49 Things to Do This Week in Boston

Don't miss the annual Boston Common Tree Lighting, Van Buren Records at the Paradise Rock Club, and one of the last weeks to visit the SoWa Winter Festival this season.

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Torch Song

Moonbox Productions presents Harvey Fierstein’s trilogy, centering on the life of Arnold Beckoff, a gay Jewish man living in New York City in the ’70s and ’80s, described by the playwright as a “kvetch (someone who complains habitually) of great wit and want.”

$65, Friday through December 23, Roberts Studio Theater, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston


Tir Na Theater brings us this comedy by Mark Doherty, about an elderly Irish father-son duo who journey across their homeland to find the elder man’s other son, fathered in a fling years ago.

$35, Wednesday through December 18, Black Box Theater, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston

Life of Pi

The American Repertory Theater launches the North American debut of this stage adaptation of the popular philosophical novel Life of Pi, about a boy and a handful of talking animals adrift on a lifeboat in the ocean—but of course, it’s about much more than that.

$30-$175, Sunday through January 29, Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge

Black Nativity

Written by Langston Hughes, this show, put on annually by the National Center of Afro-American Artists, tells the Nativity story from a distinctly Black American perspective, with a cast of over 50 adults and children singing the uplifting score.

$35-$90, Friday through December 18, Emerson Paramount Center, 559 Washington St., Boston

The Chinese Lady

This play by Lloyd Suh dramatizes the life of Afong Moy, a Chinese woman brought to New York City as a teenager in 1834 by American traders, who put her on display as a sort of exotic specimen. Suh tells the tale with awareness of both the cruel indignities and comic absurdities of Moy’s situation.

$25-$68, through December 11, Central Square Theater, 450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

The Play That Goes Wrong

Lyric Stage presents this comedy about a college theater troupe whose performance of a classic murder mystery play—wait for it—goes wrong, in a thousand hilarious ways at once.

$32-$80, through December 18, Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon St., Boston


This Tony-winning Broadway musical reimagines the six unfortunate wives of English king Henry VIII as a pop group arguing—through song, of course—over who should get to be band leader.

$45-$194, through December 31, Emerson Colonial Theater, 106 Boylston St., Boston


Refract/Reframe: Reflections on Loss, Love and Light

The Click features work from Angelina Benitez, Leah Abbott, Lonnie Stanton, Decent Dance, and Kristin Wagner, with common themes of processing loss and celebrating renewal and rebirth.

Free-$50, Friday through Sunday, The Foundry, 101 Rogers St., Cambridge

The Nutcracker

The Boston Ballet’s flagship production returns for another season of magic. Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen has been perfecting his version since its 2012 debut, creating an ever-more sumptuous treat for holiday audiences.

$39-$250, through December 31, Citizens Bank Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston


Robert Kelly

Boston-area native Robert Kelly has worked with other local comedy luminaries throughout his career, including Dane Cook, Gary Gulman, Bill Burr, and Louis C.K. Since 2010, he’s hosted the comedy podcast You Know What Dude!, which he describes as “a true comic hang.”

$25-$29, Thursday through Saturday, Laugh Boston, 425 Summer St., Boston


A Couple

From director Frederick Wiseman comes this dramatization of the relationship between Leo Tolstoy and his wife, Sophia. Its narration, from the latter’s perspective, is drawn from the couple’s voluminous letters and journals.

$15-$17, opens Friday, Coolidge Corner Theater, 290 Harvard St., Brookline

Damn Fine Cinema: The Films of David Lynch

If you’re looking to get a bit surreal this week, the Brattle has you covered with screenings of Eraserhead, Inland Empire, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and other inscrutable David Lynch classics.

$12-$14, Saturday through December 8, Brattle Theater, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge


Holiday Pops

Join Keith Lockhart and the Pops for their yearly yuletide treat, a mix of beloved holiday tunes, including the orchestra’s signature version of “Sleigh Ride,” leading up to an appearance from none other than St. Nick himself.

$2-$175, Thursday through December 24, Symphony Hall, 301 Mass. Ave., Boston


The Slutcracker

If your biggest issue with the holiday season is that it’s not sexy enough, this is the show for you: a perfectly outrageous burlesque reimagining of The Nutcracker that’s become a subversive local institution.

$35, Friday through December 31, Somerville Theater, 55 Davis Sq., Somerville


Cirque du Soleil

These prolific Canadian dream weavers are back with a Christmas-themed production, ‘Twas the Night Before, about a teen who finds herself swept into the world of the poem “The Night Before Christmas.”

$35-$145, through December 11, Boch Center Wang Theater, 270 Tremont St., Boston


Learn to Curl at Snowport

Once again, the North End Curling Club is offering to educate the curl-curious in their art for free. Snowport’s curling lanes are iceless, so it won’t be exactly the way the pros do it, but you’ll definitely get a taste of the action.

