35 Best Things to Do in Boston at Christmas 2023🎄

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Though the northeast is filled with many great cities to visit during the winter, no place is quite as magical as Christmas in Boston. This historic city has its own special charm that truly comes alive around Christmastime.

I’ve been exploring New England for over 20 years and have visited Boston countless times. Every visit I discover something new and exciting about this city, and the Christmas season is no exception.

There are so many things to do in Boston at Christmas, like attending Christmas markets, strolling the cobblestone streets, admiring sparkling Christmas trees, watching The Nutcracker, and ice skating. All of these activities are set against the backdrop of a beautiful city, lightly dusted with snow. Boston at Christmastime always delivers!

Read on and you’ll find a list of all the best Christmas things to do in Boston to help you plan an unforgettable trip!

PS: Also check out my list of the top things to do in Boston in winter: it contains some of these same Christmas activities plus even more for the rest of the winter season!

A festive street in Beacon hill Boston decorated for Christmas and lit up at night for the Christmas stroll

Table of Contents

Christmas in Boston: Must-Do Activities & Events

If you’ve only got time for a few Christmas things to do in Boston, do these:

Attend the Boston Common Tree Lighting Ceremony:

For over half a century, a heartwarming tradition has unfolded between Nova Scotia and Boston. It all dates back to a fateful day in 1917, when a munitions ship exploded in Halifax Harbor. In the wake of this disaster, Boston sprang into action, sending a train packed with supplies and emergency responders to Nova Scotia within just 24 hours. This swift and compassionate gesture has never been forgotten.

The night view of a resplendent Christmas tree illuminated with a kaleidoscope of lights, centered in a Boston park, encircled by a white fence, capturing the essence of Christmas in Boston.
Photos don’t do it justice; the Boston Common Christmas Tree is even more impressive in person

To express their enduring gratitude, each year Nova Scotia gifts a beautiful Christmas tree to the people of Boston. It’s more than just a tree; it’s a symbol of friendship and solidarity. This gesture marks the beginning of Boston’s festive season, a time when the City of Boston’s official Christmas tree, along with numerous others in Boston Common and the Public Garden, are illuminated in a dazzling display. This lighting ceremony isn’t just about the lights; it’s a reminder of the enduring bond between two communities, sparked by an act of kindness many years ago.

The 2023 Tree Lighting will happen on November 30 at 6pm.

Go ice skating at Boston Common Frog Pond

An outdoor ice skating rink in Boston common as seen on a cold winter day
Ice skating is a classic Boston Christmas activity.

Boston Common is the site of many great Boston Christmas activities. Ice skating is one of the most beloved.

There is no better way to experience the Christmas season in Boston than ice skating on Frog Pond. This skating rink pops up right in the middle of the Boston Common and is the most popular skating rink in the city.

However, we visited on a midweek morning and the rink was nearly empty! Pro tip for Christmas fun in Boston: check out popular activities midweek!

If you’d prefer to visit another skating rink, check out the new skating rink at 401 Park in the Fenway area!

Skaters glide on an ice rink at night in Boston, under a canopy of trees adorned with twinkling lights in shades of blue, yellow, and red, with the city's glowing skyline in the background
Shout out to the guy who ate it on the ice at the exact moment I took this photo. I hope he’s ok.

What makes ice skating at Frog Pond so great is that you’ll be skating against the backdrop of the city downtown. The scene is especially gorgeous at night with holiday lights all around. This can be a great activity to pair with Christmas shopping at Downtown Crossing. Located just adjacent to Boston Common, you’ll find an area filled with great stores. After your holiday shopping and ice skating, be sure to stop by one of the local cafes to grab a hot chocolate or other beverage to warm yourself up.

Attend a Boston Holiday Pops concert

Outside of Boston symphony hall at night. Colorful signs hang from the building while cars drive by in front

The Boston Pops perform at Symphony Hall throughout December. They have a memorable holiday performance that absolutely can’t be missed if you’re a music fan. By the end, you’ll truly be in the holiday spirit!

If you plan on attending a Boston Pops concert, make sure you purchase your tickets at least two weeks in advance. They’re known for selling out quickly! It’s a great Christmas Boston activity.

