From crooners to classics to crafters, and more Nutcrackers than you can shake a stick at, Boston’s packed with activities this holiday season. Prepare for an invasion of toy soldiers, giant mice, Vegas razzle-dazzle, a soul superstar, and what is possibly the oldest holiday show anywhere. Here's our guide to the best holiday events in Boston.
The best holiday events in Boston 2018
Holiday events in Boston: A Legendary Christmas
Soul giant John Legend released his first album of holiday songs this fall: “A Legendary Christmas” features the inimitable singer crooning holiday classics and his Christmas tour hits the Wang Theatre for one night only.
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Nov. 25, Boch Center Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., $63+, bochcenter.org
Photo by Liza Voll Photography
Holiday events in Boston: Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen’s adaptation of the fantasy ballet, The Nutcracker, sees newly appointed musical director Micha Santora leading the Boston Ballet Orchestra through Tchaikovsky’s evocative score, as the full company and 250 Boston Ballet School students perform against the fairy tale stage-set in the beautiful Opera House.
Nov. 29-Dec. 30, Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., $37+, bostonballet.org
Holiday events in Boston: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
Based on Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson’s 1965 “A Charlie Brown Christmas” television special, this stage adaptation hits the Shubert Theatre with the music of Vince Guaraldi, and an au courant anti-consumerism message as Charlie becomes discouraged by the materialism of the season.
Nov. 29-Dec. 2. Boch Center Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St., $38+, bochcenter.org
Holiday events in Boston: Handel’s “Messiah”
Handel’s “Messiah” might just be the oldest holiday show around. At least, Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society have been performing it for 165 consecutive years, now. This year’s performances at Symphony Hall are led by Bernard Labadie, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading conductors of baroque music.
Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., $25+, handelandhaydn.org
Holiday events in Boston: José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker”
Now in its 31st year, Boston’s José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker will appear in two theaters: the Cutler Majestic in the Back Bay and Dorchester’s Strand Theatre. The cast includes 200 children from New England, who will join the Ballet Theatre’s company dancers in an exquisite rendition of the holiday classic.
Nov. 30-Dec. 23, Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester, $25+, ballettheatre.org
Holiday events in Boston: Cirque Dreams “Holidaze”
The Cirque Dreams Holidaze extravaganza takes over the Shubert Theatre, bringing Vegas-style razzle-dazzle to the Back Bay. Over 300 costumed, seasonal characters -- snowmen, reindeer, toy soldiers, gingerbread men, and, of course, Santa – perform, promising action packed illusions and gravity defying stunts.
Dec. 4–9. Boch Center Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St., $35+, bochcenter.org
Holiday events in Boston: Holiday Pops
Only Santa has a busier schedule than conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra during the Holiday Pops concert season at Symphony Hall. During more than 40 performances, the Pops, joined by the sensational Tanglewood Festival Chorus, deliver the best holiday sing-a-long in town. Even Santa stops in.
Dec. 6-24, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., $33+, bso.org
Photo by Winslow Townson
Holiday events in Boston: A Baroque Christmas
There’s more baroque music this holiday season as the Handel and Haydn Society’s “A Baroque Christmas” at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall sees director Ian Watson leading the orchestra through a set that includes Vivaldi’s “Winter,” from “The Four Seasons,” Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto,” and A. Scarlatti’s “Christmas Cantata.”
Dec. 13 & 16, Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., $25+, handelandhaydn.org
Holiday events in Boston: CraftBoston
Be inspired and do your gift shopping at the same time at the arts and crafts market at the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay. CraftBoston gathers more than 175 artists and artisans with wares to sell, all in a holiday atmosphere. The preview evening is Dec. 13.
Dec. 14-16, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., $15, societyofcrafts.org/craftboston
Holiday events in Boston: “The Urban Nutcracker”
For its 18th annual season, Boston’s Urban Nutcracker moves into the Shubert Theatre for a production featuring principal dancers from the newly founded City Ballet of Boston. Guest artists like tap dancer Khalid Hill infuse the classical ballet with contemporary spice, as Dorchester-based musician Bill Whitney leads music pairing Tchaikovsky’s score with jazz great Duke Ellington’s songs.
Dec. 20-30, Boch Center Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St., $28+, urbannutcracker.com
Holiday events in Boston: Secrets and Illusions
If all the jolly holiday stuff is just too much, illusionist Ivan Amodei brings his Secrets and Illusions magic and mystery show to the Calderwood Pavilion in the South End’s Boston Center for the Arts for a different kind of make believe. Or is it?
Dec. 26-31, Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., $45+, secretsandillusions.com