Things to Do in Boston in January

This post lists top things to do during the month of January in Boston as well as things to do at night, free activities and family-friendly events. 

It has been updated for 2020.

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY

This section covers our top ten list for January. When possible, we’ve noted activities that are great after dark, free, or kid-friendly. 

For more ideas on popular things to do in Boston, check out our popular posts: 

Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.


1) Go to a Concert

There will be a lot of notable artists performing in Boston this month, making January an especially good time to attend a concert.

 

 

Here are a few of the best shows you may want to consider:

Some of these concerts are located just outside of the city, but if you’re a fan of the artist, it may be worth a day trip to see them perform live!

Check the following list for more concerts you can see in Boston this January.


2) Attend a Sporting Event

Two of Boston’s most popular teams will be playing home games throughout the month of January.

 

 

If you’re a sports fan, consider attending one of the following games:

Boston Celtics

Boston Bruins

This might also be a good time to take a tour of historic Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox!

For more games, you can see this month, check this list of Boston sporting events in January.


3) See a Popular Musical

Boston tends to attract some of the best musicals in the world, including several off-Broadway hits. During the month of January, you can expect at least three great theatrical performances to see.

Cats is a historically popular off-Broadway hit, and you’ll be able to see it from Jan 7th – 19th at the Citizens Bank Opera House.

 

 

Mean Girls is sure to be one of the most notable shows of the month. This musical is based on the hit movie which goes by the same name, and it will be hosted by the Citizens Bank Opera House from Jan 28th – 31st.

Finally, if you’re interested in seeing the classic tale of Moby Dick brought to life, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge will be hosting this musical from Jan 2nd – 12th.

Check this list to see more theatrical shows in Boston this January.


4) See Jeff Dunham Perform Stand-up Comedy

Famous comedian Jeff Dunham will be performing stand-up comedy with his troupe of puppets in Boston during the month of January.

 

 

This is an excellent opportunity to see one of the most popular comedians in the country live.

If you’re a fan of his work, make sure to pick up tickets as soon as possible, because they’re selling out fast!

NOTE: There are also several comedy clubs that host free open mic nights each week. Check our post on things to do at night in Boston for more details.

Find all the comedy events in Boston here.


5) Save Money With a Tourist Pass

If you’re planning to see a lot of attractions while visiting Boston, it’s worth noting that you can save money on tickets by using a tourist pass.

Boston currently has several different types of passes to choose from, and they each include a lot of popular activities including tours, museums, cruises and other things to do.

An all-inclusive pass will save you the most money, but you’ll have to use it for as many attractions as possible in order to get a big discount. This pass includes admission to dozens of services and locations for a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days).

There are also flex passes that provide access to a set number of activities (3, 4, or 5) for one flat price. While you can save money with this service, it’ll be important to choose the most expensive attractions.

 

 

The easiest option is a build-your-own-pass which allows you to save 20% off 2 or more activities. The best part about this pass is you don’t have to commit to several attractions and it’s easier to save money on services and locations that are already affordable.

Here are a few of the most popular tours, museums, and other things to do included with these passes:

  • Hop on Hop off Trolley | $54
  • New England Aquarium | $31
  • Six Flags New England | $72
  • Boston Duck Tour | $45
  • Skywalk Observatory | $21
  • Museum of Science | $29
  • Museum of Fine Arts | $25
  • Franklin Park Zoo | $20
  • Boston Bike Rental | $40
  • Fenway Park Tour | $23
  • LEGOLAND | $25
  • And more!

Depending on which type of pass you choose, you should be able to save at least 20% – 50% off or more.

For additional details, please read our post covering Boston tourist passes.


6) Take a Walking Tour

Even though it’s a bit cold, you may want to think about taking one of our pay-what-you-wish Boston walking tours in January.

This is typically a slow month for tourism, so chances are that tour groups will be smaller and you’ll receive more personal attention from your guide!

 


Here are a few outings you may enjoy this month:

We also offer several self-guided tours and GPS enabled tours for those who wish to enjoy a more private excursion.


7) Eat Chocolate in Harvard Square

The month of January will bring the 12th Annual Taste of Chocolate Festival in Harvard Square.

