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December Events in Boston: Holiday Lights & Shows

What to do in Boston in DecemberBoston December Events 2021

Things to Do in Boston in December 2021

Boston in December is amazing as preparations for the Holiday season begins.  With countless things to do, glistening lights, concerts to attend, and events happening throughout the city, one thing is for sure – your trip won’t be boring!  

And so much more!!  Below we have highlighted many of our favorite things to do in Boston in December.  We are so glad to see so many of them have returned.

Christopher Columbus Park Trellis Lighting - Boston, MA
November 22, 2021

Located at 110 Atlantic Avenue on Boston’s historic waterfront, Christopher Columbus Park will be transformed into a beautiful holiday display when the park’s 260 feet of trellis are illuminated with 50,000 blue lights along with 14 decorated trees at the Christopher Columbus Park Trellis Lighting

The event takes place near Tia’s, the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, and throughout the park  - and you can enjoy the lights all winter.    

photo credit: not known

Boston Common Tree Lighting - Boston
December 2, 2021

The heart of the city becomes illuminated with seasonal cheer at Boston’s Official Holiday Tree Lighting.  Holiday lights throughout the Public Garden and Common will light up just before 8 p.m., and a fireworks display will close the festivities a the Boston Common Tree Lighting.

photo credit Boston.gov

Just prior to the Boston Common Tree Lighting event at 5:00pm, visitors are invited to enjoy the annual Skating Club of Boston's Skating Spectacular at Frog Pond Skating Rink. (This event had to be cancelled for 2021 due to rink issues

The Skating Spectacular, which is free and open to the public, offers the public a chance to see national and international competitive figure skaters, soloists, groups, wee skaters, and Team Excel Synchronized Skating and Theatre On Ice of Boston teams all in the middle of the historic and iconic Boston Common.

Boston Holiday Events

photo credit:  Skating Club of Boston

Copley Square Tree Lighting - Boston
November 29, 2021

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and The Friends of Copley Square welcome the holidays with the annual Copley Square Tree Lighting at Copley Square.  The Fairmont Copley Plaza will host a family reception immediately following for all in attendance.  The reception will include cookie decorating, photos with Santa, and treats.

Now that in-person events are on their way back, you can find out about more holiday tree lightings and celebrations in Boston in our handy holiday guide to winter fun.

Boston's Enchanted Trolley Tour 
(December 3 - 5, 2021)

The annual Mayor's Enchanted Trolley Tour is a festive tradition of lighting holiday trees while bringing holiday spirit to children across Boston. The  includes visits with Santa, holiday performances, tree lightings and more.

Photo courtesy of The City of Boston

Zoolights at Stone Zoo - Stoneham
November 25, 2021 - January 9, 2022

This year's Zoolights at Stone Zoo  will take visitors on a one-way stroll through the Zoo, along tree-lined paths lit by twinkling lights. Spanning the 26 acres of Stone Zoo, visitors will walk through the beautifully lit Yukon Creek and see black bears, a bald eagle, Canada lynx, arctic foxes, and even reindeer!

Boston Holiday Events

photo courtesy of Stone Zoo

Snowport Holiday Wonderland & Outdoor Game Center - Boston Seaport
November 19, 2021 - March 2022

While the Ice Rink won't be back this year, Seaport’s highly popular interactive winter wonderland, SNOWPORT, returns with some fun outdoor play options for all ages: including iceless curling, light-up Bocce, and large-scale versions of classic games such as Battleship, Jenga, KanJam, and more.

The North End Curling Club will also provide complimentary Learn to Curl classes on select Saturdays from 2pm – 4pm (Curling lane reservations can be booked in advance via bostonseaport.xyz/snowport).

Seaport’s vintage Silver Queen gondola cabin, which hails from Aspen, Colorado, will sit adjacent to a second Guest Services Gondola, staffed with SNOWPORT ambassadors who are on-hand to assist with activities.

