Through December 22
Blackstone Valley Polar Express (Woonsocket, RI)
Come ride the longest-running Polar Express ride! Each trip includes a 90-minute excursion on the train while listening to a reading of the Christmas classic. There will be singalongs, hot chocolate served in a souvenir mug, cookies, games, and a special first gift of Christmas for every child, personally delivered by Santa! After the trip to the North Pole, Santa will pose for pictures with children on his sleigh!
Through December 23
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! Which character is missing this year? You won’t know until you reach the boarding station! You will experience all the joy and excitement while enjoying chocolate milk, HOOD eggnog, and cookies. Your ride will be fueled by Christmas cheer, including singalongs to your favorite Christmas songs, dancing elves who give out shiny bells, and lots of bright lights that twinkle in the night!
Through December 23
Edaville Express (Carver)
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 eggnog, and cookies. Fueled by Christmas cheer, the train ride includes singalongs 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.
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.
Through January 5
The Polar Express 4D Experience (Museum of Science, Boston)
When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Featured in digital 3D and brought to life with 4D multi-sensory effects, this is an immersive experience for the whole family to enjoy!
First Light Brookline (Brookline)
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.
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 22–January 4
ZooLights at Stone Zoo (Stoneham)
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 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.
November 23–January 1
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.
Join Mayor Walsh and the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park for the annual trellis lighting ceremony, complete with Christmas carols, hot chocolate, and more.
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 28–January 5
La Salette Shrine Festival of Lights (Attleboro)
Over 300,000 lights illuminate 10 acres in this beautiful holiday lights display. The International Creche museum features hundreds of creches from around the world. The Outdoor Creche of Bethlehem features a candle lit with a flame from Bethlehem, Israel.
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.)
November 29–December 15, December 20-22, December 27-29
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 storytime, Santa visits, and kids’ craft workshops.
November 29–December 23
The Train to Christmas Town (Buzzards Bay)
The music begins as passengers depart the station, while elves dance in the aisles, leading singalongs to other favorite Christmas carols. There are cookies, hot chocolate, and a special gift from Santa. When arriving at Christmas Town, gather together to share the views from the window of the magical lighted town. Wave to Santa and his elves before they climb aboard to greet each boy and girl. Kids are able to play a game of I-Spy as they look for animal friends hidden throughout the car like the gentle snowy owls and Bubble and Squeek the chatty mice that frequent the train.
November 29–December 29
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 29–December 30
Night Lights :: Winter Reimagined (Boylston)
Night Lights is an annual celebration of the season held at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, just outside of Worcester. Night Lights is an inclusive, secular event where visitors of all backgrounds can celebrate winter, light, and nature together. It includes two unique experiences: Day Lights (the daytime experience) and Night Lights (the evening experience).
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.
Set during the 1930s in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, this incredibly heartwarming and truly unforgettable production imagines Ebenezer Scrooge as the owner of a mining company town, where his callous greed blinds him to the joys and gifts of the season. Dickens’s classic characters and Dolly Parton’s one-of-a-kind songwriting expertise are certain to make this a holiday event you’ll want to share with those you love.
Festival of Lights Cooking Class (Belmont)
Festivals of lights are celebrated in cultures around the world. From Hanukkah in the Jewish faith to Diwali in India, participants will discover cultural dishes served during festivals of light at the Chop Chop Test Kitchen in Belmont.
BSO Holiday Pops (Boston)
Join the Boston Pops for a performance filled with holiday music favorites, the traditional Pops sing-along, and a visit from Santa Claus himself! These concerts take place in the magical atmosphere of world-famous Symphony Hall, which is beautifully decorated to evoke all the magic and charm of the season.
College a cappella groups battle for a cash prize at this Chanukah-inspired contest! A complimentary guided tour of the Vilna and its history will run approximately 45 minutes before the start of the program.
Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll (Boston)
Families are invited to a festive evening of refreshments, shopping, Santa, horse and buggy rides, Victorian Carolers, a strolling brass quintet, and Charles Street businesses open for good cheer. Charles Street will be closed for Victorian carolers and shoppers. Free horse and buggy rides, and a brass band are all part of the celebration. Earlier in the day, kids can visit Santa at Hill House firehouse, followed by a tree lighting later in the evening. Santa lights the tree around 7 p.m. on the corner of Charles and Mount Vernon Street, and then all can join in with the Victorian Carolers and sing out your favorite Christmas carols!
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. The tree lights will go on just before 8 p.m., followed by fireworks!
SOWA Winter Festival (Boston)
‘Tis the season for the fourth annual SoWa Winter Festival. Now over two weekends, join for the biggest winter shopping village and holiday festival in Boston. You’ll find the perfect handmade gifts, sip on winter cocktails, and discover the best of the SoWa Art + Design District. The SoWa Winter Festival is family friendly and free to attend.
Downtown Haverhill Christmas Stroll (Haverhill)
Kick off the holiday season with the 2019 Christmas Stroll! The event will include family-friendly activities, including cookie decorating, ornament making, and live music with performances by local artists. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a ride on the Haverhill Bank Express Trolley or visit Santa’s Workshop to meet Santa and some of his elves. Enjoy the spirit of the season with holiday music performed by wandering carolers and a saxophone quartet. The highlight of the evening will be the official tree lighting with Santa in Washington Square.
Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity (Boston)
Langston Hughes’ heartwarming gospel play returns for the 2019 holiday season at the Paramount Theater, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ through the uplifting genre of gospel music. Produced and performed by the National Center of Afro-American Artists, it celebrates the black community and wider Boston during this holy season. Follow the star to Bethlehem in this modern staging of Hughes’ original musical, and rejoice in the good news that this show brings for a community often on the outskirts, rather like a certain baby 2,000 years ago.
