Polar Bear Plunge, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Wine Festivals, Games, Hotel Bargains
Top Boston Events for January 2020 include New Year's Day festivities, and lots more fun things to do all month in the city - indoors and outside.
Kick off the New Year by watching Boston's famous L Street Brownies make their annual Polar Plunge.
Treat yourself to a New Year's Day Brunch and then work off those extra holiday pounds later at the Frog Pond Ice Rink on Boston Common.
Join commemorations of renowned civil rights leader (and former Boston University student) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., savor wine and food pairings at the renowned Boston Wine Festival, head to the Garden to cheer the Celtics and Bruins, and don't miss the fantastic lineup of shows in Boston's Theatre District: Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, and Mean Girls.
Many Boston hotels give you their cheapest discount rates of the year during January. With so much going on in the city, January is the perfect time to enjoy world-class music, museums, sports, restaurants, and more.
January weather can feel cold - in fact, it's our coldest month of the year - but you'll find plenty of indoor warmth in our welcoming Irish pubs, historic taverns, and superb restaurants, you'll find a city filled with excitement, fun, good food, and cheer.
January 2020 official holidays in Boston:
New Year Day - January 1
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Monday, January 20
Featured New Hotel for January: Revolution Hotel in Boston's South End
40 Berkeley Street, Boston's South End
A trendy vibe, "micro" guest rooms, and - dare we say it, cheap rates position the new Revolution Hotel as one of Boston's most attractive affordable hotels, especially considering its close distance (5-10 minute walk, depending on where you're going) to Downtown Boston. Free high-speed wifi is a nice bonus.
Sunday Evening Jazz Cruise - End your weekend on the perfect note by grooving to live jazz as you watch the ever-changing sunset colors as the sun sets behind Boston's city skyline
Winter City Lights Cruise - Unwind on this 1-hour cruise with soothing classical music in the background, perhaps a tasty drink in your hand, and city lights sparking all around you
Winter Sunset Cruise - Grab a cocktail and apps from the bar and then relax as you watch the sun set on this sail around the Harbor, just in time to catch the USS Constitution fire its cannons as the sun dips down past the horizon
Live Irish Music Cruise - Get ready for fun on this rockin' Celtic cruise with a live Irish band playing classic Boston Irish songs, traditional Irish tunes, top hits, and your requests
Galentine's Brunch Cruise - Celebrate friendship by inviting your BFFs on this mouth-watering 3-course brunch cruise for sightseeing around the Harbor, where you may even see porpoises and seals - adult beverages - February 15, 16
Boston's Celtic Music Festival on January 16-19 brings together over 100 musicians in a 3-day event to spotlight Boston area, New England, and Eastern Canadian Celtic musicians and singers. Expect to hear lots of Irish fiddle music, Scottish, Cape Breton, Quebecois, and even New England music as the musicians explore Celtic music from Europe to the New World. There's even a dance party on Saturday night.
The festival takes place this year in four Harvard Square venues: Club Passim (47 Palmer Street), The Sinclair (52 Church St), Harvard Smith Campus Center (1350 Mass Ave), and The Atrium (50 Church Street).
Closest T station: Red Line/Harvard Square Cost: Ticket price varies from $5 - $25 More info and full schedule: www.clubpassim.org
Winter Trails Day at Weston Ski Track near Boston
Winter Trails Day, on Sunday, January 5 is a national event designed to introduce everyone to the fun of being outside during the winter on cross-country skis or snowshoes.
Weston Ski Track, located only 30 minutes west of Boston, offers free snowshoe and cross-country skiing lessons between 9am and 2pm. For snowshoeing, you get a free snowshoeing trail pass and a quick lesson; to stay longer, rent snowshoes on site for a modest fee. For the free cross-country skiing lesson, you need to purchase a trail pass (1-day passes are cheap) and rent skis if you need them (also inexpensive); you also need to pre-register to get the free lesson. Special lower rates are available for kids and seniors.
2 Easy Ways to Save BIG in Boston on Tours, Cruises, Admissions
Best way to save in Boston. Save up to 50% when you take a Boston Harbor cruise or Duck Boat tour, visit Plimouth Plantation, the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Prudential Skywalk Observatory, Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway Park Tour, and more. Compare to find out which one is best for you.
