Believe it or not, folks, it's that time of year. Before you know it, bells will be ringing, people will be singing, and you will be behind on holiday shopping.
One important thing to know as the holiday season approaches is that paying full price is for chumps. Each year, the Mayor's Office and ArtsBoston team up for the Mayor's Holiday Spectacular, so before dishing out the dough, check MayorsHoliday.com first to get half-price tickets to shows, dining discounts, and more.
As we've always done in the past, here's your "everything holiday" event guide in the city this jolly season! We'll keep updating as more events are scheduled; feel free to add your recommendations in the comments below.
TREE LIGHTING & HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Commonwealth Avenue Mall Lights Sure, the trees at the Common, Faneuil Hall, and Copley will be completely decked out, but for a quieter, more elegant display of holiday lights, take a stroll through the Comm. Ave. Mall, which is illuminated each year with thousands of sparkling white lights.
Free, December 1-31, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Boston.
Copley Square Tree Lighting Santa and Rudolph will be among the special guests at the Copley Square tree lighting, which also typically features other highlights like music and kids' activities.
Free, December 2, 5-6 p.m., Copley Square, Boston.
31 Nights of Light at Prudential Center Each year, the Pru dedicates each day of December to a different organization, lighting up the tower in colors representing that local group. Each night is accompanied with special event with music and speakers, but for casual passersby, just know that the changing beacon represents a different cause each night.
Free, December 1-31, Prudential Center, Boston.
Boston Common Tree Lighting This is understandably one of the biggest tree lighting events in town. The mayor, Santa, and other notables will be in attendance. Last year boasted live performances by Joey McIntyre, Blue Man Group, and Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker. Plus, don't miss the annual Frog Pond Skating Spectacular, when pros and students from the Skating Club of Boston put on one of their two free shows of the season.
Free, December 4, 4-8 p.m., Boston Common.
Old South Church Christmas Craft Fair and Music Day Right in the heart of Boylston, the fair at Old South Church will bring 30 artists from all over New England to display their offerings in all kinds of photography, fine art, jewelry, pottery, and more. The Boston Conservatory's Boylston Brass Concert will take place at 10 a.m., the Christmas Organ concert at noon, then a final tree lighting and caroling will take place at 2 p.m.
Free, December 6, 9:30 a.m.-3:30p.m., Old South Church, Boston.
15th Annual Santa Speedo Run No explanation necessary. See photos from last year.
Free to be there, register online, December 6, 1-1:30 p.m. on Newbury and Boylston Streets between Berkeley and Gloucester.
SOUNDS & SHOWS
While Boston Ballet's production remains the glitziest show of them all, you can experience the classic tale just about anywhere during the holidays.
$35+, The Nutcracker by Boston Ballet, November 28-December 31, Boston Opera House. $25+, The Nutcracker by Boston Dance Company, December 6 in Andover and December 11 and 12 at the Strand in Dorchester. $15+, The Nutcracker by José Mateo Ballet Theatre, November 28-December 21, shows in Duxbury, Cambridge, and Dorchester. $25, The Urban Nutcracker by Tony Williams Dance Center, December 12-28, Back Bay Events Center, Boston. $27+, The Slutcracker, December 5-31, Somerville Theatre.
Holiday Pops A long-running tradition continues in December when Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops take the Symphony Hall stage to perform all your favorite holiday classics. This year, in additional to the regular show, the Pops will also perform three shows of Home Alone. Or you can ring in the New Year on December 31 with Bo Winiker and the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra.
$37+, December 3-31, Symphony Hall, Boston.
Holiday Sing H+H's chorus and children's ensembles--along with a brass quintet--will lead a cheerful sing-a-long featuring all the classics. Yes, you will know all the words.
$20+, December 13, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Great Hall at Faneuil Hall, Boston.
Back Bay Ringers' Christmas Memories If the aforementioned tuba concert doesn't sound like your thing, then consider experiencing your favorite Christmas classics performed by on hand bells by the talented Back Bay Ringers.
$15, five shows December 5-13 in Boston, Danvers, Worcester, Framingham, and Waltham.
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn at Hanover Theatre Brian O'Donovan will host this evening of world-class Celtic music and dancing presented by WGBH.
