What to Do During Winter Vacation Week

Grab the kids and stave off boredom at these events around town.


Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

—Celebrations at the Museum of Fine Arts—

The MFA is offering a variety of programs and art-making activities.

Festive Food Walk

Love food? Take a tour of the art it has inspired with food historian Laura Ziman. | Free with admission, Wednesday, December 30, 10:30–11:15 a.m. and 1:30–2:15 p.m., Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Visitor Center, mfa.org.

Write a Postcard

Who said letters were outdated? Show someone you care with a handwritten card. Postcards will be available for free outside the “Class Distinctions” exhibit and, if you want, you can purchase a stamp at the MFA shop, put your card into the slot at the writing desk, and have the museum mail it for you. | Free with admission, December 26–January 3, 10 a.m.–4:45 p.m., Rickabaugh Family Lobby, mfa.org.

Catch the Light

Inspired by the beautiful stained glass windows in Gallery 228? Head over to Gallery 234 and make your own with craft supplies. | Free with admission, December 26–January 3, except January 1, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Barbara and Theodore Alfond Gallery, mfa.org.

Festive Fun

“The Colgate Family,” a painting by Johannes Adam Simon Oertel, shows a family gathered around a handmade puppet. See it, and then make your own puppet. | Free with admission, December 26–January 3, except January 1, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Link between: Folk Art, and Gothic Revival, Gallery 237.1, mfa.org.

Put on Your Party Hat

Get inspired by the party scene in “Peasants Merry Making Outside an Inn, Fair at Warmond” in the Gund Gallery, and then join other party-goers to create your own festive hat. | Free with admission, December 26–January 3, except January 1, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, mfa.org.

Sparkle and Shine

Create your own 3-D masterpiece inspired by Josiah McElheny’s “Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism” featured in Gallery 259. | Free with admission, December 26–January 3, except January 1, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., John, Bertram A. and Ronald M. Druker Family Pavilion (Classroom 159), mfa.org.


Photo Courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

—The Art of Storytelling at the Gardner Museum—

During vacation week, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is hosting a series of events and activities under the theme “The Art of Storytelling.” Guests can enjoy stories in the museum’s Living Room and then venture to the Studio to create their own story-inspired works of art. The museum will be open every day this vacation week except January 1, and will close early at 5 p.m. on December 31.

“Art of Storytelling” activities take place December 28-31, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, gardnermuseum.org.

—Ice Skating—

Show off your skills (or steady yourself with a milk crate)—just not at the Charles Hotel, where they’re still caught up in the mysterious case of the missing ice rink.

Frog Pond: $6 for 58 inches and over, free under 58 inches, Monday 10 a.m.–3:45 p.m., Tuesday–Thursday 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Boston Common Frog Pond, bostonfrogpond.com.

Community Ice Skating at Kendall Square: $8 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, $1 for children 13 and under, Monday–Thursday 12-8 p.m., Friday 12-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–6 p.m., 300 Athenaeum St, Cambridge, skatekendall.com.

Kirrane Ice Skating Rink: $5 for residents, $7 for non-residents, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30–11:30 a.m., Friday 8–10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 12–5 p.m., Larz Anderson Park, 25 Newton St., Brookline, brooklinerec.com.

Kelly Outdoor Skating Rink: free, Sunday–Friday 12–7:30 p.m., Saturday 1–7:30 p.m., 1 Marbury Ter., Jamaica Plain, mass.gov.

Boston Harbor Hotel: $10 for adults, $5 for children, Monday–Friday 3–8 p.m., Saturday–Sunday 10 a.m.–8 p.m., 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, bhh.com.

Simoni Skating Arena: $5, generally Monday–Friday 12:30–2:30, Sunday 1–3 p.m. but times can vary, 155 Gore St., Cambridge, fmcicesports.com.

Steriti Memorial Rink: free, Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Saturday–Sunday 4 p.m.–10 p.m., 561 Commercial St., Boston, mass.gov.

