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Jimmy Vazzana / Gavel Media

5-Hour Itinerary: Holiday Season in the City

5-Hour Itinerary is a series—based on the New York Times’ “36 Hours”—in which we serve as your guide to the ultimate Boston day-trip, stringing together thoughtfully chosen locations into a one-of-a-kind itinerary.

It’s that time of year again! As the holiday season rolls around, BC students often become so preoccupied with studying for finals that they forget to partake in the wonderful holiday events of the Boston area. To lift holiday spirits during the last few weeks here at BC, The Gavel has compiled a list of some of the top holiday events that are sure to bring you joy this year.

1. Boston Winter: City Hall Plaza Skating Path & Holiday Market

For this winter season, City Hall Plaza in downtown Boston has been transformed into a winter wonderland with a large outdoor skating park that encircles the area, winding around a marquee “Boston” sign. In addition to the 11,000-square-foot ice path, there is a European-inspired holiday market that includes a mix of both local and international vendors. The holiday shopping market is a sure place to find the perfect gifts for the holidays, given it has over 85 boutique style chalets that sell a variety of food, gifts, and other goods.

Beyond the skating path and the holiday market, the winter wonderland event also has many holiday-themed attractions for both adults and children. The attractions include an enchanted Christmas tree maze, a Santa house, a Bavarian village, and Vinopolis, a beer and wine experience for those BC students who are 21+. The cost of this winter wonderland experience is more than affordable. Adult tickets for skating cost $10 and free rental skates are provided.

To reach this Boston holiday destination, simply take the D line on the T all the way to the Government Center stop and you’ll be right in front of City Hall Plaza. The event is running from now until Feb. 28, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The hours for each day of the week can be found here. With fairly low costs and so many attractions, the Boston Winter event is sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

2. Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll

Coming up soon, on Thursday Dec. 7, is the Beacon Holiday Stroll in Back Bay. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m., so there is plenty of time to catch the T to Back Bay after classes and grab an early dinner with some friends.

Charles Street will be closed to allow for the performance of Victorian Carolers and shopping along the many businesses that will be open for the event. In addition, there will be free horse and buggy rides and a brass quintet along the street. Earlier in the evening, Santa can be visited at the Hill House fire house. At 7 p.m., Santa will lead the tree lighting on the corner of Charles Street and Mount Vernon Street, where the Victorian Carolers will then sing some favorite Christmas songs. All who attend are encouraged to sing along and, in the wise words of Buddy the Elf, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” 

3. Boston Blink! Holiday Light & Sound Extravaganza

About a 20 minute walk away from Charles Street is Faneuil Hall Marketplace, home to the famous Quincy Market. Faneuil Hall has the largest holiday tree in the Northeast. This year, the tree is 85 feet tall, decorated with string lights that are synchronized to holiday music.

From now until New Year’s Day, the free holiday Blink! show will light up the market. This year's synchronized light show called Blink! has more lights, more color, and is lighting up to the songs of the Holiday Pops. The nightly performances begin at 4:30 p.m. and run every 30 minutes. There is nothing quite like Christmas lights, decorations, and music to get you in the holiday spirit. Once you’re done admiring the Blink! light show at Faneuil Hall’s Christmas tree, head on over to Durgin Park to warm up and enjoy one of Boston’s coziest restaurants.

4. Durgin Park

Durgin Park has been serving customers in Faneuil Hall for well over a century and is one of the oldest restaurants in the country. This upstairs restaurant nestled directly across from Quincy Market is sure to make you feel cozy with it’s homestyle atmosphere and large choice of delicious comfort food. The menu also offers classic New England fare, like their famous Clam Chowder, giving you a true taste of Boston. The main dining room is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., so there is plenty of time to step in from the cold after viewing the Blink! light show for a late dinner. Durgin Park is a must-visit restaurant of Boston and not only serves hearty, appetizing food, but also serves history.

5. Boston Common’s Christmas Tree and Frog Pond Ice Skating

One last stop you should check off on your list of holiday excursions is the Boston Common. The Boston Common is a beautiful place to visit even during the non-winter season, but it is especially beautiful during the holidays. The giant Christmas tree on the Common is a special gift from the people of Nova Scotia that is sent to Boston every year. Although the lighting of this special tree already took place, it is still worth a visit to see the 53-foot-tall, colorfully lit tree amongst the many other decorated trees.

To complete your trip, stop by Frog Pond in the Common for some ice skating surrounded by scenic, wintery Boston. Admission is only $6, to rent skates is $12, and the rink stays open until 9 p.m. on most nights (full list of hours can be found here). Ice skating is a classic winter pastime and will give you a chance to appreciate the beauty of the Boston Common in winter.  

As busy as this time of year gets with papers and finals, these festive events only come around once a year. So grab a couple of friends and take the T into Boston to indulge in some holiday cheer!