Holidays 2021 in and around Boston

My family and I enjoyed our share of “below freezing” outings last year (including a Chanukah celebration on our porch!) but this December 2021 we are happy to add indoor celebrations to our list of holiday events in and around Boston.

The Nutcracker is still standing

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We are starting the holiday month with the Nutcracker Ballet by Boston Ballet which marks the return of live Boston Ballet performances (and continuation of a long standing tradition in our family).   It is a perfect holiday outing- with gorgeously decorated Boston’s grand historic Opera House and a family friendly staging of the E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouth King set to the timeless score by Tchaikovsky (orchestra director Mischa Santora).  Viv, 12, noted how she enjoyed the dancing: our cast included Principal Lasha Khozashvilli as Nutcracker Prince and Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy as Sugar Plum Fairy- we could not turn our eyes from their Pas de Deux scene!  We also spotted Principal Lia Cirio (Arabian Dancer) and Russian dancers were as always huge crowd pleasers!

Holidays 2021 in Boston
Nutcracker season 2021 at Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet’s 2012 version of the beloved classic is staged by Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen with original set and costume designs by Robert Perdziola.  (November 26- December 26 at the Opera House).

Boston Holidays 2021
Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissenen’s The Nutcracker, photo by Liza Voll; courtesy of Boston Ballet

It is a full Company production, but students younger than 12 are not taking part this year (which unfortunately means that there is no Mother Ginger and “the children she keeps under her big skirt” scene).  Be sure to check all health and safety protocols before you plan your ballet outing this year.

Holidays with the Pops

Another prominent local venue – Boston Symphony Hall – is lavishly decorated for the holidays to celebrate the season with live Boston Pops Holiday performances.   These concert shows (a local tradition since 1973) filled with holiday music favorites and Pops sing-along will be on stage December 3-24; with shorter family version Holiday Pops Kids’ Matinees taking place during December weekends.  Here is our report from the family program we attended several years ago.

Kids Holiday Matinee at the Boston Pops
Holiday Pops Show at the Boston Symphony

The Trees and Lights

Update: Skating Spectacular on December 2 at Frog Pond has been cancelled

I love going on holiday walks around Boston looking for decorated Holiday Trees.  Last year there were 14 trees lit up around Boston (we spotted 5).  On Thursday, December 2nd Boston’s number 1 Tree at Boston Common (traditionally delivered from Nova Scotia) will be lit up in a ceremony featuring the the stage show at (6-8 pm) at the Boston Common with new Mayor Michele Wu in attendance (as well as Rudolph and Frosty).  The festivities will culminate in pyrotechnic display (it may get crowded, but Channel 5 will be broadcasting starting at 7pm).

The Tree at Boston Common

The Commonwealth Avenue Mall Lighting will immediately follow the Boston Common Tree Lighting at 8 p.m.

Lights and Music

Lights, music and theatrical displays could create a special “ethereal” magic together – especially when inspired by unique architecture and history.  Nightwood Lights and Sound Experience at the Mount (Edith Wharton) estate in Lenox will entice you through December 31 this year.

Scenes from the Mount’s NightWood show

Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations will host Winterlights festivals at Bradley’s Estate in Canton,  Naumkeag Estate in Lenox and Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens.  Check their website for hours and pricing.

Sparkling Skates

The Frog Pond’s public skating is opening on December 6th (on a temporary pop up rink): check this website link to for the details.

The Grand Opening Celebration of The Skating Club of Boston new state of the art Norwood facility scheduled for December 4 is still ON -featuring former World, Olympic and US medalists as well as current up and coming Club’s stars (a benefit for the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation).

Here is my story on the recent figure skating competition I attended in the Skating Club of Boston’s new home in Norwood.

Holiday Markets

Last winter we enjoyed the breaks from social distancing by taking festive walks in Boston’s prettiest decorated neighborhoods.   Seaport area was one of our favorites, and this year it is hosting a bigger and better Winter Holiday Market at Snowport (November 19 – January 2) with shopping, food and fun activities.

Holidays 2020 in Boston
Winter Village, Seaport

SoWa’s Winter Festival along Thayer Street (December 3-12) is expected to be the biggest Holiday Market in Boston –with 100 local artisans displaying their work in artist studios, showrooms, galleries, and boutiques; there will also be an outdoor winter wonderland with a Trail of Lights, food trucks and a fire pit. Check the  SoWa website for hours and other details.

Here is a link to complete list of Boston’s Holiday Markets 2021.

Holiday Walks

Boston offers quite a few beautiful holiday strolls.  Bring your family and see how many decorated Trees you can spot.  Take the Harbor Walk to Christopher Columbus Park, from there, cross the Greenway (another refreshing stroll adorned with illuminated fountains) to historic Faneuil Hall. Although they are not hosting Blink lights and music tree illuminations this year, Faneuil Hall is always bustling with holiday activities including the daily line up of scheduled and pop up entertainers.

Columbus Park Boston

Another beautifully illuminated walk is a mile long tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue (designed in French boulevard style by Arthur Gilman in 1856) stretching from Boston Public Garden to Fenway.  You can admire the statutes to prominent Bostonians along the way.

Commonwealth Avenue Boston

Boston Harbor Now nonprofit is putting together waterfront Ice Sculpture Stroll on New Year’s eve.  Follow the ice-sculpture route for free waterfront excursion (from 1:00pm – dusk on December 31, 2021).


First Night Boston is back to ring 2022 with celebrations from noon to midnight that include ice sculptures, concerts, parades and fireworks over Boston Common.  Check out complete schedule here.

Rhode Island Mansions

Another festive holiday experience not far from Boston awaits at the Newport Mansions and Blithewold Estate in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Holidays in Boston 2021
Breakers, Newport during the Holidays

For many other musical and theatrical holiday experiences, check out the calendar listing with discounted tickets from bostix.

What are your favorite Boston holiday experiences?


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