This post highlights the best things to do in Boston in December, including free, family-friendly, and nighttime things to do, all updated for 2023.


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER

This section covers our top ten list for Boston in December. When appropriate, we’ve noted activities that are free, family-friendly, or fun after dark.

For even more ideas on popular tourist attractions, check out some of our other posts:

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

Be sure to also check out our Holiday Events in Boston post!


1. See a Theatrical Performance

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 December.

Musicals

Performance Art or Magic Shows

Family-Friendly Shows

NOTE: If you’re looking for other festive shows to attend, consider a Christmas concert! 


2. 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 December.

Concerts

Click here to see even more concerts taking place in Boston in December.

If you’re interested in classical music, note that the Boston Symphony Orchestra will perform Holiday Pops at Symphony Hall throughout the month.


3. Attend a Sporting Event

Sports fans will have plenty of sporting events to see in Boston during the month of December.

Football

Basketball

Hockey

Click here to see even more sporting events in Boston in December..


4. Go on a Walking Tour

We offer a variety of pay-what-you-want walking tours throughout Boston with something for everyone! 

Best of all, many of these tours will take you to popular locations that will be lit up for the holiday season, making each outing a little more festive.

If you’re looking for a walking tour that will include some lighting displays in addition to historical information about the city, consider one of the following:

If you don’t have time for a walking tour, we also offer a number of GPS-enabled audio-guided tours that are available for you at your convenience!


5. Take a Holiday Cruise

Many popular cruise lines will be offering holiday outings in Boston Harbor throughout the month of December.

Whether you want to sit back and relax while taking in the views or enjoy singing Christmas carols with others, this is an excellent holiday activity.

If you’d rather take a more traditional sightseeing or dinner cruise, make sure to read our post covering Boston boat tours.


6. Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Now in it's 37th year, the Harvard Square Holiday Fair takes place this month.

It features crafts made by New England artists and designers as well as those imported from around the world.

This is the perfect place to find some original holiday gifts.

The fair takes place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays over a few weekends in December.

Don’t forget that we offer tours of both Cambridge and Harvard!


7. See Live Stand-up Comedy

If you're in need of a good laugh, there will be several notable comedians performing in Boston during the month of December.

Comedy Shows

Holiday Comedy

Comedy Clubs

Click here for a list of even more comedy performances taking place in Boston in December.


8. Follow Boston's Holiday Lights Trail

Boston is gorgeous in the winter, and the city comes alive with lights in celebration of the holidays.

The Holiday Lights Trail is free, family-friendly activity that is sure to get everyone in the mood for the holiday season.

You can find trees or Christmas lights at the following locations:

  • Massachusetts State House
  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace
  • Macy’s Downtown Crossing
  • Boston Common | the tree lighting usually takes place December
  • Copley Square
  • Boston Public Garden
  • Boston Seaport
  • Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park

Many of these trees can be seen on our Freedom Trail walking tour throughout the holiday season, and there will be several additional light displays popping up throughout the city as well.

Note, to see some upside-down Christmas trees, hung like chandeliers from the ceiling, visit the Liberty Hotel at 214 Charles Street.

For more details, please read our post covering Christmas in Boston.


9. Celebrate New Year’s Eve

Boston will ring in 2023 with a variety of events, including multiple fireworks shows.

In years past, the New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston has been absolutely epic, with a variety of puppet shows, musical performances, comedic improv, festive ice skating events, and more.

If you want to know what to expect this year, make sure to keep an eye on the schedule at First Night Boston.

Don’t forget to check which restaurants are offering special menus and discounts for the New Year’s celebration!

For more fun activities after the sun goes down, check out our things to do at night section.


10. Save Money With a Tourist Pass

If you’re planning to enjoy a lot of different activities while you’re in Boston this December, a tourist pass can save you a lot of money on popular attractions.

One of the easiest options is a build-your-own-pass, which allows you to save 20% off 2 or more tickets. 

Another nice thing about these passes is that they make it easier to save a few bucks on attractions that are already pretty cheap. 

For instance, a flex pass allows you to pay one flat price for a set number of attractions (3, 4, or 5), which means you’ll ultimately be paying a certain amount for each ticket. 

If one of the locations you want to visit is already $10 or less, why would you use a flex pass (over $25 per ticket) for that?

