New Year’s Eve in Boston: The Ultimate Guide

By: - Wednesday, Dec 19, 2018 - 1:30am
Photo by Lei Han / Creative Commons 2.0

It happens earlier every year: That first group text asking “Any New Year’s plans?” Or you’re walking through a mall with an extremely well-curated holiday playlist and hear the Orioles classic “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and realize you don’t have an answer. Let’s do something about that: Here’s our guide to ringing in 2019 in style, on any budget.

First things first: The city’s official First Night Boston programming kicks off at noon with live performances at Copley Square, the Prudential Center, and Copley Place. There’s something for everyone, from the kid-friendly Puppet Showplace Theater to the Handel and Haydn Society’s Jubilee Day concert, sketch comedy and dance troupes, live bands, and more.

After dark, the ice sculptures light up and the action moves to the Common for the Frog Pond Skating Spectacular featuring national and international competitive figure skaters (6 p.m.) and the Mugar Foundation’s Family Fireworks display (7 p.m.), because kids and grown-ups who can’t make it to midnight deserve to see some fireworks, too.

Make your way back to Copley to catch up and coming hip hop duo STL GLD, opening a series of live performances leading up to headliner Chadwick Stokes and the Pintos, the new project from the frontman for indie/roots rock band Dispatch. Look, when you’re named “Chadwick Stokes” you don’t really have any choice except to start an indie/roots rock band, grow a shaggy beard and wear a wool cap at all times regardless of temperature. By midnight you’ll probably just want to see some fire and explosions, so either stay in Copley for the Midnight Pyrotechnics & Light Show or head to the Seaport for the Midnight Harbor Fireworks.

But what if you want to go out on New Year’s? Like, out out. To bars, or clubs even. Now half of you are saying “Yes, please get to the bars and clubs, that’s why we’re here” and the other half are saying “No way man, going out on New Year’s is for amateurs.” Putting aside whether it actually takes decades of practice to walk into a bar, order drinks, and drink those drinks, the amateur hour aspect of NYE is more of a drag on the servers and bartenders — as a seasoned drinker, you know not to get angry when the girl who just walked up to the bar gets served before you, to order with a smile, and to tip a little extra because you’re grateful you’re on this side of the bar.

Yeah, a lot of places will have pricey cover charges or ticket prices. The Secret Garden Enchanting New Year’s Eve at the Liberty Hotel ($95) features a light buffet, DJs, dancing, and performances by the Boston Circus Guild. Aeronaut Brewing Company’s World’s Fair 1940/3040 ($85) is two parties in one: A vintage piano lounge and a journey through an uncharted millennium, both featuring plenty of food and beer. You’ll find dueling CBGBs and Studio 54 bars, plus a midnight Miller High Life toast — the champagne of beers, get it? — at A4cade by Area Four’s Detroit Rock-Cade New Year’s Eve ($25). If you don’t want to go all the way back to the ‘70s, New Year’s Eve 2019: the pill at Great Scott ($30-35) with DJs Ken and Michael V brings back the modern indie dance party that ran from 1997 to 2013.

Want to dodge the cover charge and save money for drinks? We got you fam. Check out the New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Party at Back Bay Social, Studio 54 New Year’s Eve at Drink, or the ‘Great Escape’ New Year’s Eve Party at Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Somerville. It’s not a theme party based on the 1963 Steve McQueen movie, or any kind of theme, and you won’t find a DJ or noise makers or toasts — just a fun night at the bar.

Toad in Porter Square presents free live music every night of the week, and December 31st isn’t any different with Magen Tracy & the Missed Connections holding it down with covers from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, along with some of the band’s terrific originals. One of the bands I used to see at Toad back in the day — don’t worry about how long ago that was — Boston Conservatory grads Lake Street Dive have worked their way up to playing the Wang Theatre on New Year’s Eve ($45), likely treating the hometown crowd to some deep cuts and fun covers.

Next door at the Wilbur Theatre, laugh in the new year with Michelle Wolf (7 p.m., $37), fresh off her gig headlining the White House Correspondents Dinner. Then stick around the Wilbur to say “thank u, next” to Pete Davidson & Friends (9:45 p.m., $50).

So there you go, your ultimate guide to New Year’s 2019 in Boston. Check out our big list below for even more options, and here’s hoping we helped you find the perfect way to ring in the new — wait, your roommate’s co-worker’s sister is throwing a house party and you can tag along? Oh yeah, just do that. Or stay in, watch the ‘Nailed It!’ New Year’s Eve episode on Netflix, pass out at 10:30, and save your energy for 2019.

First Night + Fireworks

Bars + Clubs



Parties + Cruises

Comedy + Theater