The First Night tradition began in Boston in 1976 and has since spread throughout the country. In New Hampshire, Wolfeboro in the Lakes Region and Portsmouth on the Seacoast are the state’s two official First Night celebrations. First Night Portsmouth is organized by Pro Portsmouth, a local nonprofit group.
First Night includes activities for both children and adults. Events start around 1PM with ice sculpting by the North Church. Indoor programs for younger participants begin at 4PM with puppet shows, magicians, storytelling, and face painting in several downtown venues. At 5PM, the Pontine Theatre will present “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”
Musicians will be in various locations throughout the area. Local singers will be featured at the Middle Street Baptist Hall starting at 5PM. T. J. Wheeler & Company will be at North Church from 8:15PM. At South Church there will be a chili cook-off and gospel and folk music. The Randy Armstrong Trio at Temple Israel will feature world fusion jazz.
The Seacoast Repertory Theater will host comedian Mike Michon and psychic/illusionist Roderick Russell. The NH Theater Company is offering “The Play’s the Thing” – with theater games, comedy Improv, and other entertaining pastimes.
Outdoor activities will be centered around Market Square, with a street dance on Pleasant Street beginning at 5PM, fireworks at South Mill Pond at 7:30PM, and of course, the Countdown to Midnight in the Square.
The First Night Portsmouth’s website has full details about the events and locations. You will need a First Night Portsmouth 2013 Button to gain entry to the indoor activities; they may be purchased online by clicking here, or at the Portsmouth Hannaford’s, People’s United Bank branches in the NH Seacoast area and in Dover, Durham, and Rochester, and at the Flower Kiosk on Main Street.
Most downtown streets will be open to traffic; but Pleasant Street from State Street to the Square, Church Street (next to the North Church) and Parrot Avenue (from Richards to Junkins) will be closed. The parking garage at Hanover Street will offer reduced rate parking starting at 4PM. There will be a free shuttle for all First Nighters, which will transport celebrants between the various event locations.
First Night Portsmouth will be an afternoon and evening of fun-filled activities for all ages. Don’t miss it!