Our Family’s Winter Celebrations 2016 – In and Around Boston
There is no snow on the ground in Boston yet (and I am not sure I am quite ready for it yet) – but there are plenty of ways to get your family into holiday spirit in Boston, starting this weekend!
Here is our list:
The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet
We have traditionally started the season with attending the Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet over Thanksgiving break. This year we were invited to the Dress Rehearsal and had a chance to witness the creative process and see the dancers up close and personal. (Read our report here).
There are several Nutcracker versions in town (including Urban Nutcracker and visiting shows (check out the discounted tickets via bostix), but the Nutcracker by Boston Ballet is our favorite. As my 7-year-old daughter Vi says, “it gets better every year” (currently in 5th year of the shorter and lighter production by Boston Ballet’s artistic director Mikko Nissinen. In Boston Opera House through December 31).
Gardens Aglow at the Heritage Museum in Sandwich
We love our summer and fall trips to the Cape so much that we were willing to drive out of town for the Gardens Aglow celebration at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (4:30-8:30pm) through December 18, the holiday lights transform this largest Southern New England garden into winter wonderland with the distinct New England “heritage” flair.
We visited on the opening weekend and saw the model train passing through Cape Cod Canal in the special exhibit gallery, admired traditional holiday table designs by local artists, climbed the antique car in the permanent exhibit hall, and of course rode the historical carousel until closing time. For details and tickets, check the website.
Holiday Pops Kids Matinees
Beloved Boston Pops Orchestra performs special holidays concerts every December, including kids’ holidays matinee shows. Here is our report from the Boston Pops Kids Matinee (11 am, Saturdays and Sundays through December 24th). There will be traditional holiday sing-alongs and post-concert photo opportunities.
NEW: Boston Winter Wonderland at City Hall Plaza
After the Pops, we plan to check out Boston’s newest holiday venture at City Hall Plaza, complete with winter bazaar, ice skating ring, chocolate and wine tastings. Entrance is free, but some of the tastings are fee-based (see the list of paid activities here. Use code BLOGFRIEND for 15% off discount through December 16.) Stay tuned for our updates on facebook.
Blinking at Faneuil Hall
At 4:30 pm we will move over to Faneuil Hall for the holiday lights and music show called Blink!
350,000 LED lights illuminate Boston’s skyline to the song arrangements of the Holiday Pops – in a seven-minute spectacle that runs continuously each evening beginning November 20th through January 1.
Each day of the season the first show starts on the Main Tree at Marketplace Center and on the trees in South Market at 4:30 pm and runs every hour on the half hour. The North Market show begins at 5:00 pm and runs every hour on the hour. Be sure to know your South from North once in the area (check with the local vendors when in doubt) or you may miss a couple of shows by being in a wrong place!
More Holiday Lights:
ZooLight holiday stroll in Stoneham Zoo (Stoneham, MA) promises a winter wonderland of trees and lights November 25-January 1 (5-9pm).
Edaville Railroad in Carver, MA, offers Christmas-lit train rides during its Festival of Lights (through January 1). Trains run on an hourly schedule.
Frog Pond Skating at Boston Common
Boston Common’s main Nova Scotia tree has been officially lit since December 1. When you come to America’s oldest public park during the holidays, be sure to stop at the famous Frog Pond for some skating lessons or just to watch from the boards. Check the website for schedule, rentals, lessons and birthday party bookings.
Christmas at Sturbridge Village
For families interested in learning about historical Christmas, Sturbridge Village (about an hour drive west of Boston) presents Christmas by Candlelight celebrations on weekends, December 2- through 18 and on December 23.
Holiday at the Newport Mansions
Three of the famous gilded age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, invite you to tour and admire holiday music and decorations. The three houses – Breakers, The Elms and Marble House (all are National Historic Landmarks) will be open daily for tours from November 18 through Sunday, January 2, 2017. Here is the link for tickets and schedules. And while you are in the city, go on a Newport Holiday stroll (through December 11).
Hanukkah at the Museum of Fine Arts
Hanukkah does not start until December 24th this year, but free Hanukkah celebration at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is on Wednesday, December 14, starting at 4pm. Watch menorah installation, explore MFA’s Judaica collection, participate in the virtual reality show, make art – in this one of a kind community celebration of arts and culture. Check full program here.
Skiing Day Trips
While a ski weekend with friends and family is always fun (read my 7 Tips for fun ski getaway) skiing day trip within 1-3 hour drive from Boston is a possibility. In the past winters, we enjoyed day trips to Loon and Gunstock Mountains in New Hampshire, and to the Wachusett and a “very” local Blue Hill reservation in Massachusetts (check snow conditions first, of course).
There is so much to do in and around Boston during the holidays, yet we may get the cabin-fever over long holiday weekend and go on a road trip to New York City (read about our three New York City Holiday favorites here). Or we might decide to cross the border over to Canada and explore Montreal’s holiday spots.
Boston’s First Night
In my family, we traditionally spend the New Year’s night at home. (We like to give the little kids special attention during this holiday following our childhood traditions from the old country (read about it here).
For families who like to ring the New Year on the town, the First Night/Day Boston 2017 will feature fireworks and special cultural performances and celebrations throughout the city. The detailed schedule is on this website.
This post is linking up with a travel story collection at Travel Notes & Beyond Blog.