$46+, December 17, 7:30 p.m., Hanover Theatre, Worcester.
A Bach Christmas at Jordan Hall, December 18-21 Corelli's Christmas Concerto and Bach's Cantata IV from Christmas Oratorio as among the pieces classical music lovers can expect from the Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Back Bay Chorale Music Director Scott Allen Jarrett.
$22+, December 18 at 7:30 p.m. and December 21 at 3 p.m., Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory, Boston.
Aimee Mann's Christmas Show Mann's holiday variety show returns after going on hiatus for a few years. This year she's back with her partner from The Both Ted Leo, Susanna Hoffs, Jonathan Coulton, and more.
$35+, December 9, 8 p.m., Wilbur Theatre, Boston.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical Even if you aren't singing out loud, we dare you to resist not mouthing the lyrics by the end. Even as you read this, the words are coming to you. Then one foggy Christmas Eve... Stuck in your head now? Yeah, you're welcome.
$28+, December 9-14, Citi Shubert Theatre, Boston.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas: The Musical Based on the 1954 film, White Christmas has all the trimmings--red ball gowns with white fur trim, cheesy Christmas sweaters, and dancing on a tiny piano.
$35+, December 16-28, Citi Wang Theatre, Boston.
Cultural Survival Bazaar This one-of-a-kind shopping experience helps guarantee that your gifts won't be the same as everyone's else's. Plus, you'll feel better knowing that you're buying quality accessories, decor, and other items directly from artisans and free-trade vendors. The Bazaar will set up shop in five different venues throughout this season in Cambridge, Watertown, and Boston.
Free to attend, November 21-December 21, various locations.
CraftBoston Holiday Expedite your holiday shopping with a trip to CraftBoston Holiday, where some 175 exhibitors will be more than happy to show you their fashion-forward, gift-worthy goods.
$15, December 5-7, Hynes Convention Center, Boston.
MassArt Made Holiday This annual holiday sale features unique, handmade artwork made by the talented MassArt students and alumni. You'll find everything from paintings, ceramics, jewelry, hand-blown glass, photography, and more. Proceeds from the sale will go toward MassArt artists and scholarships.
Free to attend, December 7-13, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Lobby of the Tower Building, Boston.
Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll Beacon Hill's annual Holiday Stroll is the epitome of charm. The area is decked out in all the bells and whistles to get visitors in the holiday spirit. And of course, the boutiques and galleries will be open for your shopping needs.
Free to attend, December 11, 6-9 p.m., Beacon Hill, Boston.
SoWa Holiday Market, December 13 and 14 As soon as their Halloween market ends--their last outdoor market of the season--people start looking forward to SoWa's annual Holiday Market in mid-December. The vendors here are the cream of the crop, and the lines to get in wrap around the building. Once inside though, the challenge is not to find something; rather, it's to resist the temptation to not buy everything...for yourself. This year's market is two days, and you can also take advantage of free gift wrapping at the Yelp table.
$5, December 13 and 14, Benjamin Franklin Institute, 41 Berkeley St., Boston.
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights at the MFA The MFA's Hanukkah celebration includes a menorah lighting, olive oil tasting, and art-making activities--including dreidels, of course--as well as music and a film screening. The coolest part of the celebration, however, is the 8 Nights, 8 Windows installation, where visitors don Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets to preview a forthcoming art project by local digital artists Jeff Hesser, Mike Mandel, and musician Guy Mendilow.
Free, December 17, 6-9:45 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Moo Shu Jew Show at Hei La Moon This fourth annual event was designed to be a place for Jews to go on Christmas Eve. A five-course dinner--with no shellfish or pork--comes with four standup comedy acts. Dim sum, win some, amiright?
$45+, December 24, 6 p.m., Hei La Moon, Chinatown.
NEW YEAR'S (to be updated with more)
First Night The annual city-wide arts fest that almost wasn't last year will return with all sorts of free and discounted programming, ice sculptures, ice skating, and other fun activities as we herald in a new year.
Plus, here are some other shows happening around New Year's:
Lake Street Dive, $35+, The Sinclair, December 29, 30, and 31. Bad Rabbits, $38+, Paradise Rock Club, December 31. John Oliver, $52+, Wilbur Theatre, December 30 and 31.