How Portsmouth Rings in the New Year


We can’t say enough good things about the city of Portsmouth. From quaint shopping destinations and scenic views, to countless entertainment venues and a rich history (did you know that it’s the nation’s third oldest city?), Portsmouth really does have it all. And we’ve been lucky enough to call it home, from our first office on the water’s edge to where we now work overlooking the historic African Burying Ground.


Perhaps the best part about Portsmouth is that there is always something to do – an endless itinerary of excitement and fun. Looking to take in a show? Try visiting The Music Hall, Seacoast Repertory Theater, or Prescott Park in the milder weather. Want to embrace your inner history buff? Take in the charming Strawbery Banke Museum and stroll through the city by candlelight tour. And then, of course, there is shopping and dining, for which Portsmouth is known for. Truth be told, the city has developed quite a reputation as having some of the Seacoast’s best restaurants, and we can’t argue with that. (But we may be a little biased.)


Portsmouth is also a go-to destination for New Year’s Eve, dubbed “First Night.” City-goers on this night can expect creative ice sculptures, an illuminating fireworks display, music performances, and even dancing in Market Square. So if you’re still unsure of your holiday plans, come celebrate the New Year here – we certainly will be. (And 2016 is particularly special to us, as it marks our 10-year anniversary here at DARCI Creative!)


So here it is, a run-down of how Portsmouth rings in the New Year (the following events take place on December 31st):


Outdoor Activities

Street Dance and Ice Sculptures

Local artists show off their flair through ice sculpting, commencing at 1pm just outside the North Church. Meanwhile, Portsmouth Community Radio hosts a music-and-dance gathering in the center of the city where kids both young and old let loose. The music starts at 5pm; a countdown to midnight also takes place here later in the evening.



The NH Astronomical Society will be stationed on Pleasant Street for a bit of stargazing and chat at 6pm. Make a wish (or two) and watch the New Year come shooting in on a star.

Fireworks Display at South Mill Pond

The perfect location for a fireworks viewing, South Mill Pond becomes crowded with locals and tourists alike, all waiting eagerly for Portsmouth’s dazzling fireworks display. Short and sweet (it is cold standing out there, after all), this is a must for those celebrating the New Year in the city streets.



Indoor Activities


There are countless opportunities to enjoy local music while staying warm on New Year’s Eve. Hear the eclectic sounds of Jeff Warner & Bruce McIntyre and Great Bay Sailor at the Middle Street Baptist Hall, playing Maritime, Celtic, Americana, and Tunes of the Season. Bring the kids to Sammie Haynes, who will be providing fun, interactive music for children at the North Church, followed by T.J. Wheeler and Company (blues, R&B and jazz selections). Head over to Saint John’s Church for the Portsmouth Symphony Players, or the South Church (Unitarian Universalist Church) for gospel music by Rock My Soul. The South Church will also feature indie-folk singer Elissa Margolin and The Cormac McCarthy Band later in the evening. The list goes even further to include Randy Armstrong at the Temple Israel (stories and music from around the world), and Elvis and the J.C. Underhill Band at the United Methodist Church Hall. Whew!


Theater & Performance

For those looking for something a little different, view an early-evening performance of Abracadabra! – Magic with Phil Smith at Saint John’s Fellowship Hall. Or take in a psychic performance with Roderick Russell at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, a Sherlock Holmes-esque stage show. Last but not least is entertainment at the W.E.S.T. (West End Studio Theatre), which will feature a story poem by Pontine Theatre and production by the New Hampshire Theatre Project.


Art & Fun

Have you ever wanted to get a caricature done? Head over to Saint John’s Fellowship Hall for Bob Nilson’s artistic touch, followed by First Night face painting and story telling with Peter Sheridan. If you’re looking for a performance that will delight the kids, take them to Lindsay Aucella’s puppet show at the North Church, sure to please any age group. And did we mention the all-night dancing in Market Square?


What’s the First Night Button?

With so many events going on and so much to see, it’s bound to be an expensive evening, right? Actually, the city of Portsmouth sells First Night Buttons – your “ticket” to all indoor venues on New Year’s Eve. By purchasing a button, you also support the city of Portsmouth and all free outdoor activities on First Night. Now that’s a win-win.


To purchase your button and learn more about First Night (including food, parking and transportation, and merchandise), click here. Cheers to the New Year and we’ll see you in town!