When it comes to festive holiday magic, Christmas in Massachusetts is hard to beat! With storybook towns that seem to be straight out of a Hallmark movie and grand MA Christmas events that are all that is Merry & Bright, the Bay State delivers big when it comes to holiday fun.
If you’re looking for ideas for where to go and what to do for a festive Christmas in Massachusetts, you’re in the right place!
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Quick Tip for Visiting Massachusetts at Christmas
There’s a Scandinavian saying that gets tossed around New England each winter: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Depending on where you’re from and what you’re used to, you might find Massachusetts’ winter weather to be a bit brutal!
An easy way to be prepared is to dress in layers so you’re prepared for bitter wind chill but can easily take off a layer or two if you find the weather is not as cold as you’d expected.
Don’t forget about footwear, either; canvas tennis shoes will get wet easily in slushy snow, and wet feet + cold weather does not equal a good time. Dress the part and you’ll have a blast during your Christmas in Massachusetts!
Christmas in Massachusetts
Head to The City on a Hill
Boston is a great getaway destination any time of year (have you been to Boston in the fall? Gorgeous!), but a trip to Boston in the winter is absolutely wonderful! Whether you have only a weekend or are planning an all-out romantic getaway, there are so many amazing things to see and do in Boston always.
And come the holiday season? Christmas time in Boston is absolute Christmas magic! There’s nothing quite like seeing the cobblestone streets and historic buildings adorned with twinkle lights and Christmas greenery; whether you’re visiting the museums, eating out, or grabbing a quick cup of joe, it seems like the entire city is transformed into a festive holiday paradise.
From ice skating at the iconic Frog Pond to the Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting, Boston is a magical Christmas vacation destination. Plus, there are so many amazing hotels and vacation rentals to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding the comfiest, coziest, most festive place to call home during your Christmas getaway!
Take to the Cape
Cape Cod isn’t just a wonderful warm-weather destination, it’s also an amazing Christmas vacation spot! Cape Cod has so many adorable towns that are full of coastal charm; add in some Christmas spice and twinkle lights, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for Christmas magic! Head to Provincetown to see the Lobster Pot Christmas Tree, then schedule your ride on The Polar Express, departing from Buzzards Bay.
You’ll also find unique Christmas celebrations like the Falmouth Holidays-By-The-Sea weekend with caroling and parades by the Nobska Lighthouse, with Santa arriving in Falmouth Harbor by boat.
All around the Cape, you’ll find holiday strolls, artist’s markets, festive fun runs, enchanting villages, and so much more, so really, the Christmas magic is all around you on the Cape! With no shortage of great things to do on the Cape (and fabulous hotels, inns, and vacation rentals to check out) Cape Cod is a wonderful Christmas in Massachusetts destination for anyone looking for that perfect seaside getaway spot.
Step into a Norman Rockwell Christmas
The Main Street of Stockbridge, MA is the Main Street depicted in Norman Rockwell’s “Home for Christmas (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas)” work, and the first weekend of December, Stockbridge celebrates its role with its annual Main Street at Christmas celebration.
Stockbridge is already one of the most charming small towns in all of New England, but add in the vintage cars parked along the meticulously decorated Main Street with carolers singing in front of freshly-hung wreaths, and Santa overseeing it all in a horse-drawn carriage, and it’s about as picturesque as a Christmas vignette can be!
Don’t forget to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum while you’re in Stockbridge, and when it comes to where to stay, there are many great local options for comfy, cozy, Christmas accommodations. For a classic New England inn option, check out The Red Lion Inn. Not only is the inn a charming delight, but their onsite tavern and dining room make finding quality holiday meals a breeze!
Go on Island Time in Nantucket
We all know Nantucket is a stellar summer vacation spot, but just because the winter winds have blown in doesn’t mean that Nantucket stops shining! If you are looking for a magical Christmas in Massachusetts, it’s just a ferry or plane ride away; in fact, Vogue even calls December “Secretly the Best Time to Visit Nantucket,” so if Vogue says so…
Arrive in time for Nantucket’s Christmas Stroll on the first weekend of December where hundreds of decorated trees adorn Nantucket’s adorable downtown, and one lucky local artist is chosen each year to decorate the main 20-foot tree that stands at the top of Main Street and “talks.” Throughout the weekend, expect costumed carolers, craft shows, performances, tours, and more! Be sure to visit the Nantucket Whaling Museum for their eagerly awaited annual Festival of Trees, too.
