date published: December 29, 2008

Let the folks in New York worship their Giant glittering disco ball—here in Boston, New Year’s Eve is a night of jubilation that features a little something for everyone. From the city’s popular First Night spectacular—now in its 33rd year—to parties ranging from the glamtastic to the guitarrific, the Hub is hopping this December 31 with a myriad of diverse celebrations that will have you feeling fine as you welcome in ’09.

Put Your Glad Rags On
There aren’t too many legit occasions these days when a girl can get dolled up like a princess, but New Year’s Eve is definitely one of them. This December 31, Boston hosts several gala events sure to bring out those Cinderella-inspired dreams of ballroom glory.

The Hyatt Regency Boston (1 Lafayette Ave., 617-912-1234) hosts Boston’s annual 40+ Baby Boomer bash, The Back Bay Gala, a fundraiser benefiting the Ellie Fund (a non-profit organization that aids families in the fight against breast cancer). Tickets range from $85–195 and include a cocktail reception, hors d’oeuvres, gift bags, party favors and dancing to both a DJ spinning classics from the ’70s and ’80s, and popular band The Love Dogs playing everything from Motown to rock ’n’ roll until 2 a.m.

On the other side of town at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel (425 Summer St., 617-532-4600) is the 12th annual Resolution Ball, Boston’s longest-running New Year’s Eve gala. Beginning at 7 p.m., this New Year’s celebration boasts complimentary cocktails and a choice of an all-inclusive dinner or a scrumptious selection of hors d’oeuvres (depending on which ticket package you buy). You’ll sway and shake to live music from the Felix Brown Band and DJ Samuel L., and walk away with goodies like party bags and favors. Tickets range from $49–155 and must be purchased in advance.

If you have your heart set on traveling to Paris to ring in 2009 but don’t have the cash flow to make it happen, fret not, for one Boston hotel has you covered. The Liberty Hotel Ballroom (215 Charles St., 617-224-4000) hosts the Global Gala in Paris from 8 p.m.–2 a.m. This gala—which costs $50 for the Global Gala silver ticket (10 p.m.–2 a.m.) and $120 for the Global Gala gold ticket (8 p.m.–2 a.m.)—is presented by the Boston Young Professionals Association and admission includes Lindt Chocolate gift bags, a 3-D sculpted cake of the Eiffel Tower, champagne toast at midnight and DJ Holtie playing today’s top 40 and yesterday’s favorites.

If gowns, tuxedos and dancing ’til the early hours really aren’t your thing, you can still attend a “gala” event at Boston Baroque’s Gala New Year’s Eve Concert at Sanders Theatre (45 Quincy St., Cambridge, 617-484-9200). The concert begins at 8 p.m. and features the renowned area ensemble welcoming in the new year with classical pieces like Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major and Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, as well as Handel’s Concerto Grosse in G Major bookended around an intermission champagne reception. Ticket prices range from $25–69.

Hub Clubbing
If the glitz and glamour of ballroom galas are a little too formal for your liking, and what you really want is to dance your way into 2009, then Boston nightclubs boast several parties catering to people who just want to shake their hips.

For those party people looking for a sexy and stylish event, there’s Studio Rouge: NYE 2009 at Vinalia (101 Arch St., 617-737-1777). The theme of the bash is a combination of the decadence of Studio 54 and the sexiness of the Moulin Rouge. Local event producers Future Classic, R.O.B. and B3 Productions present this steamy soirée featuring popular party DJ Frank White spinning rock, hip-hop and dance until 3 a.m. alongside DJ Eight2. Tickets range from $45 (general admission) to $65 (VIP).

Meanwhile, The Beehive (541 Tremont St., 617-423-0069) hosts an extravagant New Year’s shindig of Bohemian decadence and eccentric fun with its second annual celebration, cheekily dubbed The End is at Hand! Highlights include a hilarious theatrical performance from the comedic troupe Pinchbottom Burlesque and a night of dancing to the sounds of Reality, a soul ensemble that features three powerhouse female vocalists. Chef Rebecca Newell serves “gypsy fare” and desserts influenced by Europe, the Mediterranean and good ol’ Americana in a cocktail-lounge setting. And those who enjoy their holiday bubbly can salivate over the 60 selections of fine champagne to choose from for toasting at midnight. Doors open at 10 p.m. and tickets are $95 (with food) and $75 (without food).

Admittedly, the tough economic times are making life at little more hectic for nightlife connoisseurs this holiday season. While plenty of the city’s New Year’s Eve party tickets are going for at least $50, the folks over at Kings (refer to nightclub listing) are taking a novel tack much appreciated by budget-conscious revelers. Its party, entitled No Cover, No Commitment, No Problem, begins at 7 p.m. and features free admission, party favors, food and live music from Plaid Daddy Band covering top 40, ’80s and ’90s tunes until 2 a.m.

A Rockin’ New Year
Dick Clark may be nowhere in sight, but that won’t keep fans of live music from having some rockin’ places to turn it up to 11 in celebration of the arrival of 2009.