—Events at the Boston Public Library—

Various branches of the BPL are hosting vacation week events.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Watch Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in this 1946 holiday classic. | Free, Thursday, December 24, 2–4 p.m., Roslindale Branch, 4246 Washington St., Roslindale, bpl.org.

Craft Lab

Try your hand at craft projects in the Teen Room. | Free, Thursday, December 24, 5–7 p.m., Dudley Branch, 65 Warren St., Roxbury, bpl.org.


Local artist Brother Rumas helps you celebrate Kwanzaa with drumming and arts and crafts. | Free, Saturday, December 26, 12–3 p.m., Dudley Branch, 65 Warren St., Roxbury, bpl.org.


Follow Kevin, Stuart and Bob’s adventures through time in the newest animated movie about the famed yellow trio. | Free, Sunday, December 27, 2–4 p.m., Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston St., Boston, bpl.org.

Gingerbread Houses

Build a beautiful gingerbread house with special guest Sherry Eskin. Space is limited, so sign up with a librarian or call 617-569-0271. | Free, Monday, December 28, 2–3 p.m., East Boston Branch, 365 Breman St., East Boston, bpl.org.

Tween Tuesday

A fun way for kids ages 9-13 to use technology and creativity. | Free, Tuesday, December 29, 5–6 p.m., Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston St., Boston, bpl.org.


Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker / Photograph by Gene Schiavone, courtesy of Boston Ballet

—Last-Chance Happenings—

Check out these family-friendly attractions before they leave town.

The Nutcracker

It’s Nutcracker season at the Boston Ballet—but this isn’t your average Tchaikovsky tale. Although it has the original score, the choreography has been re-imagined by Mikko Nissinen and features new lighting design by award-winning designer Mikki Kunttu. New cast members, 350 handmade costumes, and elaborate set design round out this performance. See it before its grand finale on December 31. | $35+, through December 31, times vary, Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., bostonballet.org.

Holiday Pops Kids’ Matinee

Photos with Santa, a sing-along, a kid-friendly menu, and holiday treats round out this special version of a Boston holiday classic. Don’t wait a year to join in on the fun. | $38+, free for children under two, Thursday, December 24, 11 a.m., Symphony Hall, Boston, bso.org.


Boston’s “light and sound extravaganza” has returned to Faneuil Hall Marketplace for its fourth year. Using more than 350,000 LED lights, Blink! lights up the night in sync to the music of the Holiday Pops. The seven-minute show runs every hour, but will be shutting off its lights until next year on January 3. | Free, through Sunday, January 3, every hour on the half hour, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, faneuilhallmarketplace.com.

Stone Zoo ZooLights

Get an up-close look at bald eagles, Canada lynx, arctic foxes, and reindeer while you wander down illuminated paths. Enjoy camel rides, a carousel, and all of the festive decorations. This is your last chance to sip hot chocolate with Santa and get a photo with him—until next year, that is. | $7-9, free for children under two, Thursday, December 24 through Sunday, January 9 (closed December 25) 5–9 p.m., Stone Zoo, 149 Pond St., Stoneham, zoonewengland.org.

Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove

A show filled with all the characters you love, from Snow White to Peter Pan to Rapunzel. Journey to Neverland, stop in Africa to sing “Circle of Life” with Simba, and then meet the Mad Hatter and Alice for a very important date with the Queen of Hearts’ Army of Cards. See the spectacle before they skate out of Boston on January 3. | $10-100, through January 3 (except December 31), times vary, Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, disneyonice.com.

The Science Behind Pixar

The world premiere of this exhibit, created by the Museum of Science and Pixar Animation Studios, draws to a close January 10. Stop by this winter break to explore the creative filmmaking processes behind your favorite superheroes and villains. | $29 for adult, $27 for seniors, $26 for children, includes Exhibit Hall admission, through January 10 (except Friday, December 25), Museum of Science, 11 Science Park, Boston, mos.org.