The "First Night" festival was born in Boston as a family-friendly way to celebrate New Year's Eve, and has since spread to cities throughout New England. Here are some of the best First Night festivals happening throughout New England on the evening of Dec. 31, 2016, as well as some other fun and unique celebrations taking place in the region.
First Night Boston (Massachusetts)
Celebrate the New Year with an old tradition by going to First Night Boston, the oldest New Year's Eve arts festival in the country. Started in 1976, this annual event will return for the 40th time this New Year's Eve, and feature the usual smattering of artists, ice sculptors, musicians, performers, dancers and revelers of all ages. The grand procession down Boylston Street is always a highlight, as is the midnight fireworks show over Boston Harbor. Learn more about First Night Boston 2017 here.
First Night Burlington (Vermont)
There will be over 12 hours of alcohol-free events at this year's First Night Burlington, which will be held on the city's Main Street. Live musical acts, storytelling, cartoon screenings and a circus on the main stage should delight children, and the whole family will appreciate the Dancing Dragons Parade on Church Street. There are also two waterfront fireworks shows on Lake Champlain-a 6:45 p.m. edition for families with young children, as well as a more traditional midnight display. See the full schedule and purchase your buttons for admission online.
First Night Hartford (Connecticut)
The 28th annual First Night Hartford will be a citywide affair, with wristband-admission performances and events happening all over Hartford, Connecticut. Horse-drawn wagon rides, carousel rides and free ice skating will be among the many fun activities. There will also be fireworks in Bushnell Park for families to enjoy at 6 p.m. and midnight. Learn more by going to the official First Night Hartford website.
New Year's Eve Countdown Under the Stars at the Rooftop at the ProvidenceG (Rhode Island)
For a more glamorous and adult evening, ring in the New Year under the stars by celebrating at Providence, Rhode Island's only rooftop restaurant and lounge. Live music and dancing will accompany gourmet passed appetizers, wood fired pizzas, specialty cocktails and a complimentary glass of champagne guests receive upon arrival. Tickets are $60 per person, and can be purchased here.
Great Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop (Maine)
It may not be a First Night festival, but what could be more quintessentially New England than ringing in the New Year by dropping a giant red maple leaf and an 8-foot sardine? The maple leaf actually drops at 11 p.m., to honor the Canadian New Year, while the giant sardine comes down an hour later. This truly unique event occurs at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport, Maine. The whole city has embraced this quirky tradition, and restaurants across Eastport get in on the fun with special menus and later hours. You can learn more here.
Whether you enjoy the first moments of 2017 at a First Night festival or celebrate by watching a giant fish drop, there are plenty of fun ways to ring in the new year in New England.
This article is presented by Colonial Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Hudson in Hudson, Massachusetts.