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The best Boston Christmas events

From classic holiday shows and concerts to festive strolls, these are the best Christmas events in Boston

Holiday Pops at Boston Symphony Hall
Photograph: Stu Rosner Holiday Pops at Boston Symphony Hall
By Gerrish Lopez, Eric Grossman and Time Out Boston Staff |

It's the most wonderful time of year, as Boston decks the halls and gets festive for Christmas. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the season, whether caroling or seeing a holiday show. While there a many unique holiday markets in Boston, be sure to take a break from shopping and check out these Christmas events in Boston. Once you've gotten all the holiday cheer out of your system, keep the good times going by checking out the best Boston attractions, best free things to do in Boston, and best museums in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: See the full Christmas in Boston guide

Christmas events in Boston

Boston Ballet presents Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Boston Ballet/Liza Voll
Theater, Performing arts space

The Nutcracker

icon-location-pin Downtown

Generations have enjoyed The Nutcracker—it’s one of the season’s most beloved traditions. Seeing the Boston Ballet’s performance at the Opera House—artistic director Mikko Nissinen’s production features opulent Georgian-era sets and costumes—is memorable for all ages. This production is highly anticipated each year, so be sure to book tickets early.
November 29–December 30

Miracle at the Marlowe
Photograph: Melissa Hom

Miracle at the Marlowe

icon-location-pin East Cambridge

From Black Friday through New Years Eve, head to the Hotel Marlowe lobby bar to have a holiday tipple at the Miracle pop-up bar. Nostalgic decor sets the scene for seasonally-themed cocktails like the Snowball Old Fashioned (butterscotch rye, spiced demerara, wormwood bitters, orange zest) and Christmas Carol Barrel (aged rum, aquavit, amaro, pumpkin pie, demerara syrup, lime, vanilla, Angostura bitters). 
November 23-December 31

Boston Harbor Hotel Gingerbread Workshop
Photograph: Courtesy Boston Harbor Hotel

Gingerbread Workshop at Boston Harbor Hotel

icon-location-pin Waterfront

Join the Boston Harbor Hotel for their first-annual Gingerbread Workshop. The festive event will take place in the Wharf Room, where the entire family can decorate gingerbread houses (made by the Hotel’s pastry team) with candies while sipping hot chocolate from the hot chocolate bar. There will be a candy bar for all ages and a cash bar for adults. The event will begin with Santa's arrival in the Harbor and end with a showing of The Polar Express.
December 2, 1pm-4pm, $65 per household (max 2)/free for children under 2

Old South Meeting House
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Luke L.
Things to do

Holiday Open House at the Old South Meeting House

icon-location-pin Downtown

Usually open by admission, the Old South Meeting House (the Boston landmark where the infamous Boston Tea Party began) is free to the public during its Holiday Open House. Enjoy performances by Vera Meyer, a local artist who plays glass armonica (a musical instrument made with glass bowls) and musicians from the New England Conservatory. There will be fun family activities, and you can try your hand at using a quill pen.
December 1, 10am-4pm

Santa Speedo Run
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Sebastien Barre

Santa Speedo Run

Bundle up and head out to watch the Santa Speedo Run, when brave souls dressed in nothing more than Speedos and Santa hats jog through the Back Bay for charity. It’s a great cause that raises money for the Play Ball Foundation, which funds sports in Boston-area middle schools. Anyone can participate, you just need to commit to raising $400 in donations. Race day warm-up includes a drink to get you going.
December 8, corner of Boylston and Gloucester Sts

Black Nativity
Photograph: Courtesy Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity
Theater, Performing arts space

Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity

icon-location-pin Downtown

Boston’s annual staging of Langston Hughes’ retelling of the Nativity is the longest-running production of the piece in the world. Produced by the National Center of Afro-American Artists and presented at the Art Deco Paramount Center, it combines music, dance, scripture, and Hughes’ poetry.
December 7-23

Holiday Pops at Boston Symphony Hall
Photograph: Stu Rosner
Music, Music venues

Holiday Pops

icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore

Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops in spirited performances of holiday classics and new arrangements in the magical environs of a seasonally-bedecked Symphony Hall. Kid-friendly matinees include singalongs and post-concert photos with Santa. Right after Christmas, enjoy holiday favorite Home Alone accompanied by a live orchestra.
December 6-24

No. 9 Park
Photograph: Courtesy No. 9 Park/Susan Cushman
Restaurants, French

Holiday Lunch at No. 9 Park

icon-location-pin Beacon Hill

Kick off your holiday season at Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant. Holiday Lunch at No. 9 Park is a festive annual tradition for friends, coworkers, and families. The five-course tasting menu features favorites such as French Onion Soup and Holiday Goose for Two as well as other standouts like Shrimp Tortellini di Neri and Roasted Hangar Steak. No. 9 Park also hosts a line-up of guest bartenders throughout the month to make things extra festive. 
November 26-December 21, Monday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm

SoWa Winter Festival
Photograph: Courtesy SoWa Market
Shopping, Markets and fairs

SoWa Winter Festival

icon-location-pin South End

Head to the South End for the biggest winter shopping village and holiday festival in Boston. Held over two weekends, the SoWa Winter Festival is perfect for getting into the holiday spirit and shopping for holiday gifts. The Maker Marketplace in the Power Station features more than 100 makers and food vendors from around the region. On Thayer Street, enjoy Winter Wonderland - food trucks, live ice sculpting, and open studios. There are also holiday workshops and musical performances during the Festival.
November 30, 5pm-9pm; December 1, 11am-7pm; December 2 11am-5pm; December 7, 5pm-9pm; December 8, 11am-7pm; December 9 11am-5pm

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Theater, Performing arts space

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

icon-location-pin Theater District

All ages will enjoy this dazzling, multi-media theatrical performance at the Shubert Theater. Cirque Dreams Holidaze combines song, dance, illusions, acrobatics, and feats of strength. Witness 20 different acts and characters in elaborate costumes - including snowmen, penguins, gingerbread men, and Santa - as they fly through the air, twirl across the stage, and perform eye-popping balancing acts. This show may be the flashiest and most thrilling of the season. 
December 4-9

Christmas Celtic Sojourn
Photograph: Niko Alexandrou

Christmas Celtic Sojourn

Brian O’Donovan’s A Celtic Sojourn has entertained WGBH radio audiences since 1986. This Christmastime live version of the show at the Cutler Majestic Theater draws on Pagan, Christian and Celtic musical traditions. Its an eclectic blend of accordion, harp, bass and cello performances featuring a top-notch lineup of musicians, Irish step-dancing, and plenty of surprises.
December 14-23

Photograph: Peter Paradise Michaels
Theater, Performing arts space

Urban Nutcracker

icon-location-pin Jamaica Plain

Now in its 18th year, this unique performance is Tony Williams’ reimagining of the classic tale as a a Boston inner-city story. Showcasing a broad diversity of dance forms—classical ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz, flamenco, and more—the show follows Ruby and her Nutcracker guide as she explores iconic Boston scenes such as Make Way for Ducklings, Top of the Hub, Chinatown, and the Boston Public Garden.
December 20-30

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stephanie C.
Restaurants, American creative

Tea in the Willows

icon-location-pin Somerville

For a festive, post-Christmas treat, join Juliet for a Wind in the Willows-themed High Tea. Enjoy tea sandwiches inspired by the characters, from Mole's Basic Basket (a variety of practical sandwiches, a salad, and a scone) to Ratty's Grand Basket (marinated mushrooms, smoked salmon, sliced steak, soft boiled egg, and a lemon tart) or simpler selections dedicated to Sea Rat and Toad.
December 27-29, 10am-2pm