pyrotechnic display during a previous First Night Boston. (Courtesy First Night Boston, Inc.)


It’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for. The Silver Arrow Band, a wedding-style music group, will close the night, playing crowd pleasing tunes to get participants excited for the end of the evening. During the countdown until midnight, there will be a pyrotechnic show from the roof of the Fairmont Copley Plaza, along with a multisensory display. As the audience ushers in the start of 2022, a breathtaking fireworks display will light up Boston Harbor, presented by the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park.

Happy New Year!

This article was originally published on December 23, 2021.


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Shira Laucharoen Arts Writer
Shira Laucharoen is a contributor to WBUR's arts and culture section.



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