Family-Friendly Holiday & Christmas Events in Boston

Christmas in New England conjures up traditional images of twinkling tree lights white with snow, door to door caroling, and wintry streets primed with shoppers looking for the perfect gift. All of this and more can be experienced in and around one of the hearts of New England: the city of Boston. You can find just the right activity for every member of your family here for your most festive holiday yet! Explore holiday events in Boston this Christmas season.

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Lead image by: Bigstock/coleong

The Arts and Culture Scene

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Boston is a mecca for enriching and enlightening cultural experiences. At Christmas, so many of these are kid-friendly and offer a fantastic opportunity to introduce your child to the magic of music and theater. Of course there is The Nutcracker performed by the celebrated Boston Ballet at the Boston Opera House. Every little girl’s eyes sparkle with the magic of Christmas and the ballet while watching the holiday music of Tchaikovsky dance to life. Performances sold out last year so buy tickets for the November 24-December 31, 2017 shows early.

However, you may also consider other acclaimed venues performing with a Christmas theme. Consider the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. All performances from November 30th through December 31st include a sing along and an appearance by Santa. They also offer a  kids matinée choice of a shorter show with more kid-friendly carols and a post performance visit with Santa. Children under 2 are free at the daytime matinée performances. For more music appreciation consider a mesmerizing performance from Boston Baroque of Handel’s Messiah with performances on December 8th and 9th at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. For dancing and music with an Irish flair try the Christmas Celtic Sojourn at the Cutler Majestic Theater at Emerson College. Body percussion, ethereal vocals, and dancing by talented youth highlight the bill on select December dates.

Maybe your clan will enjoy the annual version of ChristmasTime in Waltham. This singing and dancing spectacular will be presented weekends December 2nd through 10th at the Reagle Music Theater of greater Boston. Showcasing the Teddy Bear Nutcracker, a hand bell choir, a Wooden Soldier parade, and more, this show has become a tradition for many families. For a different type of holiday performance with a dose of history perhaps the 240th Boston Tea Party Reenactment at the Old South Meeting House will do. The Old South Tea Party Players bring to life heroic patriots such as Samuel Adams and Paul Revere as they recount the events of December 16th 1773 when 5000 colonists braved the December night to begin the famous Tea Party protest.

Christmas Lights and Festivals


Christmas lights convey the holiday spirit to people of all ages, but kids seem especially thrilled by the spectacle. Christmas lights, outdoor activity, and skating really awaken the New England Christmas Spirit. Perhaps one of the following tree lighting or light festivals will be your family’s favorite this year.

The 2017 lighting of the tree in famed Faneuil Hall will take place on November 29th, during a ceremony presided over by local dignitaries joined with planned spectacular vocal performances. The tree, taller than that in Rockefeller Center, boasts thousands of twinkling lights. It will stay lit throughout the season to enhance your holiday shopping in town. Families will also enjoy Blink, which has the area buildings covered in lights beginning November 21 through the New Year. Blink synchronizes the lights to the holiday music of the Boston Pops. There will be a nightly public Menorah lighting at the Boston Common throughout Hanukkah. The Tree at the Commons will be lit on November 30 at 6pm. The tree-lighting is preceded with a free ice skating show at the Frog Pond rink at 5PM.

Daily public skating should begin late November at the ice rink at the Frog Pond .

Everyone in your family is likely to enjoy Holiday ZooLights at the Stone Zoo. Thousands of twinkling lights will shine the way through the zoo exhibits November 24th through December 31st, 2017. Santa will be on site at his magical castle waiting to spread holiday cheer.

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Rides with Santa

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Kids just love a good festive train or boat ride with Santa to bring on the holiday cheer. Edaville in Carver offers a few train ride options. The Festival of Lights happens select dates in November and December. The park is decked out in beautiful Christmas lights and the train ride with Santa takes guests on an adventure through the wonderland. In addition to the Festival of Lights option there is also a Where is Santa? ride and a VIP Santa trek. Buy tickets early and plan on checking out all of the updates they have done to the park to create a Thomas Land celebrating everyone’s favorite blue engine.

If a boat cruise might be a better option for your brood, you are in luck. The Spirit of Boston offers a harbor cruise with Santa including brunch, site seeing, pictures, and more on December 9th 2017.

Holiday Strolls and Music

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Nothing provides more of a holiday feeling than a good old fashion New England Holiday stroll. Music, history, carols, lights, horse-drawn rides, crowds of merry people, and perhaps a snowflake or two make these some memorable family times.

Boston offers the Beacon Hill Christmas Stroll on December 7th, 2017. Charles Street is closed to allow safe exploration of the area. Horse drawn buggy rides, carolers, and photos with Santa are offered. In nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire at Strawberry Banke your family can experience the Annual Vintage Christmas with a Classic Holiday stroll weekends in December. Purchase tickets to enjoy crafts, instruction, house tours, music, a bonfire, and more.

Lastly, for the hale and hearty, a quick winter ferry ride December 1-3 will bring you to the beautifully cobblestone lined streets of Nantucket. Nantucket Noel is a stroll led by the town crier. Santa and the missus arrive by boat on Saturday December 2nd followed by a  lively party with carols and demonstrations. Be on the lookout for the magical talking tree or visit the Festival of Trees at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. There are many family friendly activities including cookie decorating, stage performances, and a shorter version of the Nutcracker Ballet.

For more Christmas cheer and music celebrate at the Trinity Church with one of the most beloved Christmas events in Boston. Candlelight Carols at Trinity Church offer free services on December 16th and a benefit on December 17th 2017 with tickets required.

Meals with Santa

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Little ones will especially enjoy and remember meals with the jolly old elf himself. The Boston area has no shortage of festive Santa or Christmas themed dining options.

At the Royal Sonesta enjoy breakfast with Santa on December 10th. Meet with Santa and his helpers to eat, take pictures, decorate cookies, and get your face painted. Revelers are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.

At Gore Place in Waltham make your reservation for a Santa Tea on December 16th and 17th  High where tea will be served in the Carriage House on property. You may also expect kids activities, stories, and Santa himself. Lastly, the Wenham Museum will host a variety of Holiday themed functions just right for the family including a sing along Fireside Noel, Stories and Songs with Santa, and a Polar Express Pajama Party on select December Weekends.

End the year with First Night: Boston on December 31st. Over 1 million revelers come out to enjoy the day long child friendly event to include ice sculptures, entertainers, crafts, and more. Now is the time to plan out all of your holiday festivities. The city of Boston makes it easy to discover what will most inspire families to create a memorable and entertaining Christmas Season. Get out and enjoy!

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Christmas and Holiday activities for families in and around Boston

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About the author

Michelle Brennan is and her husband are Yankee born and raised and are loving life as they raise their 3 children in New England. They love to learn through travel and head out on excursions whenever possible.The suitcases are always packed....literally!!!!
4 Responses
  1. Olan

    I’m not from Boston but me and my family spend a week there during the holidays (we had to go home for Christmas though). I loved it! There’s that historical feel in it with all the buildings and museums. I would like to thank Feelday for suggesting that we should go to this great city. We’ll surely be back next year.

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