The island is a glittering holiday wonderland of twinkle lights, so most anywhere you choose to stay will likely be decorated to the nines with all the sparkling baubles and fresh-cut greens that a person could want. The stunning Nantucket Hotel and Resort is perfectly located to be able to walk to Christmas festivities, but Nantucket has other great vacation rentals and gorgeous hotels to choose from, too, so wherever you stay will be the perfect fit for your MA holiday getaway!
Hit the Ice
Outdoor ice skating is one of those beautifully quintessential Christmas things to do in Massachusetts! There are outdoor ice skating rinks all around the state, but one of the most famous by far is Boston’s Frog Pond. You won’t go wrong ice skating anywhere in MA, but for a truly iconic outdoor ice skating experience, consider a visit to Boston Common for a spin around Frog Pond!
Unwind in the Berkshires
Looking for a beautiful Christmas landscape? Check out the Berkshires, where you can get all the holiday joy of the season without the hustle and bustle of some of the bigger cities. Go on a Holiday House tour at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in lovely Lenox, then on to a Holiday Lights tour at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead in nearby Pittsfield to get a feel for the spirit of Massachusetts Christmases past!
Visit a few of North Adams’ great museums to take in some local art and history; North Adams has a lot to do and see! Catch a holiday show or two with the Berkshire Theatre Group on your way to and from the sweet holiday markets and adorable, fully-decorated downtowns as you finish your Christmas shopping in the Berkshires.
There are a lot of amazing vacation rentals to choose from all around the Berkshires, but if you’re looking for a lovely inn for you and your sweetheart to spend Christmas in Massachusetts together, consider booking a room at Lenox’s 33 Main. No matter where you stay, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you and yours during your Berkshires Christmas vacation!
Cozy up in a Massachusetts Cabin for Christmas
There are so many cute cabins and vacation rentals in the Bay State, so depending on what you’re looking for in your Massachusetts Christmas vacation, you’ll be sure to find the perfect Christmas cabin to stay in. What says cozy Christmas in Massachusetts better than a gorgeous little cabin where you can build a fire in the fireplace with your favorite people and snuggle up together?
Have a Christmas Ski Adventure
Massachusetts may not be as well-known as some of New England’s more dramatic ski destinations, but you can find some great skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing in the Bay State! Check out Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, where you’ll find 100 skiable acres and 100% snowmaking capabilities; Butternut typically opens the third week of December, so you’d be arriving in the beautiful Berkshires at the perfect time to enjoy all the magnificent holiday decorations.
Most of Massachusetts’ ski spots are in or near the Berkshires with one notable exception: Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton, just outside of Boston. Not only does Blue Hills have 60 skiable acres and 90% snowmaking coverage, but this modest ski area is only 10 minutes outside of Boston, so you can enjoy all that wonderful Christmas in Boston magic during your ski-cation!
There are some great vacation rentals available throughout the state to choose from, too. For a fantastically fun and action-packed Christmas getaway, hit the slopes during your Massachusetts holiday vacation!
Enjoy MA Christmas in America’s Hometown
Plymouth Massachusetts, lovingly referred to as “America’s Hometown,” offers a great list of small-town Christmas in Massachusetts things to do, like the Hometown Stroll holiday weekend event in early December with a Festival of Trees, scavenger hunt, giveaways, yummy holiday treats, Santa sightings, and more in historic downtown and waterfront Plymouth. Also a part of Christmas in Historic Plymouth is a parade and Plymouth tree lighting, followed by the annual Winter Lights 5k!
Other great MA Christmas events take place throughout the month in Plymouth, like A Christmas Carol at the Hedge House, featuring live, immersive performances from the classic Dicken’s novel at this gorgeous historic property, Light the Night in Brewster Gardens, Breakfast with Santa at the Plimoth Patuxet Museum, and Jingle All The Way, with a holiday farmers market, fire pit, Mayflower Brewing Winter Beer Garden, carolers, a petting zoo, Santa, food trucks, and more.
There’s plenty more to do in Plymouth too, of course, but Christmas in Massachusetts in America’s Hometown? Absolutely spectacular.
Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
Depending on where you’re visiting from, you may not be interested—or able—to buy your own Christmas tree during your Massachusetts vacation, but there are so many amazing Christmas tree farms in Massachusetts where you can go and enjoy the experience of hands-on, small-town Christmas festivities!
