Boston for the Holidays (2019)
December is a big month for family weekend celebrations in and around Boston with lots of LIGHTS and music.
LIGHTING OF THE TREE. The first order of business is of course to Light the main Boston Tree in the country’s oldest Boston Common Park (December 5th this year) (you do know that our tree has been traditionally gifted by Nova Scotia since 1917?). There is the skating performance (6-8pm, free) at the Frog Pond Rink with the Tree to be Lit shortly after 8pm by the Mayor Walsh himself. We attended last year and were even able to park at the Boston Common garage.
Skating at the Frog Pond is open for the public (Check the website for schedule, rentals, and lessons).
THE NUTCRACKER BALLET
In our family we have started the holidays early (November 29) at the Opening Matinee of the Nutcracker by Boston Ballet (Boston Opera House, November 29- December 29). This year they invited us backstage following the show, so it was even more fun than usual (follow us backstage via our report with the video) We saw some of our favorite dancers – Viktorina Kapitonova ( the Snow Queen, Lio Cirio (Sugar Plum Fairy) and Lasha Khozashvili (Nutcracker Prince) – but you will be sure to find your own favorites in the casting list of over 40 performances !
Another repeat on our holidays agenda this year – is Blue Man Group– my daughter Vi is a huge fan! The group is excited to be adding holiday music and other seasonal elements to their 50 holiday performances (December 7-31, with 4 shows on New Year’s Eve!).
Each December Beloved Boston Pops Orchestra performs Holiday Pops and family-friendly Kids Matinees holiday concerts with musical story-telling, sing-alongs and post-concert photo opportunities. Here is our report from attending the Boston Pops Kids Matinee show last year (this year: December 7 at 3pm; Dec 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23 and 24 at 11am) .
The weekend of December 28-29 is about Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.
HANUKKAH WITH THE ARTS
Hanukkah celebration at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is on December 18 this year with music, art and family activities starting at 4:30 pm through 10pm (free Museum admission after 4 pm that day). Check full program here.
The MFA will also host its customary December school vacation week activities December 26–31 (check the schedule here.)
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.
You can also enjoy magically lit up winter gardens at several historical estates in the care of Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations (check the property locations here). This year they are adding Eleonore Bradley Estate in Canton to the list of the properties decorated for the holidays.
BLINKING AT FANEUIL HALL
Holiday musical lights show Blink! will light up the Faneuil Hall Marketplace (daily, Dec. 4 through January 1, 2020). The largest tree in the northeast will have its lights synchronized to music – every night- every half-hour from 4:30 to 10pm!
This year we plan to attend NEW outdoor arts and lights installation in Boston’s Seaport district, December 9-through February 2nd, at 85 Northern Ave.
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, 2019- January 1, 2020 continues to be free and open for all and will feature fireworks (7pm) and special cultural performances and celebrations throughout the city. The detailed schedule is on this website.
More Holiday Ideas:
Check out the list of Holiday theme theater shows for ALL tastes and ages generously sponsored by Mayor’s Holiday Special.
The littlest audience members will enjoy holiday sing alongs and December calendar at the Brookline Puppet theater. Peter and the Wolf by National Marionette Theatre was our family’s favorite several holiday seasons ago.
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.
Three of the famous gilded age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island offer holiday music and decorations. The three houses – Breakers, The Elms and the Marble House -are the National Historic Landmarks. Here is the link for tickets and schedules.
Edaville Railroad in Carver, MA, offers Christmas-lit train rides during its Festival of Lights.
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 Mont-Tremblant Holidays round up, Eastern Townships of Quebec winter weekend ideas; holiday ideas in New York City.