On New Year's Eve, Boston's First Night festivities include a huge parade, ice sculptures, entertainment and musical performances, light displays, and a fabulous midnight fireworks show over Boston Harbor. Lots of other New Year's Eve events will be going on as well - so it's a great time to visit Boston!
Finally, if you're planning a visit to Boston over New Year's Eve, be sure to make your hotel reservations early to avoid disappointment. Look for special New Years Eve packages.
Get ready to see 3 blocks of Boston's Downtown Crossing/Financial District transformed by Illuminus, a free annual digital nighttime art festival. Art, design, technology, and science intersect in giant displays of video art, live performances, projections, and immersive experiences with light and sound.
Start your experience at 100 Summer Street in Downtown Crossing. December 5 and 6, 5pm-11pm.
Special Holiday Cruises on the Northern Lights in Boston Harbor
Celebrate the holidays while relaxing and sightseeing on the elegant yacht Northern Lights, lavishly decorated for the holidays, on these special cruises around Boston Harbor:
Celebrate the holidays while relaxing and sightseeing on the festively decorated Yacht Northern Lights on these special cruises around Boston Harbor:
Northern Lights Sunset Cruise - Unwind on this popular after-work cruise as the sky changes brilliant colors and light music plays in the background. Stop by the bar for a drink, watch the sights go by, and hear the USS Constitution's traditional sunset salute - Through Dec 4
Holiday Brunch Cruise - See historic sights and panoramic views around Boston Harbor with friends and family as you enjoy this relaxing cruise with brunch, hot chocolate, and holiday cheer - Book now
An Irish Christmas Carol Cruise - Get into the holiday spirit on the Northern Lights as you raise your glass and toast the holidays with festive holiday music playing in the background on this popular Harbor cruise - Book now
Newport Mansions at Christmas - Tour The Breakers and Marble House, famous Newport mansions, and enjoy their lavish holiday decorations on this top-rated day trip tour. Transportation from selected Boston hotels included. Find out more
Hop On Hop Off Trolley - Explore at your own pace, get off and on the fun trolley as often as you'd like, and take advantage of the winter special, which gives you a second consecutive day on the trolley free, plus free admission to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Find out more
Boston: Personal Travel & Vacation Photographer - For the ultimate lasting memory of your trip to Boston, book your own personal professional photographer who will help you customize a tour and then capture your experience on camera. Perfect for a family trip, romantic getaway, or fun experience with friends! Find out more
Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum - Relive the key Boston events leading up to the American Revolution in this unique museum that lets you travel back in time and experience the Boston Tea Party. Fascinating interactive exhibits and restored tea ships make this top-rated museum a must-visit Boston attraction. Find out more
Boston 1-Day Sightseeing Tour - You get to experience all the best historic sites of Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, and Concord during this special 1-day sightseeing tour - Paul Revere's route, Beacon Hill, the Boston Massacre Site, Lexington Battle Green, Harvard Square, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and more! Find out more
Boston Brewery Tour - Visit famous Boston breweries and sample up to 15 different brews along with lunch or dinner - plus you get a behind-the-scenes view of how beer is made while you chat with the brewery owners. Find out more
New Year's Eve Special Packages at Boston Hotels - TBD
Special New Year's Eve Boston hotel packages give you elegant accommodations to enjoy when the night's festivities end, plus a tantalizing array of complimentary amenities and meals. Some even let you add on extra nights at discounted rates.
What's on offer? Look for specials like the "New Year's Eve Rest and Recovery" package at the Langham including a "Recovery Brunch" at Cafe Fleuri on New Year's Day. Other hotels offer special dinners, even gala parties. (Note: These packages are from last year - look for specials to be announced in early December.)
Each special package is unique - so check out each one to see which you like best! And remember, you can also book at the regular rates, usually at their lowest levels during winter months.
Boston Holiday Pops Concerts in Symphony Hall throughout the Boston Christmas season provide the perfect chance to sing along with old favorites, be photographed with Santa, and hear the special holiday music conducted by Keith Lockhart.
Lots of other special musical performances also take place throughout December - here's a sampling:
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, takes place from November 28-December 6 this year. To commemorate Hanukkah, public menorrah lightings take place at various Boston sites to mirror the celebrations also happening in private homes and synagogues around the city.
Look for New England's tallest menorah at Brewer Fountain on Boston Common. A lighting ceremony of the first branch of the candelabra takes place on November 28 at 4pm, with special guests, live music, holiday treats, and warm beverages. Lightings on the following evenings take place at 4pm (Nov 28-29; Dec 1-3), 2pm (Dec 4), 7:30pm (Dec 5), and 4pm (Dec 6). (dates and times to be confirmed)
Other places in Boston to see nightly lightings of public menorahs during Hanukkah include the Massachusetts State House, Faneuil Marketplace, Copley Square, and the Museum of Fine Arts. All events are free.
Please note: Vilna Shul (18 Phillips Street, Beacon Hill) also often hosts special Chanukkah events. Vilna Shul, which has the only examples of prewar Jewish mural art in the U.S. and is the only remaining intact immigrant-era synagogue in Boston, is a cultural center and home to monthly Kabbalah Shabbat services.
