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The season of sparkle: A guide to Boston’s 2021 holiday lighting events

‘Tis the season for twinkling lights, hot cocoa, and holiday cheer. Here’s how to enjoy the 2021 holiday lightings in Boston.

Boston Common Tree City of Boston

As the 2021 holiday season picks up, Bostonians can look forward to a bright and buzzy holiday season with the arrival of the Boston Common Christmas tree and various holiday lightings unfolding over the next few weeks.

The holiday season kicks off with the arrival of the Boston Common tree from Novia Scotia, setting the scene for a variety of holiday lightings throughout the city. All events are free and open to the public — but city officials remind everyone to dress warmly. 

Here’s a rundown of what to expect from this year’s holiday lighting festivities.

Boston 2021 Holiday Lighting Events Schedule

Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at 11 a.m.: The Boston Common Tree Arrival Ceremony, originally scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 17, was postponed a day as the tree was “delayed in transit due to rough weather,” according to the city. Santa Claus, local schoolchildren, and Parks Department Commissioner Ryan Woods will greet the tree near the Boston Visitors Center at 139 Tremont St.


Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, at 5 p.m: The Christopher Columbus Park Trellis Lighting, will happen at 110 Atlantic Ave. in the North End. According to city officials, the historic waterfront park “will be transformed into a holiday wonderland when the park’s 260 feet of trellis are set aglow with 50,000 blue lights along with 14 decorated trees near Tia’s restaurant, the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, and throughout the park.”

Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m: The first annual Lighting of the Ship at Martin’s Park will include a visit from Santa Claus, who will arrive by boat. This brand new holiday event will feature hot cocoa, caroling, and various holiday fun.

Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m: The Copley Square tree lighting ceremony will take place. According to city officials, “This family-friendly event is sure to get you in a festive mood with refreshments and giveaways. Our lineup of local talent will keep the crowd singing classic holiday hits until the lights turn on.”

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m: The 80th Annual Boston Common Tree Lighting is the city’s centerpiece holiday lighting festivity. According to city officials, 25,000 people attend the event, which includes a “festive stage show with nationally-known talent.” Mayor Michelle Wu will illuminate the tree, as well as trees on Boston Common and the Public Garden bridge. Attendees can also expect visits from Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Santa Claus, Rudolph, and Frosty. The show will end with a pyrotechnic display. WCVB Channel 5 will air the show beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday.


Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at 8 p.m: The Commonwealth Avenue Mall Lighting will immediately follow the Boston Common Tree Lighting. The city will “hit the switch and celebrate the lighting of trees up and down Commonwealth Avenue,” marking the final holiday lighting event of the 2021 season. 

Boston Common Christmas Tree arrival 2021

The annual gift of an evergreen Christmas tree from Novia Scotia will arrive by police escort at the Common on Wednesday, Nov. 17, according to city officials. The public can watch for its arrival around 11 a.m. The Twitter account @TreeforBoston, which was created in 2012, provides updates on the tree’s journey each year. 

Boston’s official 2021 Christmas tree is a 60-year-old, 48-foot white spruce that was donated by landowner L’Arche Cape Breton, a nonprofit organization located in Nova Scotia that “creates safe, supportive homes, and meaningful work for people with disabilities.”

Each year Nova Scotia gifts Boston with a Christmas tree. The annual tradition serves as a show of gratitude from Nova Scotia to Boston for the help the city offered in the wake of the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

A brief history of Nova Scotia’s holiday ‘thank you’ to Boston

According to Novascotia.ca, on Dec. 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbour, causing a devastating explosion that killed nearly 2,000 people and injured hundreds. Several people lost their homes. In response, Boston sent immediate medical aid and relief supplies to Nova Scotians. 


“We will never forget this support and kindness from the people of Boston. To say thank you, the province gives Boston the gift of a beautiful Christmas tree every year,” Nova Scotian officials said. 

This year marks the 104th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion and the 50th anniversary of the Nova Scotia Tree for Boston tradition.


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