23 Holiday Events and Occasions to Celebrate in Boston
Including five variations of The Nutcracker, Disney on Ice, Christmas concerts, Hanukkah candle lightings, and more.
The wait is finally over. With Thanksgiving in the past and December starting this week, the holiday season is officially here and it’s time to get festive. Just in case you haven’t checked out the 14th Annual Mayor’s Holiday Special, here is a list of holiday shows, events, attractions and more to see around the city throughout December.
The Nutcracker by Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre
If you’re more interested in watching dancers tell the story of The Nutcracker with their technique, featuring an emphasis on ballet rather than special effects, this interpretation is for you. This year, the company celebrates its 30th anniversary of its original version of The Nutcracker.
$20+, through December 24, various times, at two theaters: Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St., Boston, and Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester, various times, ballettheatre.org.
The Nutcracker by Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen’s production of The Nutcracker is coming back for its sixth season. 72 Boston Ballet artists will work with 99 students from the Boston Ballet School to put on a performance that focuses on the details. Up to 182 costumes appear in a single act of the show, and over 200,000 jewels were used to embroider the costumes.
$55+, through December 31, various times, Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston, bostonballet.org.
Santa finds an unexpected gift of his own when he discovers a baby boy in his present sack one year while delivering presents. That child grows up to be Buddy, a man raised as an elf who decides to head to the Big Apple when he learns that he is not, in fact, an elf. Upon meeting his father and experiencing the lack of holiday spirit in New York City, Buddy takes it upon himself to bring in some Christmas magic. Based on the movie starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel, one big change is that the play tells the audience what Buddy’s original name was.
$37+, through December 10, various times, Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston, bochcenter.org.
A Christmas Carol
It never gets old to see the cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge get visits from ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future on his journey to becoming a better person. This new adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Debra Wise, artistic director of Underground Railway Theater, is “a celebration of generosity, compassion and personal transformation that will fill your overflowing heart with the desire to spread the glow of good cheer when you leave the theater,” according to a statement from Central Square Theater. Guests can expect puppetry, dancing, and live music.
$16+, through December 31, various times, Central Square Theater, 450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, centralsquaretheater.org.
Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes wrote this two-act musical that tells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ through gospel music. The musical celebrates the black community and wider Boston by incorporating themes of neighborly love, activism and community leadership in a production by the National Center of Afro-American Artists. Co-musical directors Milton Wright and Marilyn Andry are using innovative staging to bring the Bethlehem story to the modern era.
$35+, December 1-17, various times, Paramount Theatre, 599 Washington St., Boston, emersonparamount.org.
Great Russian Nutcracker
Enjoy the classic Nutcracker with a Russian twist. On its 25th anniversary tour, Moscow Ballet’s production will showcase classical Russian dance with elaborate costumes and fantastical sets. In the show, see how magician Herr Drosselmeyer’s gift to Clara, the main character, changes the course of her Christmas Eve. A battle between mice and tin soldiers and a journey to the Land of Sweets are just some highlights of the magical journey that awaits.
$28+, December 3, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston, crossroadspresents.com.
The Christmas Revels: A Venetian Celebration of the Winter Solstice
This theatrical celebration of the winter solstice stars the Doge of Venice, who must determine whether the merchants, lawyers, politicians, artists, or fishwives make the best spaghetti puttanesca in the city. The production will showcase music, dance, folk tales, and rituals of Venice to shed light on Venice’s culture and expose the audience to a different place in the world. The Christmas Revels has been a Christmastime tradition since 1971. Don’t miss your chance to see it this year!
$25+, December 8-27, various times, Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge, revels.org.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph has taught people young and old since 1964 that what makes us different also makes us special. In this live action musical, an unlikely hero finds the courage to embrace what makes him different and becomes a leader. Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer shine bright and guide Santa’s sleigh through a successful Christmas Eve with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, and many more.
$38+, December 14-17, various times, Shubert Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston, bochcenter.org.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Award-winning executive artistic director of Boston Children’s Theatre, Burgess Clark, brings Charlie Brown and the rest of his friends to the stage. In this tale, Charlie produces a Christmas pageant with favorites from Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts gang, including Lucy, Linus, Sally, and of course Charlie’s partner in crime, Snoopy.
$10+, December 15-23, various times, Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont St., bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
Urban Nutcracker is a “Boston inner-city story with a neon-buzz, blending the rhythms of Duke Ellington with the classical music of Tchaikovsky,” according to a statement from the Tony Williams Dance Center. The audience will follow heroine Clarice and her nutcracker through iconic Boston scenes such as the Boston Public Garden and Top of the Hub while the story unfolds with a variety of musical genres, including classical ballet, flamenco and hip hop.