The Nutcracker Ballet at the Opera House
Attending a performance of The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition in Boston, and for good reason.
Enjoy the magic as Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and all the other dancers twirl around the stage as Tchaikovsky's music soars in Boston's gorgeous Opera House.
Check back later for the 2021 Nutcracker performance schedule.
from Boston Pops
Conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops present the beloved annual Holiday Pops concert at Boston's Symphony Hall.
You'll get to hear and see all your favorites: the Pops’ classic "Sleigh Ride" and "Twelve Days of Christmas," jazzy arrangements of traditional favorites, "O Holy Night," "Home for the Holidays," a virtual performance with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and a special new reading of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ("‘Twas the Night Before Christmas").
Check back later for the 2021 Holiday Pops schedule and tickets
Another way to get in the mood for Christmas: listen to A Christmas Festival
by the Boston Pops, which includes many favorites such as Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, and more (#ad).
Photo credit: Johanna Mason
More Boston Concert Tickets
TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+
Get your holiday shopping done, enjoy some good cheer, and feel the spirit of the season in these fun holiday strolls in favorite Boston neighborhoods.
North End Holiday Stroll
15+ North End boutiques, wine stores, galleries, and restaurants offer warm hospitality and 1-night-only discounts during their Buon Natale Holiday Stroll.
This event is a wonderful excuse to visit the North End - and get your holiday shopping done early!
When: Friday, December 6, 5pm-10pm
Where: North End Closest T station: Orange Line/Haymarket
Parking: Do not even think about street-side parking in the North End! Try Boston garages near Government Center (hint: check details for the Parcel 7 garage next to Boston Public Market - very convenient and cheap, IF you get your parking ticket validated by a North End business)
Holiday Sale & Stroll - Fort Point
The Fort Point Holiday Stroll takes place on December 11, 5:30pm-8:30pm.
Artists will display their jewelry, paintings, clothing, cashmere accessories, holiday ornaments, and pottery.
For the Sale, gather in the lobby of 315 on A, where you can also enjoy drop-in holiday art and craft activities, refreshments, and the fireplace.
For the Stroll, just follow the signs to local businesses and restaurants (Row34, Flour Bakery + Cafe, Fort Point Market), museums and galleries (Children's Museum, 249 A Street Gallery, 300 Summer Gallery), art studios, and more!
When: Thursday, December 5, 5pm-9pm (come at 3:30 for photos with Santa at the Hill House Firehouse) Where: Charles Street, Beacon Hill Closest T station: Red Line/Charles-MGH Parking:Boston Common Garage Stay nearby:Beacon Hill hotels
Carolers and music, festive holiday decorations, and all the eclectic boutiques, galleries, and restaurants along Charles Street make this annual Holiday Stroll a special occasion. Enjoy the festive spirit - and get all of your holiday shopping done in one evening!
Entertainment this year includes the Christmas tree lighting, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and performances throughout the evening by the Back Bay Bell Ringers, King's Chapel Choir, Brass Quartet, and more.
The South End's Holiday Stroll on December 4th takes place from 5pm-9pm, and gives you access to special promotions from 40+ neighborhood boutiques and restaurants.
Come for the weekend and enjoy a stay in the sleek and stylish new Alise Hotel in the heart of the South End. Rates & reservations
A brand-new 3,000 foot ice rink opens on December 2 in Seaport's equally new Snowport Winter Village. In addition to ice skating, look for even more winter activities: iceless curling, yoga, live music, themed skate nights, and hot drinks. The rink and Winter Village will be in place through February.
More fun things will be added in the next few days or weeks: fresh-baked waffles, the festive Fjällhäus (a tiny but cozy cabin with a visitors lounge and free hot coffee) from December 9-January 4, winter games, and special holiday events.
Rink hours & location: Monday - Thursday, 4pm-9pm; Friday, 4pm-10pm; Saturday, 11am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-8pm | 65 Northern Avenue, at the corner of Seaport and Fan Pier Boulevards
Cost: Skating is $5 adults, $3 ages 4-12, free for children 3 and younger and active duty military with military ID; bring your own skates or rent them for $5 (all ages)
Santa Speedo Run on Newbury Street
In case you need an extra incentive to do your holiday shopping in Back Bay on Saturday, December 14, the annual Santa Speedo Run may be just what you're looking for as 700 scantily-clad Santas complete a 1-mile jog to raise money for the Play Ball Foundation, a charity which brings sports and team-building skills to local Boston middle-schoolers. The goal this year is $250,000.
Runners (must be 21+) register at Lir (903 Boylston) at 10am for check-in and libations, kick off at 1pm, and make their way down Boylston to Berkeley to Gloucester, and then back up Newbury Street and back to Lir. It's a fun event. Bring your camera!
Register for the Santa Speedo run at http://ssrunners.org
Save Big $$$s on Boston Museums and More Top Attractions
Find out how a Boston Discount Card gives you free entrance to museums and lots of other attractions every day while your card is valid - plus you get to go straight to the head of the line.