This event will be taking place on the last weekend of the month, and there will be several fun things to do!

The highlight of this festival is a free chocolate tasting in Brattle Plaza – yes, free chocolate! In addition to that activity, there will also be several local vendors offering discounts on chocolate confections.

 

 

Even if you can’t make it to the festival, you might want to consider taking a Harvard Square chocolate tour. This activity is held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and tickets are only $35 per person.

Needless to say, this is a great event to enjoy with your children. If you’re looking for more fun the kids can enjoy, please check our section on family-friendly activities.

Oh, and don’t forget that we offer a pay-what-you-wish walking tour of Cambridge and Harvard that you might want to take while you’re in the area!


8) Attend the Extreme Beer Fest

If you’re a fan of IPAs and small-town breweries, this beer festival is an absolute must. Attendees will have an opportunity to try a variety of drinks from a total of 27 different brewers.

Tickets include samples of all the beers, so you don’t have to worry about paying extra for any of the drinks available, but there will also be food vendors on hand offering a variety of snacks for sale.

 


The Extreme Beer Fest will be taking place on January 31st & February 1st, with the first session running from 6 pm – 9:30 pm. Ticket prices start at $75 and are very limited, so you should get them well ahead of time.

You’ll find even more fun nighttime activities in our things to do at night section.


9) Join the Polar Plunge

You may have heard about those crazy people who go swimming in frigid waters during the winter, but did you know you can actually join them?

On New Year’s Day, the L Street Brownies will be taking a polar plunge into the Dorchester Bay. Their New Year’s Polar Plunge has reached historic proportions with 1,000 people joining in 2017.

 

 

If you want to join in, there is no need to pre-register, just show up! Water shoes are suggested and you must be over 16 years old. 

The plunge is hosted by the L Street Brownies at the BCYF Curley Community Center, 1663 Columbia Road in South Boston, “K” Street entrance.

For more activities that won’t cost a dime, make sure to read our free things to do section.


10) Celebrate MLK Jr. Day

The city of Boston celebrates this holiday with several fun events, many of which are entirely free to enjoy.

 

 

Here are a few of the best activities that won’t cost you a dime:

Martin Luther King Jr. Day will fall on January 20th in 2020. Make sure to plan accordingly.

If you’re looking for more museums you can visit for free throughout the month, please read our post about free museums in Boston.

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN JANUARY

There are a number of things to do in Boston at night in January, and this section will cover some of the best activities. 

 

 

For additional ideas on how to spend your evening, make sure to check out our master things to do at night in Boston post which includes activities like these:

  • See the City from Skywalk Observatory
  • Enjoy a Night at the Museum
  • Stargaze at Coit Observatory
  • Take a Haunted Bus Tour

NORM! Grab a drink at the Cheers Bar

Go where everybody knows your name and have a pint at Cheers. Don’t expect it to look quite like Sam Malone’s bar, but here is the best way to find the Cheers Bar.

There are two options in Boston: the original location that inspired the show, and the bar that was inspired by the show.

Each site has plenty of memorabilia from the show, as well as drinks and food items named after the characters in the series.


See the Blue Man Group

The Blue Man Group has been performing at the Charles Theater for years.

This artistic trio, painted in blue, offers musical and comedic performance. The show is heavy with audience participation. 

Best of all, admission is included with most Boston tourist passes, making it easy to save money on this activity. Grab your tickets now or learn more!


See the Boston Symphony Orchestra

This popular orchestra will be performing at the Boston Symphony Hall throughout the month of January.

Audiences can expect a variety of classical music from notable artists such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

Tickets start at $170 per person and most performances are held at 8 pm. 

Purchase tickets or learn more.


Go to a Sci-fi Convention

Arisia is a science fiction and fantasy convention that will take place from January 17th – 20th at the Westin Boston Waterfront.

This event includes a variety of fun activities including dancing, costumes, gaming, role-playing, movies, and vendors selling sci-fi goodies!

While some events take place during the day, there are plenty of fun things to do after the sun goes down as well.

