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Have Yourself a Merry Boston Christmas

Events around the city from December 21 to 25

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Boston, Christmas, Prudential Tower

Boston has plenty of places to shop for holiday gifts, and gifts can be brought to the Charity Gift Wrap at the Shops at Prudential Center. Photo by Toby M

Winter break is almost here. So as of noon tomorrow, December 22, all University residences will close and not reopen until 10 a.m. Friday, January 13, 2012. Residence dining service ends with dinner today, December 21, and will resume with dinner on Saturday, January 14, 2012, at Shelton Hall, West Campus, and Warren Towers. All other residence dining halls will be closed until breakfast on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

The George Sherman Union will be open until 11 p.m. tomorrow for students needing need a place to wait for transportation after the residences close.

For those staying in Boston over winter break, finding ways to get in the holiday spirit will be easy, thanks to events happening all over town in the coming days. Whether you’re a lover of theater and ballet, looking for that last-minute gift, or want to explore one of Boston’s many museums, the city has something for everyone. Below is a list of winter and holiday happenings on and around campus, all leading up to Santa’s big day this Sunday, December 25.

Shopping

Downtown Boston Holiday Market

There may be only a few days left until Christmas, but you still have time to find last-minute gifts at the Downtown Boston Holiday Market. It features original arts and crafts handmade by local artisans, including jewelry, fine art, photography and mixed media, clothing and accessories, home decor, and ceramics and pottery.

The Downtown Boston Holiday Market, at Downtown Crossing on Summer St., is open daily through December 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Across the river, the Harvard Square Holiday Fair is another great shopping destination. One of the oldest and most popular fairs in Boston, it offers a wide selection of unique and affordable gifts.

The Harvard Square Holiday Fair is held at the First Parish Unitarian Church, 1446 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, December 24, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Directions are available here.

Charity Gift Wrap at the Shops at Prudential Center

If you’d rather not wrap the gifts you just bought, head over to the Charity Gift Wrap at the Shops at Prudential Center and have it done.

The gift-wrapping booth, in front of Barnes & Noble in Huntington Arcade, is open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., through December 24. All donations for this free service benefit local nonprofit organizations. Gifts do not have to be purchased at Barnes & Noble in order to take advantage of this service.

Macy’s Believe Station

Bring out your inner child and embrace the Christmas spirit by dropping off a letter addressed to Santa at Macy’s “Believe Station.” For every letter placed in the mailbox, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1 million. More information on the program, and a downloadable letter template, is available here.

Macy’s is at 450 Washington St. in Downtown Crossing.

Boston Downtown Crossing Holiday Market

The Macy’s Christmas tree glows above Downtown Crossing. Photo by Lisi Cai

Worship

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Marsh Chapel holds its annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service for all wishing to take part in an evening of quiet meditation and joyful celebration. Rev. Dr. Robert Allan Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel, will offer a Christmas message titled Christmas Reverie.

The Marsh Chapel Christmas Eve Candlelight Eve service is on Saturday, December 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Ave. It is free and open to the public.

Christmas Interdenominational Protestant Worship Service

Dean Hill presides and preaches at the University’s Christmas Interdenominational Protestant Worship Service on December 25 at 11 a.m. The service features music by the Marsh Chapel Choir, under the direction of Scott Allen Jarrett. The chapel will host a coffee hour immediately following the service, as it does after each Sunday’s 11 a.m. service.

Marsh Chapel’s Christmas Interdenominational Protestant Worship Service is on Sunday, December 25, at 11 a.m., with coffee hour afterward, at noon. Marsh Chapel is at 735 Commonwealth Ave.

Theater

What would the holidays be without the Radio City Christmas Spectacular? Starring the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, this dazzling extravaganza returns to Boston with a brand-new show. Experience the Spectacular like never before, with new scenes, sets, and songs, along with all of your traditional favorites.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is at the Citi Performing Arts Center’s Wang Theater, 270 Tremont St., Boston. Performances are today, December 21, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Thursday, December 22, at 5 and 8 p.m., and Friday, December 23, at 2, 5, and 8 p.m. There are no performances this weekend. Tickets start at $25 for nonpeak performances and $29 for peak performances. Take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Boylston.

Ballet

The Nutcracker, Lia Cirio, Pavel Gurevich, Boston Ballet

Lia Cirio and Pavel Gurevich star in Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

One of Boston’s most venerable Christmas traditions is Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker. This holiday classic transports viewers through a winter wonderland and into a palace of sugary confections guaranteed to put you in a holiday mood. Student rush tickets, at $20 with a student ID, are available for all performances. You must show up two hours before the performance to get the discounted tickets, which are cash only. Availability is limited for some shows, especially weekend performances, so arrive at the box office early.

