Looking for something specific? Use our Boston holiday events key below to guide you in the right direction.
NOTE: We have done our best to get the information right, but we recommend checking with venues to ensure dates and times.
Through December 23
Teddy Bear Tea :: This favorite New England event series includes a festive afternoon tea at the iconic Bristol Restaurant and Bar, accompanied by a reading of a favorite holiday children’s book by a Boston celebrity. Four Seasons Hotel Boston’s furry resident, Truffles the Bear, makes daily appearances to the delight of families and young guests. More than a holiday event, Teddy Bear Tea is a special community benefit initiative of Four Seasons Hotel Boston, teaching young guests the spirit of charity. Guests are invited to bring a teddy bear to donate at Teddy Bear Tea, with Four Seasons gifting all collected bears to local Boston organizations that benefit children in need. Each year, Four Seasons Hotel Boston collects over 5,000 bears for Boston area children, with over 100,000 bears collected to date.
Through December 29
Edaville Express (Carver | Wednesdays and Thursdays) :: Join Mrs. Claus and Santa’s elves at the Edaville boarding station as they embark on a 45-minute interactive train ride adventure to find Santa, all while enjoying chocolate milk, HOOD egg nog, and cookies. Fueled by Christmas cheer, the train ride includes sing alongs to your favorite Christmas songs, dancing elves who give out shiny bells, and lots of bright lights that twinkle in the night! Each guest receives a special present.
Boston Christmas Festival (Boston) :: Offering everything a holiday shopper could desire under one magnificent roof, the annual Christmas Festival features the distinctive work of over 300 master American craftsmen. Bargain hunters as well as those with extravagant tastes will find an endless array of gorgeous home accessories, designer fashions, artisan jewelry, handcrafted holiday décor, tempting gourmet speciality foods, and one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts. The Christmas Festival makes preparing for the holidays a breeze, with gifts for everyone and all the elements for stylish entertaining. For holiday decorating, the show offers many possibilities, from opulent brocade and tapestry Christmas stockings and wall hangings to old fashioned cranberry garland wreaths, musical angel figurines, whimsical holiday elves, gleaming seashell ornaments, collectible Santas, and colorful seasonal flags.
November 18–January 1
Enchanted Village at Jordan’s Furniture (Avon) :: The tradition lives on! Once called the Enchanted Village of St. Nicholas, the holiday display was created in 1958 for Jordan Marsh Downtown Crossing. It has passed through City Hall Plaza (late 90s) and the Hynes Convention Center (2006-2009), and now is at Jordan’s Furniture in Avon, where it has been restored and is on display. The surviving collection includes 59 mechanical figurines and 18 vignettes.
November 18–January 1
Edaville Festival of Lights (Carver) :: Edaville’s Christmas Festival of Lights is one of the most-loved festivals of its kind, with generations of loyal fans. Passengers relax in warm, dry coaches while riding through a spectacular holiday setting featuring an explosion of lights. Kids of all ages will enjoy an array of vintage amusement rides, Thomas Land rides, and a visit with Santa. Enjoy a meal or seasonal treats while roaming Edaville’s sprawling and beautifully decorated grounds, featuring thousands of Christmas displays.
November 18–December 2
Methuen Festival of Trees (Methuen) :: The Festival of Trees has been a marvel of the Merrimack Valley for over two decades. Featuring over 240 trees, wreaths, and displays you could win, this family celebration has something for everyone.
Annual Lighting of the Trellis at Christopher Columbus Park (Boston) :: Everyone is welcome at the annual lighting of the wonderful blue and white trellis. There will be music, fun, snacks, and good cheer.
November 24–December 10
Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Festival of Trees (Wellesley) :: The Festival of Trees, displayed in the Hunnewell Carriage House, offers beautifully decorated holiday trees that are donated and decorated by local businesses, garden clubs, and individuals. Visitors “vote” with their raffle tickets, in hopes of being the tree winner at the end of the festival. Visitors can enjoy the decorated buildings and grounds at Elm Bank with a stroll or a horse-drawn wagon ride. For the young at heart, there is a pajama story time, Santa visits, and kids’ craft workshops.
