25 Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in New England for Kids

New England kids have so much to smile about, with a season full of holiday activities and Christmas events! Photo courtesy of the I Love Wickford Village Facebook page
New England kids have so much to smile about, with a season full of holiday activities and Christmas events! Photo courtesy of the I Love Wickford Village Facebook page
11/8/23 - By Kelley Heyworth

The holidays are coming fast, and we've rounded up the best holiday activities and Christmas events in New England for kids. What better place to celebrate the Christmas season than New England? There's a reason all those classic holiday movies were filmed here. From snow-blanketed landscapes to quaint, historical towns, to nature in all its winter-wonderland glory. Choose from 25 Christmas-time events and activities in New England that kids and grown ups can enjoy. These holiday activities can be found in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Enjoy sleigh rides, hot cocoa, sparkling lights, and festive traditions galore. Read on for our guide to the 25 best holiday activities and Christmas events in New England for kids!

Are you getting into the holiday spirit yet? Us, too! Check out our list of favorite towns that go all out for Christmas. Get started on your holiday shopping, and remember to explore our Holiday and Christmas Activities Guide.


Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in Connecticut

1. Magic of Lights –​ East Hartford

Drive through a sparkling tunnel of lights, see glittering and dancing ballerinas. You might spot a reindeer and maybe even Santa himself! 

Image of a Peace on Earth Christmas light display in New England 
New Haven hosts a mile-long display of lights. Photo courtesy of Fantasy of Lights, Facebook

2. Fantasy of Lights –​ New Haven, CT

Enjoy a trip through the mile-long route. It features more than 60 animated displays and 100,000 lights, creating a colorful night of delightful memories at Lighthouse Point Park.

Photo of gingerbread house-25 Holiday Activities and Christmas Events
The holidays in New England are pretty sweet! Gingerbread house photo courtesy of the Wood Memorial Library & Museum

3. Gingerbread House Festival –​ South Windsor, CT 

One of the largest gingerbread house displays in New England features the intricate, candy-covered creations of local artists and bakers. This year, the theme is "Land of Sweets." Celebrate the holiday season with more than 150 gingerbread houses. This Christmas activity is sure to inspire artistic creativity. After your visit, build your OWN gingerbread house as a fun family activity.

4. Festival of Lights –​ Mystic, CT

Olde Mystick Village glows with luminary lights during this evening of shopping and complimentary treats. Our guide to Mystic is full of ideas for rounding out your visit to this picture-perfect coastal town. FREE 

Photo of Boston-themed holiday gifts 
Get in your holiday shopping at a 3-day event attracting artisans from across Connecticut and beyond. Photo courtesy of NEchristmasfestival.com

5. New Canaan Nature Center's Winter Wonderland – New Canaan, CT

A refreshingly organic and down-to-earth Christmas experience. Roast marshmallows, see the massive train display, hang out by the campfire, and see Santa too! 

Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in Massachusetts

Image of Christmas lights-Holiday Activities and Christmas Events 
New England is home to fabulous Christmas light displays in 2022. Photo courtesy of theLa Salette Shrine

6. La Salette Shrine –​ Attleboro, MA

Marvel at more than 400,000 twinkly lights at this storied light display, free to the public since 1953. See angels, snowflakes, and plenty more holiday classics. 

7. Polar Express Train Ride –​ Buzzards Bay, MA

This memorable Christmas event is back in all its glory! Cheerful crowds of pajama-clad children climb aboard a cozy old steam train to enjoy a musical performance, delight in hot chocolate and sugar cookies, and, of course, meet the man in the red suit. This is a 1.5 hour ride. Ride the rails with Santa on these other Christmas trains in New England.

8. Trellis of Lights –​ Boston, MA 

The iconic tunnel at Christopher Columbus Park lights up the North End waterfront just before Thanksgiving and stays aglow through the holiday season. This Christmas activity is full of music, hot chocolate, and other treats, including a visit from Santa Claus. 

Image of family and reindeer at Stone Zoo's Christmas ZooLights
See the Stone Zoo like never before this Christmas, with enchanting lights, reindeer, and more. Photo courtesy of Zoo Lights at the Stone Zoo, Facebook

9. ZooLights at Stone Zoo –​ Stoneham, MA

A tree-lined path at this north 'burbs zoo is outfitted each year with thousands of twinkly lights that surround real-life reindeer, arctic foxes, and more northern animals.

10. Nantucket Noel and Annual Christmas Stroll –​ Nantucket, MA 

After taking a pause last year, the Nantucket Noel Christmas event is back for 2022. There will be lavish displays of wreaths, Christmas trees, and shopping deals along its cobblestone streets throughout December. The Annual Nantucket Christmas Stroll weekend is happening December 3-5. There will be live entertainment and a visit from Santa. For more activities on the island, check out our favorite things to do Nantucket with kids.

