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How to catch hundreds of shows this holiday season — on the cheap

Consider it Menino's merry legacy.

"Urban Nutcracker"

Peter Paradise

The holiday season means pretty much everything ranks a premium price. However, the 13th annual Mayor’s Holiday Special, which is produced by ArtsBoston and headed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, offers discounted tickets to some 500 theatrical events this season.

ArtsBoston, a nonprofit supporting the arts in Greater Boston, offers BosTix, a discounted theater ticket program, from its booths in Copley Square and Faneuil Hall year-round, but this is its only major sale event — and it couldn’t come at a better time.

“November and December is an amazing time for the arts in Boston and they really pull out all the stops,” says Catherine Peterson, ArtsBoston’s executive director.

The sale doesn’t only apply to the holiday-centric shows like Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity,” The Christmas Revels, and Handel’s “Messiah,” from both the Handel and Haydn Society and Boston Baroque. It includes nonseasonal performances, too.


Peterson adds, “There is something for everyone. There are the incredible holiday performances like ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Holiday Pops,’ but there’s also ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and a great Alan Ayckbourn play [‘Bedroom Farce’] at the Huntington.”

Begun by the late Mayor Thomas Menino in 2004, this initiative encourages residents who don’t normally go to the theater to enjoy the city’s seasonal spread.

“We know from having done this for 13 years that 70 percent of the people who buy tickets through the Mayor’s Holiday are either seeing something for the first time, or they are revisiting that particular show after some years,” notes Peterson.

Along with discounted tickets, some shows are just plain free: “We know we need to make the arts as accessible as possible. It’s your birthright in Boston to enjoy the arts,” declares Peterson.

It’s all laid out at the Mayor’s Holiday website, which also has coupons to download for discounted dining at nearby restaurants.

“Tickets do go quickly,” warns Peterson, “but we always add more, so it’s worth checking back. If you want to see the ‘Holiday Pops,’ however, I’d suggest hurrying.”

Out of hundreds performances, Peterson recommends going nuts on “The Nutcracker.”

“You can do a trifecta: You can go and see the Boston Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker,’ and go to see Jose Mateo’s beautiful version, and then see ‘The Urban Nutcracker’ with Duke Ellington’s jazz arrangements. It’s so much fun. Why not see all three?”

Tickets are available at the ArtsBoston BosTix Booth locations at Copley Square and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and online at Mayors-Holiday.com

For the rest of the best entertainment in Boston during the holidays, visit our Winter Arts Guide.

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