Boston in December

Fun Things to Do

Fun Things to Do in Boston in December 2021

Holiday Markets & Festivities, Sports, Shows, Concerts, Plus Where to Ski & Ice Skate Nearby

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

There is so much to do this month that you'll have trouble fitting it all in: holiday shows in the theaters, lots of sports events with the Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics in play, winter holiday markets all over the city, holiday cruises around Boston Harbor, fantastic lights and decorations everywhere, Christmas and Hanukkah events, and ice skating and skiing nearby to help you work off all the calories from yummy holiday food - plus fantastic New Year's Eve celebrations including fireworks at midnight.

Christmas and Hanukkah themes dominate Boston theater and holiday concerts on the cultural calendar this month, and our sports teams play almost every day.

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

If your Boston travel plans include New Year's Eve, be sure to join the family-friendly gala First Night celebrations in Boston Common and Copley Square, where as many as 1 million people turn out for this popular end-of-December event.

Wondering what to pack?  December weather ranges from balmy to rather cold, and can be unpredictable.  Your best bet is to bring a warm jacket, hat, and gloves, plus a sweater or two to layer.  And boots are always a good idea this month.

More suggestions about top December Events in Boston



Get into the Holiday Spirit - Christmas Tree Lightings, Winter Markets & More

Watch Boston Sparkle at Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

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

Part ceremony, part celebration, Boston's Christmas tree lighting festivities at Faneuil Marketplace, Boston Common, Copley Square, Seaport, and other locations will fill you with holiday spirit. 

Look for entertainment, music, holiday cheer for adults, and of course the fantastic moment when the lights go on.  Each event offers a unique mix of activities - so attend the one you like best, or go to several.  All are free admission.

More about Boston's Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and this year's schedule

Explore & Shop at Boston's Winter Holiday Markets

Holiday Markets pop up all over Boston in December.  They're a fun mix of European-style Christmas Markets and New England crafts fairs, offering everything from vintage kitsch to fine art to hand-knitted caps - and everything in between. 

So whether you come for some serious shopping or just the hot mulled wine, live music, and tasty snacks, don't miss this seasonal fun!  All but one offer free admission, and each one is unique.

Where & when to find Boston's Holiday Markets 

Celebrate Hanukkah at a Menorah Lighting

Public menorrah lightings to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, take place across the city on each of the celebration's eight nights.  You can see New England's tallest menorah at Brewer Fountain on Boston Common,  and others at the Massachusetts State House, Faneuil Marketplace, Copley Square, and the Museum of Fine Arts.  All events are free.

More about where to attend a menorah lighting during Hanukkah

Attend a Christmas Eve or Hanukkah Service in Boston

Boston's historic churches and synagogues welcome visitors to their Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass, Christmas Day, Hanukkah, and Shabbat services, regardless of your personal beliefs or religion.  Depending on which venue you choose, you'll hear fantastic music on famous organs, view beautiful murals or stained glass, and see fantastic architecture as part of the spiritual experience.

Find out where to attend Christmas, Hanukkah, and Shabbat services

Join a Holiday Stroll in Historic Boston Neighborhoods

Get into the spirit of holiday shopping at a holiday stroll in Boston's most popular boutique-filled neighborhoods:  Beacon Hill, Fort Point, the South End, and the North End.  You'll find lots of sparkling holiday lights, good cheer, and gift ideas - as well as appealing neighborhood restaurants if you want to reward your shopping efforts with a drink or dinner.

Get the schedule for Boston's Holiday Strolls


Countdown to 2022- New Year's Eve in Boston

Bring the year to a spectacular close and celebrate the New Year at First Night Boston, a huge 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!

Watch the Fireworks Over Boston Harbor at Midnight

Fireworks over Boston Harbor on New Year's Eve
 

Welcome the New Year at midnight by watching a spectacular display of fireworks over Boston Harbor.  Best viewing spots:  along the waterfront on the North End, East Boston, and the South Boston Waterfront. 

Even better:  Watch from the comfort of the yacht Northern Lights cruise boat (or celebrate on New Year's Day on a brunch cruise):


Celebrate the New Year at First Night Boston 2021

First Night Boston, a huge city-wide alcohol-free New Year's Eve event, features entertainers, food, kids activities, massive ice sculptures, performances, fireworks over Boston Common at a family-friendly hour, the Grand Procession up Boylston Street - 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!

