Holiday Events in Boston 2016

Here are more Christmas tree lightings, Santa Claus sightings, shopping extravaganzas, and other festive events than you could ever need.
christmas tree 2013 by maggie

Photo by Margaret Burdge

Here it is! Our 2016 list of all the worthy wintry holiday events to check out around Boston this season. Bookmark it—we’ll add new events as we hear of them. Have we missed one of your faves? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t forget to take advantage of the Mayor’s Holiday Special. If you can’t make it to your favorite event, or it’s just way too cold out, snuggle in with some hot cocoa instead from one of these thirteen Boston spots.

ARTS & CRAFTS
Boston Christmas Festival

The Seaport is getting into the holiday spirit early, with the 30th annual Boston Christmas Festival rolling into town the first week of November. More than 300 master craftsmen from all over the country will exhibit and sell their goods, including home accessories, one-of-a-kind holiday decorations, clothing, and gourmet food. The three-day event will also feature the annual Gingerbread House Competition.

$15, free for children under 14, Friday-Sunday, November 4-6, times vary, Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd., Boston, bostonchristmasfestival.com.

SHOW
The Nutcracker with Jose Mateo Ballet Theater

Jose Mateo Ballet Theater and the Boston Children’s Museum are partnering up to give kids a dose of dance in November. JMBT’s YouthWorks will perform excerpts from their production of the Nutcracker. Selections will include “The Waltz of the Flowers,” “and more from the Kingdom of the Sweets. Members of the professional company will also be there, and of course the program will leave time for photo opps with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince.

Sunday, November 6, 1 and 2 p.m., Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston, bostonchristmasfestival.com.

SHOPPING
SMFA Art Sale

Support local students and find the perfect holiday gift at the SMFA Art Sale. Thousands of works produced by SMFA students, alumni, faculty, and affiliated artists will be featured on a changing rotation. Pieces are priced by the artists and sold to benefit student scholarships.

Free to attend, November 17-November 20, School of the Museum of Fine Arts Atrium, 230 Fenway St., Boston, smfa.edu.

PHOTO OPP
Santa in the City!

It’s that time of year again – head to the Prudential Center’s very own Winter Wonderland to get your photo taken with Santa. While you’re there, you can donate to local organizations and stop by the free gift-wrapping station in front of Barnes & Noble.

Photo packages start at $19.99, November 18-December 24, Belvidere Arcade in the Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston, prudentialcenter.com.

TREE LIGHTING
Blink! A Light and Sound Extravaganza

Head to Faneuil Hall for the Tree Lighting Spectacular on November 19th featuring performances from America’s Got Talent finalist Sons of Serendip, Blue Man Group, Livingston Taylor, and more. If you can’t make it to the kick-off, there will be nightly performances through the holiday season with over 350,000 LED lights set to the song stylings of the Holiday Pops.

Free, November 19, 8-9 p.m., Nightly Performances November 20-January 1, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, faneuilhallmarketplace.com.

LIGHTS
Trellis Lighting at Christopher Columbus Park

The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park will drape the trellis in blue and white lights, bringing holiday spirit to the waterfront spot.

Free, November 21, 5 p.m., Christopher Columbus Park, Boston, foccp.org.

LIGHTS
Gardens Aglow

Take a trip outside the city to over ten miles of holiday lights adorning the gardens and woodlands at the Heritage Museums & Gardens. With festivities like marshmallow-roasting, visits with Santa, and musical performances, this holiday tradition is sure to be worth the drive.

$15 for member adults, $5 for member children, $18 for non-member adults, $7 for non-member children, free for children under 2 years, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, November 25-December 18, 4:30-8 p.m., Heritage Museums & Gardens, 67 Grove St., Sandwich, heritagemuseumsandgardens.org.

BALLET
The Nutcracker by the Boston Ballet

Head to the Boston Opera House for a performance of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker. The show promises to capture your imagination and transport you to a magical world, whether you’re seeing it again or for the first time.

$35+, November 25-December 31, Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston, bostonballet.org.

MUSIC
Boston Tuba Christmas Concert

The annual Boston Tuba Christmas Concert is returning to Faneuil Hall this month. Watch and listen as over 150 tuba players serenade the crowd with holiday classics.

Free, November 26, 2 p.m., Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, faneuilhallmarketplace.com.