Photo of child in falling snow with Christmas lights. 
Snow magic and candle making are highlights of the Bavarian Christmas Village. Photo courtesy of Yankee Candle, South Deerfield

11. Yankee Candle –​ South Deerfield, MA

Tour the Bavarian Christmas Village, feel the snow falling, and buy some holiday gifts at Yankee Candle. The South Deerfield flagship store is a winter wonderland, where kids can make their own candles, spy a train making it's rounds, and feel the magic of Christmas.

12. Christmas By Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village –​ Sturbridge, MA

There are carols, sleigh rides, traditional treats, and more to enjoy! Visit weekend evenings for holiday fun through December at New England's largest living history museum.

Photo of tree display-Holiday Activities and Christmas Events
Massachusetts' top green thumbs decorate trees for this spectacular annual display. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society

13. Mass Hort's Festival of Trees and Snow Village –​ Wellesley, MA

Parents will appreciate trees gloriously decorated by Massachusetts Horticultural Society gardeners. Kids will enjoy seeing sparkly Christmas lights across Elm Bank grounds and following trains among the greenery. 

14. Plimoth Patuxet Museums –​ Plymouth, MA

See how both Colonial and Native American families spent the wintertime. Food preparation, historic reenactments, and live animals are on display at the local favorite once known as Plimoth Plantation. It might inspire your family to prepare a historic holiday dish in your own kitchen.

Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in Rhode Island

15. Festival of Lights – Wickford Village, RI 

A quaint and cozy, quintessential New England town, Wickford Villagers love their holidays. The downtown shops decorate their windows in creative seasonal displays. The Festival of Lights weekend is very well-attended with vendors, horse-drawn carriage rides, visits from Santa, and more.

Photo of Newport's Breakers decorated for the holidays. 
The Breakers, one of Newport's iconic mansions, is decked for the holidays.

16. Victorian Mansions –​ Newport, RI

See Victorian mansions done up for Christmastime. December may be the best time to visit, as three of Newport's iconic mansions are decorated in Yuletide finery for extra-special tours and Christmas carol performances. See our picks for 50 Things To Do in Newport with Kids.

Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in New Hampshire

17. Nelson's Homemade Candy Canes –​ Wilton, NH

Peppermint perfumes the air in Wilton over the holidays, as Santa's helpers at Nelson's pull candy canes into distinctive shapes to sell at the iconic candy store. Pluck a one-of-a-kind cane from the rafters, and add some chocolate Santas and peppermint bark for a holiday grab bag.

18. Vintage Christmas –​ Portsmouth, NH

Head north to New Hampshire for a Vintage Christmas. Gingerbread house displays, a candlelight stroll, outdoor ice skating, and classic treats add up to old-fashioned fun in this annual seaside New Hampshire event.

19. Sleigh Rides, Santa and Gingerbread – Bretton Woods, NH

This little alpine-style village becomes a winter wonderland come mid-December, with Bretton Woods Stables offering sleigh rides (weather permitting) and Santa Saturdays. Check out even more adventures in the White Mountains.

Image of children before a Christmas horse-drawn sleigh
There's horse-drawn sleigh rides at Charmingfare Farm in Candia, New Hampshire. Photo by Charmingfare Farm

20. Santa's Christmas at Charmingfare Farm –​ Candia, NH

The whole family will be laughing all the way with a horse-drawn carriage rides to the "North Pole". Kids enjoy reindeer encounters, a visit with Santa, and treats from Mrs. Claus in a fun-filled visit to this New Hampshire farm. You can pick out a fresh-cut tree to bring home, too. 

21. Christmas in Bethlehem – Bethlehem, NH

It's no surprise the "little town of Bethlehem" (New Hampshire, that is) comes alive at Christmastime. Bring holiday cards or Santa letters to the post office to get a special stamped postmark from Bethlehem, or visit The Rocks (starting November 19) for freshly cut Christmas trees and wreaths.

Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in Vermont and Maine

22. Wassail Weekend and more –​ Woodstock, VT

There are so many things to do in Woodstock in wintertime, and much of them hinge around this annual event of music, lights, and some very jolly shopping. Jersey cows, draft horses, and more welcome young animal-loving visitors to Billings Farm, which offers cozy sleigh rides in the winter, too.

23. Boothbay Lights –​ Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor, ME

These twin seaside towns sparkle at the Gardens Aglow event. Local shop merchants celebrate with special Christmas decor, treats for sale, and more. 

Image of a Christmas tree made of lobster traps in Maine
Watch the lighting of a unique lobster trap Christmas tree in Kennebunkport. Photo courtesy of Christmasprelude.com

24. Christmas Prelude –​ Kennebunkport, ME

The countdown is on to the annual Christmas Prelude. The event will include crafts, visits with Santa, tree-lighting, and much more. 

25. Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree Farms –​ various locations

Why buy from a parking lot when the area is full of farms that will sell you a spruce or fir straight from the ground? The outdoor adventure and long-lasting smell are reasons enough. Visit these Christmas tree farms in Boston or Christmas tree farms in Connecticut.