More about First Night Boston


Party all Night at these New Year's Eve Gala Events

Restaurants, bars, and hotels host ticketed New Year's Eve parties all over the city.  If you want to dress up, welcome the New Year with a toast (or two), and have a good time, check out these mostly 21+ events.  The most popular sell out quickly, so don't wait to get your tickets until the last minute.

Find New Year's Eve Parties in Boston


Let Boston Entertain You:  Theater, Concerts, Comedy

December weather in Boston can be unpredictable  - and occasionally rather nasty.  When a nor'easter blows and sleet slices through the air sideways, you'll want a warm, entertaining refuge - such as a show, concert, or comedy club.

Here's our roundup of popular Boston escapes from foul weather:

December Shows in Boston

Schedules & Tickets

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More Seasonal Holiday Show Dates & Tickets

More shows for December

Boston Concerts during December


See All December Concerts in Boston

December Shows & Sports Events at TD Garden

Watch the Boston Celtics and Bruins and the Harlem Globetrotters at Boston's premier entertainment venue, TD Garden, conveniently located right in the center of the city:

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See all TD Garden Events

Boston Comedy Clubs & Events during December

Need some laughs?  Improv, stand up, open mic, local talent and national headliners - you'll find it all at Boston's extensive comedy club scene.

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Check out Boston's comedy clubs


Toasty Warm Ways to Tour Boston

With these exciting trolley tours, bus tours, and indoor destinations, you get to see the best of the city while staying warm and dry!


Two Easy Ways to Save BIG in Boston

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

Find out more about Boston discount cards, and how they let you save big on top attractions.


Take a Special Holiday Cruise around Boston Harbor  

Holiday cruises around Boston Harbor Cruise on the Northern Lights

These special holiday cruises take place aboard the Northern Lights, a fully-enclosed 1920s-style luxury New England yacht, where you'll sit back, relax, and get into the spirit of the season while enjoying incomparable city skyline views as you cruise 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
  • Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise - Sip hot chocolate and treats as you listen to jazzy holiday favorites on this festive cruise - Book now
  • 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
  • New Year's Day Brunch Cruise - Welcome the New Year with a tasty hot 3-course brunch on this relaxing sightseeing tour around Boston Harbor 
  • Gift Card - Give the perfect holiday gift!

Twirl Around the Ice

If you want to feel like you're bringing a Currier & Ives print to life, head to the seasonal ice rink at Frog Pond on 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 good!" feeling will sweep over you.

Find out about ice skating rinks in Boston & Cambridge

Christmas trees in Boston's Downtown Crossing
Ice skating at night at Boston's Frog Pond seasonal rink

Ski Down Some Nearby Slopes - or Frolic in the Snow in Boston!

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.

If you're lucky enough to be in Boston during or after a December snowfall, you don't have to leave the city to have fun in the snow.  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 exhilarating 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.  Sledding is even possible on Boston Common!

Shop, Shop, Shop!

Without a doubt, shopping is one of the top things to do in Boston in December! 

Stores sparkle with holiday lights and colorful decorations, and everyone is in a festive spirit. 

Lots of pre-Christmas and after-Christmas discounts add to the thrill of the hunt.

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, Downtown Crossing, Beacon Hill, Seaport, and Harvard Square in Cambridge.

Find more tips on holiday shopping in Boston.



Cheer for your Favorite Team!

Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics fans can find plenty of action right in the city at easy-to-reach TD Garden, with games almost every day:

Bruins and Celtics Games & Tickets:  December   |   All Months

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New England Patriots fans can head down to Gillette Stadium:

Patriots Games & Tickets: All Months

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Tips for getting to Gillette Stadium from Boston


2 Easy Ways to Save BIG in Boston

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

Find out more about Boston discount cards, and how they give you big savings on top attractions.


Reward Yourself

After all that shopping (or ice skating), you need to reward yourself!  Head to one of Boston's many wonderful restaurants for a memorable meal ... or to one of our historic taverns for some holiday cheer.

To avoid calorie overload during the holiday season, try one of the fabulous Boston seafood restaurants.  Or opt for a warming hot pot meal or sushi in one of Chinatown's trendy restaurants.

Q Restaurant, Boston MA
Hot pot at Q in Boston's Chinatown

Celebrate and Welcome the New Year - at First Night 2021

Bring the year to a spectacular close and celebrate the New Year at First Night Boston, a huge 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.

Celebrate with a New Year's Eve or New Year's Day cruise around Boston Harbor:

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

Find New Year's Eve Parties in Boston



Find a Hotel for Your Boston Visit

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Questions & Answers about Christmas in Boston

Romantic Things to Do in Boston during the Christmas Holidays
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