15 Festive Things to Do in Boston This Christmas

Boston at Christmas

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While there are many wonderful winter destinations in the Northeast, none are quite as spectacular as Boston at Christmas time. This old city has a unique charm that really comes alive during the holiday season.

In this article, we have prepared a complete guide that will help you get ready to go to Boston so you don't miss some of its attractions, such as winter holiday markets throughout the city, tons of sporting events with the Bruins and Celtics in, holiday cruises, fantastic lights and decorations everywhere, ice skating, as well as fantastic New Year's Eve celebrations including fireworks at midnight.

Read more and start preparing for an unforgettable New Year's experience!

Boston at Christmas Time: Top Things to Do

Below, we’ve covered all the activities and places that tourists should definitely visit during the Christmas holidays.

1. Visit Quincy Market

Quincy Market, one of the city's most well-liked tourist attractions, hosts a number of unique events throughout the holiday season. It is located in the center of downtown Boston.

With more than 50 stores, 14 restaurants, 40 food court stops, and comedy club, Quincy Market mixes the grandeur of the past and the vitality of the present.

It is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00 and on Sundays from 12:00 to 18:00.

2. Go Ice Skating at City Hall Plaza or the Frog Pond

There are many ice skating rinks in Boston, and the most popular are Frog Pond and City Hall Plaza (those who do not have their own ice skates can rent them).

Frog Pond ice rink is the most famous in Boston. (not for those who don't like crowds). Skating here is really great because it is located in the very center of the city, so skaters can enjoy a hot drink in one of the local cafes afterward (Ice skating and hot cocoa sound like a great idea for a romantic date in Boston).

Another great spot for ice skating is City Hall Plaza, which is open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It is ideal for groups of friends, families and anyone who likes this type of fun.

Visitors who do not have much skating experience should take care not to injure themselves on the ice.

There is a holiday market nearby that skaters usually visit after the ice activities are over.

3. Don't Miss Boston's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

The Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting is the most impressive of all the Christmas tree lightings that take place throughout Boston. This famous event typically occurs on a weeknight at the start of December. Visitors flock to the small cobbled streets around Quincy Market to see the tree light up despite the bitter cold!

The fact that there are so many entertaining celebration performances by local musicians and comedians on stage makes this event even better. All those planning to attend this performance, though, should be aware that there is a big crowd there.

If visitors want to be close to the tree and the fun, it is best for them to arrive as soon as possible. Fortunately, the tree is so big that those who are farther away can see it.

4. Get Into the Holiday Spirit in Historic Boston Neighborhoods

A walk around Boston's most popular boutique-filled areas, Beacon Hill, Fort Point, the South End, and the North End, is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. There are lots of sparkling holiday lights, cheer, and gift ideas, as well as welcoming local restaurants for those looking to award their shopping efforts with dinner and drinks.

5. Hop on the Enchanted Trolley Tour

The Mayor's Enchanted Trolley Tour, which takes place every year, is a festive event of lights Christmas trees and spreads holiday cheer to kids all across Boston. The include Santa visits, Christmas shows, tree lightings, and more.

6. See the Boston Pops Orchestra

Throughout December, the Boston Pops perform at Symphony Hall. Music lovers shouldn't miss their amazing holiday show. It is advised to get tickets at least two weeks before the show because they typically sell out rapidly.

The holiday pops kids matinee performances have also been a hit with families. These unique events for the whole family include sing-a-longs for children and pictures with Santa. There are kid-friendly food choices and seasonal delights available for those seated at the floor tables.

In Boston, it's a wonderful Christmas activity.

7. Take a Festive Holiday Cruise on the Boston Harbor

The Northern Lights Holiday Brunch Cruise is a great option for a cruise around Boston Harbor. The warm Christmas atmosphere of the cruise, with hot cocoa or hot chocolate with picturesque landscapes in the background makes this december event truly idyllic.

8. Sled in Boston Common

Although it may look unbelievable, Boston Common is a popular place for sledding. There are no hills in Boston, but when it snows, locals flock to Boston Common. Even if they don't have fancy sleds, they use garbage bags to pull each other through the snow and enjoy the magic of winter.

And with sledding there is bound to be snowballing, so it happens that the snowballs hit a random passer-by who is not participating in these actions.

People in Boston Common enjoy getting together over the holidays because they have a special bond with one another while having fun in the snow. This is one of the best winter activities!

9. Go to Boston First Night

New Year's Eve in the city has a celebration called Boston's First Night. This basically includes a huge number of different celebrations occurring in different areas! A vast range of entertaining events, including performances, crafts, ice sculptures, the Boylston Street Grand Parade, and more, are held throughout the day throughout the city.

At the end of the evening, everyone present can enjoy a spectacular fireworks show over the water.