November 24–December 31
Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” (Boston) :: Let Mikko Nissinen’s “The Nutcracker” capture your imagination and transport you to a magical world of brave toy soldiers and dancing candy canes. Follow Clara as she embarks on her journey filled with colorful characters, breathtaking costumes, and majestic scenery. From the captivating dance of the sugar plum fairy to the iconic snow scene, this enchanting holiday classic — set to the beloved music of Tchaikovsky — continues to enthrall audiences of all ages.
November 24–December 31
ZooLights at Stone Zoo (Stoneham | 5–9 p.m.) :: ZooLights promises to dazzle visitors of all ages this holiday season. Enter a winter wonderland of tree-lined paths lit by thousands of twinkling lights. Stroll through festively decorated Yukon Creek, home to bald eagles, Canada lynx, reindeer, and arctic foxes. Plus, meet Stone Zoo’s reindeer up close during nightly photo opportunities.
November 24–December 31
Boston Winter at City Hall Plaza (Boston) :: Open to the public seven days a week, ‘Boston Winter presented by Berkshire Bank’, will feature a mix of winter activities including a unique outdoor skating path and an expanded Holiday Shopping Market with an array of hospitality experiences and attractions produced by Millennial Entertainment Group.
November 24–26, December 8–10
Commonwealth Ballet’s The Nutcracker (Weston | times vary) :: Share the merriment of the holiday season as the accomplished dancers of Commonwealth Ballet and guest artists frolic, battle and dance through Clara’s holiday dream. Join with the family party set before a magical tree and enjoy the laughter, magic, and wonder of this holiday classic accompanied by the beloved Tchaikovsky score. This fully staged production is sure to captivate and entertain all ages.
November 25–December 24
Jose Mateo Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker” (Boston and Dorchester | times vary) :: Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre honors the classical tradition by continuing what may well be New England’s longest-running interpretation of “The Nutcracker” ballet. Following its 1988 premiere in Fall River, various tours throughout the state with regular performances in Springfield, Worcester, and Lowell, and a 10-year run at Boston’s Emerson Majestic Theatre. The production quickly distinguished itself as one of the first versions anywhere to focus more on the dancing than on the usual caricatured mime, pomp, and special effects of its predecessors. Even the cast of over 100 children who play the mice, soldiers, cherubs, Polichinelles, and Clara have substantial dancing roles.
Lowell City of Lights (Lowell | 2–10 p.m.) :: Ring in the holidays in downtown Lowell with this year’s City of Lights parade and holiday celebration! Take the afternoon to stroll the city streets and enjoy live performances, holiday shopping, photos with Santa, and the crowd favorite — a hot chocolate competition! The daytime fun leads to the nighttime extravaganza — the City of Lights parade and city hall lighting — which marks the city’s official start to the holiday season!
Charles Hotel Tree Lighting (Cambridge | 4–6 p.m.) :: Join for the lighting of the Harvard Square holiday trees! Shake Shack will be providing complimentary beverages. At 4 p.m., children can help decorate the trees with ornaments and bow ties from Vineyard Vines. Santa Claus’ jazz band will perform at 5 p.m., and the tree lighting will take place at 5:30 p.m., followed by a vista from Santa! The performances will continue until 6:30 p.m., allowing everyone a chance to visit with Santa.
Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting Spectacular (Boston | 2–8 p.m.) :: Join thousands of Bostonians in lighting the city’s first holiday tree of the season! The stage will be filled with entertainment starting at 2 p.m. leading up to the live broadcast on WBZ-TV from 7:30–8 p.m.
Copley Square Tree Lighting (Boston | 5–6 p.m.) :: Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and The Friends of Copley Square welcome the holidays with the annual Copley Square tree lighting. The free event will feature appearances by Mayor Walsh, NECN’s Jenny Johnson, Santa Claus, and Rudolph, along with musical performances by the Boston Children’s Chorus, vocalist Marchelle Jacques-Yarde, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and Berklee College of Music student Mahamma Germain of Hyde Park. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil its new holiday stamp.
November 28-December 10
Elf the Musical (Boston | times vary.) :: Elf The Musical is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner Elf.