Exploring beyond Boston? Check out this guide to the best of Christmas in Massachusetts.

Exterior of a Boston brownstone made of red brick and decorated with wreaths and bows for Christmas
Boston at Christmas is so gorgeous!

Christmas in Boston: Holiday Lights in Boston

When you’re in Boston for Christmas, one of the top things to do is to see the dazzling holidayc lights that adorn the city. It may be cold out there, but the beautiful lights make it worth stepping outside.

Let’s look at some of the best places in Boston to see these festive lights.

Christmas Lights in Downtown and Back Bay

A woman in a black coat and red winter hat stands in a park. Trees wrapped in white Christmas lights are on both sides of the path

During winter, Boston’s downtown area becomes a glowing spectacle. Lights wrap around trees, light posts, and buildings, making nighttime walks magical. A must-visit is the Boston Common, where trees twinkle with colorful lights. Try to time your visit with the Boston Common Tree Lighting event for an extra special experience.

Just a short walk away is the Public Garden. The lights on the bridge and trees here are stunning, creating a romantic setting. Stroll along Commonwealth Avenue Mall, next to the Public Garden, and be surrounded by beautiful lights that add to the festive atmosphere.

ZooLights at Stone Zoo

For those who love animals, ZooLights at Stone Zoo in Stoneham is a great choice. This northern suburb of Boston offers a unique evening experience. You’ll see fascinating animals like lions and flamingos under the glow of festive lights. If you’re staying in Boston and don’t have a car, consider visiting Franklin Park Zoo for a similar experience.

Holiday Lights at Christopher Columbus Park – North End

The trellis in Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park is always beautifully illuminated for the holiday season. If you are around on November 20th, 2023, you can see the first lighting of this iconic spot. This event includes holiday caroling, hot chocolate, and a visit by Santa Claus himself.

Boston Blink! at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Exterior of Quincy Market in Boston with a large Christmas tree in front
Christmas in Boston means a lot of beautiful Christmas lights!

Boston Blink! is a free light show that occurs in Faneuil Hall. This area is generally very much in the holiday spirit, and everywhere you look is covered in bright lights. During the show, all of the lights blink to the festive holiday music!

This fun light show is held throughout December and January and happens on average about 12 times once the sun goes down. If you happen to be in this area of Boston at Christmas, it’s a great way to spend 30 minutes of your time.

Editor’s Note: Boston Blink! has unfortunately been canceled the past few years and there is no information about it for 2023. Hoping it returns for 2024!

Christmas in Boston: Holiday Concerts, Shows, & Performances

a group of ballerinas dancing onstage en pointe, we can only see their feet, legs, and their sparkly white tutus

Nothing brings me more holiday cheer than a Christmassy performance. I’ve always loved The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and the rest of those classic holiday tales. Luckily, you can find all of those and more in Boston during Christmas time!

Here are some holiday shows in Boston that you should definitely consider adding to your itinerary:

Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

This classic ballet, performed by the renowned Boston Ballet at the Boston Opera House, is a staple of the holiday season. The enchanting music, stunning choreography, and lavish costumes make it a magical experience for all ages. The Nutcracker runs this year from November 24-December 31, 2023.

Holiday Pops at Symphony Hall

Enjoy the festive sounds of the season with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. This is one of the essential things to do in Boston for Christmas. This holiday season, they’ve got a great slate of concerts organized, including a special sensory-friendly concert, kids’ matinees, and a one-night-only concert featuring the talented Ana Gasteyer.

Mariah Carey Christmas Concert

This year the Queen of Christmas herself will be in Boston on December 11th, 2023! She’ll be performing anexclusive Christmas concert at TDGarden. Grab a ticket and sing your heart out along to ““All I Want For Christmas Is You!”

Black Nativity

Performed at the Paramount Center, Black Nativity is a powerful rendition of Langston Hughes’ classic gospel play. It combines dance, gospel music, and narrative to tell the original story of the Nativity in a vibrant and soulful production that has been a holiday tradition for 53 years!

