A year in Boston

Planning a visit to Boston? Here's what you have to look forward to depending on what time of year you plan to arrive:

JANUARYFirst Night Boston:Spend your New Year's Eve in downtown Boston at the First Night Boston event Dec. 31, which typically begins in the afternoon and runs until midnight. With the purchase of a First Night button, party-goers gain admission to museums, theaters, churches and performance centers as they host music, dance, visual arts and theater performances. Popular stops include the Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center, which includes storytelling and puppets, the giant ice sculptures on Copley Square and the Boston Common; the Mardi-Gras-style Grand Procession through the streets of Boston; and the fireworks display.

FEBRUARYBoston Wine Expo:If you enjoy a glass of fine wine, don't miss the annual Boston Wine Expo at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center. It's the largest wine exposition in the country with more than 1,800 wines from 440 wineries to sample. In addition to guided tastings and seminars, the expo also typically includes a multi-course dinner in which wines are paired with the various foods served.

Beanpot Tournament:Hockey fans will get a kick out of the Beanpot Tournament in which four local colleges – Boston University, Boston College, Harvard College and Northeastern University – square off on the ice.

MARCHSt. Patrick's Day Parade:The first-ever St. Patrick's Day celebration in America took place in Boston in 1737, and today Boston still hosts one of the biggest St. Patty's Day parties. About one in every five New England residents have Irish ancestry, so there is always a big turnout – nearly a half million visitors – for the St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston, a distinctly Irish neighborhood near the Boston Harbor. The parade typically features dozens of bands from Ireland and throughout the United States.

New England Spring Flower Show:Get your first glimpse of spring at the New England Spring Flower Show, where you'll see and smell a wide variety of flowers on display in the garden exhibits. Horticulture professors and authors lecture on a variety of topics, including the secrets of successful gardening, and experts provide how-to demonstrations, including tips on repotting houseplants and starting herb gardens. The show also includes a Garden Marketplace, where exhibitors sell everything from garden tools to high-end garden antiques.

APRILThe Boston Marathon:People come from all over the world to participate in the Boston Marathon, some to run and others to watch the athletes. It's the world's oldest annual marathon. More than 20,000 runners typically participate in the race, which begins in rural Hopkinton west of the city and goes for 26 miles and 385 yards into Boston. The toughest part for many runners comes at "Heartbreak Hill," just past mile 20, where competitors face a 200-foot uphill climb. The marathon typically takes place on the third Monday in April on what is known locally as Patriots' Day, which commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War. Since many locals are out of work that day, the city is filled with well-wishers who cheer on the participants and hand them water and Gatorade as they run past.

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