This post lists the 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 2024.
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
The Boston area is home to many different music venues, big and small.
Below, we have listed several top musicians playing in and around the Boston area this January. 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 trip to see them perform.
- Madonna | January 8th, 9th (Boston)
- Ruben Studdard/Clay Aiken | January 17th, 19th, 19th (Lexington & Plymouth)
- The Elovaters | January 20th (Boston)
- Boston Celtic Music Festival | January 11th-14th | various locations | music from Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and other Celtic communities
If you’re interested in classical music, note that the Boston Symphony Orchestra will perform at Symphony Hall throughout the month.
Check out even more concerts you can see in Boston this January.
2. Attend a Sporting Event
Some of Boston’s most popular teams will be playing home games throughout the month of January.
If you’re a sports fan, you're sure to find a game you'll want to attend.
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 other Boston sporting events in January.
3. See a Popular Show
Boston may not be the home of Broadway, but it has several great theaters that host popular shows.
Below are just some of the productions taking place in January.
- Blue Man Group | Jan 1st-28th
- PAW Patrol Live! "The Great Pirate Adventure | January 19th-21st
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.
Check this list to see more theatrical shows in Boston this January.
4. See a Stand-up Comedy Show
If you're in need of a good laugh, there will be several notable comedians performing in Boston during the month of January.
- Jay Pharoah | January 19th
- Jeff Dunham | January 25th-27th
- Ashley Gavin | January 26th
- Pat McGann | January 27th
Find other comedy events in Boston here.
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.
If you're looking for other nighttime activities in Boston, our things to do at night post has some other ideas for you.
5. 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:
- Freedom Trail Tour
- North End/Little Italy
- Kennedy/Irish Boston
- Beacon Hill Crime Tour
- Battle of Bunker Hill
6. Visit a Museum at Night
Harvard Art Museums stays open late on January 25th!
Between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm, you can join them for "an evening of art, fun, food, and more!"
The Harvard Art Museums are made up of the Fogg, Busch Reisinger, and the Arthur M. Sackler museums.
Note that if you're interested, we offer a pay-what-you-wish walking tour of Cambridge and Harvard that you can take while you’re in the area.
7. Go Ice Skating
Few things welcome winter and the holiday season like a jaunt around an outdoor ice skating rink!
One of the most popular skating rinks in the city can be found at the Frog Pond in Boston Common.
Every year, the pond is turned into an ice rink where visitors can skate around.
If you’re looking for some of the other locations in this city where you can enjoy this activity, make sure to read our post about ice skating in Boston.
8. Celebrate MLK Jr. Day
The city of Boston celebrates this holiday with several fun events, some of which are entirely free to enjoy.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day will fall on January 15th in 2024. Here are some activities you might enjoy:
- Institute for Contemporary Art Free Admission
- Visit the Embrace monument
- 2024 LMK Breakfast at Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
- MIT's 50th Annual MLK celebration
If you’re looking for more museums you can visit for free throughout the month, please read our post about free museums in Boston.
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, January 1st, the L Street Brownies will be taking a polar plunge into Dorchester Bay.
They are the oldest "polar bear" club in America, and the plunge is something they've been doing for 119 years!
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.
For more activities that won’t cost a dime, make sure to read our free things to do section.
10. 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.
Here are a few of the most popular tours, museums, and other things to do included with these passes:
- Hop on Hop off Trolley
- New England Aquarium
- Six Flags New England
- Boston Duck Tour
- Skywalk Observatory
- Museum of Science
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Franklin Park Zoo
- Boston Bike Rental
- Fenway Park Tour
- 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.
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.
View the Boston Skyline
There are several great places to get a good look at the Boston skyline.
One of the most historic locations is the Bunker Hill Monument, which is a 221 ft tall obelisk that you can climb to the top.
You'll need a pass to do this, but they are free! Just go to the Bunker Hill Museum and ask for a pass.
If you're willing to go a bit out of the way, consider a trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery in West Cambridge for almost unbeatable views of the city skyline.
Another option is at Piers Park in East Boston. While you won't get a view from above, it is one of the best places to see the skyline from below.
Go to a Sci-fi Convention
Arisia is a science fiction and fantasy convention that will take place from January 12th–16th at the Westin Boston Seaport District Hotel.
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.
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, check out our post, Free Things to Do in Boston, 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 15th, this would be the perfect time to walk this trail and learn more about black history in this city.
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.
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.
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
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 through Friday from 9:00 am - 5 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.
Experience Zoo Lights
This holiday display will be up at Stone Zoo until January 7th, 2024, 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.
You can find even more ideas in our post covering things to do with kids in Boston.