Urban Nutcracker

Created by Tony Williams, this is a modern, diverse take on the traditional Nutcracker, blending ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and more. A refreshing and inclusive interpretation of the classic, Urban Nutcracker celebrates and honors diversity as it features a backdrop of winter scenes set in present-day downtown Boston. The 2023 production is onstage December 16th-23rd at the Shubert Theatre.

Elf in Concert

If you’re a fan of the beloved holiday film, come see it on the big screen again, but this time accompanied by a live orchestra! Dec. 22 & 23, 2023 at the Wang Theatre.

A Christmas Carol

The North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly is in its 32nd year of producing A Christmas Carol! This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale is a must-see. Take the whole family along to see this heartwarming reminder of the true spirit of the holiday season. For the 29th year in a row, actor David Coffee will be reprising his role as the humbug himself, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Christmas in Boston: Tree Lightings

So many cool Christmas tree lightings in Boston to really get you in the spirit!

If you’re in Boston in late November, you’re just in time for the city’s Christmas tree lightings. Here are a few choice ones not to miss:

Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting – November 21st, 2023

A majestic Christmas tree stands tall adorned with red and gold ornaments and a shining star topper, set against a backdrop of historic buildings and cobblestone streets in a Boston square, evoking a traditional holiday spirit

Though there are many different tree lightings throughout Boston for Christmas, one that is extra impressive as the Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting. This iconic celebration normally happens at the very beginning of December on a weeknight. Everyone gathers in the tiny cobblestone streets around Quincy Market to brave the cold and see the tree finally light up! And this 30 foot Norway spruce is the largest decorated Christmas tree in all of New England!

This event is made even better because there are tons of fun celebratory performances from local bands and comedians up on stage. Be warned though: this event is very crowded. Try to get there earlier if you want to be closer to the tree and the entertainment. Luckily, the tree is so massive that you can see it no matter where you end up!

PS: Don’t miss the inside of Quincy Market during your trip to Boston during the holidays. This is another of Boston’s attractions that doesn’t skimp on the decorations!

Inside Quincy Market, a bustling Boston marketplace, a grand dome ceiling is adorned with cascading fairy lights and oversized hanging Christmas ornaments, surrounded by balconies decked with garlands and wreaths, creating a festive holiday shopping atmosphere

Copley Square Tree Lighting – November 27th, 2023

Copley Square has its own special tree lighting each year featuring appearances by Santa Claus and Rudolph! There are also musical performances by many groups including the Boston Children’s Chorus and the Boston Pops Esplanade Brass Ensemble.

After the tree is lit, head inside the cozy Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel (one of my favorite places to stay in Boston) and enjoy cookies and pictures with Santa!

Boston Common Tree Lighting – November 30th, 2023

A vibrant Christmas tree adorned with colorful lights stands prominently in an evening park setting, surrounded by a white picket fence, with more illuminated trees in the background contributing to a festive atmosphere.

As I shared above, the Boston Common Christmas Tree Lighting is a must-do Boston holiday activity. This tree (coming all the way from Nova Scotia) is the focal point of the city of Boston’s Official Tree Lighting. The tree lighting will start around 7:55 pm, followed by the illumination of nearly 80 other trees throughout the Boston Common and Public Garden. What a festive sight!

Lighting of the Ship, Martin’s Park – November 25th, 2023

Get ready for a delightful children’s event filled with holiday cheer! Gather around as the wooden play ship at Martin’s Park shines bright, adorned with a beautiful array of blue and white lights. Warm up with delicious hot cocoa and join in the festive caroling. There’s holiday fun waiting for everyone!

And guess what? This year, keep your eyes peeled because we have some very special guests! Rumor has it that Santa himself and Betty The Yeti are planning to join in on the festivities. Don’t miss this magical evening that promises to be a memorable experience for all the little ones!

Christmas in Boston: Winter Holiday Markets

Christmas markets aren’t only found in Europe! Boston is home to several great holiday markets, too, and these are among the best holiday things to do in Boston.

Snowport Holiday Market

Nighttime at a Christmas market in Boston, colorful stalls showcase items to buy while people walk around and white Christmas lights are in a canopy overhead

Boston transforms into a mesmerizing winter wonderland during the holiday season, and one place captures this magic perfectly: Snowport.

