Are you looking for interesting things to do in Boston in December?
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.
Christmas and Hanukkah themes dominate Boston theater and holiday concerts on the cultural calendar this month, and our sports teams play almost every day.
If your Boston travel plans include New Year's Eve, be sure to join the 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.
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.
3. Take a special holiday cruise around Boston Harbor
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
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
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.
To try out Boston's newest venue, visit the huge ice skating path at City Hall Plaza. The whole area transforms into a winter paradise, complete with places to eat and drink, and even a European-style Holiday Market where vendors and artisans offer specialty products.
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.
6. 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.
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.
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.
10. Celebrate and Welcome the New Year - at First Night 2018
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 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.