SNOWPORT will be open seven days a week, Monday-Thursday, 3pm – 8pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am – 8pm, and Sunday, 11am – 7pm.

photo courtesy of Lindsay Ahern

Holiday Lights Displays Near Boston

After another a challenging year for events and festivities, you can still find lots of joyful holiday light displays in the Boston area.  Our guide highlights some new, and sparkling holiday traditions that have been re-imagined for safety this year.  

boston holiday lights december events

photo courtesy of Trustees of Reservations

Magic of Lights - Foxboro
November 19 -  December 24, 2021

Magic of Lights is a dazzling, drive-through holiday lights experience featuring favorite holiday scenes and characters of the season using the latest LED technology and digital animations.  

Experience the holiday Magic of Lights from the comfort and safety of your own car as you wind through the sparkling path of Foxborough’s favorite holiday tradition.

photo courtesy of Magic of Lights

Winter Lights at Southwick Zoo - Milford, MA

Join us for our annual holiday-themed Winter Lights at Southwick Zoo! This year’s Winter Wonderland guests will stay warm and cozy in their vehicles as they drive through the zoo to admire light displays.

Boston Holiday Events & Lights

photo courtesy of Southwick Zoo

Winter Lights at Naumkeag, Bradley Estate and Stevens Coolidge - Stockbridge, Canton & North Andover
November 26, 2021 - January 9, 2022

Two of our beautiful garden properties will sparkle with thousands of shimmering, artfully designed holiday lights.  Bring the whole family to Winter Lights at Naumkeag & Bradley Estate and new this year, Stevens Coolidge, for a magical, fun, and safe outdoor experience – with food, refreshments, and more.

 

Ice Skating Rinks

Frog Pond Ice Skating - A hopping spot for ice-skating is Frog Pond on the Boston Common. Frog Pond has its own ice-making system. It also offers skate rentals and hot cocoa at the Pond Cottage.  

Just across the river in Cambridge, Kendall Square boast another terrific outdoor ice rink that is open to the community for skating.   Don't miss the annual Kendal Square Holiday Ice Show - another annual favorite. 

Kendall Square Holiday Ice Show Boston Cambrige

Photo courtesy of Kendall Square Community Ice Rink

Winter Skate at Patriot Place, offers day and evening public skating, is the perfect antidote to cabin fever this winter. A fun and affordable activity for parents with children, Winter Skate is also a romantic addition to a dinner date at Patriot Place.  Ice Skating season generally starts in mid to late November and runs through February.

Looking for more places to go ice skating in Boston?  Visit our handy guide to winter fun.

Enchanted Village - Avon

Enjoy Boston's historic Enchanted Village, now on view at Jordan's Furniture in Avon.  Jordan’s Furniture purchased the surviving pieces of the Enchanted Village at auction and restored the vintage collection to its former glory.  The Village is open for all to enjoy during the holiday season.

Boston Holiday events Enchanted Village

Boston Pops - Holiday Pops! 

Take part in one of Boston's most beloved traditions - a Holiday Pops concert performed at historic Symphony Hall.  This year your family and friends can enjoy a matinee or evening concert , and enjoy the glorious holiday sounds of the BSO.

Families have also enjoyed a series of holiday pops kids matinee performances.  These special family concerts include a children's sing-along and photos with Santa.  For those seated at the floor tables, there are special kid-friendly menu options along with holiday treats.  We hope to be able to get back to memorable experiences like this very soon.

The BSO now performs a sensory friendly holiday pops concert; a 60-minute version of the show includes lower volume and lighting levels, relaxed house rules, designated support spaces, and Autism therapist volunteers on site. 

The Nutcracker - Boston

Performances of The Nutcracker abound this holiday season with local favorites like Jose Mateo, New England’s longest running interpretation of The Nutcracker ballet,  Boston Ballet and Commonwealth Ballet's Nutcracker show, renowned for its intimacy, humor, musicality and exciting dancing..   

Boston Holiday Events The Nutcracker Boston Ballt

Photo courtesy of Boston Ballet

In each delightful version of The Nutcracker, a young heroine, Clara, journeys through a magical world of imagination filled with dazzling characters such as a Dancing Bear, an enchanting Snow Queen, and of course, the heroic Nutcracker Prince.

