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Ultimate Guide to Ocean City’s First Night and First Day Celebration

Ultimate Guide to Ocean City’s First Night and First Day Celebration


As many as 10,000 revelers are expected to attend Ocean City’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration this year.

Known as “First Night,” the celebration will offer more than 70 activities and entertainment programs at 20 different venues throughout town during its 31st anniversary.

The entertainment lineup includes something to satisfy every taste and age group. A fireworks display rings in the new year at midnight. The fun continues on New Year’s Day with a 5-kilometer run on the Boardwalk and the zany First Plunge in the chilly ocean.

WHEN: First Night events run 4 p.m. to midnight on Sunday, Dec. 31. The First Day 5K starts at 1 p.m. and the First Plunge goes off at 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1.

Fireworks will cap off the First Night celebration at midnight.

ADMISSION BUTTONS: Buttons ($22 inclusive of service fees) are good for all events. Children under age 2 are free. Buttons are on sale now.

  • Online: Visit
  • By phone: Call 609-399-6111.
  • At the City Hall Welcome Center at 861 Asbury Avenue (9th Street entrance): 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve, closed on Christmas Day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 26, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve).
  • At the Roy Gillian Welcome Center (9th Street causeway): 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed on Christmas Day.
  • At the 46th Street Welcome Center (4500 block of West Avenue): 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Pickup at will-call will be available daily at the City Hall Welcome Center (Ninth Street entrance) at the hours listed above. Button sales and will-call pickup will be at the City Hall Welcome Center 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on the day of the event (Dec. 31).

The Motor City Motown Revue will be one of the headliners on First Night.

HIGHLIGHTS: Headline entertainment at the Ocean City Music Pier this year will include “GYPSY,” a tribute to the music of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac; and “Motor City,” a revue of Motown’s greatest hits.

The return of perennial favorites like outdoor ice-skating (with extended hours this year), rides at Wonderland Pier, magic shows, the Harlem Wizards and a variety of musical performances also highlight the entertainment lineup.

The Ocean City Pops will perform with a returning favorite – the Chicago tribute band Brass Transit. In their first-ever First Night appearance, the Atlantic City Ballet will perform a holiday show.

FULL SCHEDULE: The full schedule of events and activities and a printable grid is available at

Amusement rides are part of the family-friendly entertainment.

PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: All municipal parking lots and metered parking spots are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. for button-holders, operating continuously between all venues starting at the Ocean City Transportation Center (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and Seventh Street Parking Lot (Seventh Street and Central Ave.).

For a route map and complete information, visit the guide page at The parking lot at Fifth Street and Boardwalk will be closed to allow for the setup and launch of fireworks.

FIREWORKS: A fireworks display (weather permitting) will be launched from the beach at Fifth Street at midnight on Dec. 31. The display will best be viewed from the beach or Boardwalk in the blocks surrounding Fifth Street. There will be no rain date for the display.

DINING AND SHOPPING: Food and drink will be for sale at Ocean City High School (sandwiches and pizza by Sack O’ Subs), Wonderland Pier (6th Street Pizza and Grill), Ocean City Community Center (at the cafe), Ocean City Civic Center (hot food and concessions), and St. Peter’s United Methodist Church (snack stand).

KICKOFF: Everybody is invited to the Ocean City Music Pier at 3:45 p.m. for the official ribbon-cutting to open the 31st anniversary of the festivities.

The Harlem Wizards basketball event is always popular among children and their families.

OTHER FUN ACTIVITIES: Stop by the Music Pier to see the First Night ice sculpture. Interactive photo booths will be set up in the Ocean City High School cafeteria, the Community Center and the Civic Center.

HISTORY: First Night in Ocean City was modeled after an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston that marked the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The first celebration in Ocean City in 1992 included 25 entertainment acts in five different locations with admission buttons selling for $8 ($5 before Dec. 26). About 800 buttons were sold the first year.

While other First Night events have faded, Ocean City’s has only grown more popular with families making it an annual tradition for a safe New Year’s Eve. Today, attendance is capped at 10,000 with admission buttons selling out year after year. Through the years, the event has been sustained by the selfless dedication of volunteers, board members and sponsors.

SPONSORS: Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Cape May County Division of Culture and Heritage, McMahon Insurance Agency, Ocean City Free Public Library, Wonderland Pier and Atlantic City Electric.

Bathers splash in the chilly surf for the First Day Plunge on Jan. 1, 2023.


BOARDWALK RUN: A 5-kilometer run starts at 1 p.m. in front of the Ocean City Music Pier. Race-day registration begins 11 a.m. at the Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace. A First Day lunch cooler will be given all who pre-register and while supplies last. Race-day entry fee is $35 ($25 if you register by Dec. 24 and $30 if you register by Dec. 30). For full information, links to online registration and printable forms, visit

FIRST PLUNGE: The ocean plunge starts at 2 p.m. on the beach adjacent to the Music Pier (on the 8th Street side). Participants should register inside the Music Pier before heading to the beach. Registration is free, but all participants must sign a waiver. “First Day at The Beach” shirts will be on sale at the Music Pier.

SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA: There will be an all-day shopping extravaganza with discounts at stores on Asbury Avenue and the Boardwalk from 5th to 14th Streets.

Entertainment and events lineup for First Night and First Day celebration.