November 29–January 1
Blink! (Boston | 4:30 p.m.) :: Blink! is the state-of-the-art light and sound extravaganza that transforms every inch of America’s first open marketplace, and it will return to Faneuil Hall for a fourth year this November. This magical and unforgettable light show uses over 350,000 LED lights to illuminate Boston’s skyline — to the song stylings of the Holiday Pops — in a seven-minute spectacle that runs continuously each evening. The lights dance seamlessly to the music through every inch of Faneuil Hall, including the largest Christmas tree in the northeast. The light and sound show runs every half hour beginning at 4:30 p.m. by “The Big Tree” at Marketplace Center and then runs every half hour beginning at 5 p.m. by “The Three Trees” in the North Market of Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
First Light Brookline (Brookline | 5–8 p.m.) :: First Light started 18 years ago in Brookline’s Washington Square, when several businesses came together to spread holiday cheer by hanging snowflakes in their storefront windows. These glowing flakes illuminated the square, signaling the start of the holiday season. Over the years, First Light has grown into the town’s annual winter festival, showcasing the talents of local artists, musicians, and performers at businesses and other venues throughout Brookline.
Frog Pond Skating Spectacular and Tree Lighting (Boston | 5–6 p.m.) :: Join the Skating Club of Boston at the Boston Common Frog Pond for a free world-class figure skating ice show featuring national and international figure skaters, synchronized skating, and Theatre On Ice teams. Following the show, join Mayor Marty Walsh for the Boston Common tree lighting ceremony (see more info below).
Downtown Haverhill Christmas Stroll (Haverhill | 2–6 p.m.) :: This year’s event will start with a holiday hat parade. Businesses will host activities, including face painting, cookie decorating, and a visit to Santa’s workshop. The event will also include an opportunity to step into a life-size snow globe, a photo-op with some minions, and a holiday train ride! To promote the spirit of the season, wandering carolers and a saxophone quartet will perform holiday songs and music. And, of course, Santa will be on hand to light the Christmas tree!
Red Bow Fair (North Andover | 9 a.m.–3 p.m.) :: For over 25 years the Red Bow Fair has attracted large crowds of enthusiastic holiday shoppers. The fair includes a variety of juried crafts, a silent auction, holiday greens, gifts baskets, baked goods, quilt and wine drawings, used books and media, and the ever-popular luncheon.
ICS’s Polar Express Ride (Newburyport | 11 a.m.–8 p.m.) :: The annual ICS North Pole Express will leave the Newburyport train station for the North Pole with a 70-minute roundtrip adventure, including cocoa and treats, a visit from Mr. C and his elves, and a silver bell presented to each child during a reading of “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” by local storytellers. Come in your pajamas or as you are for a truly magical experience for children and parents alike. Remember to bring your camera!
Old South Church Christmas Craft Fair (Boston | 10 a.m.–4 p.m.) :: 30 New England artists will vend their unique offerings in the festively decorated chapel of historic Old South Church in Boston, located in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay. Shop pottery, jewelry, felted wool, stained glass, photography, knitwear, soaps and potpourris, weaving, metal and wood work, and much more! This year, find that one-of-a-kind holiday gift or stocking stuffer that’ll be sure to wow!
SOWA Holiday Market (Boston | 11 a.m.–6 p.m.) :: This year’s holiday market will feature the very best of New England’s independent designers, artists, and crafters. From the fashionably chic to the hip and cutting edge, shoppers are sure to find an original gift for everyone on their list. Expect to find an exceptional array of indie goods, including handbags, jewelry, pottery, letterpress stationery, silk-screened T-shirts, baby clothes, re-purposed wool accessories, and more! This handmade holiday spectacular will be held in the spacious and historic main building of the Benjamin Franklin Institute, located in the heart of Boston’s South End.
Wellesley Holiday Stroll (Wellesley | 1–6 p.m.) :: Wellesley Square’s holiday stroll brings fun events all day long for the entire family!
December 3, 10 and 17
Celebrations of Christmas Concert (Cambridge | 3-5 p.m.) :: Celebrate Christmas at St. Paul’s with the renowned choir of Boys and Men, America’s Première Catholic Boys Choir. The choir will perform works by Rutter, Willcocks, and Bruckner, as well as traditional Christmas carols. Come hear the choir in a glorious celebration of timeless Christmas music. The boys of St. Paul’s Choir School recently released their debut international recording, “Christmas in Harvard Square,” to great critical acclaim, including time spent at the top of the Amazon charts. The Christmas concert series will include performances of several items from the album, as well as new works.
