The Nutcracker and other Boston holiday favorites

The Nutcracker

Opening of the Nutcracker  at Boston Ballet signals the beginning of winter holiday season for us! Dressing up and attending the performance in lavishly decorated Boston Opera House is a true celebration of the season (and our cherished Mom-Daughter tradition which I hope gets to continue for a long time!).

Attending The Nutcracker matinee on November 26

Boston Ballet’s staging of the famous tale (choreographed by artistic direction Mikko Nissinen) is the Company’s largest production.  It features technically challenging choreography, stunning sets and costumes (both designed by award-winning designer Robert Perdziola), and of course renowned score by Tchaikovsky performed live by the Boston Ballet Orchestra (the music always leaves me teary eyed in several places of the second act).

Ji Young Chae and Jeffrey Cirio in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker, photo by Brooke Trisolini, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Our cast’s favorites last Sunday were young Clara (Isabella Wei), Viktorina Kapitonova (Dew Drop in Waltz of Flowers) and The Nutcracker Prince (Derek Dunn) dancing the Grand Pas de Deux with the Sugar Plum Fairy (Chisako Oga). Russian Dancers are always a hit with the audience too (Sangmin Lee, Finn Duggan and Graham Johns). (You may find full Casting information here).

Viktorina Kapitonova and Patrick Yocum in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Brooke Trisolini; courtesy of Boston Ballet

Viktorina also plays Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen on other performance days in December  and when she is not dancing in The Nutcracker she like to watch it with her family!

She has danced in other companies’ Nutcracker productions and loves the humor and special characters (as well as challenging choreography) in Boston Ballet’s.

Lawrence Rines Munro in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker, photo by Brooke Trisolini, courtesy of Boston Ballet

The Nutcracker will continue through December 31 at the Citizens Bank Opera House (The final performance is at 6 pm on New Year’s eve- what a special way to ring in the New Year!).

Viv and I chose to attend Sunday matinee performance which is perfect if you are bringing little kids (there were quite a few in the audience) or if you plan to go for a lit up holiday stroll afterwards- which brings me to our other holiday favorite…

Check out our post-Nutcracker YouTube Backstage tour video from a couple of years ago.

Holiday Strolls (and Markets)

Boston Holiday favorites
Viv and Sasha at the Snowport Market

Seaport’s Tree Lighting Ceremony was celebrated on December 1, but the area was already lit up when we went for our first season holiday stroll in Seaport right after the Nutcracker on the last weekend in November (we walked there from the Opera House).  We browsed the Snowport Market (it is open almost every day in Decemner- check the hours here.  It was a bit too crowded on a Sunday night for my taste, but – Viv and her friend Sash certainly enjoyed strolling and getting hot chocolate.

Boston holiday favorites
Seaport during the Holidays

Seaport’s Jewish Hanukkah’s Menorah will be lit in a ceremony on December 10th.

Our other favorite holiday route is Harbor Walk to Christopher Columbus Park, then crossing the Greenway (another refreshing stroll adorned with illuminated fountains) to historic Faneuil Hall (they have their own weekend holidays markets with products by women artisans).   You also can’t go wrong with a walk from Boston Common and onto the Commonwealth Ave, where all the trees are lit up.

Columbus Park Boston

Visiting a Holiday Mansion

December Weekend 2023 in Boston
The Breakers during the holidays

Last year we visited The Breakers Estate in Newport, Rhode Island.  Newport Mansions are welcoming visitors for the holidays this year as well, but I am hoping to visit the Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich this year. They host Christmas at Castle Hill weekends – with holiday decorations and displayed treasures from Crane family travels and more.

Night Lights Shows

The Nightwood experience in the woods and gardens of the Mount Estate

In the past we loved the magical combination of lights and sounds at the Nightwood Lights and Sound Experience at the Mount (Edith Wharton) estate in Lenox (the experience is literally set in the woods – and gardens- on their expansive territory).  This year we are looking forward to experiencing one of the Winter Light Festivals hosted more locally by the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations – possibly the one on Bradley’s Estate in Canton.

If you are inclined to venture out of town on one of the December weekends, check out Blithewold Estate Night Lights Experience in Bristol, Rhode Island or Naumkeag Estate in Stockbridge in the Berkshires (the latter is open through January 6).

The Festival of Lights, Hanukkah at the MFA is celebrated on December 7th this year with music and new Judaica gallery opening.

Holiday Roadtrips

Weekend roadtrips to New York City or ski trips to Quebec ski areas in Canada are also on the list of our favorite holiday traditions.  We got to see some pretty grand lights dispays on 5th Ave when we visited over Thanksgiving weekend this year.  I hear it is also festive on Main Street in Stockbridge, in the Berkshires (if you go, be sure to visit the Nightwood experience in the nearby Lenox).

I am linking our trip reports, but be sure to follow up on Instagram for all the latest reels and stories.

Here are more ways to celebrate the Holidays around Boston-23:


Holiday Pops at Boston Symphony (December 1-24) Read about our experience here

Ice skating at Boston Common Frog Pond.

SoWa Winter Festival through December 17.

NEW YEAR’S EVE: First Night Boston will ring 2024 with celebrations from noon to midnight on December 31 that include ice sculptures, ice shows, concerts, parades and fireworks over Boston Common.  Check out complete schedule here.


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