The mission of Rockport New Year’s Eve (RNYE) is to broaden and deepen the public’s appreciation for the performing, literary, and visual arts through innovative, diverse and high-quality programs that offer the community a shared cultural experience that is accessible and affordable. RNYE presents year-round programs that both support this mission and raise funds. RNYE is also supported by business sponsorships and individual donations.
RNYE’s most important event of the year, and the one for which the organization is named, is the celebration of the arts on New Year’s Eve. The evening is designed to be an impressive, ‘small seacoast town’ version of First Night celebrations held throughout the country. New Year’s Eve in Rockport is a treasured tradition enjoyed by Cape Ann residents and visitors
Attendees purchase buttons online or at stores throughout Rockport and Gloucester in advance of New Year’s Eve, or at the event headquarters on New Year’s Eve. A button allows the bearer to attend any events that are scheduled throughout the evening. The following description gives a good perspective of the depth, breadth and cultural diversity of the entertainment.
The celebration begins at 6 PM on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve entertainment is scheduled on the hour, every hour, from 6 PM to midnight, with 15 minute breaks in between each 45 minute session to allow attendees to walk from venue to venue and venue managers to reset for the next act. The entertainment options scheduled throughout the evening are culturally diverse and suitable for all ages. Musical acts may include folk, Celtic, blues, reggae, calypso, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, funk, soul, bagpipes, gospel, songs of the sea, 50’s and 60’s doo wop, country, western swing, African pop, New Orleans jazz, big band, and a cappella.. Other entertainment may include clowns, jugglers, puppeteers, story tellers, face painters, dancers, psychic readers, and telescope viewing with the astronomy club. Children of all ages participate in the drum jam and parade through the downtown streets, with a large dancing dragon and costumes. At midnight, attendees gather in Dock Square to watch the ball drop from the highest ladder of the town fire truck and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.