Free, Saturdays through February 11, Seaport Common, 85 Northern Ave., Boston


Noiseland: The Music of Boston

Panopticon Gallery features the work of local music photographers, including JJ Gonson, Paul MacAlpine, and Philin Phlash, with images of Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Queen, Sonic Youth, and many more.

Free, through December 30, Panopticon Gallery, Hotel Commonwealth, 502c Comm. Ave., Boston

Swimming with Sharks: A Deep Dive into Shark Biology and Behavior

With its latest exhibition, the Harvard Museum of Natural History makes the case that sharks are much more than the brutally effective killing machines of popular imagination. You’ll learn about their crucial importance to marine ecosystems, their fascinating skin, and more.

$15, now open, Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge

Five Marble Leaves

This outdoor installation by Swiss artist Claudia Comte is a meditation on the wonders of nature, with quotes from environmental activists set beside its five large leaf-like sculptures. It also looks like a great Instagram opportunity.

Free, through September 2023, Central Wharf Park, 250 Atlantic Ave., Boston

Metal of Honor: Gold from Simone Martini to Contemporary Art

The Gardner Museum compares the use of gold in medieval European art with its use by contemporary American painters with rather different purposes, focusing on Titus Kaphar, Stacy Lynn Waddell, and Kehinde Wiley.

$20, through January 16, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston

Life Magazine and the Power of Photography

The MFA back at the magazine Life, which ran from 1936 to 1972, examining its world-famous photography, which helped shaped our collective memory of the era, and its own creative process.

$34, through January 16, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston

To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood

The ICA brings together 40 artists exploring the subject of childhood in a variety of media, as well as works from actual children, all of it arranged around the themes of self-expression, creativity, power, care, labor, and learning.

$20, through February 26, Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Dr., Boston

Power and Perspective: Early Photography in China

Using over 100 photos and other art objects from their collection, the Peabody Essex Museum investigates the arrival of photography in China in the 19th century, particularly in terms of the country’s relationship with the outside world.

$20, through April 2, Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem

Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment

Including over 150 works, Harvard Art Museums’ exhibition explores the complexities of the Enlightenment, an age of intellectual and political revolution whose legacy continues to haunt and inspire the Western imagination.

$20, through January 15, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge


The Art of the Brick

Artist Nathan Sawaya is one of the few adults who’s made a career out of playing with Legos, creating remarkable sculptures of human figures, Lego versions of famous works of art, and even a 20-foot T. rex, all of which—and more—will be on display at this show.

$24-$28, through April 23, 343 Newbury St., Boston

Dino Safari

This indoor exhibition lets kids get up close and personal with more than 20 animatronic dinosaurs. VIP packages include more fun activities.

$18-$25, through January 2, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 4 S Market St., Boston


Ice Skating at Boston Common Frog Pond

Though it’s one of many local outdoor ice rinks that spring up around this time of year, the Frog Pond is the classic choice. Note: the price listed below is for admission; skate rentals will cost extra.

Free-$8, now open, Boston Common Frog Pond, 38 Beacon St., Boston

Festival of Trees

Sign up to win one of the dozens of beautifully decorated holiday trees at this annual event. There’s also an intricate, holiday-themed model railroad, winding through a miniature Boston, a Dickensian city scene, and, of course, the North Pole.

$5-$27, through December 31, The Garden at Elm Bank, 900 Washington St., Wellesley

Night Lights

This massive holiday light display is spread across 15 acres at the New England Botanic Garden. Visitors can also enjoy s’mores and hot cocoa.

Free-$25, through December 31, New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill, 11 French Dr., Boylston

The Immersive Nutcracker

Lighthouse Immersive’s latest concoction envelops visitors in the magical winter wonderland of The Nutcracker, with music from Tchaikovsky’s score and huge projections of the iconic ballet’s enchanting world.  

$27-$45, through January 1, Lighthouse ArtSpace, 130 Columbus Ave., Boston


SoWa Winter Festival

Over 100 regional artists, designers, and other vendors will be plying their wares at SoWa’s Winter Festival. There will also be food, specialty cocktails, and live music.

$10, through December 11, SoWa Power Station, 550 Harrison Ave., Boston

The Holiday Market at Snowport

Snowport’s Holiday Market includes more than 120 local vendors selling pretty much everything, plus a Christmas tree market, a custom cocktail bar, and lots of food—because this much shopping requires nourishment.

Free, through December 31, 100 Seaport Blvd., Boston



Van Buren Records

This Brockton-based, 13-member rap collective might just be the Boston area’s answer to the Wu-Tang Clan: a diverse array of talent from the outskirts of town who’ve fashioned their own rough-edged hip-hop universe. They released their second album, DSM, in September.

