The Definitive Mom-Approved Guide to Taking Your Toddler to the Holiday Pops
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! From watching the “Big Tree” lighting in Faneuil Hall to ice skating at Frog Pond, Bostonians of all ages are feeling the holiday cheer. For Instagram influencer and blogger @JeanWang’s family, the festive atmosphere marks the return of beloved family traditions like cooking holiday meals together and playing board games late into the night.
This season, though, it also means the chance to build a new tradition alongside her 15-month-old daughter, Nori, with a trip to one of New England’s most beloved Christmastime events: the Holiday Pops.
“It’s really important to us to have traditions we can look forward to every year and now introduce to Nori,” says Wang. “She already loves music, so we thought it would be exciting for her to see music come alive!”
Since 1973, the Holiday Pops have brought classic carols to life for kids from one to 92 with special holiday themed concerts inside Symphony Hall, stunningly adorned in yuletide decorations. Evening Holiday Pops performances — and several select matinee shows — feature a classic holiday repertoire sung by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and conducted by Pops favorite Keith Lockhart concluding in a chance for the audience to join in on a rendition of A Merry Little Sing-Along, not to mention a visit from jolly old Saint Nick himself.
To ensure children like Nori can join in the fun, the Holiday Pops also perform special Kids Matinee concerts that feature a shorter program (75 minutes), a children’s sing-along with the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir, and post-concert photos with Santa. Those seated at floor tables can munch on holiday treats in a family-friendly atmosphere where children are encouraged to add their voices to the chorus of holiday favorites like Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman. There are eight Kids Matinees this season on Dec 7 at 3pm, and Dec 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23 and 24, at 11am. Parents with toddlers are in luck! Tickets for children younger than two are free.
“There were kids of literally all ages from newborn on up enjoying the music,” says Jean about her and Nori’s experience at the Kids Matinee. “The family friendly environment made it so I didn’t feel stressed being in the audience with a toddler who’d skipped her nap!”
“It’s an incredible way to start a family holiday tradition,” adds Dennis Alves, Director of Artistic Planning for the Boston Pops. “The holidays get so busy, but the Holiday Pops Kids Matinee shows are a fun and relaxed way to spend quality time together while enjoying one of the city’s greatest musical treasures.”
Starting this year, families with children or adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or sensory sensitivities are also welcome to attend a sensory-friendly Holiday Pops concert on Dec. 7 at 10am. The concert will be a shortened 60-minute version of the regular Holiday Pops concert, with a flexible, non-judgmental environment.
As any parent with a toddler or young children knows, the success of a family outing relies a lot on preparation. Interested in taking your little one to a Holiday Pops Kids Matinee performance? Wang offers these three pro tips for making the trip as smooth as possible:
- Warm Up. Play some of the Holiday Pops song list at home so your toddler feels more comfortable participating at the concert.
- Join In. If your toddler sees you having fun at the concert, then they’ll have more fun, so be sure to clap and sing along!
- Don’t Stress Out. Most importantly, don’t worry if all doesn’t go as planned. Spending time together as a family is what matters.
“It’s easy for us as parents to get really excited about something, especially if it’s an event you love and are trying to share with them for the first time,” says Wang. “There’s still a good chance that no matter how much you prep them they could yell (or sleep) through the whole thing. That doesn’t mean they won’t like it or that you shouldn’t try again.”
The Holiday Pops celebration continues after Christmas with an all new show fit for the whole family: Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. The 30th anniversary show will feature the world’s favorite classic cartoon projected on the big screen accompanied by the Boston Pops orchestra performing the exhilarating, original Carl Stalling scores LIVE. The Pops also have your New Year’s plans covered with a showstopping night planned of jazz covers and originals performed by the unparalleled Boston Pops Swing Orchestra and The Hot Sardines. Pre-concert dinner options created and presented by Boston based chef and restaurateur Lydia Shire will also be available for purchase.
“Spending time together with great music and loved ones is the perfect holiday gift,” says Alves. “We hope audiences walk away joyful and ready to celebrate the season!”This is a paid partnership between Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Magazine's City/Studio