LIGHTS
Light Up the Row

Bringing live performances to their community stage, the lighting celebration is returning to Assembly Row. It will feature a unique lighting of the iconic metal trusses.

Free, November 26, Assembly Row, 340 Canal St., Somerville, assemblyrow.com.

PARADE, LIGHTS
City of Lights Parade in Lowell

The City of Lights Parade and Holiday Celebration brings live performances, holiday shopping, photos with Santa, and an Annual Hot Chocolate Competition to downtown Lowell.

Free to attend, November 26, Downtown Lowell, lowell.org.

TREE LIGHTING
Copley Square Tree Lighting

Head to Copley Square and join the city of Boston for a night of lights and music. Musical performances will include Boston’s Children Chorus, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and Boston’s own Berklee College of Music. Make sure to bring the kids and enjoy appearances from Santa, Rudolph, and even Frosty. With giveaways and candy cane tea, this event is a must for your holiday schedule. Mayor Marty Walsh will be present for the tree lighting festivities.

Free, November 28, 5-6 p.m., Copley Square, friendsofcopleysquare.org.

MUSIC
Holiday Pops

Join the Boston pops for their annual holiday performance featuring music favorites, a traditional sing-a-long, and even a visit from Santa. Kids’ matinee performances include post-concert photos.

$32+, November 30-December 31, times vary, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, bso.org.

TREE LIGHTING
Frog Pond Skating Spectacular and Boston Common Tree Lighting

The first of December will bring national and international competitive skaters to Frog Pond in the Boston Common for a free ice show. Following the performance, Mayor Marty Walsh will oversee the annual tree lighting ceremony.

Free, December 1, skating show from 5-6 p.m. with the tree lighting ceremony to follow, Boston Common, bostonfrogpond.com.

MUSIC
Lexington Symphony Holiday Pops

Celebrate the sounds of the season with Lexington Symphony and the New England Tenors. The Lexington Symphony is directed by Jonathan McPhee, the former musical director of the Boston Ballet. The show will include the best holiday hits to start the month off right. Take the little ones to the afternoon show for a shorter version and a visit from Santa.

$8+, December 2, 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington, lexingtonsymphony.org.

TREE LIGHTINGS
Mayor’s Enchanted Trolley Tour and Tree Lighting

Mayor Walsh will light it up around town to help Boston residents get in the holiday spirit.

Friday, December 2

5:30 p.m. – Roche Family Center, West Roxbury
6:30 p.m. – Wolcott Square, Readville
7 p.m. – Mattapan Square, Mattapan
7:45 p.m. – Codman Square, Dorchester

Saturday, December 3

2 p.m. – Hyde Square, Jamaica Plain
2:45 p.m. – J.P. Monument, Jamaica Plain
3:15 p.m. – Brigham Circle, Mission Hill
3:45 p.m. – Bolling Building (2300 Washington St.), Roxbury
4:15 p.m. – Boston Center for the Arts, South End
5:30 p.m. – Oak Square, Brighton

Saturday, December 4

1 p.m. – West Broadway Municipal Lot (450 W. Broadway), South Boston
1:45 p.m. – Harrison Ave. at Beach St., Chinatown
2:30 p.m. – Paul Revere Mall, North End
3:15 p.m. – Thompson Square, Charlestown
4 p.m. – Maverick Square, East Boston
6 p.m. – Adams Corner, Dorchester

Free, December 2-4, boston.gov.

ARTS & CRAFTS
CraftBoston Holiday Show

A must-attend event for artists, collectors, and craft enthusiasts, CraftBoston is a concentrated shopping district for all of your holiday needs. The three-day event will give patrons the opportunity to shop for one-of-a-kind gifts as well as meet the makers.

$15 for general admission, $12 for seniors and students, $7.50 for SAC members, free for children 12 and under, December 2-4, times vary, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston, societyofcrafts.org.

SHOPPING
SoWa Winter Festival

The 2nd annual SoWa Winter Festival will turn the SoWa Power Station into a winter village this December. The three-day event will spread holiday cheer with decorations, caroling, local artists, specialty food vendors, food trucks, and live entertainment.

Free to attend, December 2-4, times vary, SoWa Boston, 530 Harrison Ave., Boston, sowaboston.com.

HISTORY
Christmas in Salem House Tour

The Christmas in Salem House Tour gives visitors the opportunity to glimpse into private, professionally-decorated homes that span four centuries. There will be a series of special events including walking tours and wine tastings.

