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Insider Guide to First Night Burlington

  • 5

(2 reviews)
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Insider Guide to First Night Burlington
153 Main Street
BurlingtonVT 05401
(802) 863-6005

Ages: 0 and up

Cost: Adults $ 20 in advance or $30 on NYE | Children $5 (ages 3-12) | Under 3 Free

Parking: No - Free Parking and Shuttle Service available


Ring in the New Year in downtown Burlington at the First Night Festival. This is a must-do event that brings together over 750 talented artists from all over our region to celebrate in a substance free environment. With a little advance planning (and some insider tips) First Night can be an outing that the whole family can enjoy.


A button is required for all performances at all venues. That being said, why not just purchase them now and get it out of the way. They will be held at the "will-call" desk in the bottom of City Hall on the corner of Church and Main Streets.  Plus you avoid the price hike on New Year's Eve.


Until Dec. 30th, regular adult buttons are $20. After that the price increases to $30 on NYE. Child buttons (3-12 years of age) are $5 every day and kids under 3 are always FREE!


Additional tickets are required for shows in at the Flynn Main Stage and in Memorial Auditorium.  That means if you are interested in seeing, the Vermont Youth Orchestra, Circus Smirkus, or Burlington Takio you are going to need to purchase those separately for $4.00 each.


Should you decide to wait until you arrive in Burlington, you can purchase your buttons the day of the event at:




Parking in town can get a little nuts.  You can try metered street parking or getting into one of several garages around town, but why not make it easy on yourself? Park the car for free and hop a convenient shuttle into town. 

Park at the Gutterson Parking Garage at the University of Vermont

  • 11:00 am, December 31 - 12:30 am, January 1 
  • Walk to Patrick Gym where shuttles will pick up every 15 minutes
  • Drop off points along Main Street include Edmunds School and the Flynn Center

More info on shuttles here.


It is inevitable, when you hear "Mom-m-m, I gotta go" here is where to go: 

  • City Hall (Church Street near Main Street) - second floor
  • Memorial Auditorium (Main and South Union Street)
  • Burlington Town Center (Church Street)



Chow time.  Another important factor in a successful family outing.  While Burlington certainly has many wonderful family friendly restaurants, your wait time to be seated could be a deal killer for the whole night.  As part of the First Night Festivities, these folks are putting on some super suppers: 

Green Steeples Cafe (3pm-10pm)

First Baptist Church, St. Paul Street
Home made vegetarian chili, corn chowder, hot and cold sandwiches plus cookies and beverages.

First United Methodist Church  (4pm-10pm)
No. Winooski Ave.
Beef stew, fresh homemade baked goods and an assortment of hot beverages.  A children's menu will also be available. 

Unitarian Church Italian Supper (4pm-8 pm)

Pearl and Church Streets
Italian food at family prices for hungry First Nighters.  A hearty tummy-warming spread to benefit the church downstairs in the dining room.

Edmunds Middle School Gym  (11am - 7pm)
Main and South Union St.
Get your hot dogs, chili, and cornbread here!  They'll also be serving home-baked goods, soft drinks, bottled water, and of course, coffee, cider, and hot chocolate to warm you up fast!  All proceeds go to benefit the Edmunds Middle School PTO.



  • The Dancing Dragons parade is at 5:00 pm begins at the top of Church Street (at Pearl Street) near the fountain and ends a Burlington City Hall (Church Street at Main Street)
  • There is a an early Fireworks show at 6:00 pm (pretend like it is midnight an call it a night). Coordinate viewing these with a waterfront dinner spot like the Skinny Pancake.
  • Most Shows are 40 minutes long.

Familiy Activities that Everyone Will Enjoy - Print Schedule with times here


BCA Arts
Burlington Taiko
Carton Fest at Merrill Roxy Movie Theater
Circus Smircus
Dancing Dragons Parade (5:00pm)
Electric Youth Dance Company
Face Paitin by Face Art at Edumunds School (12noon - 6pm)
Family Friendly Comdedy with Dustin Bruley
Fireworks by North Star
Flynn Arts Free Kids' Dance, Drama & Music
Gary Daum
Jon Gailmor
Mister Chris and Firends
Sing-a-long with Megan, Emer & Robert
Stay & Play at the Y (2:00 - 5:00pm)
The Laughing Couple
Very Merry Theatre
VTIFF Short Film Festival at BCA 

2 Reviews

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  • 5

Reviewed on 08/13/2012

First Night is hands down the best place to be on New Years Eve in Burlington. There are a zillion things to do with kids of all ages. The face painters are some of the best I have seen. The performances, especially the circus act keeps kids glued to their seats and the many interactive performances and exhibits such as the living masterpieces on Church Street are great.

The Drums and Dragons parade early in the evening is a great way to wind things down for kids who can't stay up until midnight, and the fireworks after are a perfect ending.

Pack a few snacks, or better yet, stop in at one of the many church suppers to have a warm meal before heading back out into the cold. We have been First Nighters for almost a decade now and won't be stopping any time soon.

Insider Guide to First Night Burlington


  • 5

Reviewed on 12/17/2009

Great information, Miss Mags! 20 years in Burlington, and I've never done First Night. At least not the family-friendly side of it... so this is one insider's guide that I can really use. Well done. We'll refer back before we go.


Insider Guide to First Night Burlington