December’s short days and long nights are ideal for festive lights, snowy walks, and spending time with loved ones online or around the holiday table.
rom Boston to Montpelier, Vermont, if you enjoy spending time indoors or outside this time of year, you can celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year with festive holiday light displays, musical performances, a trip to the “North Pole” on a vintage train, parades, socially distanced outdoor markets, and virtual celebrations.
North Shore Holiday Lights Show (Nov. 19–Dec. 30)
Crescent Farms, Haverhill, MA
Gardens Aglow 2020 (Nov. 27–Dec. 27)
Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA
Journey to the North Pole (Nov. 27–Dec. 31)
Conway Scenic Railroad, North Conway, NH & Hobo Railroad, Lincoln, NH
Climb aboard the North Pole train and enjoy delicious treats during a magical two-hour journey to Santa’s workshop. Meet a few of Santa’s elves and hear a dramatic reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem A Visit from St. Nicolas, commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.”
Winterlights 2020 (Nov. 27–Jan. 2)
Naumkeag, Stockbridge, MA
Zoolights 2020 (Nov. 27–Jan. 3)
Stone Zoo, Stoneham, MA
MJBizCon 2020 (Dec. 2–4)
This virtual cannabis industry conference will feature work- shops and talks by industry leaders, new products and services, hundreds of vendors and exhibitors, and individual and group networking opportunities.
Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude (Dec. 3–13)
Various locations, Kennebunkport, ME
Visit Freeport’s Sparkle Celebration (Dec. 4–13)
Various locations, Freeport, ME
Bowen’s Wharf, Newport, RI
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT
Candlelight Stroll Under the Stars (Dec. 11–20)
Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, NH
Every year since 1979, the Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke has captured 350 years of seasonal and holiday traditions against the backdrop of the museum’s historic houses. Visitors stroll along candlelit pathways and are greeted along the way by costumed guides who re-create traditions of times past.
Wassail Weekend (Dec. 11–13)
Various locations, Woodstock, VT
35th Annual Wells Christmas Parade (Dec. 13)
Starts at Wells Plaza North, Wells, ME
Bobcats at Little Wachusett (Dec. 18)
Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Princeton, MA
Study a bobcat skin, skull, and track casts before searching for bobcat clues along the trails of Little Wachusett Mountain. Meet at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and then drive to the north border of the sanctuary to start the moderate half-mile hike.
Sharon Jones Quartet (Dec. 19)
The Historic Theater, Portsmouth, NH
Sharon Jones delivers riff-driven high-energy R&B and blues performances that get crowds dancing. Her passion for music radiates, and her expressiveness embraces her audiences. This live show will feature a socially distanced layout with professional table service.
State House Menorah Lighting (Dec. 23)
State House, Montpelier, VT
Afrobeat Saturdays (Dec. 26)
Aura, Portland, ME
Drag Haus: Holiday Snow Ball! (Dec. 30)
Seacoast Rep, Portsmouth, NH
First Night Boston 2021 (Dec. 31)
Virtual, via WTBS-TV
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s First Night Boston celebration will be virtual, with live performances broadcast on WTBS- TV (channel 10) and live-streamed at firstnightboston.org. Use #Together21 in social media posts to share your New Year’s celebrations from home.
First Night Northampton 2021 (Dec. 31)
Virtual, via Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Comcast
Virtual, via Zoom