As a family, we try to take advantage of Boston’s world class cultural attractions every chance we get. Attending Boston Pops Orchestra’s Kids Holiday Matinee at the Symphony Hall seemed festively appropriate for December holidays, but when we first attended a couple of years ago, we had no idea what to expect. So we put together this post for you with all the details!
Attending a Holiday Pops Kids Matinee has been on a traditional holiday to do list for many local families who often share this tradition with several generations of family members (read about other Boston holidays must do‘s in this post).
Here is what to expect at the Boston Pops Kids Holiday Matinee:
The Hall. Boston’s historic Symphony Hall (built in 1900) is among the best music venues in the world! With its shallow balconies, statue-filled niches and beautiful coffered ceiling (all specially constructed so as not to trap the sound), it does not need much decorations to inspire the music lovers. Yet, the Symphony becomes ever so special for the holidays. Many patrons add to the festive occasion by dressing in their holidays’ best (kids included). Ourselves, we were dressed in holiday “casuals”, but if you feel festive, don’t be afraid to show it – as many people will.
The Pops. For those new to Boston Symphony Hall, the Boston Pops is Boston Symphony’s second identity, playing light classical and popular music during December holiday season and in the spring. New in 2018: For the Kids holiday performances this December, the Pops were accompanied by the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir (with conductor James Burton). The children opened the program with Oh Khanuka song to the absolute delight of my daughter who herself has recently joined the chorus in her elementary school. “They are much better than our school’s chorus!” she admitted.
Pops long-time conductor Keith Lockhart himself was leading the concert, addressing the audience, talking about the season of light from both Jewish and Christian perspectives and remembering his own family holiday traditions.
The Kids. This is a family concert so expect a lot of kids. And when I say kids, I mean babies in arms, toddlers, and elementary schoolers (kids ages two and under attend for free). Surprisingly for this type of crowd, I was never disturbed or heard anyone crying or otherwise misbehaving (strategic acoustics?). And when a little boy from the audience decided to run towards Santa (as Santa was making his way around the tables – heading for the stage), it was all good and cute and really just part of the … Kids Holiday Matinee at the Pops!
The Program. Updated Pops Christmas Story this year was performed by vocalist Renese King with illustrations by the treasured children’s books author Tomie de Paola projected onto the giant screen (“Our teacher told us about him in school,” my daughter told me with delight). This year’s program was big on beautiful illustrations: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was accompanied by original animations made by Boston’s own FableVision studios. And of course, kids’ sing-alongs are always part of the program (Jingle Bells, Rudolph-the red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman). (Lyrics are projected onto the screen and everyone is singing!)
There is of course awaited appearance of Santa (also known as Father Frost in the parts of the world where I am coming from). And – there are always surprises on the program. Congressman Joe Kennedy III was given the honor of narrating one of the stories on stage with his twin brother during the performance we attended last Sunday.
Cafe Seating. For the Boston Pops concerts, the first floor auditorium seating is traditionally reconfigured with café style tables. For the kids’ holiday matinees, special kids’ menus on each table were accompanied with pencils for drawing – and I observed many kids taking advantage of these touches. You can order from the full menu of hot and cold light dishes, fully packaged in a “to go” containers to prevent spills and the need for too much servicing. If you plan to order food, arrive early as ordering is encouraged prior to showtime. You can also just go festive (and simple) and order Champaign or (another beverage) and cheese platter. My daughter ordered the entire cookie menu while I went for lobster sandwiches. They were very good!
Milk and cookies go a long way during holiday performance to keep their attention and holiday spirits intact. But if you prefer to keep your musical concerts food-free, go with balcony seating (it is also a cheaper option!).
In 2016 my daughter expressed interest in posing with Santa after the performance – this is one tradition she has outgrown this year.
The Show is 70 minutes-long without an intermission.
Kids two and under attend for free but need a ticket. We were guests of the Boston Symphony. For tickets go to Boston Symphony website.
For the tips on attending Boston Symphony’s summer lawn concerts at Tanglewood in the Berkshires with your kids, read this post.