SoWa Boston's Winter Festival & Holiday Market
Enjoy hot mulled wine, Bailey's hot cocoa, and plenty of other good things to sip and nibble on while you explore SoWa's festive winter shopping village - it's the biggest Holiday Market in Boston this year!
You'll get to see live ice sculpting, holiday workshops, 130+ vendors, galleries, artist studios, and boutiques - plus it's the perfect way to get all your holiday shopping done in one place at this family-friendly event.
Dates/Hours: December 6, 6pm-10pm, Dec 7, 10am-8pm, and Dec 8, 10am-6pm | Free admission | 460 and 500 Harrison Ave, in Boston's South End. from 11am to 7pm Monday through Saturday, and 11am - 5pm on Sundays.
Want to meet Globe Santa? You can find him (or her) in various places and events around Boston during December, such as Copley Square (shown in photo).
More important...want to help Globe Santa raises fund for Boston's neediest children, one of Boston's best holiday traditions?
100% of all donations go to purchase and deliver holiday gifts for Boston families in need. More about donating
Blink! combines 350,000 flashing LED lights and popular holiday music to set Faneuil Hall Marketplace ablaze every evening through early January. The all-new show this year is even more fabulous than before!
Catch the free show, which runs 12 times between 4:30pm and 10pm, as you stroll around the country's open-air marketplace, site of the largest Christmas tree in New England.
Faneuil Marketplace also offers excellent shopping opportunities - lots of unique "only in Boston" boutiques mixed in with larger national chains where you'll often see "40% off" signs.
Celebrate the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party - take on the role of a Patriot or a Loyalist as you join more than 100 reenactors to bring to life the famous tax protest that sparked a revolution.
Events begin at Old South Meeting House, where over 100 volunteer reenactors portray Patriots such as Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock as they recreate the events of Dec. 16, 1773, when more than 5,000 colonists gathered here to voice concerns on a moonlit night.
After the debate, you can join the procession, complete with fifes and drums, down to Griffin's Wharf, and watch as the tea is dumped into Boston Harbor.
Look for Santa, Frosty the Snowman, and lots of elves at the North End's annual Christmas Parade on Sunday, December 15, 1-2pm. Starting at Puopolo Field on Commercial Street where Santa arrives by helicopter, the parade marches around neighborhood streets. Look for marching bands, antique cars, and plenty of good cheer during this festive event, a North End tradition for almost half a century.
Boston Baroque Performs Handel's Messiah
When: December 6 and 7, 7:30 Where: Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Fenway neighborhood Closest T station: Green Line E/Symphony More information and tickets:Boston Baroque's website
Musical Director Martin Pearlman's Grammy-nominated production of Handel's Messiah for a spell-binding experience.
Adding to the experience are Boston Baroque's period instruments, plus the splendor of Jordan Hall's perfect acoustics. Attending a performance of Messiah is a Boston Christmas tradition for many people, and this production is always among the very best.
Boston Discount Passes for Attractions, Tours, Cruises
Why pay full price for top Boston attractions such as the New England Aquarium, Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway Park Tours, Boston Harbor Cruises, and much more?
Boston Discount Cards are the best deal in town. Select Boston CityPass to see Boston's Top Attractions at a leisurely pace, or choose the GoBoston card (you pick how many days) to see 50+ attractions, tours, cruises, and day trips.
Christmas Revels at Harvard's Sanders Theatre
When: December 13-29 - matinees and evening shows Where: Sanders Theatre in Memorial Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Closest T station: Red Line/Harvard Square Tickets:Revels website
Since 1971, the Christmas Revels Boston have used music and dance to explore winter solstice traditions from different cultural perspectives. The theme this year is "An American Celebration of the Winter Solstice." You'll be transported as the Revels celebrate winter solstice and its music, dance, folk traditions, and rituals.
"The Ice" at Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Come celebrate the New Year by enjoying "The Ice" - Faneuil Hall Marketplace's own interactive ice sculpture to ring in the New Year on December 31.
Don't worry if the weather is frosty - all the festive holiday lights will make you feel warm, and in addition to enjoying post-holiday sales, you'll find many inviting restaurants and pubs where you can warm up. And don't forget, several of Boston's oldest historic pubs and Colonial-period taverns are right around the corner.
Museum of Science Exhibits
MOS at Home:
Sounds of the Arctic - Hear marine mammals using hydrophone recordings from different Arctic locations to learn who swims there
Daily Live Stream - Museum educators share fun livestreamed presentations for the entire family
Permanent Exhibits (when the museum reopens)
With 29 fascinating permanent exhibits for all ages, there's always something to see, do, and learn. Here are just a few of the most popular: Butterfly Garden (extra fee), Colossal Fossil: Triceratops Cliff, Cosmic Light, Dinosaurs, Hall of Human Life, Live Animal Care Center, Mathematica, Nanotechnology, Natural Mysteries, New England Habitats, The Light House - plus 17 more!