A Sampling of New Year’s Eve on Nantucket

Champagne glassesUntil recently, Nantucket wasn’t known as a place to celebrate New Year’s Eve like Boston with its First Night events and giant fireworks display.

Other than individual bars and restaurants holding their own end-of-the-year bashes and the island-famous Nantucket Aids Network New Year’s Eve Ball, there really was no coordinated celebration of New Year’s …until 2012.

Community New Year’s Eve Celebration

Nantucket Visitors Services, led by director Kate Hamilton, dreamed up a bunch of individual events tied to the theme of celebrating New Year’s Eve on Nantucket as a community.

“I saw a vision of great participation within the whole community where everyone could find a way or have a venue to enjoy their own unique celebrations,” said Hamilton in her Dec. 7, 2012 Nantucket Chronicle story announcing last year’s first annual event. “It would be held over a four-day period. Nantucket, beautifully holiday decorated through the downtown, already had a natural canvas to extend the season until early January. A last celebration before we enter the true quiet season of midwinter.”

With the financial help of ReMain Nantucket, the Community New Year’s Eve Celebration seems like it’s going to become an annual event. Though there are no fireworks — yet — for this four days of merriment, there is the Unitarian Universalist Church, which lights up its clock tower and at the stroke of midnight rings its bells for several minutes to chime in the new year.

This homegrown island New Year’s festival ties together events already organized as part of December’s festive month-long holiday atmosphere including the Festival of Trees, which lasts through the last day of the year in the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum, which is “transformed into a festive winter wonderland. This island tradition features around eighty brilliantly decorated trees designed by community members, local merchants, nonprofit organizations, artists, artisans, and schoolchildren.”

For children, there is a year-end children’s concert in the Nantucket Atheneum on Dec. 28, a puppet show at the Greenhound on Washington Street on Dec. 29, the Noon Year’s Eve Arts & Crafts Workshop for children at Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, Activities Room, 11 Orange Street and the Nantucket Ice New Year’s Skating Celebration on Dec. 31.

For adults and older kids, the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation began a great tradition in 2012 with its New Year’s Cabaret held in the main theater at the Dreamland on Dec. 29.

“This special event leading up to the Eve of a New Year features a beautifully constructed compilation of show tunes performed in The Dreamland’s Studio Theater,” reads the playbill for this special event. “Champagne and hors d’oeuvres will be served in a stunning environment of “cabaret style” seating. A second performance has been added this year due to popular demand, as last year’s one-night performance sold out and ended with a standing ovation!”

For New Year’s Eve parties, the Nantucket Hotel’s shindig is the one to be at, which in 2012 did a Roaring ’20s ball and this year is doing a black and white masked ball. But there are many other New Year’s Eve bashes at island bars and restaurants to choose from if dressing up in black and white isn’t your thing. Although everyone pretty much ends up at the Chicken Box, the island’s year-round melting pot, revelers could start at the Starlight Café for dinner and a movie, and a live feed from Times Square in New York City for watching the apple drop. Or check out the new Nantucket restaurant, The Proprietors Bar & Table, the party at the Town restaurant, the one held annually at Lola or try ringing in the Irish New Year at Kitty Murtagh’s.

On New Year’s Day, though you really should spend it sleeping in, enjoying a late breakfast and taking a long walk out in the island wilderness, there is always the Blessing of the Animals at the First Congregational Church at 62 Centre Street, which also features access to the church’s tower for stupendously amazing views of the island in all directions.

Although small and fragmented, given the creativity and the love of a great party among islanders, expect New Year’s on Nantucket to grow and grow with each passing year.

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