From fireworks over Boston Harbor to museum-worthy ice sculptures, there's plenty to do in the historic city.

By Jessica Bowne
August 15, 2016
Courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Boston might be best known for throwing a multi-day Fourth of July celebration, but that doesn’t mean the city shies away from ringing in the new year in a similar fashion.

Break the Ice

On the last day of the year, head to the Boston Harbor Hotel for the annual Winter on the Wharf event. Kids and adults will enjoy complimentary ice-skating, hot cocoa, and cookies from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Be sure to seek out the art-like sculptures scattered across the harbor area during Waterfront Boston’s Ice Sculpture Stroll. You'll even see a model of the U.S.S. Constitution carved out of ice.

First Night Boston, which has been celebrated since 1976 on New Year’s Eve, returns in an even bigger fashion in 2016 with a parade on Boylston Street, musical performances starting at noon throughout Boston Common, Copley Square, and the harbor, and (of course) more ice sculptures. Watch the ice artists at work on New Year’s Eve morning (starting around 9 a.m., weather dependent) in front of the Prudential Center. As part of the festivities, fireworks will be set off over the harbor on Dec. 31, and for only the second year the celebrations will continue on Jan. 1 with activities like a First Day Run/Walk on historic Boston Common.

Courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

​Feast Before the Resolutions Start

If staying warm inside is more to your liking, but you still want to see the fireworks (and who can blame you?), make a reservation at Chef Barbara Lynch’s Relais & Chateaux-awarded restaurant, Menton, for a special multi-course dinner. The upscale restaurant in the city’s water-adjacent Fort Point neighborhood usually rings in New Year’s Eve with a special theme (like Casino Royale or the 1920s) and offers dishes like butter soup, tortellini en brodo, and Wagyu beef.

At the nearby Bastille Kitchen, Hospitality Ambassador Rob Lewis will ensure the New Year’s Eve party continues until 2 a.m. with complimentary admission, free party favors, and a midnight toast. Diners can order off an a la carte menu with special plates like Alaskan King Crab legs and caviar service. Legal Harborside will host a New Year’s Eve party under the stars on Liberty Wharf on their glass-enclosed rooftop. Warm yourself by the copper-clad fireplace while sipping cocktails and watching the midnight fireworks over the harbor.

In the heart of the Back Bay, the seen-and-be-seen STRIP by Strega restaurant will have a special New Year’s Eve menu with dishes like seared foie gras and East Coast oysters paired with Veuve Clicquot. A few blocks away, just off the Boston Marathon finish line, Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental will offer a four-course, prix-fixe New Year’s Eve Gala Celebration menu starting at 9 p.m., which allows diners to stay through midnight for a complimentary glass of Champagne and music spun by a live DJ.

Enjoy a Show

See fireworks of a different kind at a very special New Year’s Eve performance of Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker at 7:30 p.m. at the Boston Opera House. The performance, just shy of two hours, will have you out long before midnight. While details of this year's show are still vague, we can promise surprise guests (like Santa Claus) will make appearances, and holiday songs will be played by the pit orchestra prior to the ballet.