At the heart of Seaport, Snowport becomes a festive hub, bustling with activities. Imagine a calendar brimming with events, rooftop igloos offering a cozy escape, free curling lanes for some friendly competition, and a dazzling display of lights that brings the area to life.

Lighted Christmas trees seen behind a festive and colorful sign for a Christmas market, pointing which way to go for various activities

But the centerpiece of it all is the Boston Winter Holiday Market at Snowport. Celebrating its 3rd year in 2023, the market is set to be more spectacular than ever. With over 120 vendors offering unique finds, the aroma of delicious food filling the air, and a new custom cocktail bar by Tuscan Kitchen adding to the cheer, it’s a feast for the senses.

I recommend the mulled wine, not only because it is delicious, but it is the classic drink I associate with Christmas markets. It’s a must!

You can shop to your heart’s content at Snowport too, shopping items from all the cool local artists and makers. If your toddler should lose their mittens, for instance, you can grab a new, warmer pair! Speaking from personal experience here.

A small shop that is called Tots Shop sits open at night in a city with large skyscrapers behind

But I saw dozens of gorgeous stalls with holiday ornaments, clothing, housewares, art, and even a lobster nativity set!

With all these enchanting offerings, it’s no wonder that a visit to Snowport is considered one of the top things to do in Boston during the holiday season.

Christmas in Boston pro tip: If at all possible, go to the Snowport Winter Market on a weekday evening, and as early as possible. We went on a Tuesday at 6pm, and it was just beginning to get crowded. But many of my friends who have attended this year on weekends have had to wait in line!

SoWa Winter Festival

SoWa stands for “South of Washington” and is the artsy and trendy neighborhood located in Boston’s Back Bay. It’s extremely up and coming and is frequented by art lovers often.

Every Sunday is the SoWa Open Market. This market transforms for a few weeks each December into the SoWa Winter Festival, featuring hundreds of vendors, local artists, and lots of food and drink. This is the perfect place to get your holiday shopping done this year!

Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Providing “Peace, Love, & Holiday Shopping Since 1986,” the Harvard Square Holiday Fair is held on weekends in December. This is another excellent spot for some Christmas shopping, especially if you love to support local artists and makers.

Family-Friendly Christmas Activities in Boston

The bronze "make way for ducklings" statues in Boston common are seen decked out in festive holiday hats and capes

Nearly all of the Boston Christmas events included in this guide are family-friendly, but here are a few extra ideas of things to do with the kiddos:

Go sledding in Boston Common

Snow covered ground at Boston Common
Sledding is a Christmas time activity that will take you right back to the good ol’ days!

Believe it or not, but people do actually sled in the Boston Common! There aren’t any true hills here, but the second that the city sees some snow, you’ll see all of the locals (including the college kids) run straight to Boston Common. You don’t even need a fancy sled – you could grab something as simple as a big trash bag to get pulled around on in the snow, and you’ll have just as much fun.

Be warned that oftentimes a huge snowball fight also occurs here. You might just get caught in the thick of it if you aren’t careful! However, it’s a super fun time to be in the common because you feel connected with so many people just having fun out in the snow at Christmas time in Boston. The feeling is very festive!

Trains at Science Park – Boston Museum of Science

Am elaborate model train setup amongst a snowy Christmas village at the Boston museum of science

A visit to the Museum of Science is one of the top things to do in Boston with kids at any time of year. But as the holidays approach, you can catch a special seasonal exhibit!

All Aboard! Trains at Science Park is the Museum’s charming exhibition that features miniature trains journeying through magical winter scenes. There are classic snowy village landscapes, wintry mountain peaks, and even a Boston city scene showcasing some very recognizable landmarks! Entry to the train exhibit is included with general admission to the Museum of Science.

The city of Boston in miniature set up as the scene for a model train track

If your kiddos love trains, the fun doesn’t have to stop there! The Museum is showing films like The Polar Express 4-D Experience, Thomas & Friends, and more!

