As a companion to our November/December 2019 cover feature celebrating the magic of Christmas in Newport, we’ve rounded up five additional cities with big holiday spirit.
5 New England Christmas Cities to Visit This Holiday Season
- Big kickoff: Lighting of the city’s official tree, an annual gift from the people of Nova Scotia, Dec. 5 on Boston Common.
- Seasonal sounds: Holiday Pops at Symphony Hall, starring Keith Lockhart and company (and Santa himself), Dec. 6–24. bso.org
- Gift-hunting spot: SoWa Winter Festival, a trove of handmade treasures in the city’s arts and design district, Dec. 6–8. sowaboston.com
- Yuletide flavor: The Feast of the Seven Fishes, offered on or near Christmas Eve by Italian eateries across the Hub (e.g., Bar Mezzana, Posto, Grotto).
- Hot ticket: The Boston Ballet’s “granddaddy of them all” production of The Nutcracker, Nov. 29–Dec. 29. bostonballet.org
- Bright spot: Blink!, a state-of-the-art holiday light and sound show at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Nov. 27–Jan. 1. faneuilhallmarketplace.com
- Uniquely Boston: Candlelight carols at Trinity Church, a 110-year-old tradition at an American architectural masterpiece, Dec. 14 and 15. trinitychurchboston.org
- Big kickoff: Downtown parade and Christmas tree lighting, plus the illumination of 250,000 LCDs, Nov. 29. churchstmarketplace.com
- Seasonal sounds: Holiday concert by Solaris Vocal Ensemble, a singing group packed with Burlington-area choral directors, Dec. 15. solarisensemble.org
- Gift-hunting spot: Craft Vermont, a showcase of one-of-a-kind art, jewelry, and more from 100-plus creative types, Nov. 22–24. vermonthandcrafters.com
- Yuletide flavor: Sampling seasonal brews at Festivus, a night of “casting aside holiday grievances,” Dec. 20 at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill. farmhousetg.com
- Hot ticket: A Charlie Brown Christmas Live Onstage, the only Vermont stop on this national tour, Dec. 8. flynncenter.org
- Family fun: Getting up close with real-life Dancers and Prancers from the Vermont Reindeer Farm, Dec. 28. echovermont.org
- Uniquely Burlington: Two holiday-themed rides on Green Mountain Railroad trains: the Polar Express (Dec. 14, 15) and the Jingle Bell Express (Nov. 30, Dec. 1). vtchildrenstrust.org; rmhcvt.org/events
New Haven, Connecticut
- Big kickoff: Tree lighting on the New Haven Green, with a Ferris wheel, live music, and an appearance by Old Saint Nick himself, Dec. 5
- Seasonal sounds: Messiah Sing-Along, an annual collaboration of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Yale Glee Club, and audience members, Dec. 8. gleeclub.yalecollege.yale.edu
- Gift-hunting spot: The Shops at Yale, offering big names, local indies, and university one-offs (don’t miss the Museum Shop at the Yale Center for British Art). theshopsatyale.com
- Hot ticket: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical at the historic Shubert Theatre, Nov. 29 and 30. shubert.com
- Family fun: Riding an old-timey trolley through a magical tunnel of lights at the Shore Line Trolley Museum, weekends Nov. 29–Dec. 15. Cocoa, cookies, and Santa photo ops sweeten the deal. shorelinetrolley.org
- Bright spot: Fantasy of Lights at Lighthouse Point Park, a mile-long drive-through light display with merry tunes available on the radio, Nov. 15–Dec. 31. Facebook
- Uniquely New Haven: Exhibit of 70-plus crèches from around the world at the Knights of Columbus Museum. kofcmuseum.org
- Big kickoff: Tree lighting in Monument Square with live music and a visit from Santa (plus free eggnog samples), Nov. 29. portlandmaine.com
- Seasonal sounds: Portland Symphony Orchestra’s “Magic of Christmas,” now in its 40th year, Dec. 12–22. portlandsymphony.org
- Gift-hunting spot: The Old Port waterfront district for locally flavored wares, from recycled-sailcloth totes at Sea Bags to Maine-made togs at Portland Trading Co.
- Hot ticket: Where better to see the Dec. 14 lighted boat parade and fireworks in Portland Harbor than from a ferry? Tickets go on sale just a few weeks before the big night. cascobaylines.com
- Family fun: Free horse-drawn wagon rides through downtown, Fridays and weekends from Thanksgiving to right before Christmas. portlandmaine.com
- Bright spot: More than 150 lighted metal sculptures by artist Pandora LaCasse along Congress and Commercial streets and in Longfellow Square, Tommy’s Park, and Boothbay Square. pandoralacassedesign.com
- Uniquely Portland: A Victorian Nutcracker by Portland Ballet, with characters and sets inspired by a stunning 19th-century local landmark, Victoria Mansion, Dec. 17, 21, and 22. portlandballet.org
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- Big kickoff: Tree lighting in Market Square and a parade through downtown, Dec. 7.
- Seasonal sounds: Con Tutti, a choral group made up of more than 100 local singers, at the intimate South Church, Dec. 7. contutti.org
- Gift-hunting spot: Pickwick’s Mercantile, a Victorian-inspired shopping experience with eclectic merchandise that spans classic and modern eras. pickwicksmercantile.com
- Yuletide flavor: Authentic bûche de Noël special-ordered from Portsmouth’s nonpareil French pastry shop, La Maison Navarre. mnpastry.com
- Hot ticket: Sally Struthers as Miss Hannigan in Annie at the Music Hall (Nov. 27–Dec. 22), a highlight of the citywide Vintage Christmas celebration. vintagechristmasnh.org
- Family fun: Ice skating at Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond, which opens every year after Thanksgiving. strawberybanke.org
- Uniquely Portsmouth: 40th annual Candlelight Stroll through 350 years of seasonal traditions at the 10-acre outdoor museum Strawbery Banke, weekends Dec. 7–22. strawberybanke.org