Flex passes are much more useful for expensive activities, and you can save a lot of cash using them for those services.

There are also all-inclusive passes which include admission to dozens of popular attractions over the course of a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days).

Here are a few of the most notable tours and tickets included with Boston tourist passes:

  • Hop-on-Hop-off Trolley Tour
  • Six Flags New England
  • New England Aquarium
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Boston Harbor Cruise
  • Museum of Science
  • Skywalk Observatory
  • Fenway Park Tour
  • Franklin Park Zoo
  • LEGOLAND
  • And more!

Some of these services also include skip-the-line entry at certain locations, making it easy to save both time and money.

Depending on how you use these passes, you could save anywhere from 20% - 50% or more. For additional details, please read our post about Boston tourist passes .


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN DECEMBER

This December, Boston will be loaded with evening activities that are sure to please. 

In addition to the events listed below, don’t forget to check out our master post on things to do at night in Boston post for even more nighttime ideas!


Have a Pint at the Cheers Bar!

Originally named Bull and Finch, this bar in the Back Bay was the inspiration for the famous 1980s comedy, Cheers

Stop in to have a bite or a pint of beer at the bar or shop the gift shop which features an assortment of paraphernalia for fans.

For more details about this activity, please read our post about visiting the original Cheers bar in Boston.


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.


Take A Beacon Hill Crime Tour

Our guides offer a Beacon Hill Crime Tour a few times a week.

Beacon Hill is thought to be one of the loveliest neighborhoods in the city, yet it has a dark history. In the early 60s the Boston Strangler terrorized folks who lived there.

To hear more about the history of related events, and to visit crime scene locations, sign up for our tour.

In addition to what’s listed in this section of the page, make sure to check out the section on nighttime activities in our master post on things to do in Boston.


FREE THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER

Boston offers a variety of free events throughout the month of December. 

For even more ideas, make sure to read our post covering free things to do in Boston.


Go to a Holiday Market

Even if you can’t find the gift you’re looking for at the Harvard Square Holiday Fair, there’s no need to worry – there will be several holiday markets popping up all over the city!

There are also popular shopping malls such as Prudential Center which have several different shops to choose from, making it easier to find gifts that your loved ones will enjoy.

Although the idea is to spend money on gifts, you can always come and just enjoy the decorations at these holiday markets for free!

For more details, make sure to read our post about Christmas in Boston.


Visit a Free Museum

In addition to all the festive fun that you can do in Boston this month, there are also several museums that you can enjoy without paying a dime.

Here are a few of the best locations to visit for free in Boston:

  • Commonwealth Museum
  • McMullen Museum of Art
  • Massachusetts Historical Society
  • Boston Fire Museum

For even more places you can visit without worrying about your finances, check our post about free museums in Boston.

For more general activity ideas, make sure to read our post covering free things to do in Boston.


FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN DECEMBER

December brings a variety of family-friendly events to Beantown! 

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


Attend a Boston Tea Party Reenactment

Experience a dramatic reenactment of the single most important event that led to the American Revolution. 

Living history actors will come together at the Old South Meeting House to tell the story of the Boston Tea Party that occurred on December 16th, 1773.

As you may have guessed, this activity will be taking place on December 16th, and it’s free!


Visit the New England Aquarium

Enjoy a day under the sea! Well, kind of. 

Welcoming visitors for over 50 years, the New England Aquarium is one of the premier tourist attractions in Boston. 

See penguins, seals, and dozens of different fish and meet the aquarium's most famous resident, Myrtle the Green Sea Turtle!

If you’re budget-conscious, it’s worth noting that they actually offer one exhibit of harbor seals for free right outside the ticket booth. 

You can also save 50% or more on tickets simply by using a Boston tourist pass.


Take a Holiday Cruise

Join Boston Sailing with a 1.5-hour holiday boat cruise around the harbor! 

Choose from the family-friendly "Cocoa and Carols Cruise", enjoy a whiskey and holiday ballads with an "Irish Christmas Carol", or tap your feet to the beat with a "Holiday Jazz Cruise".

Don’t worry – these boats are well-heated during the winter, and each of these outings ensures you keep warm.


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About The Author

Brian Burgess

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.
Updated: September 13th, 2023
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