Hanukkah Happens (Chestnut Hill | 4–5 p.m.) :: Come and get cozy in good company! PJ Library is visiting for Hanukkah, so bring your fuzziest slippers and warm up with friends and glowing candles. Settle in for sufganiyot, latkes and endearing Hanukkah stories that shed light on determination and dedication.
BSO Holiday Pops (Boston) :: Join the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart, celebrating his 20th anniversary with the orchestra, in a performance filled with holiday music favorites, the traditional Pops sing-a-long, and even a visit from jolly old Santa Claus. The special kids’ matinee performances include post-concert photos with Santa and special treats. The not-to-be-missed New Year’s Eve concert with the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra and bandleader Bo Winiker will kick off the new year in style.
Commander’s Mansion Annual Holiday Open House (Watertown | 10 a.m.–8 p.m.) :: The Commander’s Mansion annual holiday open house is a free and open event for the community! You will be able to self-tour the decorated rooms on both floors, thanks to the magical help from Watertown Home Depot and Table Toppers of Newton. Be sure to bring your camera for photo opts with Santa, thanks to our friends at Watertown Savings Bank, and sit for story time with Mrs. Claus! Stop by the winter wonderland arts and crafts station, and take a moment to vote for your favorite gingerbread house too! Interested bakers can download a form online; additional event information can be found at www.CommandersMansion.com.
December 9–10, 16–17, 23–24
Boston Pops Holiday Pops Kids Matinees 2016 (Boston | 11 a.m.) :: These special family concerts include a children’s sing-along and post-concert photos with Santa. For those seated at the floor tables, there are special kid-friendly menu options along with holiday treats. Children younger than 2 are admitted free. All Holiday Pops patrons, regardless of age, must have a ticket, to get free kids tickets, please place your order through SymphonyCharge.
A Light Through the Ages (Boston | 4–6 p.m.) :: This event tells the meaning of Chanukah through story and song, concluding with a dramatic candlelight ceremony and followed by a reception at Central.
Chanukah in the City 2017 (Boston | 10 a.m.-12 p.m.) ::Chanukah in the City is back! Join other young families living in downtown Boston to celebrate with food, crafts, giveaways, and live music. We’re excited to welcome Josh and Jamtones as musical entertainment, and Chanukah-themed craft activities run by the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture, the JCCs of Greater Boston, and Chabad of Downtown Boston.
Pentatonix Christmas Tour (Boston | times vary) :: The concerts will be the group’s first to feature songs from their three hugely successful holiday albums. To coincide with the tour, Pentatonix has also announced a deluxe version of 2016’s platinum-selling, chart-topping album — “A Pentatonix Christmas.”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Boston | times vary) :: The beloved TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Come see all your favorite characters from the special, including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph, as they come to life. It’s an adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special. Don’t miss this wonderful holiday tradition that speaks to the misfit in all of us.
CraftBoston Holiday Show (Boston) :: Comprised of 175 exhibitors, CraftBoston Holiday is a highly regarded, must-attend event for artists, collectors, and craft enthusiasts. At the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s Back Bay, CraftBoston Holiday is conveniently located in a fashionable, concentrated shopping district perfect for the holiday season. Come for the day to shop for unique, one-of-a-kind gifts, meet and support the makers, and learn about fine contemporary craft.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker (Boston | times vary) ::A holiday mash-up for the entire family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, sets out on a third national tour following the success of two previous sold-out tours. The Hip Hop Nutcracker is an evening-length production performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, DJ, and violinist. Through the spells cast by the mysterious Drosselmeyer, Maria-Clara, and her Nutcracker prince, travel back in time to the moment when her parents first meet in a nightclub. Digital scenery transforms E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story of sugarplums into 1980s Brooklyn. This new dance work celebrates love, community and the magic of New Year’s Eve.
First Night Boston (Boston) :: For 40 years, Boston’s First Night has been a cherished tradition and a signature event for the city, with artistic performances, the wonders of the season, and the beginning of a new year. Entertainment and specialty attractions will be focused in Copley Square and the Boston Common. Many of the beloved traditions of First Nights past will be retained, including ice sculptures and light displays. In addition, arts and musical performances will take place in numerous inside and outside venues around the heart of the event.