Boston for the Holidays (2019)

December is a big month for family weekend celebrations in and around Boston with lots of holiday 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.

The Tree at Boston Common

Skating at the Frog Pond is open for the public (Check the website for schedule, rentals, and lessons).

Things to Do in Boston during December 2016
Frog Pond skating ring at the Boston Common. Photo Credit: Skating Club of Boston


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 !

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

José Mateo Ballet and Urban Nutcracker offer their own interpretation of the Holiday classic.


Another repeat on our holidays agenda this year – is Blue Man Group– my daughter Vi is a huge fan!  So every December she goes to the Nutcracker Ballet with Mom and to the Blue Man’s with Dad.  The show is an euphoric mixture of art, music and comedy and they are excited to be adding holiday music and other seasonal elements to their 50 holiday performances  in Boston (December 7-31, with 4 shows on New Year’s Eve!).

Vi is excited about her water zone “protective” gear

Vit was happy to report that the show was seventy percent new this year (with added digital effects and other new acts).  Vi’s favorite act is still the Dram-matic color explosion (cannot say no more- you just have to see for yourselves!)

Taking a photo with a cast member is an added bonus


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)  .

Kids Holiday Matinee at the Boston Pops
Keith Lockhart and Boston Pops at Kids’ Holiday Matinee

The weekend of December 28-29 is about Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.


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.

Gardens Aglow: at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA

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.


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!

Things to Do in Boston during December 2016
Faneuil Hall during the holidays

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.


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:

Holiday Theater

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 theaterPeter 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.

Newport Mansions

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.

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 Mont-Tremblant Holidays round up, Eastern Townships of Quebec winter weekend ideas;  holiday ideas in New York City.

Road Trips from Boston
Mont-Tremblant Resort, Quebec, Canada


Winter Wonderland at NYC Bryant Park

17 thoughts on “Boston for the Holidays (2019)”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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

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