Spirited Celebrations

Photo courtesy of @skatekendall

Temperatures are dipping, snow is (almost) falling, and the holiday season is just around the corner. There are so many opportunities for exploring, toasting, and even giving back throughout the Cambridge area—whether you’re ready to raise a glass with a crowd or prefer low-key adventures. Consider this your social calendar for the months ahead. Cheers!

Longing to get outside, despite the chill? Trustees of Reservations estates throughout the region come alive with shimmering light displays every season (thetrustees.org/program/winterlights-massachusetts); wander decked-out gardens and illuminated tunnels, and be sure to grab warm apple cider for your stroll. The conservatories and winding paths at New England Botanic Garden also come alive during Tower Hill’s Night Lights display (nebg.org), and it even hosts parties complete with adult beverages, firepits, and catered delicacies.

Photograph courtesy of Nashoba Valley

Or warm up with a twirl around Kendall Square’s ice rink (skatekendall.com), tucked into the growing Canal District. Rent skates or bring your own, and sign up for lessons if you need a refresher. Got a need for speed? Round up friends and head west to Westford’s Nashoba Valley Ski Area’s tubing park (skinashoba.com) for a downhill thrill, and stop for a glass of bubbly at their Outlook restaurant after the run.

To relax during the holiday mayhem, reserve a firepit table at Somerville’s Bow Market (bowmarketsomerville.com) to sample international cuisine ranging from empanadas to poutine; sip carefully curated wines from much-loved Rebel Rebel (sister wine bar Dear Annie has made headlines everywhere from The New York Times to Bon Appétit lately); and wander stalls stocked with locally made jewels, home décor, and much more.

Photo courtesy of @SOWABOSTON

For a true urban experience, book a toasty igloo at the Seaport’s Envoy Hotel (theenvoyhotel.com), with stunning city views. For a spirited soirée, secure a seat on the BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley Tour (holidaylightstrolley.com). Each trip comes complete with a cup of clam chowder for fortification before cruising past city landmarks, illuminated for the season. Bring your beverage of choice.

Feeling crafty? Cozy Beacon Hill restaurant 75 Chestnut hosts gingerbread-house-making parties throughout the season (75chestnut.com). For an even sweeter experience, visit Chelmsford’s Weston Nurseries for wreath-making workshops coupled with visits from the delectable Whoopie Wagon food truck (westonnurseries.com). If shopping is more your style, visit Spencer’s landmark Christmas Barn, with an impressive array of seasonal décor, wreaths, and even vintage ornaments (christmas-barn.com).

If you prefer your entertainment on stage, take in a performance of the Urban Nutcracker (urbannutcracker.com), which gives the holiday tradition a modern spin; visit Symphony Hall for a timeless Boston Holiday Pops performance (bso.org/events/holiday-pops-2022); or marvel at Cirque du Soleil’s first Boston-area holiday show: They’ll stage “’Twas the Night Before,” an acrobatic twist (literally) on the classic story (bochcenter.org/events/detail/twas).

Last but definitely not least: gifts! Browse the Harvard Square Holiday Fair (harvardsquareholidayfair.com) for one-of-a-kind local artwork, soaps, crafts, and more. In the South End, SOWA’s outdoor Winter Festival (sowaboston.com/sowa-winter-festival) unites talented artisans beneath a canopy of twinkling lights, fueled by fun food trucks and seasonal cocktails. JCC Boston (bostonjcc.org/classes-and-events/chanukah-festival-winter-market) also hosts a welcoming winter festival, complete with live music, gifts from neighborhood vendors, and special kids’ activities—so bring the family.

Photo courtesy of Harvard Magazine

There are also plenty of ways to give back beyond your family and friends: Support children in need through Horizons for Homeless Children (horizonschildren.org/how-you-can-help) and fulfill holiday wish lists through Boston Globe Santa (globesanta.org) or The Home for Little Wanderers (thehome.org/events/event-post/big-wishes-holiday-gift-drive). Amid the social whirl, it’s the true definition of merry and bright.  

Read more articles by Kara Baskin

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