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Holiday Arts Preview

Tree lightings, holiday markets, and more family-friendly events for 2023

Holiday Market at Snowport in the Seaport 2022.Courtesy of Boston Seaport by WS

Pack up the pumpkins and get ready to deck the halls — spooky season is over, which means the holidays are just around the corner. Here are some lightings, parties, and festive experiences to help the whole family get in the spirit.

The Holiday Market at Snowport Seaport’s third annual Snowport holiday market features more than 120 vendors, a tree market, an extensive selection of food, and cocktails at Snowport’s four bars, including the Jingle Bar and the Dizzy Dreidel. (Don’t miss the hot chocolate and mulled cider.) Purchase gifts ranging from home decor and novelty items to jewelry and apparel. Nov. 10-Dec. 31. Mon.-Thu., 3 p.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Dec. 26. 100 Seaport Blvd., Boston.


ZooLights at Stone Zoo Tour the 26-acre Stone Zoo decorated with holiday lights while seeing black bears, Canada lynx, and reindeer among other animals. Catch Mrs. Claus on certain Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Christmas Eve, walking around the zoo. For an extra cost, the “Santa Experience” includes s’mores, hot chocolate, and meeting Santa Claus. Nov. 17- Jan. 7, 4- 9:30 p.m. 149 Pond St., Stoneham. $13.95-$50.

Santa Claus greets children at the 2022 Trellis Lighting at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.John Wilcox/City of Boston

Annual Trellis Lighting at Christopher Columbus Park Join the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park for their annual lighting of the trellis. Mayor Michelle Wu will flip the switch with some help from the children, illuminating the park with more than 50,000 blue lights on the trellis. Clam chowder, cookies, and hot cocoa will be available, and attendees can sing along to holiday tunes. They might even get to meet Santa Claus. Nov. 20, 6 p.m. Christopher Columbus Park, Boston. Free.

28th Annual Family Trees For lovers of children’s literature, Concord Museum is hosting a series of storytime sessions featuring classic stories like “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems and Tomie dePaola’s “Strega Nona.” Visitors can view the 36 holiday trees on display, all decorated with baubles inspired by children’s books. Many of the decorations are hand-made by decorators. Nov. 22-Jan. 1. Tue.-Fri. from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, $10 for youths (6-17), $8 for children ages 3 to 5, and free for children ages 2 and under. Members are free. Concord Museum, 53 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord.


The Polar Express Train Ride.Courtesy of Cape Cod Central Railroad

Polar Express Train Ride An all-ages, 1½-hour train ride, complete with the motion picture soundtrack, to meet Santa and his elves in the North Pole. The conductor will punch golden tickets for children, and a dancing crew of waiters and chefs will perform in the aisles. Enjoy hot chocolate and short bread during the ride, and come dressed in your PJs. Be sure to arrive 45 minutes before departure. Nov. 24-Dec. 23. Departs 70 Main St., Buzzards Bay. $49-$109.

SoWa Winter Festival & Holiday Market.Brian Pu Ruiz

SoWa Winter Festival & Holiday Market 2023 Shop around for unique, artisan holiday gifts at the eighth annual SoWa Winter Festival. The Power Station will be filled with food vendors, artisans, and designers selling their holiday wares. Live entertainment will be featured on the second floor. Nov. 24-Dec. 17 (open Thursday-Sunday). Hours vary. 550 Harrison Ave., South End.

The ship at Martin's Park at the 2022 lighting celebration.Courtesy of Boston Parks and Recreation Department

Lighting of the Ship at Martin’s Park Join the Friends of Martin’s Park and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for the third annual lighting of the ship in Martin’s Park for the holidays. The ship and the surrounding area are covered in over 1,500 feet of blue and white lights, transforming the park into a winter wonderland by the water. Santa Claus will make an appearance by boat at the Harborwalk with the Boston Police Harbor Unit, and Seaport’s Betty the Yeti will join in on the fun. R&B a cappella group Ball In the House will perform holiday songs, and Tuscan Kitchen will serve hot cocoa. Nov. 25, 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Martin’s Park, 64 Sleeper St., Boston. Free.


Lighting of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall A decades-long tradition, the lighting of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall is a volunteer-led initiative illuminating the mile strip of trees in Back Bay. The hotel The Newbury will provide refreshments, cookies, and hot chocolate. Nov. 30, 8 p.m. 15 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Free.

The annual Holiday Tree Lighting on Boston Common on Dec. 1, 2022.Jeremiah Robinson

Boston Common Tree Lighting The City of Boston’s giant Christmas tree, which comes all the way from Nova Scotia each year, will be lit on Nov. 30. Mayor Michelle Wu will lead the countdown alongside members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and holiday characters like Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman. The event will conclude with a pyrotechnic show produced by Atlas PyroVision. This year’s tree lighting will mark the 52nd tree donation from Nova Scotia, the province’s thank you for Boston’s relief efforts and medical aid after the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Nov. 30, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Boston Common. Free.


Hanukkah Party at The VERVE Hotel At this party, it’s BYOD (bring your own dreidel). Head to The VERVE for latkes, dancing, and a dreidel spinning contest, as well as Hanukkah sweets like chocolate gelt and sufganiyot doughnuts. Dec. 7, 6-8 p.m. The VERVE Hotel, 1360 Worcester St., Natick. $18.

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights Celebrate Hanukkah at the Museum of Fine Arts during a night of music, art, and Jewish culture. The Jewish Arts Collaborative, a Boston-based Jewish arts initiative, will host musical performances, discussions with art curators, and family-friendly arts activities. Dec. 7, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Free.

The 2022 Menorah Lighting at the Common with Chabad of Downtown Boston.Courtesy of Chabad of Downtown Boston

Menorah Lighting on Boston Common Join Chabad of Downtown Boston for its 40th annual menorah-lighting. Chabad’s 22-foot-tall menorah is one of New England’s tallest and believed to be the longest-running public menorah in Massachusetts. Elected officials and community leaders will be in attendance. Dec. 7, 4:30 p.m. Boston Common, opposite the State House.

A Christmas Carol at the Omni Parker House Listen to a live reading of Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol.” House Historian Susan Wilson will discuss Dickens’s connection to the hotel before the performance. A ticket purchase includes a $10 voucher for the evening to “The Last Hurrah,” the Parker House’s whiskey bar. Dec. 9, 5 p.m. Omni Parker House. 60 School St., Boston. $39.19.


Tafuta! A Young Child’s Search for the True Meaning of Kwanzaa Featuring children ages 5 to 13, the play tells the story of a child who is bullied at school for celebrating Kwanzaa. By the end of the play, which includes music, poetry, and dance, the student learns to love his heritage. Dec. 15, 7 p.m. Roxbury Community College, 1234 Columbus Ave., Boston. $28.52.

Harvard Square Holiday Fair Get started on your holiday shopping in Harvard Square. With a wide variety of artisans, artists, and craftspeople, the Harvard Square Holiday Fair features everything from jewelry to prints. Dec. 15-17, Fri.-Sun.; Dec. 21-23, Thu.-Sat. Hours vary. 1 Brattle Square, Cambridge.

Children play stars during the Christmas Pageant play at the Trinity Church at Copley Square.Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

Candlelight Carols at Trinity Church Trinity Church has brought Bostonians together for this tradition since 1909 for Scripture readings and carols featuring choirs and instrumentalists. Their website warns that performances may sell out, so be sure to register in advance if you’d like to atttend. Dec. 16, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Trinity Church. 206 Clarendon St., Boston. $4-$135.

Kajsa Kedefors can be reached at Elena Giardina can be reached at