New England

Best Christmas Celebrations in New England

In search of the Christmas spirit? These 10 New England Christmas Celebrations guarantee good food, shopping, activities, and plenty of ho-ho-holiday cheer.

By Aimee Tucker

Dec 06 2021

santa lobsterboat kennebunkport christmas

Santa arrives by lobsterboat at the Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude

Photo Credit : Robert Dennis
It’s not hard to find the Christmas spirit in New England, but if you’re looking to visit a destination that guarantees a full dose of holiday cheer (we’re talking food, shopping, activities, and maybe even a glimpse of Santa), then these New England Christmas celebrations are the answer!
Santa arrives by boat at the Freeport Sparkle Festival.
Santa arrives by boat at the Freeport Sparkle Celebration in Freeport, Maine.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Visit Freeport
From candlelight strolls to Norman Rockwell charm, here are ten of the best Christmas celebrations in New England (listed by date in random order). Which would you most like to attend? *** Updated for 2021***

Best Christmas Celebrations in New England

Festival of Lights | Wickford, Rhode Island December 2 – 5, 2021

Historic Wickford Village in Wickford, Rhode Island celebrates the holiday season in seaside-style with a town tree lighting, hayrides with Santa, concerts, Elf Parade, breakfast with Santa, and more. Don’t miss Santa’s daily arrival at the Town Dock!
freeport sparkle express
Freeport Sparkle Weekend in Freeport, Maine includes extra special rides on the Amtrak Downeaster.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Visit Freeport

Freeport Sparkle Weekend | Freeport, Maine December 3 – 12, 2021

This annual event in bustling Freeport (home to the L.L.Bean Flagship Store, numerous boutiques, a bevy of designer outlets, and a hopping craft brewery scene) is a whirlwind of holiday cheer and excitement. Signature events include the Sparkle Parade of Lights, Talking Christmas Tree, Stealth Elf, Maine craft pop-ups, and visits with Santa. Enjoy ten full days of festive events, sales, and fundraisers among the dazzling light displays of their historic downtown Don’t miss posing with the giant L.L. Bean boot!
Norman Rockwell Christmas in Stockbridg
Celebrating a Norman Rockwell Christmas in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce

Main Street at Christmas | Stockbridge, Massachusetts Canceled for 2021

Celebrate Christmas in New England like Norman Rockwell! Rockwell made Stockbridge famous in his depiction of the town’s Main Street at Christmas, and the town pays tribute to the beloved painter each year in a weekend-long celebration of vintage holiday cheer. Holiday house tours, caroling, horse-drawn rides, a visit with Santa, and concerts make the weekend merry, but it’s tough to top the Sunday afternoon re-creation of Rockwell’s painting, complete with period automobiles. SEE MORE:The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA | A Historic New England Inn at Christmas
Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude
Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude
Photo Credit : Robert Dennis

Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude | Kennebunkport, Maine December 2 – 12, 2021

The seaside village of Kennebunkport, Maine hosts a full week of holiday cheer each year with the Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude. Including the memorable arrival of Santa by lobster boat, events range from shopping and eating (take your pick from a pancake breakfast, lobster bake, or wine tasting) to special events like candlelight caroling, tree lighting ceremonies, arts & crafts shows, concerts, and much (much) more. Shops offer extended hours and many provide special treats to celebrate the season. Don’t miss the famous Lobster Trap Christmas Tree in nearby Cape Porpoise! SEE MORE:Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude | Photographs
nantucket stroll carolers
Nantucket’s Christmas Stroll
Photo Credit : Nantucket Chamber Of Commerce/Michael Galvin

Nantucket Noel and Christmas Stroll | Nantucket, Massachusetts November 26 – December 31, 2021

While picture-perfect holiday cheer abounds in Nantucket during the entire month of December, the island’s annual Christmas Stroll weekend is when the fun really begins. Starting with Santa’s arrival via Coast Guard vessel, the fun continues with craft shows, concerts, a holiday house tour, and Festival of Trees at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Kid-friendly activities include visits with Santa and the Magical Talking Tree. SEE MORE:Nantucket Holiday Stroll | PhotographsCome, Let’s Stroll | Christmas on Nantucket
strawbery banke candlelight stroll
Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH
Photo Credit : Strawbery Banke Museum

Strawbery Banke Candlelight Stroll | Portsmouth, New Hampshire December  4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 2021

With a packed schedule of holiday fun, the historic seaport of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is worth a visit all month long as it celebrates Vintage Christmas, but we especially love the Candlelight Stroll at the Strawbery Banke Museum. Each weekend in December, the grounds are lit with the glow from hundreds of luminaries while the museum’s historic homes boast festive decor and all of the good sights and smells of the holiday season. SEE MORE: Finding Christmas in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Woodstock Winter Wassail Weekend in Woodstock, Vermont.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce

Winter Wassail Weekend | Woodstock, Vermont December 10 – 12, 2021

Celebrating the holiday season in unique style, the annual Winter Wassail Weekend in Woodstock features a parade with over fifty horses and riders dressed in holiday costumes and period dress from the early 19th Century, concerts, a Saturday night Wassail Feast, historic house tours, yule log and activities for children. The shops in town stay open late for all of the names on your list. SEE MORE: Wassail Weekend | Holiday Fun in Woodstock, Vermont
ogunquit christmas parade
Christmas by the Sea parade participants in Ogunquit, Maine
Photo Credit : Nick Papin

Christmas by the Sea | Ogunquit, Maine December 10 – 12, 2021

The popular Maine seaside town’s annual holiday celebration weekend features a tree lighting, Christmas parade, beach bonfire, polar plunge, fireworks, caroling, shopping, music, silent auction, living nativity, visits with Santa, the “Taste the Season” food festival, and more — much, much, more! You won’t know where to begin, but we promise you’ll have a holly jolly time.
Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie Tour
The Mount Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie Tour features treats like these from the Inn at Ellis River.
Photo Credit : Elizabeth Campbell

Inn to Inn Holiday Cookie Tour | White Mountains, New Hampshire December 11 – 12, 2021

If your idea of the perfect way to kick off the holiday season includes sweet treats, overflowing Christmas decorations, snow-capped mountain views, and the (optional but encouraged) cozy charm of a New England bed and breakfast, then the annual self-guided Mt. Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie Tour is exactly what you’re looking for! See More:Mt. Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie Tour
boston christmas pops
Boston’s Quincy Market twinkles during the month of December.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey

Boston, Massachusetts | Christmas in the City

Whether it’s a day of holiday shopping on Boston’s city sidewalks, admiring the tree and musical light show at Faneuil Hall, treating yourself to a fancy dinner and performance of The Nutcracker or the Holiday Pops, skating on the Frog Pond, or even sipping a hot chocolate while cruising the city via trolley tour, Boston offers just about everything the urban holiday spirit desires. Bundle up and hit the town! See More: Yankee‘s Boston Christmas Guide Which New England Christmas celebrations are your favorite? This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.

SEE MORE: Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England Best Places to See Christmas Lights in New England 5 Best Holiday Light Displays in New England