$20, 8 p.m., Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm. Ave., Boston

Archers of Loaf

Best known for their 1993 single “Web in Front,” North Carolina’s Archers of Loaf were one of many ’90s indie rock bands who bridged the gap between underground and mainstream. They reunited in 2011 after a 13-year break but waited until this year to drop a new studio album, Reason in Decline.

$30-$32, 8:30 p.m., The Sinclair, 52 Church St., Cambridge


Rob Delaney

Actor and comedian Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) discusses his new memoir A Heart That Works with fellow Boston comic Eugene Mirman. The book details his experience of his infant son’s fatal battle with brain cancer.

$30, 7 p.m., First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden St., Cambridge


An Evening of Jazz and Healing

One-time local jazz DJ and former Coolidge Corner Theater owner Justin Freed presents this multimedia event, featuring visual art, a screening of his own film Jazz Saved My Life, and live music from Maria Schneider and Donal Fox.

$35, 7 p.m., Coolidge Corner Theater, 290 Harvard St., Brookline


Boston Common Tree Lighting

Come down to the Common to see Nova Scotia’s annual donation to the City of Boston—this year, a 45-foot white spruce—set aglow in all its coniferous glory. You can also catch live performances, a pyrotechnic show, and, if you arrive early, an ice skating show on the Frog Pond rink.

Free, 6 p.m., Boston Common, 139 Tremont St., Boston



Rina Sawayama

Early in her career, Japanese-British pop singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama generated buzz for her self-conscious throwback-to-the-2000s sound. Her second album, Hold the Girl, dropped in September. Its lead single, “This Hell,” subversively appropriates country pop stylings to express support the LGBT community. Note: This show was originally scheduled for November 4.

$35-$75, 8 p.m., Roadrunner, 89 Guest St., Boston



Paraguayan filmmaker Paz Encina will appear in person at this screening of her latest movie, a dramatic portrayal of the Ayoreo Totobiegosode people, an indigenous group of the Amazon, combining mythological and ethnographic perspectives.

$15, 7 p.m., Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge


Joe Pera

Joe Pera, star of Adult Swim’s Joe Pera Talks With You, embraces a nervous, naïve, wholesome persona in his act—the perfect disguise for offbeat material worthy of a Stephen Wright, Emo Phillips, or Mitch Hedberg.

$37, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., The Wilbur Theater, 246 Tremont St., Boston



Harriet Tubman

Heavily improvisational power trio Harriet Tubman’s mind-expanding mixture of soul, rock, jazz, and blues ranges from deep, down-to-earth grooves to avant-garde, outer space chaos. Usually, they can be found flying somewhere in the middle.

$30-$140, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Scullers, 400 Soldiers Field Rd., Allston

Tony Trischka

Bluegrass banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka performs a special holiday show, Of A Winter’s Night, combining old favorites with more obscure selections.

$30, 8 p.m., Club Passim, 70 Palmer St., Cambridge


Boston Bhangra Competition

Each year, bhangra teams from all over convene for this high-energy dance-off, full of colorful costumes and booming beats. Top bhangra artist G Sidhu is 2022’s special guest.

$20-$100, 6 p.m., Strand Theater, 543 Columbia Rd., Dorchester


Promising “raw, athletic dance and poetic inquiry,” Nozama Dance Collective presents an evening of contemporary dance, centering on the theme of dissent.

$20, 7:30 p.m., Boston University Dance Theater, 915 Comm. Ave., Boston


McMullen Museum Holiday Celebration

This weekend’s Holiday Celebration, offering special activities, live music, hot chocolate, and other treats, is a good excuse to check out the McMullen Museum’s special exhibition American Alternative Comics, 1980-2000: Raw, Weirdo, and Beyond before it closes Sunday.

Free, 12 p.m.-4 p.m., McMullen Museum of Art, 2101 Comm. Ave., Brighton



Stephen Kellogg

Singer-songwriter Stephen Kellogg emerged from Western Massachusetts with his alt country/rock band the Sixers in the 2000s, but he parted ways with the group in 2012, embracing a folkier sound in his subsequent solo work. His latest album, Keep It Up, Kid, drops Friday.

$30-$35, 8 p.m., The Sinclair, 52 Church St., Cambridge

Mountain Stage

This NPR radio series stops by on its national tour with a stacked lineup, including Rosanne Cash, Loudon Wainwright III, Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway, and Ali McGuirk. Kathy Mattea hosts.

$39-$95, 7 p.m., Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass. Ave., Boston


The Muppet Christmas Carol

Harvard Art Museums’ Screens for Teens series closes out the year with the definitive adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved novella.

Free, 2 p.m., Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge


Fenway Flea Winter Market

Browse a curated selection of vintage clothes, handmade goods, jewelry, art and more, grab a bite to eat, and, if the mood strikes you, go for a skate at the 401 Park ice rink.

Free, through December 18, Time Out Market, 401 Park Dr., Boston