Boston in December

10 Fun Things to Do

Things to Do in Boston in December 2019

Top 11 Boston Activities for December

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

There's a lot to do this month - holiday shows in the theaters, lots of sports events with the Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics in play, winter holiday markets, holiday cruises around Boston Harbor, fantastic lights and decorations everywhere, and ice skating and skiing nearby to help you work off all the calories from yummy holiday food - plus much more!

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.

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

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 Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremonies Schedule for details about the Boston Common festivities as well as all the others.

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

2.  Frigid Outside?  Or Sleeting?  You Need Foul Weather Plans

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 a heated tour.

Here's a quick overview of popular choices:

December Shows & Concerts in Boston

Three spectacular holiday shows are especially popular during December:  Holiday Pops, The Nutcracker, and Disney on Ice, although of course there's a lot more going on if you need more choices.

Use these discount codes to save a few dollars on tickets:

TicketLiquidator Discount Code - Enter TLFALL to get $10 off orders of $250+
TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker Schedule & Tickets

More Nutcracker Dates & Tickets

Holiday Pops Schedule & Tickets

More Holiday Pops Dates & Tickets

Disney on Ice Schedule & Tickets

More Disney on Ice Performances & Tickets

Boston Concerts during December

See All December Concerts in Boston

December 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:

TicketLiquidator Discount Code - Enter TLFALL to get $10 off orders of $250+
TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+

See all TD Garden Events

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

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

3.  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 elegant yacht Northern Lights, lavishly decorated for the holidays, on these special cruises around Boston Harbor:

  • 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
  • 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
  • Rhythm & Blues Holiday Cruise - Enjoy Boston's city lights at night during this evening cruise as the Northern Lights' house band plays contemporary versions of holiday classics - Find out more
  • New Year's Eve Fireworks Cruise - Celebrate the New Year on this fabulous 3-hour fireworks cruise with live music, dancing, appetizers, & more!  Fills up early - so don't wait to book! - Find out more
  • New Year's Day Brunch Cruise - Welcome the New Year on January 1st with a tasty hot 3-course brunch on this relaxing 2.5 hour sightseeing tour Boston Harbor - Find out more
  • See All Boston Harbor Holiday Cruises, including a Rhythm & Blues Holiday Cruise, a New Year's Eve Fireworks Cruise with live music, dancing, appetizers & more, and a New Year's Day Brunch Cruise

With the New Year coming up soon, the Northern Lights also offers special New Year's Eve and New Year's Day cruises around Boston Harbor:

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

- New Year’s Day Brunch aboard Northern Lights

4.  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

5.  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!

6.  Sip Hot Mulled Wine, Enjoy Art, and Shop at SoWa Boston's Winter Holiday Market

Sowa Boston's 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.

Sowa's Holiday Market usually takes place on the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in December - but check the Boston Events Calendar for December for exact dates.

7.  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.

8.  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:

Boston Bruins Schedule

More Bruins and Celtics Games & Tickets:  December   |   All Months

TicketLiquidator Discount Code - Enter TLFALL to get $10 off orders of $250+
TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+

New England Patriots fans can head down to Gillette Stadium:

New England Patriots Schedule and Tickets

More Patriots Games & Tickets: All Months

TicketLiquidator Discount Code - Enter TLFALL to get $10 off orders of $250+
TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+

Tips for getting to Gillette Stadium from Boston

9.  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.  Ice skaters twirl around all the local ice rinks, and if we're lucky enough to get snow this month, kids sled down the hills on Boston Common.

But that's just the beginning . . . find out more about why Christmas in Boston is special.

Carolers singing in front of Brattle Bookstore in Downtown Boston
Carolers singing in front of Brattle Bookstore in Downtown Boston

Discount Tickets for Holiday Events

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

2 Easy Ways to Save BIG in Boston

Save BIG with Go Boston discount card
CityPASS Boston discount card at

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

10.  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

11.  Celebrate and Welcome the New Year - at First Night 2019

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

First Night fireworks over Boston Common
First Night fireworks over Boston Common

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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