The Boston Ballet performs The Nutcracker at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston. Performances are at 1 and 7:30 p.m. today, December 21, through Friday, December 23, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 24. There is no performance on Christmas Day. Take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Downtown Crossing.

Museums

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, but do you know the story behind their antlers? Discover how and why horns and antlers evolved through dramatic displays and video presentations at the Harvard Museum of Natural History exhibition Headgear: The Natural History of Horns and Antlers. The museum invites visitors to touch specimens, compare their body height to the world’s largest antlers, and explore horn-like structures in animals such as beetles and dinosaurs.

Head over to the museum today, December 21, and enjoy extended hours from 5 to 8 p.m. in honor of the Winter Solstice. In collaboration with the Christmas Revels, the Pinewoods Morris Men will perform the traditional Abbots Bromley Horn Dance in the Headgear gallery at 6 p.m. The horn dance is the oldest known English ritual dance and features six human deer with antlers weaving in and out in a hypnotic pattern to the sound of a haunting melody.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge, is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission includes all exhibitions and is $9 for adults and $7 for non-Harvard students with ID. Directions are available here. The museum is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Take the MBTA Red Line to Harvard Square.

Photography

Janelle Lynch, Los Jardines de México, Bosotn University Photographic Resource Center PRC

The BU Photographic Resource Center’s Los Jardines de México exhibition is free and open to the public. Photo by Janelle Lynch

If you can’t spend the holidays in a warm and sunny place, a trip to the BU Photographic Resource Center may be the next best thing. Check out its current show, Janelle Lynch’s Los Jardines de México. This exhibition features beautiful images of various gardens in Mexico, representing specific facets of existence: loss, death, regeneration, and life. Lynch has been recognized internationally over the last decade for her work depicting urban and rural landscapes.

Los Jardines de México is at the BU Photographic Resource Center, 832 Commonwealth Ave., until Saturday, January 28. The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. The exhibition is free for students and $4 for the public.

Movies

Escape the holiday crowds with a movie at Regal Fenway 13 in the Landmark Center. Now showing: New Year’s Eve (Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer), The Sitter (Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell), and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law). Opening on Friday, December 23: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara) and We Bought a Zoo (Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson). Opening on Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock) and War Horse (Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson).

Regal Fenway 13 is in the Landmark Center, 201 Brookline Ave., Boston. Find showtimes here.

The Great Outdoors

Jewish Cultural Walking Tour

Boston CityWalks is offering a two-hour Jewish Cultural Walking Tour on Sunday, December 25. The tour includes downtown Boston, Beacon Hill’s “back side,” where Jews resided in the 19th century, the West End, and finishes up in the North End. Those interested should meet at the strictly kosher Milk Street Café, where you can choose to come early and have lunch or a snack before the tour.

The Jewish Cultural Walking Tour group meets at the Milk Street Café, 50 Milk St., Boston, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 25. Tickets, which are $25, can be purchased in advance here or by phone at 800-979-3370.

Boston Common

There’s no better place to get into the holiday mood than with a stroll through the Boston Common at dusk. Dozens of oak and maple trees along the Common’s pathways are strung with Christmas lights. The star attraction is a 45-foot evergreen, adorned with more than 50,000 LED lights, next to the Frog Pond, a gift to the city of Boston from Nova Scotia.

To get to Boston Common, take any MBTA Green Line trolley or the Red Line to Park Street.

Boston Common Frog Pond ice-skating

Ice-skating on the Boston Common Frog Pond. Photo courtesy of Smart Destinations

Ice-skating

What could be more festive or romantic than skating under the stars? Strap on a pair of skates and join in some holiday ice-skating at Boston Common’s Frog Pond. Bring your own skates or rent them there ($5 for children, $9 for adults). Admission is free for children, $5 for adults.

The Frog Pond is in the Boston Common, at the corner of Beacon Street and Walnut Street and is open for public skating Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Adult admission is $5 and skate rentals are $9. By public transportation take a MBTA Green Line trolley or the Red Line to Park Street. Phone: 617-635-2120.

Arnold Arboretum

After being cooped up in a library for the past couple of weeks, the Arnold Arboretum, in Jamaica Plain, is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or a run. The oldest public arboretum in the country, the park and research center stretches over 265 landscaped acres. Just because the leaves are off the trees, doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see. This is winter at its most beautiful.

The Arnold Arboretum is at 125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain. Admission is free. Hours: sunrise to sunset every day of the year. To get there, take an MBTA Orange Line trolley outbound to the Forest Hills stop.

Tom Vellner can be reached at tvellner@bu.edu.

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