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Most First Night events will be free and in Copley Square

Fireworks on Boston Common on Dec. 31, 2010, as part of the First Night celebration.Globe Staff/file/Globe Staff

Organizers of Boston’s New Year’s celebration say they are making good on their resolution to shed unwanted costs while bulking up on fun.

Instead of charging admission for some performances and having them spread across Boston, almost all of the events at First Night 2016 will be free and concentrated in Copley Square, organizers said Monday.

The goal is to fill the historic square with ice sculptures, musical performances, and fire pits and have crowds gather for pyrotechnics shot off the roof of the Fairmont Copley Plaza and a midnight countdown projected in lights on the side of the John Hancock Tower.


Copley Square will become “our own Times Square, if you will,” said Dusty Rhodes, president of Conventures Inc., which is working with the Walsh administration to organize the pared-down First Night festival.

Organizers are promising to maintain the traditional procession down Boylston Street, family fireworks at 7 p.m. on Boston Common, and midnight fireworks over Boston Harbor, while cutting costs, which had ballooned beyond what backers could sustain.

Conventures is seeking to raise $400,000 to fund this year’s celebration, compared to $678,000 last year and nearly $2 million in past years.

The company has collected major donations from the Highland Street Foundation, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Colonnade Hotel, but fund-raising has not been easy, Rhodes said.

The city hosted the event for the past two years, but earlier this year, Mayor Martin J. Walsh chose Conventures to take over the show and make it financially viable.

“As Mayor Walsh has said, it’s time to reimagine First Night so that we have a high-quality, sustainable event for years to come,” said Bonnie McGilpin, a Walsh spokeswoman.

To trim expenses, Rhodes said there will be no performances at the Hynes Convention Center. Conventures is also scrapping smaller performances in Downtown Crossing and other locations, Rhodes said.


Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president and executive director of the Back Bay Association, said she is excited about the possibilities for this year’s event. which will attempt to extend the celebration into New Year’s Day with brunch deals at neighborhood restaurants.

Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.