December GoList: Top Things To Do with Kids in Boston for the Holidays

best things for boston families to do in december

Holiday celebrations kick into high gear in December, and the month brings the return of many beloved seasonal traditions like tree lighting ceremonies, performances of The Nutcracker and outdoor ice skatingOur Event Calendar is packed with events for the holidays, family-friendly performances and vacation week activities for the kids. With so much going on it's not easy to choose, but here are our top 10 picks for holiday activities and special events this December.

Mass Hort's Festival of Trees - Wellesley
Nov 25 - Dec 11, 2016
$10 adults, admission for children under 12 is free

Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Festival of Trees displays spectacularly decorated trees in the Carriage House at Mass Hort’s headquarters. The Festival of Trees showcases over 75 trees, plus the Snow Village at Elm Bank, a model train exhibit. All trees, including a Giving Tree (full of gift certificates), are raffled to lucky winners and proceeds go to support the mission of Mass Hort. Special events include horse-drawn hayrides, a visit with Santa, kids' craft workshops and pajama story hour.

Holiday Pops - Symphony Hall, Boston
Nov 30 - Dec 24, 2016
Tickets $32 and up

Join the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart in a performance filled with holiday music favorites, the traditional Pops sing-a-long, and a visit from jolly old Santa Claus. The special kids' matinee performances allow children under the age of four and include post-concert photos with Santa and special treats.

Bay State Model Railroad Museum Open House - Roslindale
Dec 3-4, 2016
Adults $5; Free for children (no cost to visit Santa)        

Join the Bay State Model Railroad Museum for its annual holiday celebration, one of the two times each year the museum is open to the public. Model train layouts include Roslindale Village circa 1940's, scenic New England, and more. Santa arrives in style at 12 noon on Sunday. Children can visit with him at Dandelions Flower Shop, located next to the Museum entrance (bring a camera for this photo opp). 

The Velveteen Rabbit - Calderwood Pavilion, Boston
Dec 3-18, 2016
Tickets $10-35       

Boston Children's Theatre presents the enchanting play adapted by Burgess Clark, featuring puppetry combined with live actors. Celebrating the holiday themes of hope, family and belief, and featuring original music and puppets, The Velveteen Rabbit is about the strength and power of a child’s imagination.

Urban Nutcracker - Back Bay, Boston
Dec 16-31, 2016
Tickets $25 and up

Tony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker puts a modern spin on the 19th Century fairy tale, fusing Tchaikovsky’s classic score with Duke Ellington’s jazz interpretation. Urban Nutcracker delivers classic ballet, urban tap, hip hop, swing, flamenco, step, jazz, and a few other surprises. Read our review to find out why we think it should be a child's first ballet in Boston.

Holiday on Ice - Community Ice Skating @Kendall, Cambridge
Dec 10, 2016

To kick off the public skating season, Community Ice Skating @Kendall offers free skating admission all day (skate rentals $). At 2pm, enjoy a free skating show with former Olympians and international medalists, produced by Frozen Frog Productions. 

Boston Tea Party Annual Reenactment - Old South Meeting House and The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Boston
Dec 16, 2016
Tickets $30   

Gather at Old South Meeting House, the actual historic landmark where the colonists met in 1773, with Boston's infamous rabblerousers like Samuel Adams, Paul Revere—and even some crown-loving Loyalists—to debate the tea tax and demand liberty from the British crown. Then join the procession to Griffin's Wharf accompanied by fife and drum and scores of colonists. Line the shores of Boston Harbor to witness the destruction of the tea firsthand, as the Sons of Liberty storm the Brig Beaver, tossing the troublesome tea into the sea!

December Vacation Week Activities - MFA, Boston
Dec 26, 2016 - Dec 31, 2016
Included with museum admission        

The museum offers art activities for children and families all week long. Make artwork in the galleries inspired by the theme of "Winter Travels," explore different areas of the collection with Art Connections Cards, and check out a tote bag from the Sharf Visitor Center. 

First Night First Day 2017 - Boston
Dec 31, 2016 - Jan 1, 2017

Boston rings in 2017 with its annual First Night celebration, the country’s oldest and largest New Year’s Eve arts festival. Many of the beloved traditions of First Nights past, including ice sculptures and light displays, are free. In addition, there are free family-friendly fireworks at 7pm on December 31, and arts and musical performances taking place in numerous inside and outside venues around the heart of the festival. On January 1, Copley Square welcomes New Year’s revelers to participate in activities devoted to families and children’s entertainment from noon to 4pm.