Holiday Happenings at Suffolk Downs

Here is a terrific family-friendly Boston Christmas activity, and it is free! Holiday Happenings at Suffolk Downs in East Boston takes place Saturday November 27th, and features photos with Santa, ornament craft making, a hot cocoa bar, face painting, and more! This is also a great place to get your tree as they have fresh cut trees and wreaths available at their holiday tree market. Bring an unwrapped toy to help support local families in need.

Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll

A warm, glowing gas lantern casts a soft light on a festive wreath with a bright red bow, adorning a window of a brick building with elegant greenery and ribbons, evoking a quaint and cozy holiday scene.

Beacon Hill is known as one of the most picturesque parts of the city, and for good reason. Cobblestone streets in this area are lined by beautiful brownstones, creating a scene that is quintessential historic Boston.

Beacon Hill is one of the best places to visit in Boston at any time of year, but Christmas takes things up a notch. You will want to make time to walk through these merry streets during your Boston holiday getaway, but if you can, time your visit to coincide with the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll.

The window of 'The Happy Journey Toy Shoppe' in Boston is festively framed with twinkling lights and red bows, showcasing an enchanting array of Christmas toys and decorations, inviting passersby to indulge in the holiday spirit.

During the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll, Charles Street is shut down to cars and visitors are welcome to walk along the street and through the neighborhood. The local shops boast festive storefronts and musicians and carolers perform along the road. Pop-up booths and tables along Charles Street offer refreshments like hot cider and hot chocolate. And all of the businesses are open and welcoming shoppers!

A child in festive green pajamas shares a moment with Santa Claus, seated together against a red backdrop with white snowflake decorations, conveying a heartwarming holiday scene
A hand holds a photograph from the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll featuring a child sitting with Santa Claus, set against the backdrop of a dimly lit, historic Boston street at night, capturing a special moment from the event

My family and I attended the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll this year and had a terrific time! My son was enamored by the man singing Christmas carols and playing the accordion, and he also loved the opportunity to see Santa!

I recommend stopping by one of my favorite shops in Boston, Beacon Hill Books & Cafe. This cozy book store is incredibly charming and has a dream of a Children’s section on the 3rd floor, complete with a tiny train making the rounds.

An elegant fireplace mantel is adorned with a lush holiday garland and flanked by two wall sconces, above which hangs a whimsical alphabet artwork, all set in a cozy room with patterned armchairs and a festive tabletop tree

At the end of the night, the Holiday Stroll ends with the lighting of the Beacon Hill Christmas tree. What a perfect way to celebrate the season.

Psst! If you’re visiting Boston as a family, you might check out our great list of things to do in Boston for first timers, or our guide to things to do in Boston with kids! Both have lots of fun ideas for families visiting in every season!

Enjoy hot chocolate from L.A. Burdick

The charming façade of L.A. Burdick Chocolates, nestled in Boston, showcases festive holiday decorations with a large wreath and twinkling lights, inviting visitors to indulge in gourmet chocolates and confections
A woman sits at a wooden booth with two cups of coffee on the table, smiling in a warmly lit café adorned with festive decorations, reflecting a cozy and inviting atmosphere

Looking for the best hot chocolate in Boston? You have to go to L.A. Burdick. One of the best of Boston’s Christmas activities is sipping on something hot, and this is the place to go!

Walking into this store is like stepping into Europe. There is a gorgeous, warm cafe aesthetic to enjoy, but most importantly, let’s talk about the chocolate. L.A. Burdick offers few types of drinking chocolate, but the milk chocolate is my recommendation for a classic Christmas beverage. It’s just the right amounts of sweet, creamy, and of course, piping hot!

Unique Things to Do in Boston at Christmas

A row of historic brownstone buildings in Boston's Newbury Street seen with Christmas decor such as lights, garland, and bows

Participate in SantaCon Crawl & Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl

One of the best things to do in Boston around the holidays is to go on a festive pub crawl. There are many different types of pub crawls during this time, but SantaCon and the Ugly Sweater crawls are the most popular. 

For SantaCon, everyone dresses up in their best Santa suits and hops from pub to pub. The Ugly Sweater crawl is precisely what it sounds like: dig out your ugliest holiday sweater and put it on while visiting many pubs throughout the day!