What to See in Boston's Museums - January 2020
- Current & Up-Coming Shows
Black Histories, Black Futures - Teen curators take over - Jan 20, 2020-June 20, 2021
Elsa Dorfman: Me and My Camera - Large-scale self-portraits - Feb 8-June 21, 2020
Mural: Jackson Pollock | Katharina Grosse - Massive abstractions - Through February 23, 2020
Contemporary Art: Five Propositions - MFA's contemporary collection - Through May 4, 2020
Women Take the Floor - Female artists' visions & voices - Through May 3, 2021
Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation - See the transition from urban street art to museum walls - April 5-August 2, 2020
Museum (and show) admission: $25 adults; free entrance with Boston Discount Cards (GoBoston card and Boston CityPASS). Free admission on Wednesdays after 4pm, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lunar New Year Celebration Day (Feb 1, 2020), Memorial Day, Labor Day, & Indigenous Peoples' Day; also on Feb 5, 2020.
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston - Current & Future Shows
Kusama: Love is Calling - Multimedia pop art, minimalism, & psychedelia - Through Feb 7, 2021
Tschabalala Self: Out of Body - Large-scale figurative paintings of urban life - Jan 20-July 5, 2020
Nina Chanel Abney - Social tensions in the digital age - Through March 15, 2020
Admission: $15 adults; free entrance with GoBoston card and Boston CityPASS. Closed on Mondays. Free admission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, & Indigenous Peoples' Day.
New England Auto Show
The enormous New England Auto Show (January 16-20) at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, 415 Summer Street, South Boston Waterfront) is by far the biggest in New England, and showcases all the newest models for basically every domestic and imported brand. If you're planning to buy a new vehicle in the coming year, want to compare models and features, chat with dealers and factory reps, or just want to keep up with the newest models and technology, you owe it to yourself to go!
Tickets: $17 adults, $7 kids ages 6-12 (under 6 free), with $1 of each ticket sold donated to local charities
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations in Boston
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national holiday celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January - January 20th in 2020 - to commemorate Dr. King's role in ensuring civil rights, peace, and equality in America. Dr. King lived in Boston for several years while he studied at Harvard and Boston University, where he received his Ph.D. in systematic theology in 1955.
Boston's Museum of African American History sponsors an annual tribute concert by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, with readings and speeches by distinguished guests including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The event is normally held at Faneuil Hall on Boston's Freedom Trail - currently closed until late spring for renovations. Look for relocation updates on the Museum's website: http://maah.org
More Suggestions for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:
Still I Rise: 17th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert by the Boston Children's Chorus at Symphony Hall. January 20, 7pm. Tickets are $15-$75 on the BSO website (click on Tickets and Events).
Visit the Free at Last sculpture (shown in the above photo) honoring Dr. King in front of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, where he studied from 1951-55. Then attend BU's annual Commemoration of MLK Day: Words Beyond the Dream (another of the city's biggest MLK Day events) at 2pm on January 20 in BU's George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom (775 Commonwealth Ave). The event includes performances, music, and readings by special guests and students who reflect on the power of words to empower social justice and civil rights, and features Aretha Franklin's music. More info: 617-353-4126 (Dean of Student's office).
Brattle Theatre: Honoring Dr Martin Luther King Jr Annual Family Festival - Films focusing on the idealsp, people, and music connected to Dr King, including peronal accounts. Ages 5+. 10:30am on January 20; ticket information: www.brattlefilm.org (search the calendar)
A Celebration of Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr - The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, Museum of African American History, and distinguished Boston leaders will evoke the power and promise of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through a performance and concert at Faneuil Hall - 1pm on Jan 20, 2020
Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service - Honor Dr. King's memory by participating in this event to make a better America by volunteering to help others in our community. The focus this year is on helping Boston families who are immigrants and refuges by creating ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learning tools for schools throughout the Boston area. 600 volunteers are needed. Find more details on bostoncares.org
Cambridge MLK Day of Service - January 20, 2020, 2pm-5pm - Meet at City Hall in Central Square to join other volunteers in making fleece scarves and blankets for homeless children, sorting food and books, and doing other things to help people in need. The event is free, but don't come empty-handed - please bring a can of food, gently used winter clothing, or a children's book to donate.
MLK Memorial Breakfast, January 20, 7:30am - Join Boston's movers and shakers at this annual event attended by about 1,500 people at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (415 Summer Street). This is the nation's longest running event in honor of Dr. King's legacy. Head Table speakers this year include Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey. The Old South Church Gospel Choir performs. Tickets start at $50 - see the Boston MLK Breakfast website for more information.
Enjoy free admission on MLK Day at the Museum of Fine Arts, plus films, performances, and art activities to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day - 10am - 5pm. ICA Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum also offer free admission on MLK Day.
Lunar New Year Celebration - Peabody Essex Museum 2020
2020 welcomes the Year of the Rat in the Lunar Calendar, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem celebrates the New Year with a family fun day filled with art, performances such as Lion Dances and drumming, and activities. Take the opportunity to explore the museum's rich collection of Asian art and the Yin Yu Tang house acquired from China.