$25+, December 15-28, various times, Back Bay Events Center, John Hancock Hall, 180 Berkeley St., Boston, urbannutcracker.com.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker
This version of The Nutcracker is reimagined with time travel, nightclubs, and New Year’s Eve magic. A dozen dancers, a DJ, and a violinist tell the story of how Maria-Clara and her nutcracker travel back in time to when her parents first met after Drosselmeyer casts a spell on them. Special guest MC Kurtis Blow, known as the first rapper with a major label hit, will open the show with a set and rap introduction to set the scene.
$35+, December 21-23, various times, Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St., Boston, bochcenter.org.
Disney on Ice: Dream Big
Disney unleashes the power of 8 different princesses on their journeys to pursue their biggest dreams, all in a figure skating extravaganza. Take the princess fan in your life to see Ariel explore the world above the sea while Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Belle learn how to create their own magic. And who could forget Elsa and Anna from Frozen? The sisters will travel to Arendelle with their frosty friend Olaf to discover that true love is the most powerful magic of all. The audience will also see Jasmine, Snow White, Aurora, and Tiana follow their dreams with kindness and strength.
$10+, December 22 through January 1, various times, Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, disneyonice.com.
See the Handel and Haydn Society’s arts program Young Women’s Chamber Choir and Young Men’s Chorus perform Messiah in its 164th year. The set list includes “Worthy is the Lamb,” “Hallelujah” and “Glory to God in the Highest.”
$25+, December 1-3, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, bso.org.
Chorus Pro Musica Holiday Concert
Embodying the theme “Dawn on Our Darkness,” the chorus will sing a cappella and will also be accompanied by the church’s Skinner organ to perform holiday classics as well as new songs.
$25+, December 15, 8 p.m., Sanctuary at Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., Boston, oldsouth.org.
Old South Ringers Christmas Concert
Sure, you can strum an instrument, or drum it, but how many people do you know who can play the bells? The Old South Ringers will perform Christmas carols and hymns for family members of all ages to enjoy.
Free, December 17, 4 p.m., Sanctuary at Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., Boston, oldsouth.org.
Conductor Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops in this holiday sing-a-long with the Tangelwood Festival Chorus. Naturally, Santa Claus will be stopping by for this important occasion.
$33+, December 5-24, various times, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, bso.org.
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn
Presented by WGBH, Brian O’Donovan’s live show of Irish musicians, singers and dancers is back for its 14th year. The show draws from Celtic, Pagan, and Christmas traditions to celebrate Christmas with a unique mix of music. If you can’t catch the performance in person, it will also be broadcast live on public radio.
$25+, December 14-22, Cutler Majestic Theater, 219 Tremont St., Boston, wgbh.org.
Strolls and Attractions
North End Holiday Stroll
Ring in the month of December with a leisurely holiday themed walk around the North End. The streets will be festively decorated and you can visit shops to get a start on your holiday shopping.
Free, December 1, 6-11 p.m., North End, Boston, eventbrite.com.
A Meal with Santa
Looking for a way to tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas face-to-face? Dine with him for either breakfast or lunch at Royal Sonesta Boston and enjoy a traditional holiday buffet.
$59+, December 10, 8:30-11 a.m. and 12:30-3 p.m., Royal Sonesta Boston, 40 Edwin H Land Blvd., Cambridge, sonesta.com.
Holiday Duck Tours
Boston’s beloved Duck Tours will featured holiday-themed facts. And don’t worry—as you pass Boston’s famous landmarks, you’ll be in a comfortably heated vehicle that is decorated for the occasion.
$39.50, December 1-17, Friday, Saturday and Sunday every half hour from the Prudential Center and every 20 minutes from the New England Aquarium between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., bostonducktours.com.
Chanukah Cantata: A Light Through the Ages
In this celebration of Hanukkah, Rabbi Howard Berman will recognize leaders from Boston organizations that embody the temple’s core values and explore the meaning of Hanukkah throughout Jewish history. The program will conclude with a candle lighting ceremony.
Free, December 10, 4-6 p.m., Central Reform Temple, 15 Newbury St., Boston, centralreformtemple.org.
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights
Explore a collection of Judaica, view a unique menorah, and participate in a candle lighting at the Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate Hanukkah. Also enjoy a variety of live music performances and take a tour!
Free, December 13, 4:30-10 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, mfa.org.
Ice Sculpture Stroll on the Row
Go on a tour of ice sculptures created by the Somerville High Culinary Arts Program. If you find your favorite one, be sure to vote for it to be named this year’s champion of the contest!
Free, December 15, 6-9 p.m., Assembly Row, Somerville, eventbrite.com.