Watch or run with the Santas in speedos

That’s right, the Santas in speedos. This annual charity run occurs at the beginning of December every year as a fundraiser for the Play Ball Foundation, a group that encourages sports participation in schools in Massachusetts. A little zany, and a whole lot of Boston Christmas fun for a good cause,  the Santas in Speedos run less than a mile and running in a speedo only is not mandatory!

Enter a winter wonderland at Après…@ Deck 12

You might be surprised to find that one of Boston’s “hottest” spots is on a rooftop….in winter!.

I love how festive restaurants and bars get for the holidays, and Après…@ Deck 12, located at YOTEL, has its own unique spin with an après Ski experience on their rooftop deck!

Take in gorgeous views over Boston while you enjoy seasonal cocktails (we had the Adult Smores!) and yummy treats (cheese fondue 🫠🫠).

They’re open weekends for brunch and also evenings, now until March 3, 2024! So you’ve got time to visit this cozy winter spot. And don’t worry about being cold, there are toasty little heaters everywhere and you can even sit inside a heated gondola! Have fun!

Watch the Boston Bruins play at TD Garden

Boston is a major sports city, which doesn’t change just because the holidays are around the corner. If you want to escape the frigidness of Boston winter, then pop on over to TD Garden (or the Warrior Ice Arena, depending on what time of winter you visit) to see the local Boston Bruins play. Seeing an ice hockey game is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Boston’s sports culture. You’ll feel like a true Bostonian yelling in the stands!

Enjoy the gorgeous holiday garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is something of a hidden gem in Boston, but it is well worth a visit. Showcasing the extensive collections of Isabella Stewart Gardner herself, the Museum is absolutely breathtaking. But it isn’t just the art pieces and treasures that will take your breath away. The courtyard within the museum’s Palace is a sight to behold!

The interior courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, adorned with vibrant red poinsettias and lush greenery, under an elegant glass ceiling, creating a serene and historically rich environment.

During the holidays, the Courtyard blossoms into a festive, verdant wonderland, featuring dark forest greenery and shades of red and silver. I absolutely loved this museum and what I found most captivating were the huge and fragrant dark red amaryllis flowers.

See the reenactment of the Boston Tea Party

Every December 16th, a group of locals present a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party, recreating the events of the historic day in 1773. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party!

Around 100 people help to reenact the event which is often watched by locals and tourists alike. This is a great way to learn more about Boston’s historical connections to America’s origins. One thing to note is that this does occur no matter the weather, and at Christmas time in Boston, you’re probably going to be seeing some snow!

Take a Holiday Brunch Cruise on the Boston Harbor

For a fun, festive holiday cruise on Boston Harbor, check out Northern Lights Holiday Brunch Cruise. Enjoy the warm and cozy holiday energy of the cruise as you help yourself to a piping hot cup of hot cocoa from the hot chocolate bar and sit back to watch the scenic views as your three-course brunch is served to you. Sounds like a great Boston Christmas experience to me!

Hanukkah Events & Celebrations in Boston

a bright blue sky is the backdrop for an enormous menorah

Coming to Boston to celebrate the festival of lights? We got you! Here are some notable Hanukah celebrations around Boston.

Menorah on Boston Common

On Sunday December 18th, the 39th annual Menorah lighting on Boston Common will take place, with music, and visits from elected officials.

Seaport Chanukah Celebration

This menorah lighting at the Seaport includes an appearance by Governor Charlie Baker, plus treats, Chanukah activities, and music. December 22nd, 2023.

Chanukah Wonderland

This big event presented by Chabad of Downtown Boston takes place Sunday December 11th, 2023 at the Revere Hotel on Boston Common. Come join in the celebration and enjoy hot latkes, a make-your-own menorah, and a whole lot more.

New Year’s Eve in Boston

Boston First Night

Boston First Night is an event that happens on New Year’s Eve in the city. This is essentially made up of a wide variety of different celebrations that occur in various locations! Throughout the day, you can find the city hosting a wide variety of fun activities such as performances, crafts, ice sculpture making, and more. Finish the night off with free fireworks over the water!