Make sure to check out our master things to do at night in Boston post for more ideas.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY

With a little planning, there are a lot of free activities available to do in Boston this January. 

 

 

Here are a few more ideas for free activities in January but for our comprehensive list, visiting our Free Things to Do in Boston post where you’ll find some of the following activities:

  • Take a tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery
  • Spend some time at Faneuil Hall Marketplace
  • Go Stargazing at Astronomy After Hours
  • Visit a Free Museum in Boston

Explore the Freedom Trail

Looking for the Revolutionary History of Boston? This 2-mile long trail will take you past all the historic sites and sounds of Boston. 

We offer a guided walking tour of the first part of the trail – Freedom Trail Tour.

Interested in doing it on your own? We have a free self-guided tour for that.


Walk the Black Heritage Trail

In addition to the Freedom Trail, there is also a historic trail covering the history of African Americans in Boston.

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20th, this would be the perfect time to walk this trail and learn more about black history in this city.

Click here for a free self-guided tour map and audio tours.


Tour the U.S.S. Constitution & Bunker Hill Monument

The USS Constitution was made famous for its success in battle during the War of 1812 where it never lost an engagement and received the nickname “Old Ironsides” for the way British cannonballs fired at it would bounce harmlessly off the ship’s thick wooden sides. 

The Bunker Hill Monument remembers the June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill.

Even though the battle itself wasn’t a victory for the colonists, it was a huge moral victory as it proved that the colonists could inflict major casualties and showed that they were able to stand tall against the mighty British Empire. 

Learn more about visiting these two sites.


Free Tours of the Boston Symphony Hall

In addition to all the performances that will be available at this location during the month of January, you can also take a tour of the historic location!

During the orchestral season (October-May), Boston Symphony Hall offers free tours of the hall. This landmark building is one of the premiere concert halls in the nation. 

Taking a free tour is a great way to experience it if you cannot attend a performance – or why don’t you do both?

For more budget-friendly ideas, visit our Free Things to Do in Boston post.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY

Boston offers a lot of family-friendly activities and attractions any day of the year. 

 

 

This section provides a few more family-friendly ideas for January, but you can find even more in our post covering things to do with kids in Boston, including some of the following activities:

  • Visit a kid-friendly Museum
  • Go to the New England Aquarium
  • Spend some time at Harvard Square
  • Take the kids to a Playground

Go for a Spin on the Ice

There are many ice skating options in Boston. Our favorite is in Boston Commons but you can find one that fits well into your travel day. 

Ice Skating is fun for all ages and some of the rinks have lessons or skating buddies to help younger skaters, and January is an excellent time for ice skating!


Take the Kids to The Commonwealth Museum

This amazing museum shares a building with the Massachusetts Archives. 

Their collection includes items such as John Adams’ expense report from his trip to Philadelphia, John Hancock’s cover letter to the Massachusetts copy of the Declaration and more.

With interactive exhibits, The Commonwealth Museum is great for kids. You can pretend to be a judge at the Salem Witch Trials or figure out if you would be a Tory or Patriot before the Revolution. 

It is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 am – 4:45 pm and Saturdays & Sundays from 9 am – 3 pm.


Harvard Natural History Museum

The Museum was created to be the “public face” of three Harvard research museums and is a great way to stay warm and explore some of the fascinating exhibits of natural history.

Visitors can touch rock and mineral specimens dating back to the beginning of our solar system and experience glass models of plants, flowers and more.

Learn more about the Harvard Natural History Museum.


Experience Zoo Lights

This holiday display will be up at Stone Zoo until January 4th, giving families one last opportunity to enjoy the attraction.

Visitors can expect to see live reindeer, decorated animal areas, and a plethora of trees and other displays lighting up the night.

Tickets for this event are separate from tickets to the zoo, but they are also cheaper than zoo tickets at $15 for adults and $12 for kids.

Learn more about Zoo Lights.

You can find even more ideas in our post covering things to do with kids in Boston.

 


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About the author

Manager | Boston

Brian was born in Cambridge and has been living in the Boston area all his life. He is a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus.

He has been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoys sharing his knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on his tours, but with everyone he meets.