Boston Winter in City Hall Plaza Is Actually Really Cool

The city’s empty brick expanse has transformed into a wonderland of lights, fun, and good cheer.

boston winter city hall plaza

Photos by Madeline Bilis

If it weren’t for the red-and-green lit Brutalist backdrop, City Hall Plaza would almost be unrecognizable.

The empty brick expanse has officially been transformed into Boston Winter—a dazzling wonderland filled with lights, fun, and good cheer. The holiday display celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday evening after a five-day long delay, and it was worth the wait.

Despite its unimaginative name, Boston Winter appears to be a well-decorated slice of the North Pole. The very merry complex boasts an 11,000-square-foot ice skating path, a holiday shopping market made up of more than 40 chalets, a pedal-powered light-up tree, plenty of snack and cocoa vendors, a beverage hall called “The Urban Lodge,” and more.

As a part of Mayor Marty Walsh’s plan to revitalize City Hall Plaza, Boston Winter is the first installment of a new event series sponsored by Berkshire Bank. The events are set to take over City Hall Plaza during the next three years. This season’s festive installation will be open seven days a week, with the market running through December and the ice skating path until the end of February.

Ahead, check out photos and highlights from the city’s new holiday festival.

boston winter city hall plaza

Belgian waffles, apple crisp, and hot cocoa are a few of the treats available at Boston Winter.

boston winter city hall plaza

Online retailer The Grommet and other local businesses set up shop in garland-topped chalets.

boston winter city hall plaza

This circular Christmas tree is pedal-powered.

boston winter city hall plaza

Bike riders work to light each ring of the tree by pedaling.

boston winter city hall plaza

The plaza is filled with red and green light displays.

boston winter city hall plaza

Organizers say Boston Winter’s winding skating path is the first of its kind in New England.

boston winter city hall plaza

It costs $10 to glide around the path. Skate rentals are available.

boston winter city hall plaza

During Boston Winter’s grand opening, former Bruins player Ray Bourque led the inaugural skate around the rink with local kids.

boston winter city hall plaza

Huge red and green marquee letters sit in the middle of the skating path.

boston winter city hall plaza

The holiday shopping market has vendors selling products ranging from jewelry and ornaments to art and knitwear.

boston winter city hall plaza

A group of carolers kicked off Boston Winter’s grand opening.

boston winter city hall plaza

There are festive displays of sweets and treats all around the market.

boston winter city hall plaza

No effort of Marty Walsh’s would be complete without an Adirondack chair.

boston winter city hall plaza

Inside a tasting tent called “The Chocolate Story,” there are several (kind of creepy?) animatronic displays.

boston winter city hall plaza

A lone biker attempts to power the plaza’s Christmas tree.

boston winter city hall plaza

Alma Knitwear is one of more than 40 vendors in the holiday market.

boston winter city hall plaza

Mayor Walsh cuts the ceremonial garland at the Boston Winter grand opening.

boston winter city hall plaza

Admission is free at Boston Winter. For more information, see cityhallplazaboston.com.