$30 advance for members, $35 advance for non-members, $40 day of for all, December 2-4, Christmas in Salem Headquarters, christmasinsalem.org.

SHOW
Reagle Music Theatre’s ChristmasTime

Over 200,000 people have seen Reagle Music Theatre’s production of ChristmasTime. The annual Christmas spectacular returns to Waltham this December.

$35+, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, December 2-11, times vary, Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington St., Waltham, reaglemusictheatre.com.

SHOW
Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity

Produced by the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Black Nativity features lively music performed by children and adults. The show is based on text from the Gospel of St. Luke and is interwoven with black vernacular narration.

$35+, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, December 2-18, times vary, Paramount Center, 559 Washington St., Boston, paramountboston.org.

ADULT
The Slutcracker

Get out of the house without the kids for this burlesque-style parody of the classic ballet. The spin-off preserves the structure of the original Nutcracker, but with grown-up versions of the main characters.

$28, December 2-31, times vary, Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, theslutcracker.com.

SHOPPING
South Boston Holiday Market

Don’t wait until last minute to do your holiday shopping this year. With the South Boston Holiday Market coming to the Innovation and Design Building in early December, pick out unique gifts for everyone on your last and leave the rest of the month to celebration.

Free to attend, December 3-4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Innovation and Design Center in South Boston, 23 Drydock Ave., floor 7, Boston, newenglandopenmarkets.com.

PHOTO OPP
Santa Saturdays

Santa is taking a break from the North Pole for the first three Saturdays this month. Find him hiding out in the tropics of the Franklin Park Zoo. Children will have the opportunity to meet and take a photo with Santa in the Tropical Forest building with the likes of gorillas, lemurs, anteaters and more. Bring the kids for this special event end enjoy winter-themed arts and crafts.

$19.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors, $13.95 for children, Saturdays, December 3-17, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Franklin Park Zoo, One Franklin Park Rd., Boston, franklinparkzoo.org.

PUPPIES
Santa Paws

Don’t leave out your four-legged friends when celebrating the season. Take your pups to Pendelton at Assembly Row for the annual Santa Paws event and get their picture taken with Santa. Purchase a photo and support the non-profit MSPCA in their mission to protect animals. All dogs must be leashed.

Photos start at $10, December 4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Assembly Row, 660 Assembly Row, Boston, assemblyrow.com.

SHOPPING
MassArt Made Holiday Sale

The MassArt holiday sale features handmade items including hand-blown glass, ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and more. All artwork is made by MassArt students and alumni.

Free to attend, December 4-10, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., MassArt Tower Building lobby, 621 Huntington Ave., Boston, inside.massart.edu.

SHOW
Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Witness snowmen, penguins, toy soldiers, Santa, and more as you’ve never seen them before – with soaring acrobatics. The new show Cirque Dreams Holidaze is bringing a cirque show, Broadway musical, and Christmas spectacular all in one to Boston this winter. The show features over 300 costumes, 20 acts, and 30 artists from around the world.

$43+, December 9-December 11, times vary, Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St., Boston, citicenter.org.

SHOW
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan

WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan is returning his annual holiday concert to the stage of the Cutler Majestic for a performance of song and dance from the Celtic world and beyond.

$25+, December 9-21, times vary, Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St., Boston, cutlermajestic.org.

SHOPPING
SoWa Holiday Market

Featuring the very best of New England’s independent designers, artists, and crafters, the SoWa Holiday Market promises shoppers the perfect place to find an original gift for everyone on their list.

$5 admission, free for children under 12, December 10-11, times vary, Benjamin Franklin Institute, 41 Berkeley St., Boston, sowaholidaymarket.net.

ARTS
Egleston Winter Festival: Lighting the Commons

The day-long intergenerational community arts festival returns to Egleston Square for its second year. The festival features art installations, exhibitions, and performances by Urbano Project’s artists.

Free, December 10, Egleston Square, urbanoproject.org.

FUN RUN
Santa Speedo Run

Santa hats, Santa beards, and Speedos will be the only thing donning the runners at this event. The unique fundraising run is on its 17th year with a goal of $250,000. The money raised will go to the Play Ball Foundation, supporting local children in need.

$30 to register, must raise minimum $400 donation, December 10, doors open at 10 a.m. and the run begins at 1 p.m., Lir Tavern, 903 Boylston St., Boston, ssrunners.org.

