Holidays are about honoring traditions. And what better place to do it than Boston, one of America’s oldest and most important cities? This year, head to Boston Harbor, Harvard Square or Boston Common, among other spots, for quintessentially American celebrations.
Harvard Summer Solstice
Enjoy free admission to three Harvard Museums, after you create your own flower crown and watch circus performers at Harvard Square. June 20.
Mark Beauregard Book Reading
What’s more Massachusetts than Moby-Dick? Hear author Mark Beauregard read from his new, highly praised novel, The Whale, which tells the backstory story of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. June 20.
Fourth of July
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular
Kids’ crowd pleasers Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas perform this year with the Boston Pops at the Charles River Esplanade. July 4.
The largest Fourth of July festival in the country, Boston Harborfest cuts no traditional corners — expect a Navy warship, the Queen Mary 2, lawn movies and dazzling fireworks. July 1–4.
Gloucester Schooner Festival
Venture just north of Boston to unwind at America’s oldest seaport, watching the Mayor’s Race and Parade of Sail. Sept. 2–4.
Take your station at the Boston Harbor for this battle-of-the-barges fireworks show. Sept. 3.
Boston Ghosts and Gravestones Tour
Hop on a historic trolley with a gravedigger guide to visit the city’s spookiest spots, like the North End tunnels.
Great Pumpkin Festival
Trick and treat yourself to around 50 regional beers — don’t worry, not all are pumpkin-flavored — at this Cambridge Brewing Company event. Oct. 31.
Zoo New England
Put your holiday shopping off one more day, and take your kiddos to Franklin Park Zoo or Stone Zoo for half-priced admission on Black Friday. Bonus: Stay a little longer to see the opening night of Zoolights. Nov. 25.
More than 350,000 LED lights line the Boston skyline in this nightly Holiday Pops-soundtracked show. Nov 19–Jan. 1.
Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker returns to the Opera House for this dreamy classic. Don’t forget the kids — they’ll clamor to take a picture with the giant brown bear. Nov. 25–Dec. 31.
Boston Common Christmas Tree
Visit Boston’s largest Christmas tree — always a gift from Nova Scotia — then skate the Boston Common Frog Pond under the glow of holiday lights.
Hanukkah Menu at Craigie on Main
The Cambridge mainstay — Chef Tony Maws has a James Beard Best Chef award, after all — offers Hanukkah tasting menus worth going out for. Dec. 24–Jan. 1.
Everyone Loves Latkes
It’s true after all. Local restaurants flip their favorite versions of the traditional, much-loved latkes. Dec. 24–Jan. 1.
New Year’s Eve
First Night, First Day
Start the new year off with an epic fireworks show, parade down Boylston street, performances and museum discounts galore at the city’s unmatched New Year’s celebration
Brattle Theatre: Take a seat at Boston’s unofficial film school, which screens classic movies throughout the holiday season. Last year’s New Year’s Eve showing? Casablanca, in 35mm, of course.