When: Saturday, January 25, 1pm Cost: Free, with museum admission - adults $20, Students with valid ID $12, Youth (16 and under) and Salem Mass residents admitted free; or get free admission with GoBoston card Where: Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA
More information: 978-745-9500 Stay: Enjoy a night in a Salem hotel and have another day to explore Salem's witch museums, the House of the Seven Gables, and other attractions
College Nights at Frog Pond - 2020
Head over to Frog Pond every Tuesday Night (except for major holidays, and school breaks / vacations) from 6pm - 9pm for College Nights. Show your current college ID and get half-price admission (bring your own skates or rent them for $12 at the rink) - it's the best Cheap Date in Boston!
But for 2020, you can get an even better deal. Each week, one or more colleges gets free admission. Check Frog Pond's schedule to find out when your school gets to skate for free.
When: Through mid-March, depending on the weather Where: Frog Pond, Closest T station: Red & Green Line/Park St
Boston Harbor Hotel's epic "Boston Wine Festival" kicks off with a special opening reception on Friday, January 10.
Sample more than 50 wines from the many wineries featured this year, and enjoy seminars, receptions, and brunches as well as world-famous dinners. Attendees receive a special room rate, based on availability - call 617-439-7000 for reservations.
Here's your chance to see terrific theater from 50+ Boston area playwrights - in a 3-night marathon at the Boston One-Minute Play Festival.
The 4-day event benefits Boston Public Works, a Boston playwrights' collective and event co-sponsor, along with Boston Playwrights' Theatre.
Where: Boston Playwrights' Theatre at 949 Commonwealth Ave on the Boston University campus Dates: January 5-7, 8pm Tickets: $20 per evening Ticket information: www.facebook.com/events/596337904143628/
L Street Brownies Take Their Annual Plunge - 2020
Are they crazy . . . or just incredibly fit and brave?
Ever since 1904, the L Street Brownies celebrate the New Year by plunging into the icy waters of Dorchester Bay and raising money for local charities. If you're visiting Boston and want to have a true "insider" experience of our real culture - head to Carson Beach/L Street Beach for this famous Boston event on January 1.
Up to about 500 swimmers typically participate in the New Year event. Irish bagpipers usually play until they also jump in the water. A large crowd of friends and onlookers cheer the swimmers on while passing around towels, vitamin C, and flasks.
Many of the L Street Brownies, a polar bear swim club formed in 1902 and named after the L Street Bathhouse in South Boston, swim here daily throughout the year. As with many things in Boston, this is the oldest Polar Bear club in the nation. Although most members appear to be 50-something or younger, a number are in their 80s and 90s and attribute their strong immune systems to the daily exercise and icy water. Each year, the plunge is dedicated to the memory of past and recently departed Brownies.
Do the Brownies ever cancel their plunge due to cold weather? They didn't in 1918, when the record low was 3 degrees below zero (not counting wind chill). The temperature this year is supposed to be 5 degrees above zero at the time of the swim - balmy by comparison.
When: Tuesday, January 1, 2020 at 9am. Registration for those making the plunge starts at 8:15am, and doors close at 9:30am. No need to register in advance - you'll fill out a short form once you get there. In case you're wondering, the plunge begins at a different time each year, because it's determined by the tide, which varies from year to year. (times to be updated for 2020) Where: L Street Bathhouse at Curley Community Center (617-635-5104), 1663 Columbia Road, Carson Beach, South Boston Closest T station: Red Line/JFK-UMass Station; walk half a mile to the Curley Community Center. Alternately, take the T Red Line to Broadway Station and transfer to the #9 or #11 City Point bus. The locker and shower rooms won't be available at all this year, so if you're swimming, come dressed for the swim and bring some dry (and warm) clothing. In case you're not familiar with this beach, you should know that it features lots of rocks and shells, so swim shoes are a good idea. More to know: You must be 16+ to participate. Lifeguards will be on duty. No pets or alcohol allowed.
Creative costumes are encouraged. Strong recommendation: Leave kids under 12 at home, as no inside areas are available where they can keep warm during the swim. This is especially important this year due to the FRIGID weather! Note: MBTA subway and buses run on a holiday schedule on New Year's Day; expect more of a wait than usual Parking: Available along Day Blvd Cost: Free
Be sure to make advance reservations, as lots of Boston locals as well as visitors go out for brunch on New Year's Day to get a good start on the New Year.
Boston Baroque First Day Concert
Boston Baroque welcomes the New Year with a thrilling performance of Handel's Fireworks Music and Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor. Celebrate with complimentary champagne and chocolates during intermission.
When: January 1, 3pm Where: Sanders Theatre, Harvard University Parking: Nearby garage, free Tickets and more information: website