Holiday Lights, Ice and Action
As the festive spirit takes over every corner of Boston, here’s where to make the most of all that’s merry.
The month of December turns Boston into a wonderland of decorations, holiday music and plenty of good cheer. From Commonwealth Avenue Mall to the Seaport waterfront, the glow of holiday lights is everywhere. It officially begins at the annual lighting ceremony on Boston Common. Come Dec. 5, Boston’s mayor stands alongside Santa and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as he sets the city’s most magnificent Christmas tree and 80-plus others ablaze with sparkling lights. The tree, an annual gift from Nova Scotia, commemorates help given by Boston citizens after a devastating 1917 ship explosion in Halifax Harbor. The lighting is bookended by a free ice skating show on the Frog Pond at 5 pm and fireworks over the Common.
Blink!, Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s extravaganza of 350,000 sparkling LEDs synchronized to holiday music can be experienced from Dec. 3 to Jan. 1. The free sound and light show runs every half hour, 4:30-10 pm, and is a quintessential New England experience that involves strolling around the open-air marketplace. The 85-foot fir tree is the largest decorated tree in the northeast and is dressed up to provide a proper holiday display in style. (4 South Market Street, Boston)
Straight out of a Currier & Ives winterscape, the picture-perfect Frog Pond Skating Rink on the Boston Common was voted America’s Best Outdoor Ice Skating Rink by USA Today. Part of the park’s 50-acre expanse, you’ll be surrounded by trees draped in holiday
Cheryl Fenton lights and unparalleled views of festive Beacon Hill mansions. Strap on skates (rented or your own) and enjoy the chill and thrills of a lap or two. Reward yourself for only a few falls with a steaming mug of hot chocolate at the Café. (Boston Common, bostonfrogpond.com)
While strolling Boston’s Back Bay on December 14, don’t be shocked to see hundreds of scantily clad
St. Nicks. Welcome to 20th annual Santa Speedo Run. What began as five guys spreading holiday spirit in Santa hats and Speedos has grown to 700 men and women joining the run every year. This holiday tradition has raised nearly $2 million for local childrens programs, recently including Boston’s Play Ball! Foundation. (ssrunners.org)
Need some Santa gift inspiration? One of New England’s largest fairs, CraftBoston Holiday showcases work from more than 150 craft artists from Dec.13-15 at the Hynes Convention Center. Here’s you’ll find innovative jewelry, contemporary ceramics and one-of-a-kind home decor. For a lively preview, enjoy a first look at the show with hors d’oeuvres and seasonal beverages on Dec.12 from 6-9 pm. (www.societyofcrafts.org/craftboston)
Taking in a performance of “The Nutcracker” by the Boston Ballet should be on your must-do list (more on that in our Holiday Classics piece), and the perfect precursor to a matinee at the Opera House awaits next door at The Ritz-Carlton. Nutcracker Teas return on Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from 11 am to 1 pm at the newly redesigned Avery Bar. Take the children for a traditional tea of finger sandwiches, pastries, scones and fresh brews (along with teainspired cocktails for adults). There will also be an opportunity to take photos with the guest of honor— Boston Ballet’s Sugar Plum Fairy—and children can write letters to Santa Claus (the hotel promises to mail them to his North Pole home). If you are looking for ways to make a difference this holiday season, consider donating a hat, gloves, or mittens to Cradles to Crayons. For every clothing item donated the hotel will make a matching contribution. (Reservations required for Nutcracker Teas, $35-$55, The Ritz-Carlton, Boston)
As the decade comes to a close, First Night brings together as many as a million people to celebrate. Free entertainment and special attractions around Copley Square and Back Bay include cultural and musical performances in various indoor venues, fantastic ice sculptures, light displays, the People’s Procession at 6 pm, a skating show at the Frog Pond at
6 pm and 7 pm Family Fireworks on Boston Common. Moments before midnight, join in on the signature Countdown pyrotechnics and light show in Copley Square.