From tree lightings and holiday markets, to outdoor ice-skating rinks and annual performances, there’s no place like the Hub for the holidays. Find festive cheer around every corner and great deals for Boston’s vibrant performing arts scene. Whether you’re a train, plane, or just a quick car ride away, Boston’s magical merriment is worth the trip. Heck, hop the T and come in for a few hours to catch a performance of The Nutcracker, Hip Hop Nutcracker or Holiday Pops, and explore Boston's holiday lights trail. Why not? Come explore the Hub this holiday season!
Boston is steeped in history, but for every cherished tradition a new experience awaits and this is especially true for 2021. Take the 50-foot White Spruce on Boston Common. This is tradition. The Tree for Boston is a gift from Nova Scotia commemorating Boston’s outpouring of aid for Halifax following a devastating fire in 1917. For the past 50 years Nova Scotia has sent a tree to Boston as a gesture of thanks and good will. This year’s annual tree lighting celebration takes place on December 2. Other celebrations include the annual Trellis lighting in Columbus Park on November 22 and the Copley Square Tree Lighting on November 29.
Ice-skating rinks, holiday trees and markets do not exist in isolation here, they pop up across the city. 401 Park offers the most recent installation of outdoor skating, but traditionalists may prefer a twirl out on the Boston Common Frog Pond or perhaps in Kendall Square or on the hilltop rink at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline.
Ice skating on the Boston Common Frog Pond
As for holiday lights, trees are lit in Copley Square and The Boston Public Garden, and at Macy’s in Downtown Crossing, while the beautiful trellis at Christopher Columbus Park sparkles in blue and the iconic Commonwealth Avenue Mall shines in serene white. For holiday markets, check out vendors in Faneuil Hall, The Holiday Market at Snowport, Boston Public Market's Holiday CR[EAT]OR Market, the Holiday Bos. Shop by Black Owned Bos., and SOWA's Winter Festival - just to name a few.
The holiday season in Boston is distinguished by its unparalleled production of performing arts and artistic expression. Boston has an eclectic lineup of performances: Maestro Keith Lockhart leads the Holiday Pops through yuletide hits all December long; A Christmas Story, The Musical brings the classic 1983 movie to the stage through December 19; and The Nutcracker featuring the classic choreography of Mikko Nissinen, an essential of the Boston holiday season, will be on stage at the Boston Opera House through December 26. For a uniquely Boston version of this holiday favorite, check out Tony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker at Shubert Theatre between December 18-23. Williams, the first African-American principal dancer at Boston Ballet, created Urban Nutcracker 20 years ago to infuse the performance with Boston’s diverse culture.
Celebrating cultural diversity is a hallmark of the holiday season. In Boston, A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan has enthralled audiences for nearly 20 years, drawing on Celtic, Pagan and Christian traditions to compose a multifarious songbook performed at the Cutler Majestic Theatre (December 17-19). On December 12, Kiss 108's Jingle Bell Ball at the TD Garden will have something for everyone with performances Jonas Brothers, Doja Cat, Saweetie, Black Eyed Peas, Tate McRae, Bazzi, Dixie D'Amelio and Tai Verdes.
Maestro Keith Lockhart leads the Holiday Pops through yuletide hits all December long. Photo courtesy of the Boston Pops.
Families will find an array of fun and festive opportunities around Boston and also just outside the city. ZooLights at the Stone Zoo creates an enchanting winter wonderland, while down the road at the Concord Museum the exhibition Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature features 32 holiday trees adorned with ornaments depicting favorite characters and scenes from beloved children’s books. Take a short ride out to Foxborough for a wonderful New England tradition, Magic of Lights at Gillette Stadium, and let the kids gaze in wonderment at holiday scenes and characters in a dazzling drive-through display.
ZooLights at the Stone Zoo; Photo courtesy of Zoo New England.
The fun doesn’t stop on December 26. In fact, Boston gears up for the nation’s oldest First Night celebration with First Night/First Day happening on Boston Common and Copley Square with a procession, ice sculptures, free entertainment, and, of course, fireworks! So come to Boston and enjoy this annual treat. The lineup of holiday programs and performances is beyond impressive, it’s incomparable and it’s happening here, the Hub of the holiday universe.
First Night Boston in Copley Square