Returning once again to this coveted role, celebrated actor David Coffee dons the cane and top hat of the infamous Dickensian villain Ebenezer Scrooge for a magical evening of classic storytelling, astonishing special effects, and classic carols. Come along on the journey as Scrooge is visited by three magical spirits that take him into his past, present, and future in a bid to show him the error of his curmudgeonly ways.
Share the light this wonderful night! Join for a special Tot Shabbat at Temple Sinai. Start the night off singing and dancing at a tot-friendly Chanukah-themed service and enjoy a potluck dinner and dessert. Children will also participate in a special mitzvah project to benefit local families.
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.
This annual kids Christmas party will is hosted by the Polish American Citizens Club and will include face painting, pizza, and holiday treats. Miss Polonia Massachusetts 2020 Carly Liqouri will be making an appearance, and Santa Claus will also be visiting.
Red Bow Fair (North Andover)
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, gift baskets, baked goods, quilt and wine drawings, used books and media, and the ever-popular luncheon.
This craft fair features 30 New England artists who 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 woodwork, and much more! This year, find that one-of-a-kind holiday gift or stocking stuffer that’ll be sure to wow!
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!
PJ Library and Simply Circus Chanukah! (Framingham and Belmont)
Run away to the circus for Chanukah! Join PJ Library and Simply Circus for an imaginative, illuminated interpretation of Chanukah at Amazing Things Arts Center (160 Hollis Street) in Framingham from 10–11:30 a.m. and at Studio Cinema (376 Trapelo Road) in Belmont from 4–5:30 p.m. This glowing Chanukah performance features singing, juggling, hula hoops and song to create mesmerizing, rhythmic patterns with light while telling the story behind the Festival of Lights.
Chanukkah Wonderland and Gift Shop (Boston)
Chabad of Downtown Boston invites you to join Chanukkah Wonderland and Gift Shop. The celebration will include a sing-along with a popular children’s musician, crafts and activities, an art class by Minni, wax candle making, latkes and more! Please RSVP in advance.
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.
Pentatonix Christmas Tour (Boston)
Join the chart-topping group as they tour with their new holiday album “Christmas Is Here!” A family favorite for sure!
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 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 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. In this year’s production, travel from the bluegrass of Appalachia to the traveling songs of California, from the bony harmonies of New England to the easy melodies of the South. And when you reach your ultimate destination, you will be invited to join in the old tradition of “Breakin’ up Christmas.”
Illuminations Tour Somerville (Somerville)
Come celebrate the folk artistry of residents who transform their houses and yards with lights, illuminated ornaments, and shrines of devotion and fantasy. The 45-minute trolley tours leave from (and return to) Somerville High School Field House (81 Highland Ave.) where coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies are served.
Kids Make the Latkes (Dover)
In this hands-on cooking class at Powisset Farm in Dover, children will learn to make traditional potato latkes, a special riff on latkes, and homemade applesauce to accompany the dish. This drop-off class is best suited for children ages 7-12. Children aged 5 and 6 are welcome to come but must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver who will participate in the class with their child.
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.
The Jolly Jingle Express (Woburn)
Get in the holiday spirit as you board the Jolly Jingle Express, a roundtrip train ride starting and finishing at the Anderson RTC in Woburn. The train travels into Boston, where it will stop briefly before it returns to Woburn.
December 15 and 18
PJ Library Storymakers (Somerville and Sharon)
Come with your kids for a fun and easy Sunday morning at Bow Market (1 Bow Market Way) in Somerville on December 15 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. or December 18 from 9:45-11:15 a.m. at Temple Sinai of Sharon. Enjoy some of your favorite PJ Library read-aloud books, sing songs, and do a hands-on project related to the story.
PJ Library Lights Up Chanukah (Newton and Walpole)
Run away to the circus for Chanukah! Join PJ Library and Simply Circus for an imaginative, illuminated interpretation of Chanukah at the Riemer-Goldstein Theater, Leventhal-Sidman JCC (333 Nahanton Street) in Newton on Sunday, December 15, from 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m., and at the Elm Street School (415 Elm Street) in Walpole from 4–5:30 p.m. This glowing Chanukah performance features singing, juggling, hula hoops and song to create mesmerizing, rhythmic patterns with light while telling the story behind the Festival of Lights.
Jingle Mingle Sip and Shop (Danvers)
Jingle, mingle, and dine with wine at the second Jingle Mingle Holiday Sip and Shop. Kick off your holiday in style with vendors, crafters, and free swag bags! Wear your ugly sweater for a chance to win a gift card! And don’t forget BOGO pizza in the restaurant.
In celebration of Hanukkah, visitors will receive free admission to the museum after 4 p.m. A community candle lighting will take place at 6:30 p.m. There is something for everyone at this beautiful celebration, including performances of dance and song in the galleries, a make your own sufganiah (doughnut) bar, and crafts throughout the museum, and an exciting performance by Brighter Beyond, a collaborative, interactive blacklight experience by artist Tova Speter. And, for families who come early, there will be dancing with Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys, face painting, art making and a special Barnyard Bubbe’s Hanukkah story time with Joni Klein-Higger.
Ninth Annual Chanukah Run-A-Latke (Swampscott)
Celebrate the festival of lights with a celebratory run along Swampscott’s scenic shoreline. If you need motivation, there will be latkes and donuts at the finish line! Kids are welcome to participate in free fun activities while the parents run.
It’s Chanukah time! Join for holiday stories, games, songs and treats at the Bacon Free Library. Light up a child’s life by bringing a book to donate to hospitalized kids, and make a special bookmark to go with it.
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.