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25 festive holiday events in Boston to check out this season

'Tis the season for dazzling lights, festive sing-alongs, costumed bar crawls, and more holiday celebrations in the Boston area.

Fireworks illuminate the Christmas Tree at the 81st Annual Boston Common Tree Lighting.
Fireworks illuminate the Christmas Tree at the 81st Annual Boston Common Tree Lighting. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

As regular readers of the Things To Do calendar know, the Boston area is home to many holiday events each year, and 2022 is no different.

Looking for a holiday show? We’ve got 10 great ones for you to choose from. Want to shop locally for holiday gifts? We’ve got five for you to visit. In total, you’ll find 25 of our favorite holiday events listed below, and you can find even more on our events calendar.


‘The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle’

Lighthouse Immersive has brought a different “Nutcracker” experience to Boston this holiday season with “The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle.” This production comes from the same organizers as “Immersive Frida,” “Immersive Klimt,” and “Immersive Monet & the Impressionists.” The show features over 500,000 cubic feet of floor-to-ceiling projections of animated characters alongside footage of professional ballet dancers, starring Denis Rodkin and Eleonora Sevenard and set to Tchikovsky’s iconic score. (Now through Dec. 31; more info here) — Natalie Gale

Holiday Pops with the BSO

Conductor Keith Lockhart and his guest conductors will fill your heart with holiday cheer as the Boston Pops takes you through yet another magical season. Programs will feature seasonal favorites, including the Boston Pops’ signature work “Sleigh Ride,” alongside new arrangements of holiday classics sure to add to the spirit of joyous music-making. Singing along is, of course, encouraged. (Now through Dec. 24; more info here) — Cheryl Fenton

“The Nutcracker”

Whether you’re seeing it for the first time or the 15th, it’s always a seasonal joy to watch the wondrous journey of Clara in “The Nutcracker.” Very rarely does a young lady get a Christmas present that transports her into a dreamy world of toy soldiers, come-to-life candies, fighting mice, dancing snowflakes, fairies, and sugar plums. Tchaikovsky’s renowned score, performed by the beloved Boston Ballet Orchestra, takes you through an extraordinary Christmas Eve when a gifted nutcracker magically transforms into a handsome prince who leads the young girl through an enchanted forest and on to a lavish Kingdom of Sweets. (Now through Dec. 31; more info here) — Cheryl Fenton

Cirque du Soleil’s “‘Twas the Night Before”

Bringing the holiday spirit to the city with its Boston debut at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, “‘Twas the Night Before…” might be Cirque du Soleil’s first ever Christmas show, but it still has all its signature acrobatics, breath-taking feats, and spectacular music. The theatrical performance (the 49th original Cirque du Soleil production, for those who are counting) tells the story of Isabella, a curious girl jaded by the craze surrounding Christmas, who is whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world of the poem where she meets colorful characters of this timeless classic. (Now through Dec. 11; more info here) — Cheryl Fenton

“The Slutcracker”

A saucy adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s famed 1890s ballet Christmas tradition, “The Slutcracker” brings classic ballet to the stage at the Somerville Theatre with a big burlesque twist. The show is an unforgettable display of ballet along with unique performers — from hula hoopers to belly dancers, flamenco to pole dancers — donned in risqué costumes with blush-inducing props as they tell the story of grownup Clara exploring the Kingdom of Sexual Sweets. The performances are set to Tchaikovsky’s score as recorded by the Czech Republic’s Brno Philharmonic Orchestra. Every year is different, but each is sexy and covered in glitter. (Now through Dec. 31; more info here) — Cheryl Fenton

“The Urban Nutcracker”

Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker,” the modern Boston-centric holiday classic, will return to the Shubert Theatre for the 2022 holiday season. With a reputation of representing multi-cultural Boston’s vibrant inclusiveness and celebration, this classic dance theatrical will showcase winter scenes set in present-day downtown Boston, blending the rhythms of Duke Ellington with the classical music of Tchaikovsky. Anchored by classical ballet thanks to the City of Boston Ballet, it’s where urban tap, hip hop, swing, flamenco, step, and jazz come together to form something special from within the enchanted world of Clarice and her friends. (Dec. 17-23; more info here) — Cheryl Fenton

“A Christmas Carol”

The North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly has been mounting the original musical adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” for more than three decades, so they’ve certainly got experience at putting on an exceptional retelling of the Dickensian tale. So does lead actor David Coffee, who has portrayed Scrooge for 28 of the 31 years. (Now through Dec. 24; more info here) — Kevin Slane