New year's eve celebration is definitely one of the favorite things to do in December for Bostonians and visitors alike.

10. See The Nutcracker Ballet or the Urban Nutcracker

Every year during the Christmas season, the Boston Ballet performs The Nutcracker. Even non-ballet fans shouldn't miss this legendary Boston Christmas event.

The Boston Ballet's production of this well-known story, which dates to the early 19th century, broke multiple attendance records. Those planning to attend should get tickets in advance as this is one of the most well-liked Christmas activities in Boston.

In each wonderful adaptation of The Nutcracker, the young hero Clara travels through a fantastical world of her imagination that is populated by fascinating figures like a Dancing Bear, a beautiful Snow Queen, and of course, the valiant Nutcracker Prince.

The Urban Nutcracker performance, which is based on classical ballet, also features a wide variety of dance forms, including tap, hip hop, flamenco, and jazz. A small live orchestra provides musical support throughout the whole show.

The Nutcracker is perhaps the most beloved holiday tradition.

11. For the Sports Fans: Enjoy an Exciting Basketball or Hockey Game

Boston is a big sports town, even during the winter holidays. The sports hall TD Garden, home of the famous Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins, is a great place for all those who want to escape the cold and enjoy top basketball and hockey games.

12. Go on a Pub Crawl: SantaCon Crawl & Ugly Sweater

Going on a pub crawl is one of the top holiday activities in Boston that isn't always family-friendly. Throughout this period, there are many other kinds of pub crawls, but SantaCon and the Ugly Sweater crawls are the most popular.

Everyone dressed their best Santa outfits for SantaCon and moves between pubs.

The Ugly Sweater Crawl is exactly what it sounds like: visitors don their ugliest holiday sweater and wear it as they visit various pubs throughout the day!

13. Go to Christopher Columbus park

Every year, beginning in late November, this lovely park on Boston's waterfront is lighted with 50,000 blue lights, making it one of the best photo locations in the city.

Visitors can warm themselves in one of the many bars or restaurants close to the park in the case of extreme cold.

14. Don't miss out on Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping is also a great activity for visitors as there are many great holiday deals and discounts in Boston.

15. Go to Stone Zoo

At any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season when everything is lit up, Stone Zoo is a great place to visit. ZooLights turns the zoo into a wonderland by illuminating the tree lined paths with tens of thousands of twinkling lights.

Winter exhibits at the Stone Zoo include ones with snow leopards, cougars, wolves, jaguars, black bears, and more.

Visiting Boston at Christmas: Tips for an Unforgettable Trip

Here are some tips to help those planning to visit Boston during the holidays:

  • Winters in Boston are usually cold. Even while there hasn't been as much snowfall over the holidays in more recent winters, the temperatures do drop significantly. Around the holidays, the typical temperature is around 30°F. For this reason, people planning to visit Boston this time of year should have plenty of layers.
  • As for footwear, it is best to bring winter boots. In addition to keeping the wearers' feet warm, at the same time they should help them not to slip somewhere on the street.
  • To get around Boston, visitors mostly use the T, the city's subway system. It is so efficient that compared to New York, a tourist central, it takes the medal due to its commute time and cheaper prices. To make transportation as easy as possible, it is best for transportation users to obtain a CharlieCards from customer service. These are reloadable cards that can be used to pay for bus and metro tickets. At the majority of metro stations, ticket machines sell CharlieCards.

Visa Requirements for Boston

Whether or not a visa will be required for Boston depends on several factors, primarily on which country the person comes from and how long they intend to stay.

If a visitor arrives in Boston from one of the Visa Waiver Program countries, they will not need a visa. The program enables citizens of 40 countries to visit the US without a visa; all they need to do is provide an ESTA authorisation for Boston. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization - ESTA was developed in 2009 to enable authorities to pre-screen the travellers.

The ESTA may be used for tourism, transit, business, or medical needs. It can be used for a stay that does not exceed 90 days. Compared to a visa, ESTA has many advantages, such as: fast processing time, online application, easy and quick to fill out form, and it can be used for multiple entries.

In case the person does not meet the conditions of Esta, he will have to get a visa. There are different visas, and the most commonly used are student visas, tourist visas, business or work visas, and immigration and naturalization visas. Each of them has different requirements.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


Yes. Boston has many interesting december events.
There are many places and attractions to visit and experience while in Boston: holiday shows, TD Garden for basketball and hockey fans, markets around the city, cruises around Boston Harbor, Boston's first night and more a lot of it.
People enjoy many holiday activities during Christmas such as: SantaCon Crawl & Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl, ice skating and skiing, Christmas shopping, holiday concerts, etc.
Yes, Boston is definitely one of the best cities to visit during Christmas, offering a wealth of content and a large number of must-see places.
Yes, it snows in Boston during Christmas.