Christmas in Boston

Holiday Lights, Music, Events

Christmas in Boston 2018

Best Boston Christmas Events, Trees, Music, Shows

Christmas in Boston turns the city into a festive wonderland of lights, spectacular decorations, special holiday music and shows, and plenty of good cheer. 

The winter holiday season is a wonderful time to visit!

Stop by Boston Common for a round of ice skating or walk over to Faneuil Hall Marketplace to see the free Blink! light and music show.

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Attend The Nutcracker or Black Nativity . . . enjoy a Holiday Pops concert at Symphony Hall . . . take part in special Boston Christmas Eve cruises . . . or attend Christmas Eve midnight mass or church services . . . or just walk around and enjoy all the dazzling lighted trees, serenading carolers, and maybe even snow.

Need more suggestions about what to do in Boston in December?  Check the December Events Calendar.

Where to Find Lighted Christmas Trees

By late November and early December, Boston sparkles with beautifully decorated and festively lit Christmas trees. 

Christmas tree on Boston Common - gift from Nova Scotia
Lighted Christmas tree on Boston Common - This annual gift from the people of Nova Scotia is Boston's most special Christmas tree

Two of the biggest trees stand proudly in Boston Common and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, site of the Blink! holiday lights and music show. 

You can find more lighted trees near Macy's in pedestrian-friendly Downtown Crossing - plus plenty more in store windows, hotel lobbies, and restaurants.

Christmas trees in Boston's Downtown Crossing
Christmas trees in Boston's Downtown Crossing

Want to actually see the Christmas lights turned on?  Holiday tree lighting events take place in late November - early December.  Find the schedule here

Christmas in Boston - Trellis with holiday lights is the gateway to Boston's North End
Christmas in Boston - Trellis with holiday lights in Boston's North End

Holiday Concerts, Shows, & Performances

Boston's Downtown Theatre District in December
Boston's Downtown Theatre District in December

Ticket Discount Codes: 
     
TicketLiquidator - Enter WINTERTL to get $10 off orders of $250+
      TicketNetwork - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+

Boston Holiday Pops @ Symphony Hall

Sing along with old favorites, take a photo with Santa, and hear special holiday music conducted by Keith Lockhart:

See All Holiday Pops Dates & Tickets

The Nutcracker

See the Boston Ballet, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, or another group perform this spectacular classic:

See All Nutcracker Dates & Tickets

Black Nativity

Don't miss this thrilling performance by singers, actors, dancers, and musicians of Langston Hughes' famous message of joy, hope, and liberation:

See All Black Nativity Dates & Tickets

Disney on Ice

Watch the dazzling Disney on Ice show - an annual holiday tradition for many Boston families:

See All Disney on Ice Dates & Tickets

As usual, The Nutcracker and Disney on Ice top the list of favorites, and are joined this year several other special holiday shows.

More Holiday Favorites

From Celtic Christmas Sojourn to the Grinch to Blue Man Group, these favorite holiday shows always entertain:

See All Seasonal Holiday Show Dates & Tickets


Half Price & Discount Holiday Tickets

Discount and half price tickets start to become available for some performances about 4-8 weeks before the event. 

They go fast - so if you see tickets you want, grab them!

Save BIG on half-price & discount Christmas event tickets from Goldstar

 

Blink at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Blink! combines 350,000 flashing LED lights and holiday music to set Faneuil Hall Marketplace ablaze every evening through early January. 

Catch the free show, which runs numerous times between 4:30pm and 10pm from late November through early January as you stroll around the country's open-air marketplace, site of the largest Christmas tree in New England.   The show, which changes year-to-year, is especially fabulous this year.

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.

More holiday shopping recommendations 


Christmas Eve Events in Boston

Boston's Old South Church on Newbury Street in Back Bay
Boston's Old South Church on Newbury Street in Back Bay

If you're looking specifically for events on Christmas Eve, you'll find an excellent mix of music, entertainment, and religious services. 