“The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice”

Now in its 52nd year, the annual Christmas Revels show will return to Harvard’s Sanders Theatre Dec. 17. This year’s show mixes 17th century hymns with 21st century tunes thanks to a collaboration with the choreographers of “The Urban Nutcracker.” Even if you’ve seen previous editions of the show, it’s worth heading to Cambridge again, as no two years are alike. (Dec. 17-23; more info here) — Kevin Slane

“A Celtic Christmas Sojourn”

Since 1986, Brian O’Donovan has delighted public radio listeners with his annual celebration of Celtic, Pagan, and Christian traditions. The stage version of the show is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with stage visits all across Massachusetts starting December 10. Bostonians will be able to see the show at the Cutler Majestic Theatre December 16-18, but keep an eye out for tickets at venues in New Bedford, Rockport, and Worcester as well. (Dec. 10-20; more info here) — Kevin Slane

Kenny G’s Holiday Tour

If you’re looking for an exceptionally smooth way to enjoy some of your favorite holiday tunes, smooth jazz legend Kenny G will be bringing his “Miracles Holiday & Hits Tour” to Cary Hall in Lexington on Dec. 16. The saxophonist born Kenny Gorelick will have plenty of his other hit songs on the set list as well, but if his “Holiday Classics” album is any indication, you’ll likely hear smooth versions of “Sleigh Ride,” “Joy to the World,” and “Winter Wonderland,” among others. (Dec. 16; more info here) — Kevin Slane

Markets and shopping

CraftBoston Holiday Online

This holiday season, the Society of Arts + Crafts once again hosts CraftBoston Holiday Online, a juried exhibition and marketplace of handmade craft pieces perfect for holiday shopping. The event showcases some of the country’s leading craft artists, with items for sale including jewelry, apparel, quilts, pottery, home decor, glasswork, woodwork, and more. (Now through Jan. 8; more info here) — Natalie Gale

SoWa Winter Festival

Dozens of artists, artisans, and specialty vendors will gather to sell their wares under one roof at the SoWa Winter Festival, along with live music, food trucks, and featured cocktails from guest bartenders. The SoWa Power Station is the festival’s hub, with vendor tents and refreshments on the first floor and live music and cocktails on the second. Vendors at this year’s festival will sell goods like handcrafted leather products, woven baskets, natural cosmetics, jewelry, candles, and specialty food items like hot sauce and honey. (Now through Dec. 11; more info here) — Natalie Gale

Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Since 1986, the Harvard Square Holiday Fair has brought dozens of vendors to the square from New England and beyond, selling a range of eclectic wares perfect for holiday gifts. The juried holiday fair is free to attend and features purveyors selling items like prints, pottery, photography, candles, t-shirts, jewelry, books, knitwear, cosmetics, wooden utensils, vintage items, jams and jellies, and much more. (Dec. 9-11 and 16-18; more info here) — Natalie Gale

Boston Women’s Market

The Boston Women’s Market will visit two Boston-area venues this holiday season, visiting The Station on Dec. 9 and Time Out Market on Dec. 10. Dozens of vendors will showcase their products, which include FaithEndures by DevMel’s Knits and CrochetAnd Soaps, and Lady Jane Maker. All attendees at both locations will be entered to win a door prize giveaway items valued at over $1,000. (Dec. 9-10; more info here) — Ria Goveas

Small Mart Holiday Market

With its numerous studio spaces and dense grouping of creative types, Somerville is one of the artistic hubs of the region. You can help support some of the city’s coolest makers, artisans, and vendors at the Small Mart Holiday Market, which takes over the Crystal Ballroom Dec. 17. The converted performance space will have an open bar for those who wish to sip while they shop, and your chances of scoring the perfect retro gift are pretty good, as the market is hosted by High Energy Vintage & Existential Thread Co. (Dec. 17; more info here) —Kevin Slane

Food and Drink

Miracle, the Christmas-themed pop-up bar

Restaurant crews throughout the land have their festive sweaters on for Miracle, the Christmas-themed bar that is popping up at locations nationwide, including three in Greater Boston: The Kimpton Marlowe Hotel Lobby Bar in Cambridge, Mystic Station in Malden, and Central Tavern in Milford. New this year to the Miracle canon of cocktails are a few drinks, including warm mulled wine, the fizzy Santa’s Little Helper with gin, spiced caraway syrup, eucalyptus, sage, lime, and seltzer; and the chocolate-mint Christmas Cricket with blanco tequila, vanilla liqueur, minty amaro, coco pandan, cream, mole bitters, and dark chocolate. (Now through Dec. 25; more info here) — Jacqueline Cain

