Boston for the Holidays: A Historic Winter Wonderland
The Christmas tree is lit in Boston Common, the Hanukkah menorah is up in Copley Square, and we at USA Guided Tours Boston are excited to celebrate our first winter in Beantown! We’ll be bringing you the award-winning guided Boston bus tours that have taken NYC and DC by storm in the spring. In the meantime, here are our tips for the best ways to sing out the old — and ring in the new! — this December in Boston.
It’s the history that makes Boston a special city, and that history infiltrates every level of the holiday season. Since our guided Boston bus tours aren’t up and running yet, consider taking the Freedom Trail’s Historic Holiday Stroll. Guides in period costumes will take you on a 90-minute walking trip through time, sharing Boston’s best holiday traditions and explaining how they’ve evolved over time.
Of course, it’s during the evening time that Boston really appears in its most festive light — literally as well as figuratively! From candlelit concerts to outdoor exhibits bedecked with lights, Boston shines during the holidays.
Things To Do in Boston for the Holidays
A must-do is the city’s largest winter shopping village and holiday event: the 4th-annual SoWa Winter Festival. Short for “south of Washington Street,” SoWa is Boston’s SoHo, chock-full of art galleries and hip restaurants, all of which open their doors for the Winter Festival. You can participate in activities like live sculpture, dance to live music, and peruse art for sale and for viewing in the Winter Wonderland tent. Food and drinks vendors from across the city also set up in the iconic SoWa power station — the world’s largest power plant when completed in 1896.
While the Winter Festival is known for its hip and sophisticated art, cocktails, and even photo ops — with the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker rather than Santa — ZooLights at the Stone Zoo may be the most rip-roaring holiday event. (Emphasis on roar!) Every night in December from 5-9PM, you can get up close to reindeer and arctic foxes, enjoy s’mores by the campfire, and ride on the carousel or the safari jeep — all under the holiday lights strewn across the park. It’ll bring out the animal in you this holiday season!
For a more serene experience, consider two of Boston’s most esteemed holiday music traditions, both taking place in iconic settings that will be future stops on our guided Boston bus tours! The Candlelight Carols have been sung at historic Trinity Church in Copley Square since 1909, while Symphony Hall hosts the world-famous Boston Pops orchestra’s Holiday Pops extravaganza. It features sing-alongs, Santa, and even post-Christmas events like Home Alone in concert and Seth McFarlane performing on New Year’s Eve.
Finally, if you’d like to live the luxurious life of the Gilded Age vicariously, consider taking the 1.5-hour drive up to Newport, RI (slightly longer by bus or train) for Christmas at Newport Mansions. Four of the town’s iconic mansions house 30 Christmas trees with elaborate decorations, candlelit windows, period silver and china on formal dining room tables, and gingerbread mansions with an elegance that matches the mansions themselves. Enjoy a taste of the holidays, Downton Abbey-style.
There are so many possibilities this December in and around Boston, designed to appeal to the whole family. Happy holidays from USA Guided Tours Boston bus tours, and we’ll see you in the new year!
Sara Murphy | USA Guided Tours Boston Blog Contributor