Boston for the Holidays 2018
December is a big month for family weekend celebrations in and around Boston.
We have attended the first lights show at Boston Common this year – the Trees at Faneuil Hall, Seaport, Macy’s and Copley Square are also all lit up to enjoy throughout the month.
Hanukkah at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Hanukkah starts on December 2nd this year and on the fourth night, December 5th, Museum of Fine Arts Boston offers a Festival of Lights celebration with music, art and family activities starting at 4:30 pm with community candle lighting at 6:30pm. Check full program here. (Museum is open until 10pm on Wednesdays with “pay what you can” entrance policy).
The MFA will also host its customary December school vacation week activities December 26-December 31, 2018. This year’s programs is themed to New Year’s celebrations around the world. Check the schedule here.
The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet (Boston Opera House, November 29- December 30).
I thought we are letting go of the tradition this year, but that was not what my 9-year old daughter had in mind. Like a good wine, the Nutcracker at Boston Ballet only gets better each year. We saw our favorite Misa Kuranaga (Sugar Plum Fairy) and Lasha Khozashvili (Snow King) on the Opening Night on November 29. The sold out performance was extremely well received, with the Russian dance in the second act getting the most attention:
The Nutcracker to the music of Tchaikovsky is a perfect “starter” ballet with good amount of “accessible” theatrical action, yet, according to Boston Ballet artistic director (and The Nutchacker‘s choreographer) Mikko Nissinen, “technically challenging” which allows dancers to “grow with the company and explore variety of roles and characters.”
The audience also gave a very special standing welcome to the newly-appointed Music Director Mischa Santora who led the Boston Ballet Orchestra for the first time in his new role.
*FUN FACT: Nissinen’s Nutcracker marks the first time Boston Ballet built a production entirely from “scratch” – or rather sketches by designer Robert Perdziola- by craftsmen from all over the United States?
(Last year we attended media Dress Rehearsal and witnessed a creative process (Read our report here).
There is a special Student Night (December 6) and Corporate Night (December 12). For all details and casting info visit Boston Ballet’s website.
There are several other versions of the Nutcracker happening in Boston, including the Urban Nutcracker (December 20-30, Shubert Thearter).
Holiday Pops Kids Matinees
New This Year: Boston Pops Children’s Chorus!
Each December Beloved Boston Pops Orchestra performs special family-friendly Kids Matinees holidays concerts with musical story-telling, sing-alongs and post-concert photo opportunities. Here is our newly updated report from our Boston Pops Kids Matinee (remaining performance days in December 2018: December 15, 16,18, 22, 23 and 24th).
This year, the weekend of December 29-30 at the Symphony will be devoted to Home Alone in Concert.
Gardens Aglow at the Heritage Museum in Sandwich and throughout the state
The Gardens Aglow celebrations at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich is a good reason to visit Cape Cod in the winter. On December weekends (check the link above for exact dates and times) 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 last year and saw a model train passing through the 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.
You can also enjoy magically lit up winter gardens at several historical estates in the care of Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations. This year to extend the season they are starting a new December holiday lights tradition at Naumkeag in Stockbridge and Stevens Coolidge Place in North Andover). All of the details are at thetrustees.org/winterlights.
Blinking at Faneuil Hall- EVERY NIGHT (NOVEMBER 28-JANUARY 1) FREE FUN!
Holiday musical lights show Blink! will light up the Faneuil Hall Marketplace for five weeks (November 28 through January 1). The largest tree in the northeast will have its lights synchronized to music – every night- every half-hour from 4:30 to 10pm! There will also be special holiday weekend performances at Faneuil Hall- All details here.
Frog Pond Skating at Boston Common is officially open!
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, and lessons (currently open!).
More Holiday Ideas:
Christmas at Sturbridge Village
For families interested in learning about historical Christmas, the Sturbridge Village (about an hour drive west of Boston) presents Christmas by Candlelight celebrations on weekends, November 30- through 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 the Marble House (all are National Historic Landmarks) will be open daily for tours from November 17 through January 1, 2019. Here is the link for tickets and schedules.
ZooLight holiday stroll in Stoneham Zoo (Stoneham, MA) promises a winter wonderland of trees and lights November 23-December 31.
Edaville Railroad in Carver, MA, offers Christmas-lit train rides during its Festival of Lights (through through December 31). Trains run on an hourly schedule.
Skiing Day Trips
While a ski weekend with friends and family is always fun 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, but if you get the cabin-fever over long holiday weekend and yearn go on a road trip, here is our Eastern Townships of Quebec winter weekend ideas; and several holiday ideas in New York City.
BOSTON’S FIRST NIGHT
In my family, we traditionally spend the New Year’s night at home. For families who like to ring the New Year on the town, the First Night/Day Boston on December 31, 2018- January 1, 2019 continues to be free and open for all and will feature fireworks and special cultural performances and celebrations throughout the city. The detailed schedule is on this website.
We are linking up with #CulturedKids December stories from around the world