Sippin’ Santa at Shore Leave

Santa Claus doesn’t get to take a vacation until after the holiday season, but the rest of us can take respite from the busyness at Sippin’ Santa, the annual holiday pop-up bar at Shore Leave. From decking the halls of the basement bar with twinkling lights, to piping in surf-rock carols through the speakers, Shore Leave is transformed into Sippin’ Santa with tons of attention to detail. Along with sushi and drinks-friendly snacks, the menu adds signature Sippin’ Santa cocktails like White Russian Christmas, spiked with ancho chile liqueur; and the namesake mix of aged rum, amaro, lemon, orange, and gingerbread spices.. (Now through Jan. 1; more info here) — Jacqueline Cain

Maccabee Bar

Maccabee Bar, Boston’s original — and only — Hanukkah-themed pop-up bar returns this holiday season for an extended stay at two locations: Backbar in Somerville and Noir Bar in Cambridge. Founding bartender Naomi Levy is creating new cocktails for the occasion, and will also bring back some favorites such as the Latke Sour, a shaken libation of apple brandy, potato, lemon, egg white, and bitters. Both locations will offer a menu of special Maccabee Bar food, including latkes and doughnuts by Lionheart Confections. (Now through Dec. 30; more info here) — Jacqueline Cain

Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl

Get out your ugliest holiday sweater for the seventh annual Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl, which will travel between at least seven different area bars: Hong KongWild RoverSissy K’sGreatest BarSullivan’s TapThe Tam, and Beacon Hill Pub. Tickets includes food specials, holiday themed drinks, DJs and entertainment, and, of course, an ugly sweater contest. (Dec. 10; more info here) — Ria Goveas

Bad Santa Bar Crawl

Kick off the holiday season with the Bad Santa Bar Crawl, which provides exclusive access to bars all across Boston starting at 2 p.m. Every ticket purchased comes with a complimentary Santa hat that attendees can wear for the crawl. A mix of live DJs and live music can be found at 20+ participating bars, which included venues in the Theater District, Seaport, West End, Downtown, and Fenway neighborhoods. To see a full list of participating bars, click here. (Dec. 10; more info here) — Ria Goveas

Outdoor Fun


For the fourth year running, Boston’s Seaport has been transformed into Snowport, an all-encompassing winter wonderland. Summarizing the wealth of offerings on hand in a couple sentences if nearly impossible, but some of the highlights include Snowport’s 19 food and drink options, outdoor activities like curling, a 10-foot-tall Mistletoe Archway, and Boston Children’s Museum special pop-up exhibit, Dinos in Space. (Open now through Feb. 26; more info here) — Kevin Slane

Magic of Lights

For the third and final year, Magic of Lights has returned to Gillette Stadium this holiday season, bringing dazzling family-friendly holiday light displays in a drive-through attraction. The display debuted in 2020 and uses the latest in CAD technology and digital animations to enliven returning displays like the 200-foot Enchanting Tunnel of Lights, Candy Cane Lane, Toyland, 12 Days of Christmas, Prehistoric Christmas with life-sized dinosaurs, and the BIGFOOT Monster Truck. New this year is a 32-foot tall animated Barbie, plus dancing displays synchronized to popular holiday songs. (Now through Dec. 31; more info here) — Natalie Gale


Three of the Trustees’ beautiful garden properties — Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens in North Andover, and Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton — sparkle with thousands of shimmering, artfully designed holiday lights during the annual “Winterlights.” This delightful, fun, and safe outdoor experience is family-friendly and packed with holiday revelry, food, refreshments, and more. (Now through Jan. 7; more info here) — Cheryl Fenton

Snowflake Crossing

With more decor and activities than ever before, the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District’s “Snowflake Crossing” offers weeks of seasonally inspired weekend programming, from music to ice sculptures to holiday markets. This year will mark the BID’s largest-ever display of seasonal decorations, including bright and colorful lights spanning the main thoroughfares, hundreds of lighted trees, giant hanging snowflakes, and a winter-themed mural on Summer Street Plaza. (Now through Dec. 18; more info here) — Cheryl Fenton


Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo has fully embraced the holiday spirit with ZooLights, a festive display of thousands of glowing lights spread across the zoo’s 26 acres. Lights line the paths to Yukon Creek, where the reindeer and arctic foxes will be surrounded by holiday decor. You’ll also find several large-scale animal lantern displays around the zoo, adding to the ambiance. (Now through Jan. 8; more info here) — Kevin Slane

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