Boston for the Holidays 2018

By Victoria@celebratetheweekend
In Arts, Dance and Theater
Dec 2nd, 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.

The Tree at Boston Common

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:

Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet

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).

Kids Holiday Matinee at the Boston Pops

Keith Lockhart and Boston Pops at Kids’ Holiday Matinee

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.

Gardens Aglow: Photographs taken on location at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA

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

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.

Things to Do in Boston during December 2016

Faneuil Hall during the holidays

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!).

Things to Do in Boston during December 2016

Frog Pond skating ring at the Boston Common. Photo Credit: Skating Club of Boston

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.

The Disney on Ice will perform at Agganis arena in December and How the Grinch Stole Christmas will show at the Wang Center through December 9 (check out discounted tickets at bostix)

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).

Weekend Trips

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.

Our “own” winter hut in the woods of Sutton, Quebec


Winter Wonderland at NYC Bryant Park



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



18 Comments to “Boston for the Holidays 2018”

  1. It really looks like Boston is pulling out all the stops for the holiday season. Great round up article!

  2. Anisa says:

    This is a great round up of holiday festivities in Boston. I have been to zoolights and other similar events in other cities, I need to check out Boston one year! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  3. Great ideas for things to do for visiting Boston, a city I visited years ago and would love to return. Have pinned this for future reference. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow – so much to do! Love the idea of attending the Nutcracker in particular

  5. Anda says:

    You and I are very lucky to live in big cities like Boston and Los Angeles where we have access to the best performances ever and are also in close proximity to nature. Like you, we also have ski areas just 1-3 hours away from Los Angeles. Boston looks so beautiful! I’d like California to be a little colder in December. I kind of miss a white Christmas.#TheWeeklyPostcard

  6. Katja says:

    There is so much happening for the holidays! We always used to go and see the Nutcracker when we were kids and even though I’ve not managed to take my children yet (it’s never been performed in any of the places we’ve lived) I hope I can one day.

  7. Miranda says:

    Great List! Boston will a good option to set up a vacation for this coming Christmass holiday. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  8. Oh, my goodness you have SO much going on during the holiday season. I wish my town was more festive!

  9. I’ve always thought that Boston is the perfect liveable City with big city entertainment, beach and skiing all in easy reach and now you have convinced me that I am right and that I need to visit again soon! Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids

  10. Ooh – I’m intrigued by the Rudolph musical! You really have a wealth of cultural excitement at your fingertips there. I don’t ofen choose puppetry over other art forms, but Hansel and Gretel sounds magical. As does skating on the pond. Thanks for sharing with #CulturedKids!

  11. Anna says:

    Such a great list! Haven´t been to Boston yet, but I love The Nutcracker Ballet and Tchaikovsky´s music (seen it in Moscow – was incredible).My daughter would also enjoy Rudolph the Musical. The winter hut looks lovely – must be such a cozy experience.

  12. Anda says:

    I can only imagine how charming Boston may be at this time of year, Victoria. I kind of miss the snow and cold weather around Christmas. The Gardens Aglow look very similar to the Enchanted Forest of Light event we have in California. Have a Merry Christmas!

  13. Boston seems like a great place to spend the Christmas time at, Victoria. I loved your stunning pictures and I am definitely adding Boston as a Christmas destination. 😉

  14. Hello Victoria, winter celebration is a great memory for us. December month is about lighting and music and early start new year. This post is really full of fun and enjoy with music. I love this post. Thanks and keep sharing.

  15. The skating rink at Frog Pond looks perfect and I would love to see the Newport Mansions twinkling for Christmas. Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids

  16. Emma says:

    Boston at Christmas looks utterly gorgeous – so much to do! Thanks very much for joining in with #CulturedKids

  17. Usha says:

    Such a lovey post and a wonderful list. I have never been to Boston, but would love to visit it one day. Thank you so much for for this post .#culturekids

  18. Good respond in return of this matter with solid arguments and telling everything concerning that.

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