Through 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 22–December 7
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 that you could win, this family celebration has something for everyone.
November 23–January 1
Even though you don’t technically go anywhere on this train ride, the Polar Express experience is not to be missed! You will be right there in the action as a moving seat takes you aboard the train. Melting snow will tickle your skin, and the vivid smells of rich hot chocolate will liven your ride on the Polar Express.
Thanksgiving Potluck Feast (Cambridge)
One of the biggest community events of the year, the annual Thanksgiving potluck feast is where old friends and new neighbors meet and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. The Agassiz Baldwin Community supplies the turkey (cooked by volunteers), cranberry sauce, and drinks, while guests bring salads, sides, and desserts inspired by their own family traditions. Hosted in the Maria L. Baldwin School cafeteria, this neighborhood tradition has continued for nearly 40 years!
November 29–December 1, December 20–22
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 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. (The performance on November 29 will be a shortened, sensory friendly version of the first act of the show.)
Lowell City of Lights (Lowell)
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)
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 visit from Santa! The performances will continue until 6:30 p.m., allowing everyone a chance to visit with Santa.
November 30–December 22
Jose Mateo Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker” (Boston and Dorchester)
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.
Teddy Bear Tea (Boston)
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. Teddy Bear Tea is a special community benefit initiative teaching young guests the spirit of charity. Guests are invited to bring a teddy bear to donate, 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.
Copley Square Tree Lighting (Boston)
The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and The Friends of Copley Square welcome the holidays with the annual tree lighting from 5–6 p.m. 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 from the Fairmont Copley Plaza.
The official Blink! Tree Lighting takes place during the live broadcast on WBZ-TV/CBS Boston at 7:30 p.m. It will feature appearances by Santa Claus, The City of Boston Community Choir, holiday singers, and the official flipping of the switch to illuminate thousands of twinkling lights synchronized to music.
December 3–January 1
Blink!, the world-famous light and sound show, will return to deck the halls this holiday season at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Blink! features the signature holiday tree at Marketplace Center joined by other trees and lights throughout the property. This year’s Blink! show features six holiday favorites. Performances run from 4:30–10 p.m. daily.
ICS’s Polar Express Ride (Newburyport)
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!
These special family concerts include a children’s singalong and post-concert photos with Santa. For those seated at the floor tables, there are special kid-friendly menu options along with holiday treats. The December 7 performance will be a sensory-friendly concert. The show is designed for all families with children or adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or sensory sensitivities. The concert will be a shortened 60-minute version of the regular Holiday Pops concert, with a flexible, non-judgmental environment.
Annual Kids Christmas Party hosted by the Polish American Citizens Club. There will be face painting, pizza and holiday treats.
Miss Polonia Massachusetts 2020 Carly Liqouri will be making an appearance and Santa Claus will also be visiting. You do not have to be a member of the club to attend.
Admission is $5 per child and parents should bring a wrapped gift for their child for Santa to give to them.
Contact [email protected] with any questions
Needham Holiday House Tour (Needham)
Tour-goers have been inspired and delighted each holiday season for over 20 years touring as many as six beautifully decorated Needham homes. Also, visit the marketplace, where vendors will be selling unique gifts sure to inspire your holiday shopping. A percentage of the proceeds from the marketplace will go to support A Gift of Warmth, a home heating assistance program for the Needham area.
Santa Speedo Run (Boston)
The SSRun is a fun, unique, and crowd-pleasing fundraising event like no other you have experienced. It began in Boston in 2000 with five guys just looking to spread some holiday spirit by running through Back Bay in only Santa hats and Speedos. Since then, it has grown to include 700 men and women each year and has become an annual holiday tradition that has hosted thousands of participants who have helped to raise over $1.6 million for local children in need.
Kendall Square Holiday on Ice (Cambridge)
The 11th annual Holiday on Ice celebration at Community Ice Skating includes free admission all day, free food, and a free show produced by Frozen Frog Productions. The show will feature holiday numbers as well as local and international competitors and world-class professional skaters. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. with free admission, and the ice skating show begins promptly at 2 p.m. Join for a fun show that is sure to get you in the holiday spirit! Skate rentals will be available at regular rates.
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 special attractions will be focused in Copley Square and 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.