Funk, jazz and jam music enthusiasts can spend New Year’s Eve at the Paradise Rock Club (refer to music listing) grooving to the mind-blowing musicianship of Soulive. Tickets are $40.

Fans of high-energy rock can hit Harpers Ferry (refer to music listing) in the Allston neighborhood of Boston this New Year’s Eve, as the popular concert hall hosts Waltham, a hard-hitting rock band named after its suburban Boston hometown. Influenced by ’80s guitar rock, the always melodic and entertaining Waltham and a slew of special guests light up the stage beginning at 8 p.m., with tickets just $20.

While the much-adored, multi-platinum band Sublime won’t be reuniting in Boston for New Year’s, fans of the band’s one-of-a-kind fusion of reggae, punk and ska can catch the next best thing at Cambridge’s The Middle East (refer to music listing), when the Sublime tribute band Badfish—with special guests Uncle Billy’s Smokehouse—hits the stage to perform all the band’s classics beginning at 9 p.m. Tickets are $40.

Another popular tribute band invades The Hard Rock Cafe (refer to restaurant listing) for a rockin’ New Year’s gig. The Joshua Tree, one of the nation’s premiere U2 tribute bands, rings in the new year with its take on U2 classics from “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” all the way up to “Vertigo.” Situated in the heart of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, The Hard Rock’s New Year’s Eve extravaganza kicks off at 9 p.m. and tickets are $25.

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An $18 First Night Button (children under 4 are free) is your general admission ticket to all of the Hub’s indoor First Night events this New Year’s Eve. Buttons can be purchased at well over a dozen locations, including Shaw’s Supermarkets, Au Bon Pain, Tedeschi Food Shops, Borders, the Museum of Fine Arts, the New England Aquarium, the Boston Children’s Museum, Boston Common Visitor Information Center, American Repertory Theatre, Bostix (at both the Copley Square and Faneuil Hall ticket booth locations) and Harvard Book Store. On December 31, look for outdoor kiosks selling buttons at the Park Street T station, Hynes Convention Center and the corner of Arlington and Boylston streets.

You’ll want to hold on to that button after the champagne’s gone flat, too—flashing it wins you savings well into the new year. A few examples: 15% off any lunch or dinner bill at The Barking Crab through January; two-for-one admission to any Wednesday, Thursday or Friday night Improv Asylum performance through March; free child admission with paying adult to the New England Aquarium through January 31; 10% off tickets to the Diving Performing Arts Chinese New Year Spectacular through January 6; and a 30% discount on Boston Symphony Orchestra performances at Symphony Hall through January 31.

For a full list of retailers and complete schedule of First Night events, visit or call 617-542-1399.

If You Go: Whether you’re looking for museum exhibits or comedy, the stage or the silver screen, family fun or poetry slams, somewhere in Boston there’s a First Night event right up your alley.

Comedy: Boston comedy legends Tony V. and Kenny Rogerson invite First Night revelers to “700 Billion Laughs,” a laugh out loud stand-up comedy production that lets onlookers start their “new year by investing in some titters and watching them grow to guffaws” (7:45, 9 and 10:15 p.m. in Hynes Convention Center Exhibit Hall D). The only entertainer who’s worked at all 33 First Nights is Brother Blue, a beloved Cambridge storyteller who hilariously holds court with tales from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello and others (8 and 9:15 p.m. at Hynes Convention Center). And one of Boston’s most renowned comedic troupes, the actors of Improv Asylum, develop sidesplitting scenes based solely on the audience’s suggestions (8–9 and 10–11 p.m. at 216 Hanover St.).

Silver Screen: The Roxbury Film Festival at the Hynes Convention Center (in room 200) presents Top of the Rox, a cinematic collection of some of the best African-American directed short films from 2008’s Roxbury Film Festival (7:30–11 p.m.). For the folks who can’t get enough of the high-octane animation that is Japanese anime, there’s the New England Anime Society presenting the best and most popular Japanese animation from 2008 (1–11 p.m. at Hynes Convention Center’s Room 312). Since 1976, local filmmaker Karen Aqua has created animated films exploring the themes of ritual, journeys, transformation and the human spirit. Join Aqua in Room 311 at Hynes Convention Center as she hosts Karen Aqua Animation, a special program of her award-winning animated shorts (1–6 and 7:30–11 p.m.).

For The Family: Most New Year’s events tend to be geared toward adults, but First Night treats December 31 like a day that should be celebrated by families. That’s why The FedEx Family Festival in Hynes Convention Center promises all kinds of entertainment like puppet shows, music, comedians, jugglers, stunt daredevils and much more (dozens of events go from 1–11 p.m.). Master ice-sculptor Donald Chapelle wows kids and parents alike with his jaw-dropping ice-sculpture Mangrove, which includes a wading flock of flamingoes, towering palms and friendly alligators (noon on Boston Common). Last but not least, what would New Year’s Eve be without a fireworks extravaganza? At Boston’s Family Fireworks Celebration, the City of Boston rings in the new year a little early (7–7:12 p.m.) with an intimate fireworks display that lights up Boston Common for those folks too wee to stay up until midnight.