Best Things to Do in Boston in December

Top 10 Boston activities for December

Christmas wreaths on trellis in Boston's Christopher Columbus Park / Things to Do in Boston in December -
Carolers in front of Brattle Book Store in Downtown Boston

Are you looking for interesting things to do in Boston in December? 

December days are short and sometimes cold - but festive lights sparkle, winter activities move into high gear, and Boston holiday shoppers fill the streets and stores. 

Christmas and Hanukkah themes domimate Boston theater and holiday concerts on the cultural calendar this month.

If your Boston travel plans include New Year's Eve, be sure to join the First Night celebrations across the downtown neighborhoods.  

As many as 1 million people turn out for this popular end-of-December event.


10 top things to do in Boston in December

1.  Watch the city light up

Boston's holiday season officially begins at the annual holiday lighting ceremony on Boston Common, when Boston's mayor flips a switch setting the city's magnificent Christmas tree and 80+ other trees ablaze with sparkling lights.  The Christmas tree, an annual gift from the citizens of Nova Scotia since 1961, commemorates help given by Boston citizens after a devastating 1917 explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax Harbor killed over 2,000 people.

The tree-lighting ceremony usually occurs at the beginning of the month.  Check the Boston Event Calendar for December for details.

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2.  Twirl around the ice

If you want to feel like you're bringing a Currier & Ives print to life, head to Frog Pond at Boston Common in late afternoon, rent some ice skates, and twirl around the ice skating rink.   The holiday lights covering the surrounding trees sparkle overhead, and in the background you'll see even more lights gleaming in the stately mansions of Beacon Hill.  A "life is perfect!" feeling will sweep over you.

Details for ice skating in Boston

3.  Ski down some nearby slopes

If ice skating on Frog Pond has whetted your appetite for more winter sports, check out some of the ski slopes and cross country trails at Massachusetts ski areas near Boston.  Within 45 - 60 minutes, you can be hitting the trails.

4.  Frolic in the snow!

If you're lucky enough to be here during or after a December snowfall, spend some time walking around enjoying the magic sparkle of sunshine on the snow during the day, and the glitter of holiday lights reflecting on the white blanket at night.

One of most exhilirating things to do in Boston in December with kids (or for that matter, grown-ups) is to make a snowman!  Head to Boston Common or the Rose Kennedy Greenway, where you'll find open expanses with plenty of snow.  Be creative!  Remember, lots of people will enjoy your creation before the sun melts it away.

Remember to bring your camera.  Best places for photos?  Just about anywhere!  My favorites include the suspension bridge over the now-empty lagoon in the Public Garden, anywhere along the Boston Esplanade or bridges overlooking the Charles River, and Bay Village, where the gas street lamps and Federal architecture of the homes built in the early 1800s give you a glimpse of Boston two centuries ago (if you ignore the cars parked along the narrow streets).

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5.  Shop, shop, shop!

Christmas tree in Quincy Market in Boston / Things to do in Boston in December - a doubt, shopping is one of the top things to do in Boston in December! 

Stores sparkle with holiday lights and everyone is in a festive spirit.  Faneuil Hall / Quincy Market (check out the gorgeous Christmas tree!), Prudential Center, and Newbury Street look especially spectacular, but you'll also find wonderful boutiques everywhere - the North End, the South End, Beacon Hill, Harvard Square in Cambridge.

To combine efficiency with fun, check out my tips for 1-stop (well, almost), holiday shopping in Boston.

6.  Reward yourself

After all that shopping (or ice skating), you need to reward yourself!  Enjoying a meal in one of the many wonderful Boston restaurants tops my list of perfect things to do in Boston in December - or for that matter, any time. 

To avoid calorie overload during the holiday season, try one of the fabulous Boston seafood restaurants.  Head to the North End (beautiful with all the holiday lights) for a meal in Neptune Oyster or Daily Catch.  Don't forget that you'll also find fresh, perfectly prepared seafood on the menus of most other North End restaurants.  For a splurge, try Mamma Maria or Sensing (Battery Wharf Hotel). 

7.  Celebrate Christmas in Boston

If you're spending Christmas in Boston, you'll quickly discover why this is the most magical season of the year.  Christmas trees sparkle all over the city, and you'll see fabulous decorations everywhere you look.  Carolers sing on street corners.  And on any given night, you'll have your choice of heart-warming musical performances, concerts, and holiday shows . . . Handel's Messiah by Boston Baroque, Christmas Pops by the Boston Pops, Christmas Revels, Black Nativity, Celtic Christmas, and lots more.

But that's just the beginning . . . find out more about why Christmas in Boston is special, and enjoy my favorite Boston holiday photos.

Christmas holiday lights in park in Boston's South End - photo taken in early evening in mid-December / Things to Do in Boston in December -
This wonderful photo taken in Boston's South End is courtesy of Icelight

8.  Have some foul-weather plans

December weather can be unpredictable  - and occasionally rather nasty.   When a gale wind blows and sleet slices through the air sideways, you'll want a warm, entertaining refuge.  This is the perfect time to go to the movies (check out Boston's newest film reperatory venue at the Charles Street Playhouse), the theater, a comedy club, or a museum. 

More suggestions for Boston indoor winter activities

9.  Cheer your favorite team!

Both the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics play lots of home games in December at TD Garden, while the New England Patriots continue their home games at Gillette Stadium.   Boston sports top the best things to do in Boston in December list for many sports fans.  Check out the schedules: 

10.  Celebrate the year - and welcome the New Year - at First Night

Bring the year to a spectacular close and celebrate the New Year at First Night Boston, a huget city-wide New Year Eve event.  Entertainers, food, performances, fireworks, the Grand Procession - First Night Boston has it all!  The million or so Boston residents and visitors who participate will tell you it's their favorite thing to do in Boston in December!

Check out New Years Eve hotel specials . . . or the best Boston hotels with cozy fireplaces.

Check the Boston Event Calendar for December for details - and put First Night on your calendar now!

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Questions about Things to Do in December?

Have a question about things to do in Boston during December? Ask, and I'll do my best to answer.

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Thanks for getting in touch, and enjoy your visit to Boston!


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Top Things to Do in Boston in December

Christmas in Boston Indooor Boston winter activities December events in Boston First Night Boston - New Year's Eve events
Christmas in Boston Indoor Activities December Events First Night

Things to do in Boston in November   |   Things to do in Boston in January