BAR CRAWL
SantaCon Boston 2016

A bar crawl like no other, SantaCon Boston is back. With over 2,000 Santa participants last year, the event promises to be huge so get your red suit ready.

Free to attend, December 10, noon-10 p.m., Game On Fenway, 82 Lansdowne St., Boston, facebook.com/events.

FUN RUN
Cambridge 5K: Yulefest

This Cambridge 5K winter celebration takes the holiday festivities back to their old school roots. Registering for the run gets you a knit hat and free food and beer at the post-race party.

$35 to register, December 11, 9:30 a.m., Harvard Square, cambridge5k.com.

CONCERT
Kiss 108 Jingle Ball

Jingle Ball is bringing some of the biggest names in music to the TD Garden this December. The lineup includes artists like Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, and Diplo.

$21+, December 11, 6 p.m., TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston, kiss108.iheart.com.

ARTS & CRAFTS
Gingerbread Houses for Grown-Ups

Leave the kids at home for this adult version of gingerbread crafting. The Fairmont Copley Plaza is working with their culinary team to toast the season with festive libations while you decorate your own gingerbread house to take home for the holidays. This event is 21+.

$75-125, December 13, 7-10 p.m., Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 St. James Ave., Boston, eventbrite.com.

HANUKKAH
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights at the MFA

Enjoy festive music and dance performances in a Hanukkah celebration at the Museum of Fine Arts. You will be able to view artists’ installations, participate in an interactive virtual reality experience, make art, tour the galleries, and more at this year’s Festival of Lights.

Free with museum admission, December 14, 5-10 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, mfa.org.

PARTY
Ugly Sweater Party

Breakout your ugly holiday sweaters and head to Boston Grown-Ups Museum for a night of partying, playing and competing. The event will include a sock skating rink, a DJ, a full cash-bar, and tasty treats. Explore interactive exhibits and experience Boston Children’s Museum in a whole new way. You are also welcome to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots, though it is optional. The Ugly Sweater Party is 21+ only.

$25, December 14, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston, bostonchildrensmuseum.org.

MUSIC
Bach Christmas

The Handel+Haydn Society brings back their beloved holiday tradition with the Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus. Also consider: Handel Messiah in late November.

$54+, December 15, 7:30 p.m., and December 18, 3 p.m., NEC’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., Boston, handelandhaydn.org.

DANCE
Urban Nutcracker

Back for its 15th season, Urban Nutcracker puts a modern spin on the original holiday classic. The show is built upon themes of inclusion, community, and a celebration of diversity.

$25+, December 16-31, times vary, Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley St., Boston, urbannutcracker.com.

FOR KIDS
Family Design Day: Gingerbread Edition

BSA Space hosts Family Design Days every Saturday to encourage children and adults to design together. This December, there will be a holiday edition where families are invited to tour gingerbread houses designed by local firms for the Community Design Resource Center. They will also have the chance to complete their own hands-on activity.

$10 non-members, $8 members and friends, December 17, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., BSA Space, 290 Congress St., Boston, architects.org.

LIGHTS
Somerville Arts Council Illuminations Tour

The Illuminations Tour is a celebration of the folk artistry of Somerville residents who decorate their homes with lights, ornaments, and more. 45 minute Trolley Tours leave from Somerville City Hall. Coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies are served as well as craft activities provided for children.

$10 adults, $5 children and seniors, December 17, 4:30-10 p.m., Blue Cloud Gallery at Ball Square, 713 Broadway St., Somerville, somervilleartscouncil.org.

FOR KIDS
Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream

Join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for a holiday celebration with four of your favorite Disney princesses. Children will love this Disney skating adventure.

$10+, December 23-January 1, times vary, Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, agganisarena.com.

NEW YEARS EVER
First Night

Join the city of Boston in Copley Square and the Common for a lively New Years celebration. The ice sculptures are sure to impress this year with a theme of ‘Maritime Legends.’

Free, December 31, Copley Square, firstnightboston.org.

 

MORE HOLIDAY FUN

Your Ultimate Guide to Nutcracker Productions Around Boston
A Guide to Christmas Trees (Buying, Cutting, Species, Etc.)
Where to Go Ice Skating


Hannah Flynn Hannah Flynn, Editorial Intern at Boston Magazine hflynn@bostonmagazine.com


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