Where to Stay in Boston for Christmas

Boston is home to so many fantastic hotels, inns, and vacation rentals. But if you’re wondering where you should stay in Boston in December, a few choice options stand out:

The Liberty Hotel

A view of the Liberty Hotel in Boston, featuring a dramatic atrium with cascading greenery and flowers, accentuated by warm lighting and the hotel's unique blend of historic and modern design elements

The Liberty Hotel is already super cool. It tops our list of best boutique hotels in Boston. Not only is it a beautiful hotel inside of a renovated jail (yep, that’s right!) they also have one of the most unique Christmas displays in their grand lobby. Each year they display several upside down Christmas trees hanging from above. There’s nothing else like it!

The Fairmont Copley Plaza

The Fairmont Copley Plaza is always one of my top recommended hotels in Boston as it has the most stunning lobby and the friendliest staff. But for Christmas, this hotel is in the center of all the holiday action. It’s certainly the place to be for the Copley Square Tree Lighting!

Encore Boston Harbor

Some hotels go all out with the Christmas decorations, and the Encore Boston Harbor is one of them! If you’re looking for a fun place to stay that is chock full of holiday spirit, this might be your answer!

Want to dig in further on Boston hotels? Check out our list of family-friendly Boston hotels or these suggestions on Best Airbnbs in Boston.

Travel Tips for Christmas in Boston

A wreath festooned with red and green ornaments hangs on a lamppost, framing a view of the historic Old State House in Boston, juxtaposed with modern buildings under an overcast sky, reflecting the city's blend of history and modernity

Visiting Boston during the holidays can be lots of fun, but there are some tips you should consider when planning your trip.

Best Times to Visit Boston During Christmas

When to visit Boston for Christmas can depend on what kind of experience you are seeking. Here are some of the best times to visit Boston during the Christmas season:

  • Early December: This period is perfect for those who want to enjoy the festive decorations and atmosphere without the peak holiday crowds. The city’s Christmas lights and decorations are usually up, and the holiday markets are in full swing.
  • Mid-December: This is when Boston is at its most festive. The Boston Common and Faneuil Hall are beautifully lit, and there are plenty of holiday performances, from “The Nutcracker” by the Boston Ballet to various Christmas concerts.
  • Week before Christmas: This is a great time for last-minute shopping and enjoying festive activities. The city is bustling, and there’s a palpable excitement in the air. However, be prepared for larger crowds and potentially higher accommodation prices.
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: These are wonderful times to experience the quiet beauty of the city. Many businesses and attractions might be closed, but the serene and festive ambiance of the city is something special.
  • Between Christmas and New Year’s: This period is ideal for those who want to experience the holiday spirit but with fewer crowds. Most holiday decorations and lights are still up, and you can enjoy post-Christmas sales in various shops.

Getting Around Boston during the Holidays

Unless you enjoy holiday stress, (or you’re a local and already have Boston driving down to a science) I suggest not bringing a car to Boston. Instead, when traveling around Boston, use the T, the city’s subway system. Grab yourself a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket and you’re on your way.

Packing for Boston at Christmas

You must pack lots of layers! Boston is known for being extremely chilly during the winter. Though more recent winter seasons haven’t seen as much snow during the holidays, the temperatures drop quite a bit. The average temperature around the holiday season is approximately 30°F; however, if you’re going in and out of a lot of shops, you’ll want to bring layers.

Traveling with a toddler or baby in a stroller? I highly recommend getting one of those stroller bunting bags to keep your little one warm and toasty! This is especially important if you’ll be outside for long periods. A bunting or a blanket great item to bring along to a Christmas tree lighting or holiday market.

Don’t forget your winter boots.

New Englanders love their winter boots. In fact, they can be a bit of a fashion statement and are essential to staying warm and comfortable when the ground can get quite slick. If you have a pair, be sure to pack them in your bag, because you’re going to need them for Christmas in Boston.

The best place to spend the holiday season is in Boston!

Now you know all the essentials for finding Christmas magic in Boston. There are plenty of great Boston hotels and vacation rentals to check out for where to stay during your Christmas in Boston too. Hopefully, you’ll add Boston to your travel list this upcoming winter; you won’t regret it!

Even more travel guides and things to do in Boston: