Best Things to Do in December in Boston

The Holidays Are Happier When You're Celebrating at These Boston Attractions

Make your way to Boston this holiday season and enjoy the many activities and attractions that make this time so special. You'll find fun for the whole family in and around Boston where the early sunset is welcomed by residents as it means more opportunities to take in the city in a special state-all lit up. 

The options for celebrating the holidays in Boston are endless, but 10best has a round-up of a very special ten. These attractions range from great dates to family fun and many are great for both. 

Take in the lights. Boston is beautiful during the holiday season, which kicks off with tree lightings and ends with a First Night celebration like no other. 

Purchase tickets to the city's top two holiday shows: the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Pops and Boston Ballet's The Nutcrakcer for that someone special, or buy a package of seats for your whole family. Tickets make great gifts and are the ideal way to pump yourself up for the holidays. 

If you're looking to check everyone off of your list without much fuss, head to Craft Boston or The Christmas Festival and Gingerbread House Competition. Here local artisans display goods you won't find at every strip mall. Get your pick of clothing, accessories, food items home goods, books, and furniture at these shows where vendors are selling great goods are amazing prices.



Outside the City
Enchanted Village
Photo courtesy of Jordan's Furniture

The Enchanted Village display was originally created in 1958. Commissioned by Jordan Marsh Company, a Bavarian toy maker was hired to create 28 fully decorated holiday scenes featuring 250 animated figures. For years, the Enchanted Village was a beloved holiday attraction of those shopping in the downtown neighborhood. When Jordan Marsh took the Enchanted Village off display , it was purchased by the city of Boston and displayed at City Hall Plaza, but the cost of up-keep was more than the city could spare and once again the Enchanted Village was homeless. In 2009, what remained went to auction, and a large, local furniture store saw this as an opportunity to draw crowds through tis doors. Jordan's Furniture purchased the surviving pieces of the Enchanted Village, restored. Currently, The Enchanted Village includes 59 mechanical figurines and 18 vignettes. It is is on display for all to enjoy during the holiday season at the Avon location of Jordan's Furniture.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Enchanted Village is a nostalgic indoor display of holiday scenery that is a beloved Boston tradition.

Jessica's expert tip: Plan a visit to the Enchanted Village and enjoy the extras that are available to purchase.

Read more about Enchanted Village →

CraftBoston Holiday
Photo courtesy of CraftBoston

Enjoy a little something special at CraftBoston Holiday. This highly regarded event is a must-attend for artists, collectors, and craft enthusiasts. Held in the spacious Hynes Convention Center in bustling Back Bay, CraftBoston Holiday is in the epicenter of Boston's shopping district. Surrounded by fashionable stores that run the gamete from high end to main stream,you can do all of your holiday shopping in the area; that is if you come out of Craft Boston without the ideal gift for everyone on your list. Craft Boston is special; here you'll be able to shop for unique, one-of-a-kind gifts, meet the makers you are supporting, and learn about fine contemporary craft. Craft Boston offers you a way to buy local beyond food.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: CraftBoston Holiday offers unique gifts for everyone on your list from local artisans.

Jessica's expert tip: Attend the CraftBoston Holiday kick-off cocktail party fundraiser; tickets include admission to the shopping event.

Read more about CraftBoston Holiday →

Outside the City
Edaville USA
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti

Edaville USA is family fun park situated about one hour from downtown Boston. Here you can fall in love with the holidays as you stroll their walkways taking in the display of lights that cover the park. Amusement rides that accommodate kids starting about 2 are included in the cost of admission, as is a train ride that takes you around the park ensuring you see every last light. Concession stands are sprinkled throughout allowing you to refuel from time to time on amusement park staples like fried dough and heartier fare like pizza and hot dogs. Hot chocolate can be found to warm you on a cold winter's night, and from time to time you'll find select areas that serve adult beverages. Bundle up and enjoy your night strolling the grounds of Edaville.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Pure family fun awaits at Edaville where even the youngest children can enjoy a night of holiday magic.

Jessica's expert tip: Tickets can be purchased in advance, however arrive at opening and buy tickets at the door as they are not refundable.

Read more about Edaville USA →

Christmas Festival and Gingerbread House Competition
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti

Enjoy a day of shopping the unique crafts, food and artistry of the more than 350 vendors at this annual holiday market. With a variety of options to choose from, you'll find yourself overwhelmed by the truly special gifts you will find, making decision making difficult but those you buy for quite happy. You may just be able to get your shopping done before Thanksgiving. Aside from getting your shopping done, you'll be treated to a creative art display of gingerbread houses. The auctioned off edible creations are judged each year, prior to the opening of the Christmas Festival, by local media and their children. Awarding the area chefs who donated their time, hard work and competitive spirit to raise money for Housing Families, bragging rights.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Christmas Festival and Gingerbread House Competition is the ideal place to find something special for your someone special.

Jessica's expert tip: Arrive a bit after opening to avoid the mad rush going through the doors at opening, then walk to the side and all the way to the back and work forward.

Read more about Christmas Festival and Gingerbread House Competition →

ZooLights at the Stone Zoo
Photo courtesy of Stone Zoo

Opening on Thanksgiving and running through January 4, 2015, ZooLights will dazzle visitors. Attracting thousands of visitors annually to stroll along the twinkling lights on the tree-lined paths. Aside from the stunning display of lights glowing in the crisp air, you'll encounter the animals that call the Stone Zoo home like foxes, and Bald Eagles. Kids, and adults alike, will get a kick out of meeting the Stone Zoo's reindeer up close when they take advantage of the photo opportunity offered each night. Santa Claus will be in attendance through December 23, and will offer his ear to little ones looking to clarify their list. And holiday crafts will be on-site.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: ZooLights is a special way to see both the Stone Zoo and enjoy the holiday season.

Jessica's expert tip: ZooLights is closed on Christmas Day.

Read more about ZooLights at the Stone Zoo →

Faneuil Hall/Government Center

Make your way to Faneuil Hall Marketplace to experience Blink! This light and sound spectacular Nightly Performances features the musical offerings of the talented Holiday Pops ensemble and runs for a limited time-during the holiday season-November 22, 2014 - January 4, 2015. Witness the show each night when every seven minutes brings a fresh cycle of as the music and lights syncing to the beat. For the holiday season Faneuil Hall becomes the epicenter of holiday spirit. Starting with Boston's first tree lighting ceremony and culminating with an impressive display of ice sculptures on New Year's Eve. Blink is the ideal way to kick off the get revved up for the season in Boston.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Blink! offers the first tree lighting, seven minute light shows and many live performances.

Jessica's expert tip: Blink! is outdoors, bundle up when the weather is crisp to enjoy it.

Read more about Blink! @ Faneuil Hall Marketplace →

Boston Ballet's "The Nutcracker"
Photo courtesy of Liza Vol Photography

Join the thousands who buy tickets to Boston Ballet's "The Nutcracker" and enjoy a holiday performance you'll never forget. Running for the holiday season, November 28- December 31, at the Boston Opera House, "The Nutcracker" come to life before your eyes. With choreography by Mikko Nissinen and set to music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Boston Ballet's "The Nutcracker" is an elegant display of dance that will have you enthralled from start to finish. With costumes as stunning as the performers they're placed upon, you'll be whisked into a magical holiday wonderland while dancers set the scene on stage. Meticulously planned and performed; Boston Ballet's "The Nutcracker" may just become an annual tradition.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Boston Ballet's "The Nutcracker" is a holiday tradition that is fun for the whole family.

Jessica's expert tip: The Boston Opera House is a large venue, making the splurge for seats up close worth the extra cost.

Read more about Boston Ballet's "The Nutcracker" →

Held the first Thursday of December, the Boston Common Tree Lighting Ceremony is an event to remember. Kicking off about 5pm you can catch a skating show to remember by the Skating Club of Boston. This televised event features local personalities and is culminated with the lighting of Boston's official tree received from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The stage will see its fair share of big names who will sing and dance while on-lookers enjoy the free show. Catch a glimpse of Santa Claus who is sure to be on hand, and enjoy the Common when the lights come on because Boston Common decked out in holiday lights is a mesmerizing sight.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Boston Common Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a free show celebrating the lighting of Boston's official tree.

Jessica's expert tip: Arrive early to get a space as close to the stage as possible.

Read more about Boston Common Christmas Tree Lighting →

Boston's First Night Celebrations is one of the biggest and best around. With a first night button you'll find yourself privy to a plethora of activities all around the city during the day and night, both inside and outside. Family events include face painting, a circus, cultural workshops, puppet shows, story time, comedy, free admission to museums, and even an early fireworks display. Those without children will enjoy an even wider array of options including concerts, performances and adult comedy at many local venues. But one of the most stunning displays at the First Night celebration is the ice sculptures. These detailed works of ice art are exquisite and not to be missed. And be sure to start your New Year watching the spectacular display of fireworks over the waterfront at midnight.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: First Night Boston is a day-long celebration that takes place throughout the city, culminating at midnight with a sensational fireworks display.

Jessica's expert tip: Don't miss the ice sculptures on display throughout the city.

Read more about First Night Boston →

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the most respected orchestras in the world and Housed in one of the best designed (acoustically) music halls in the world, Boston Symphony Hall. Playing host to a variety of concerts throughout the year, the Holiday Pops is one performance that really wows. The popular song, played during these special holiday shows, "Sleigh Ride", was composed within the walls of Symphony Hall. In 1946 Leroy Anderson composed this piece of music specifically for the Pops and it was performed first by the Boston Pops on May 4, 1948, before the words were added two years later. The stunning setting and talent of those playing the music on stage will put you in a trance as you journey with the BSO on a musical adventure that will bring the spirit of the holidays to life.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Boston Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Pops is a festive musical performance that offers family and adult performances that put you in the holiday spirit.

Jessica's expert tip: Children's matinees are a best bet with young ones; complete with a visit with Santa, these concerts are an appropriate length for young audiences.

Read more about Boston Symphony Orchestra →


Meet Jessica Polizzotti

Born and raised in Boston, Jessica knows her city like the back of her hand.  Always looking to uncover something new, Jessica keeps up on the latest and greatest Boston offerings. 

Although...  More About Jessica