For example, Smolak Farms in Andover has a drool-worthy Candy Bar to satisfy your sweet tooth with, and Wine & Wreath Making, Cookie Decorating, and Gingerbread House workshops. Sleighbell Farm in Sutton offers a neat prop area to take your own holiday photos in, with fun, festive props like a giant holiday wreath and an antique sleigh!
Most Christmas Tree farms in Massachusetts have great gift shops with unique, one-of-a-kind finds that would make for the perfect souvenir or Christmas gift, and many offer holiday treats like hot cider, hot chocolate, or fresh-baked cookies to their visitors. If you’re looking for sweet and simple Christmas in Massachusetts things to do, a visit to the nearest Christmas tree farm may be just what you’re looking for!
Be Charmed by Cape Ann
Cape Ann’s charming North Shore towns only become even more picturesque as the holiday decorations go up, turning the Cape’s storybook streets into Christmas card scenes!
Some notable Cape Ann Christmas happenings include Santa arriving by lobster boat in Rockport before the tree lighting ceremony, the Manchester Holiday Stroll in Manchester, and the Cape-wide Winter Lights map that will lead you to the most spectacular Christmas lights on the Cape!
There are so many great things to do and see in Rockport, Gloucester, and elsewhere around Cape Ann, but if you’re looking for the perfect place to cozy up during your holiday getaway, consider a stay at one of Rockport’s great hotels. If it’s romance you’re after, check out Addison Choate, one of the best spots for a romantic Massachusetts getaway. Wherever you choose to stay during your Cape Ann Christmas getaway, you’ll find plenty of that classic Cape Ann charm!
Revel in Christmas Magic at Martha’s Vineyard
An idyllic vacation spot any time of year, come Christmas, Martha’s Vineyard becomes a pristine example of holiday charm! With Edgartown MA Christmas events like the Christmas in Edgartown Parade and the Lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse ceremony, horse-drawn carriage rides around the harbor, and more.
In Edgartown MA at Christmas, the halls be decked with all of the twinkle lights and fresh evergreens you can imagine… what better way to bring a little extra Christmas magic to your boutique shopping?
Ocean Park Lights in Oak Bluff is an absolute sight to see while you’re enjoying all the great things to see and do on Martha’s Vineyard, as this already delightful park becomes a winter wonderland of light and festive holiday decorations. With great options for where to rest your head during your Christmas vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, you’re sure to have a holly, jolly time wherever you choose!
Nestle in Newburyport for this Season’s Greetings
One of the best beach towns in the Bay State, Newburyport isn’t just a fair-weather vacation destination! Not only is there plenty to see and do outside of the holiday season, but Christmas in this seaside town brings all sorts of fun festivities to the area to really take your MA holiday getaway up a notch.
On the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, Santa arrives in Newburyport by boat, and then it’s on to the Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony, where carols are sung “loud for all to hear,” because everyone (especially Buddy the Elf) knows that’s the best way to spread Christmas cheer!
Shop Newburyport’s lovely downtown during Holiday Invitation Nights, when live entertainment, refreshments, and plenty of twinkle lights make downtown holiday shopping just a little more Merry and Bright! There are several great options for where to stay while in Newburyport, but Essex Street Inn is a gorgeous historic inn that places you near all the downtown holiday festivities. Christmas in Newburyport MA is a slice of coastal, small-town heaven!
Drive Through MA Christmas Light Displays
All around Massachusetts at Christmastime you’ll find delightful Christmas light displays, offering a warm and cozy, no-fuss way to enjoy beautiful Christmas lights! Many even have radio stations to sync up to for the full immersive holiday experience. This isn’t a completely comprehensive list, but check out the drive-through Christmas light displays in Havervill, Agawam, Lancaster, Marshfield, Methuen, Foxborough, and Springfield!
There are so many festive ways to spend Christmas in Massachusetts; whether you’re looking for big-city Christmas magic or small-town sweetness during your holiday getaway, you’ll find it in the Bay State!
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Amy Hartle is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of New England With Love, a comprehensive resource for travel in the New England region. Amy has been exploring New England since 2001. She lived in Vermont for many years and is a graduate of Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. On this site, Amy aims to share her love of New England and help you to have the best possible adventures!
Amy has been writing about travel for over a decade, and is a full time blogger, publishing both Two Drifters and Let’s Adventure Baby. When not traveling the world or creating epic blog content, Amy can be found cuddling with her husband, son, and cats, & drinking a maple latte.