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Refreshed City Hall Plaza to host its first major event: a hockey fan festival

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu addressed the crowd during the re-opening of the newly renovated City Hall Plaza in Boston, on Nov. 18, 2022. Later this month, the plaza will host an NHL fan festival.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Boston will close out the year by hosting its first major event at the newly renovated City Hall Plaza, a two-day festival by organized by the National Hockey League in anticipation of its 2023 Winter Classic, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Thursday.

The plaza, which reopened last month following a renovation that cost two years and $95 million, will draw hordes of hockey fans to the NHL Winter Classic Plaza festival, which runs Dec. 30 from 2 to 8 p.m. and Dec. 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Especially during the colder months we need spaces to bring people together,” Wu said in a Thursday press release. “I encourage everyone to come out to build community and get ready to cheer on the Bruins.”


Festivities will include autograph sessions with players and alumni of the Boston Bruins, family-friendly activities, food, and giveaways, plus a photo-opportunity with the Stanley Cup, the oldest trophy in North American sports.

The Bruins face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins Jan. 2, at 2 p.m. in an outdoor, regular season match at Fenway Park. Fans and locals who were unable to snag tickets to the sold-out game — or cough up resale prices — can catch the match on cable network TNT.

Dion Irish, Boston’s chief of operations, thanked the NHL for its work putting the event together and said the festival is “exactly what we designed the renovated City Hall Plaza for.”

“This is a great opportunity for Boston families to see the new features of the Plaza while building excitement for the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic,” Irish said in the release.

Wu joined city counselors, officials, and local residents in cutting the ribbon to the new plaza on Nov. 18, calling its newest form “so much more than a space that people walk through and try not to get blown away,” the Globe previously reported.


Wu unveiled a space refreshed with 250 new trees, thousands of other new plants, and more than 3,000 new places to sit. It also includes a “kinder-Brutalist” playground to match the clean, minimal, and often-denigrated architecture of City Hall.

At 7 acres, the plaza can host events of up to 12,000 people in its main section — with capacity for 25,000 throughout the entire space.

The renovation also added amore permeable surfaces, which will soak up storm water and melting snow, according to the Mayor’s Office. Gentle slopes, which replaced old brick staircases, will improve accessibility within the space.

The Mayor’s Office said the city plans to use the plaza for additional winter events in the new year, but did not specify what residents should expect.

In 2019, prior to the start of its renovation, the plaza played host to events including Boston’s Puerto Rican Festival, the Boston Pizza Festival, and the Boston Local Music Festival.

Daniel Kool can be reached at daniel.kool@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dekool01.