Keep in mind that many businesses close early, some restaurants will be open only for lunch while others may close all day, and stores will be packed full of last minute shoppers.  Some attractions and tours may also be closed for part or all of Christmas Eve.

Scroll down this page to find information - or use these Quick Links:  Music  |  Entertainment  |  Church Services

Boston Hotels with Christmas Specials

Christmas tree in Park Plaza Hotel Boston Lobby

Boston hotels deck their halls - and their lobbies - with lavish seasonal splendor throughout December and the holiday season. 

Better yet, they get into the spirit of giving by offering special holiday packages.

- Eliot Hotel - "Winter in the City" - Find Discount Rates
- Fifteen Beacon Hotel - "Winter Wishes" - Compare All Rates 
- Bostonian Boston Hotel - "Holiday Shopping at Faneuil Hall Marketplace Special" - Compare All Rates

Holiday Savings with Boston Discount Cards

Save BIG with Go Boston discount card
CityPASS Boston discount card at www.boston-discovery-guide.com

Don't forget that Boston discount passes can save you up to 50% and more on top attractions during the holidays.  They also make nice holiday gifts.  Using a discount card is the easiest way to save money in Boston!

Christmas Shopping in Boston

Shopping at Christmas in Boston in Faneuil Marketplace
Shopping at Christmas in Boston in Faneuil Marketplace

Boston stores deck their halls - and walls, windows, aisles - with holiday decorations designed to put you into the spending, and of course giving, spirit.

Just seeing all the decorations can be lots of fun.

But if you're serious about shopping, read our recommendations for the best places for Christmas shopping in Boston, especially if you want to accomplish a lot in a short time.

For biggest savings at discount outlets, check out Wrentham Village and Assembly Row.

Boston's Downtown Holiday Arts Market

Santa greeting shoppers at Holiday Market in Boston's Downtown Crossing
Santa waving to shoppers outside Boston's Dowtown Holiday Arts Market in Downtown Crossing

Look for Boston's festive pop-up Downtown Holiday Arts Market in Downtown Crossing on Washington Street across from Macy's - a 2-minute walk down Winter Street from Boston Common.  A Santa or two as well as frequent musical performances make it easy to spot.  Look for special creations such as one-of-a-kind jewelry, handcrafted gifts and decorative items, and delicious homemade and organic gourmet treats - plus plenty of Christmas trees on display.

Downtown Holiday Arts Market launches this year on November 23rd and remains open until January 6th.  It's open 7 days/week from 11am to 7pm Monday through Saturday, and 11am - 5pm on Sundays. 

Special Holiday Cruises on the Northern Lights

Holiday cruises around Boston Harbor Cruise on the Northern Lights

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:

Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise - Join in singing your favorite Christmas holiday songs led by Northern Lights' house band and singer from Berklee School of Music on this cozy 90 minute Harbor Cruise with drinks and snacks available for purchase at the yacht's Main Deck Bar. - Find out more

An Irish Christmas Carol Cruise - Get into the holiday spirit with Slainte, the Northern Lights' house Irish band.   Raise your glass as you join in singing some merry Irish holiday ballads on this 90 minute Harbor cruise - Find out more

Holiday Sunset Cruise - As the ship's captain points out highlights of passing landmarks and soft music plays in the background, watch the ever-changing sunset colors as the sun sets behind Boston's city skyline on this relaxing 90 minute cruise around the Harbor.  Find out more

Holiday Jazz Cruise - Relax to the sounds of the Benjamin Young Jazz Trio as they play jazzy Christmas tunes on this romantic evening cruise past iconic attractions along the Boston waterfront - Find out more

Holiday Brunch Cruise - See historic sights and panoramic views around Boston Harbor as you enjoy this 2.5 hour narrated cruise including hot chocolate and brunch (Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and spiked hot chocolate available at the bar) - Find out more

Carolers - Where to Enjoy a Performance

One of the serendipitous delights about walking around Boston in December is happening upon a group of Christmas carolers.  

Christmas carolers in front of Brattle Book Store, Boston Massachusetts

Some perform in predictable places like Faneuil Hall Marketplace and in Downtown Crossing near Macy's, but others appear in random places, singing just for the sheer joy of sharing traditional holiday music and Christmas carols. 

Walk around Beacon Hill on almost any evening as Christmas draws near, and you're likely to hear a caroling party or two singing as they wind their way around the narrow streets, carrying candles and spreading holiday cheer. 

Want to participate?  Gather a few of your friends, neighbors, and family members, light a few candles, and form your own caroling party.

Christmas in Boston - The Movie

Christmas in Boston TV show - where to get it

The holiday season brings the perfect excuse to watch Christmas in Boston, a light-hearted chick-flick movie.  The plot is silly but sweet - pen pals since middle school, Gina and Seth have never met ...until finally Seth needs to make a Christmas week trip to Boston where Gina works. 

The problem?  All these years, they've been exchanging photos ... but of their best friends rather than of themselves.  You can probably guess what happens - but still, it's fun to watch. 

Note - don't watch this movie with your young kids unless you want to explain a non-culinary use of chocolate syrup.

The Boston part?  Wonderful scenes of Back Bay and the giant Christmas tree in Faneuil Hall Marketplace.  More about fun Boston Christmas movies

Where to Find Santa in Boston

Boston has plenty of Santas to grant Christmas gift wishes - or at least listen to your child's fantasy gift list. 

You'll get some great photos - a perhaps a few surprises as you hear the wish list unfold.

Globe Santa in Back Bay's Copley Square - Boston Christmas spirit in action
Globe Santa in Copley Square in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood

But to get into the real spirit of Christmas in Boston, watch for Globe Santa, who appears at various places throughout the city during the holiday season (hint: one place to find Globe Santa is in the Rotunda at Faneuil Hall Marketplace every Wednesday through Sunday during the holiday season).  This is a special Santa, one who really does make wishes come true for the city's neediest families.  When you see him (or her) - give generously!

You can find plenty more Santas throughout the city - try the Shops at Prudential Center, Assembly Row, Downtown Crossing - look for pop-up Christmas markets, and practically every Boston shopping mall.

Christmas Eve Midnight Services & Special Music, Plus Hanukkah Services - 2018

Christmas tree on Boston Common - gift from Nova Scotia

If you're visiting Boston and want to attend Christmas Eve services, Midnight Mass, Christmas Day church services, or Hanukkah or Shabbat services, you'll find a warm welcome from our famous churches and synagogues, regardless of your personal beliefs or religion.  

Here are Boston churches, synagogues, and places of worship with Christmas Eve and Hanukkah services, and strong ties to Boston history.  Please check their websites for service times and possible weather-related updates:

- Arlington Street Church (Unitarian Universalist; 351 Boylston Street, Back Bay; 617-536-7050, www.ascboston.org) - Renowned for its music and Tiffany windows
- The Boston Synagogue - (Unaffiliated post-denominational egalitarian Jewish shul with a lay-led congregation; 55 Martha Road, West End, http://bostonsynagogue.org) - The only synagogue in downtown Boston; Shabbat and Holiday services every week; award-winning modern building built in 1971
- Cathedral of the Holy Cross (Roman Catholic; 1400 Washington St, South End; 617-542-5682; www.holycrossboston.com) - Gothic Revival style; largest in New England); midnight mass on Christmas Eve
- Emmanuel Church/Center (home to Episcopal and Boston Jewish Spirit congregations; 15 Newbury Street, Back Bay, 617-536-3355; www.emmanuel-boston.org) - Famous for Bach cantatas presented during Sunday services
- King's Chapel (Ecumenical; corner of Tremont and School Streets, Historical Downtown Boston; 617-227-2155; www.kings-chapel.org) - Founded in 1686, Freedom Trail site, renowned for its music
- Old North Church (Episcopal; 193 Salem Street, North End; 617-523-6676; www.oldnorth.com) - Freedom Trail site where Paul Revere arranged for 2 lanterns to be hung; built in 1723; oldest standing church building in Boston; carols on Christmas Eve
- Old South Church (Congregational; corner of Dartmouth & Boylston, Copley Square, Boston; 617-536-1970) - The congregation dates back to 1669 and the second generation of Boston's founders; the magnificent Northern Italian Gothic building is the congregation's third home (you can visit the first, the Old South Meeting House, on the Freedom Trail)
- Park Street Church (Evangelical; One Park Street, across from Boston Common; 617-523-3383; www.parkstreet.org) - Freedom Trail site
- Saint Leonard Church (Roman Catholic; 320 Hanover Street, North End; 617-523-2110) - Founded in 1873 and the first Roman Catholic Church built by Italian immigrants in New England.  Close to the Freedom Trail
- Trinity Church (Episcopal; 206 Clarendon St, Copley Square; 617-536-0944; www.trinitychurchboston.org) - World-famous architectural masterpiece by H.H. Richardson; afternoon and midnight services, with special organ music.
- Vilna Shul (Jewish cultural center and historic synagogue; 18 Phillips Street, Beacon Hill neighborhood, Boston; 617-523-2324; www.vilnashul.org) - Built in 1919 but home to a traditional Jewish synagogue of Lithuanian immigrants formed in the 1890s.  Beautiful murals are currently undergoing restoration.  Hosts Hanukkah events and special Shabbats. (Closed for renovations from Fall, 2018 until Summer, 2019).

More Christmas and Hanukkah Celebrations in Boston Earlier in December

Central Reform Temple sign on Old South Church
  • Menorah lights glow on the 32-foot tall menorah in Copley Square during each night of Hanukkah (begins December 2, 2018).  Sponsored by Chabad of Boston.  You'll see more menorahs at the Massachusetts State Hous, Faneuil Marketplace, Boston Common, and other locations.
  • Chanukah Cantata - A Light Through the Age celebrates Hanukkah's spiritual meaning through story and song; Sunday, December 2, 2018, 4pm-6pm at Central Reform Temple of Boston, 15 Newbury Street (Emmanuel Church), Back Bay neighborhood; free and open to the community - More info:  www.centralreformtemple.org 
  • Friday Night Chanukah Dinner & Music - December 7, 6:30pm at The Boston Synagogue (55 Martha Road in Charles River Park/West End), plus dinner with latkes, sugfganiyot, and drinks; rsvp required by Dec 4; $15 members, $18 non-members - More info: http://bostonsynagogue.org/dinners/
  • Old North Church Annual Christmas Concert - Sunday, December 9th, 5pm, 193 Salem Street in the North End.  Arrangements of familiar Christmas carols and Christmas-inspired works for choir and orchestra.    $10 offering suggested at the door; advance tickets not required.  More information:  617-523-6676. 
  • Hanukkah Festival of Lights at Museum of Fine Arts - December 5, 2018, 4:30pm - 10pm.  An evening celebrating Hanukkah, with a gallery tour of MFA's collection of Judaica, musical performances, candle-lighting ceremony in the Shapiro Family Courtyard, and other special exhibitions.   Free admission to all events begins at 4pm.  On other days, you can get free MFA admission if you have a Boston discount pass)
  • Old South Ringers Christmas Concert - The church's resident handbell choir presents a program of Christmas music; free admission; December 1, 2018 at 4 pm; Old South Church in Boston (Corner of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets, Back Bay, Boston); more info: www.oldsouth.org
  • "An English Christmas" - Old South Ringers Handbell Concert - The handbell ringers presents a program of Christmas music; $20 admission; December 14, 2018 from 7:30-9:30pm; First Church Boston (66 Marlborough Street, Back Bay, Boston); get tickets ($15-$20) at www.backbayringers.org   
  • Noel - Holiday Concert by the Boston Choral Ensemble celebrating the season, including traditional and secular carols, plus a candlelight rendition of Silent Night; Old South Church (Copley Square, corner of Dartmouth & Boylston, Back Bay, Boston), Sunday December 15, 2018, 3pm - for tickets ($20-$30), Boston Choral website   
  • Chorus Pro Musica - Candlelight Christmas Celebration, complete with a candlelight procession with Gregorian chant, seasonal classics, and new works; Friday, December 14, 8pm; Tickets $10-$40; Old South Church (Copley Square, corner of Dartmouth & Boylston, Back Bay, Boston; 617-267-7442; www.choruspromusica.org) 

