Massachusetts

10 Best Things to Do in Massachusetts This Holiday Season

From mega light displays to more than one telling of “The Nutcracker,” here’s a sampling of the best holiday events in Massachusetts.

By Yankee Editors

Nov 08 2021

Urban-Nutcracker

Anthony Williams’s Urban Nutcracker in Boston.

Photo Credit : Peter Paradise Photography
Whether you’re an out-of-stater planning a visit or a local looking to add a new tradition, here’s a sampling of the best holiday events in Massachusetts, inspired by Yankee’s 2021 feature “The New England Holiday Bucket List.” How many have you experienced?
Anthony Williams’s Urban Nutcracker in Boston.
Photo Credit : Peter Paradise Photography

10 Best Things to Do in Massachusetts This Holiday Season

November 19 – January 9 ZooLightsStone Zoo | Stoneham Stroll through large-scale light displays amid the local residents, including bald eagles, reindeer, porcupines, and arctic foxes.November 24 – January 2Bright Nights Forest Park | Springfield The largest holiday light show in New England offers three full miles of wonder as you drive through brilliantly lit displays such as “Seuss Land” and “Jurassic World.” For a similar experience, but with amusement park rides, check out the Christmas Festival of Lights at Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver (November 12 – January 1). November 26 – December 26The NutcrackerCitizens Bank Opera House | Boston Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, aka New England’s biggest wow-factor take on this holiday classic, takes audiences on a captivating journey filled with athletic feats and special effects. The wildly bedecked Christmas tree, which grows to more than 40 feet before wondering eyes, is outsparkled only by the smiles of the dancers, performing for live audiences for the first time in 22 months.

November 26 – 28 Handel’s MessiahSymphony Hall | Boston

The 168th consecutive holiday season since the Handel and Haydn Society’s U.S. premiere of Handel’s Messiah also marks the last for outgoing artistic director Harry Christophers. Expect extra emotion to color a three-hour immersion into the legendary composer’s 18th-century sound world. 

November 26 – December 31Nantucket NoelNantucket  The tang of salty ocean air meets the sweetness of balsam on the cobblestone streets of this island community during Nantucket Noel, a monthlong holiday celebration crowned by the Christmas Stroll: a weekend of marquee events ranging from the Festival of Trees at the Whaling Museum to Santa’s arrival by Coast Guard cutter. December Christmas at Castle HillCastle Hill on the Crane Estate | Ipswich  The family who built this c. 1928 Stuart-style seaside mansion were such avid sailors that they had five wind indicators installed throughout the home. Now overseen by The Trustees, the home is decorated for holiday tours (don’t miss the antique sled on the first floor) and holds a festive Roaring ’20s cocktail party with some 200 guests in vintage attire. Tickets have a daily limit, so book early. December 2 – 24 Holiday PopsSymphony Hall | Boston

Under the direction of maestro Keith Lockhart, the Boston Pops and its choral collaborators offer up heartwarming, funny-bone-tickling tonics for the spirit during the annual Holiday Pops. And when it’s time for the traditional sing-along, it’s magic to hear untrained, unrehearsed voices in an anthem of human connectedness. 

December 6Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical The Hanover Theatre | Worcester The glow of nostalgia lights up the national touring show Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, based on the iconic 1964 stop-motion TV special. Get your fill of kitschy fun! For details on other New England shows, go to rudolphthemusical.comDecember 18 – 19 Candlelight Carols Trinity Church | BostonA tradition since 1909, Candlelight Carols looked different last year, when 80 recorded-at-home voices offered comfort to those who viewed the broadcast from home or from outside Trinity Church’s wide-open doors. Even as the service of scripture and song moves back inside the glowing sanctuary, it will reflect a shift that has expanded church choirs’ repertoires to include more music by BIPOC composers.December 18 – 26Urban NutcrackerShubert Theatre | Boston

Urban Nutcracker, Anthony Williams’s ever-evolving revamp of the classic ballet, boldly sashays off in diverse dance directions: hip-hop and street tap, flamenco and swing. And no tutu troupe gets audiences grooving like City Ballet of Boston’s colorfully costumed, multicultural cast.

What would you add to the list of the best holiday events in Massachusetts? Let us know in the comments below! And see more festive things to do in Massachusetts (and beyond) in “The New England Holiday Bucket List.” Don’t miss our top 10 holiday events in all six New England states! Check out Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.