Free Things to Do in Boston, December 2014

Check out free events happening in the area this month including tree lightings, Charlestown Open Studios, First Night, and more.


Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the 2013 Boston Common Tree Lighting. / Photo by Margaret Burdge

Commonwealth Avenue Mall Lighting

Unlike previous years, this year the Comm. Ave. Mall tree lighting will take place on a different day than the Boston Common tree lighting. On the first of the month, join Mayor Marty Walsh and others as the mall is lit in beautiful white lights. The lighting will feature a performance by the Boston University Singers and Taj Boston will provide hot chocolate and cookies.

Free, December 1, 5 p.m., Commonwealth Avenue Mall on Arlington St., Boston,

Copley Square Tree Lighting

Mayor Walsh will attend this tree lighting too, along with Santa, Rudolph, and Janet Wu. Live entertainment will include members of the Boston Pops Brass Ensemble, the Trinity Church Choristers, jugglers, stilt walkers, and more. Afterward, the Fairmont Copley Plaza will host a family-friendly reception with cookie decorating, photos with Santa, and snacks from Georgetown Cupcake and Pain d’Avignon.

Free, December 2, 4:30-6 p.m., Copley Square, Boston,

Boston Common Tree Lighting

Boston’s 73rd official tree lighting will once again be a star-studded affair, but a headliner is still TBA. Last year boasted live performances by Joey McIntyre, Blue Man Group, and Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Plus, don’t miss the annual Frog Pond Skating Spectacular, when pros and students from the Skating Club of Boston put on one of their two free shows of the season.

Free, December 4, 6-8 p.m., Boston Common,

Christmas Craft Fair & Music

This craft fair will feature 30 New England artists and crafters. Throughout the day, live musical performances will complement the fair: Boylston Brass Concert at 10 a.m., an organ concert at noon, and the Old South Church tree lighting and caroling at 2 p.m.

Free, December 6, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., Boston,

Artists Group of Charlestown Open Studios

The last neighborhood open studios of the year will spotlight the artists of Charlestown. Explore three floors of work along the theme of “Small Wonders: An Exhibition of Small Works.”

Free, December 6-7, and December 14-15, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 523 Medford St., Charlestown,

Interactive Readings of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Sponsored by Citi Performing Arts Center’s Education Department, “Rudolph: The Musical” is here this season, and Faneuil Hall is hosting three “interactive readings” of the classic Christmas tale. Citi Center’s teaching artist Jeremy Gooden will lead the readings, which will have props, singing, and audience participation. The sessions last one hour and target ages 3 through 10.

Free, December 6, 13, and 20, 11 a.m., Quincy’s Place, Faneuil Hall Market, Boston,

Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll

Beacon Hill’s annual Holiday Stroll is the epitome of charm. The area is decked out in all the bells and whistles to get visitors in the holiday spirit. And of course, the boutiques and galleries will be open for a little extra holiday shopping.

Free to attend, December 11, 6-9 p.m., Beacon Hill, Boston,

15th Annual Santa Speedo Run

No explanation necessary. See photos from last year.

Free to be there, December 6, 1-1:30 p.m. on Newbury and Boylston Streets between Berkeley and Gloucester in Back Bay, Boston,

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights at the MFA

The MFA’s Hanukkah celebration includes a menorah lighting, olive oil tasting, art-making activities, music, and a film screening. The coolest part of the celebration, however, is the 8 Nights, 8 Windows installation, where visitors don Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets to preview a forthcoming art project by local digital artists Jeff Hesser, Mike Mandel, and musician Guy Mendilow.

Free, December 17, 6-9:45 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,

First Night

The annual city-wide arts fest that almost wasn’t last year will return with all sorts of free, discounted programming, ice sculptures, ice skating, and other fun activities as we herald in a new year. While some parts of the event requires tickets—the $10 First Night Button is worth it—plenty of the activities are free and open to the public.

Free, December 31, 1 p.m.-midnight, various locations,