Urban Nutcracker

Anchored by classical ballet, the Urban Nutcracker performance also includes a broad range of dance forms such as tap, hip hop, flamenco, and jazz, accompanied throughout the performance by a small live orchestra. 

Boston Holiday Events Urban Nutcracker

Boston Tea Party Reenactment

The Annual Boston Tea Party Annual Reenactment is a chance for the public to join in on one of Boston’s most iconic protests. Re-enactors from across New England come together to tell the story of the Boston Tea Party and dramatize the evening of December 16, 1773.  

Boston Tea Party Reenactment

Photo courtesy of Boston Tea Party Museum

A Christmas Carol

The ghosts of Christmas past, present & future come to life in this intimate retelling of the Charles Dickens classic.  Delight in puppetry, live music, dancing and the intimate storytelling in the tradition of A Christmas Carol.  All the trappings – sights, sounds, and scents – of the holiday fill the theater with magic.

 

Visits with Santa

Santa will be visiting many area malls and towns for festive holiday tree lightings and parades.  Some of our favorite Santa events include the annual Gloucester Santa Parade & Tree Lighting,   Rockport's exciting holiday event where Santa arrives on a lobster boat at at Rockport’s wharf and rides across Sandy Bay for the tree lighting. 

Boston Holiday Events Santa Claus

 

Black Nativity
December 3 - 19, 2021

Black Nativity is a celebration that tells the original story of the Nativity in scripture, verse, music, and dance. Based on the Gospel of St. Luke, combined with the poetry of Langston Hughes, this song-play touches a special chord in the hearts of all.

Boston Holiday Events Black Nativity

photo courtesy of Black Nativity

The Christmas Revels
December 17 - 29, 2021

A holiday tradition for nearly five decades, The Christmas Revels is a joyful theatrical celebration of the winter solstice that travels the world each year showcasing cultural traditions including music, dance, folktales and rituals.

Boston Holiday Events Christmas Revels

photo credit: Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe


Boston Harbor Ice Sculpture Stroll  - Boston
December 31, 2021

Wind your way along the waterfront through the trail of ice sculptures this New Year’s Eve. Get ready to count down to 2022 with over a dozen ice sculptures hosted by businesses and cultural sites across the waterfront.

Be sure to enjoy other waterfront sites and activities along the way such as, a virtual scavenger hunt, the Holiday Lights on the Trellis at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, and Snowport, the Seaport’s Winter Village. 


New!  First Night at Patriot Place
December 31, 2021

Patriot Place will host a special New Year’s Eve First Night Celebration featuring fireworks, ice sculptures, games, giveaways and more taking place from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31.

Guests will be able to ring in the new year with family and friends at Patriot Place, enjoying skating, ice sculptures and games and giveaways, all culminating in a fantastic fireworks display at 7 p.m.

Boston First Night
December 31, 2021

First Night in Boston is a city-wide New Year's Eve celebration that is free and open to the public.  For over 40 years, Boston’s First Night has been a New Year’s Eve celebration of artistic performances, ice sculptures, light shows, the wonders of the season and the beginning of a new year. 

Highlights include the People’s Procession at 6:00 PM, the Frog Pond Skating Spectacular, and the Family Fireworks Display at 7:00pm on Boston Common.   

To ring in the New Year, stick around for until midnight for the signature Copley Countdown pyrotechnics and light show in Copley Square. 

Photo credit: Boston USA

Entertainment and special attractions are generally found in the Copley Square and Back Bay areas.

Skiing Near Boston

December generally marks the beginning of ski season for many New England Ski Resorts.  Skiing near Boston can be a close as a half an hour to just about 4 hours.   We've put together a guide to all of the ski areas in New England to help you navigate ski season. 

Winter Sports - New England Patriots

Cheer on the New England Patriots and see the 6 time Superbowl champions play at Gillette Stadium.  Make a day of it and visit Patriot Place for food, shopping and drinks.  Don't forget to stop by the pro shop for gear, or on non-game days, you can 

photo credit: Boston Central

Boston Celtics

Visit TD Garden to see the Boston Celtics play on home court.  

Boston Bruins

Attend a Boston Bruins Hockey Game - Winter is a busy sports season in Boston.  The Boston Bruins share arena time with the Celtics at the TD Garden - so when the Celts are out of town, enjoy an exciting hockey game and cheer on the Bruins.

Find more things to do next month in our January events in Boston guide.   And check our Boston Events Calendar for fun things to do every day, as winter approaches.  Winters may be long here - but there is no shortage of fun things to do in Boston all year long. 

 

**PAST AND CANCELLED HOLIDAY EVENTS IN BOSTON**

Blink! Holiday Lights at Faneuil Hall - CANCELLED 2021

Just steps away, Boston Blink! featuring the music of the Holiday Pops, is a 6-week state-of-the-art light and sound extravaganza that will illuminate every inch of Faneuil Hall Marketplace with over 350,000 LED lights. Blink! is a free, must-see holiday show, perfect for all ages. 

Boston Holiday Lights Blink Faneuil Hall

Photo courtesy of Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting (CANCELLED for 2021)

The unofficial kick off the holiday season takes place at Faneul Hall, where thousands of Bostonians come together for the lighting of the city's first holiday tree!   Enjoy a day full of holiday entertainment, delicious food and shopping at the Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting. This event includes a special appearance by Santa and a countdown to the lighting of the enormous tree.

photo credit: Fanueil Hall Marketplace

Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll (PENDING for 2021)

Families are invited to a festive evening of refreshments, shopping, Santa, horse and buggy rides, Victorian Carolers, a strolling brass quintet, the neighborhood tree lighting and Charles Street businesses open for good cheer.  Charles street closes to traffic to allow for an old time holiday feel at the annual Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll

Illuminous Festival of Lights - Past Event

Presented by Downtown Boston BID and LuminArtz, ILLUMINUS is a spectacular, free nighttime festival where local artists, designers, and performers turn an office-building-heavy section of downtown into an immersive art installation.

ILLUMINUS is the perfect post-work, pre-dinner experience, a special treat for families with eye-popping kid-friendly exhibits, and an enhancement to shopping, eating, and visiting the vibrant Downtown Boston area.

photo credit: Illuminous Boston

Candy Land Playathon at Fanueil Hall - CANCELLED 2021

Families are invited participate in this colorful classic game together along with facepainting, holiday music & entertainment, snacks and more.  All proceeds of the Candyland Playathon benefit Pitching In for Kids.  The event takes place in the Upper Rotunda of Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston

Holiday Light Shows at the Greenway Carousel

Each winter in Boston, it's fun to experience holiday light shows at the Greenway Carousel with family and friends.  Enjoy your favorite holiday songs as you watch bright, festive light shows that perform every 30 minutes from 4:45 pm to 7:00pm.

Boston Holiday Lights Greenway Carousel

Photo courtesy of The Rose Kennedy Greenway

 

Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village

Come experience the history of Christmas traditions at Old Sturbridge Village. Relish old traditions and create new ones as we highlight homemade Christmas decor at the annual Christmas by Candlelight holiday event.

See outdoor demonstrations of classic Christmas projects like knitting stockings, wreath making, and making natural ornaments. Watch as we make a traditional Christmas meal, punch tin lanterns, make ice skates or a sled, and other special projects.

photo courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village

Blue Man Group Holiday Shows - RETURNING for 2022

Blue Man Group is back!! Best known for its award-winning theatrical productions which critics have described as 'ground-breaking', 'hilarious', 'visually stunning' and 'musically powerful'.  Hoping that this year will bring a steady return to normalcy and that next Christmas, their holiday shows will be back as well.

Blue Man Group Boston is getting festive this holiday season by offering an extended show schedule, seasonal selfie opportunities and spirited holiday content including holiday music using the group’s unique musical instruments. Blue Man Group for the Holidays

Photo credit: Blue Man Group Boston

Visit our Boston Events Calendar for more great ideas on fun things to do with kids in Greater Boston all year long.

Stacey SaoStacey Sao has been the Managing Director of the family-friendly events and activities website, BostonCentral for almost 20 years.  She continues to enjoy discovering and exploring new places to visit in the Greater Boston area.