Secular Entertainment on December 24

Try these suggestions for secular entertainment on Christmas Eve (make reservations as early as possible):

Blue Man Group - Usually a couple of performances on Christmas Eve - Get schedule & tickets

Matzo Ball at the Royale (279 Tremont Street, Theatre District) - Music and dance beginning about 9pm on December 24 and ending 2am December 25 for the nation's largest Jewish singles event (according to the sponsors) - 279 Tremont Street; 617-338-7699 - tickets required; always sells out; check for ticket availability in early November:  http://matzoball.org

Loews Boston Common Theater - 19 screens of entertainment (175 Tremont Street, across from Boston Common); call 888-262-4386 for shows and times.

Chinatown restaurants - Many, although not all, are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

Santa-Themed Fun Fund-Raisers:  Santa Speedo Run & More

Santa Speedo runners going into Games On sports bar near Boston's Fenway Park

Numerous Christmas-themed Boston fund-raising events during December provide funds for those who might not otherwise have happy holidays.  

You'll see lots of Santas, such as this group heading into Game On! near Fenway Park, engaged in these fund raising activities.

Perhaps the most famous is the Santa Speedo Run, involving about 500 scantily clad Santas running a loop down Boylston Street and up Newbury Street.  

They warm the hearts of shoppers - and raise a significant amount of money for local charities.

Boston Attractions on Christmas - Open or Closed?

Most theaters, stores, the Frog Pond ice skating rink, and museums will be closed on Christmas.  So what can you do on Christmas Day in Boston? 

Holiday lights on Boston Common near Massachusetts State House
Holiday lights on Boston Common near Massachusetts State House

Most Boston movie theaters will be open (be sure to check first), including AMC Loews Boston Common 19 (175Tremont Street, across from the Common). 

Blink! at Faneuil Hall Marketplace - Stores will be closed for business but come watch the breathtaking light and music show - a beautiful finish to Christmas Day.

Many Boston restaurants, including most hotel restaurants plus a number of others, will be serving Christmas dinner.  Reservations are a MUST on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, because this is a popular time to go out.  If you don't plan ahead and can't get reservations, keep in mind that many Chinatown restaurants will be open, as well as most hotel bars where you'll usually find excellent bar menus. 

New Year's Eve Cruises

Holiday cruises around Boston Harbor Cruise on the Northern Lights

Welcome the New Year aboard the elegant yacht Northern Lights on these special New Year's Eve and New Year's Day cruises around Boston Harbor:

- New Year's Eve Cruise with live music, dancing, hors'doeuvres, & more

- New Year’s Day Brunch aboard Northern Lights

First Night Boston - Welcome the New Year

Fireworks at Boston's First Night celebration

Sometimes Christmas in Boston feels like it ends too soon - but no worries, Boston's gala First Night extravaganza is just around the corner.

So even if Christmas is still in the future, it's not too early to plan for NYE. 

Most important, if you're coming into the city for the big event, make your hotel reservations NOW to avoid disappointment - check out all the Boston New Year's Eve hotel specials.

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Questions & Answers about Christmas in Boston

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Hello!  My name is Shelly. I moved to Massachusetts about a year ago but I don't know much about the state. My boyfriend of three years lives in Florida and he is coming to visit for the Christmas holidays . . . More

Holiday decorations in Back Bay
Holiday decorations in front of XV Beacon Hotel

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How to Save on Boston Hotels

Check out all our tips on how to find discounts, deals, and promo codes for Boston hotels.  Whether you're looking for bargain accommodations or want to pay less for luxury, we'll show you How to Save on Hotels in Boston. 

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