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A Guide to a Holly, Jolly Christmas

Where to shop and what to see if you’re staying in town

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With finals over today, many students, faculty, and staff will be headed out of town for the holidays. All University residences will close tomorrow, Saturday, December 21, at noon and will reopen on Friday, January 10, at 10 a.m. The George Sherman Union will be open until 5 p.m. tomorrow for students waiting for transportation.

For those staying local, discover just how festive Boston can be leading up to the Christmas holiday. There’s a lot going on in and around the city in the coming days guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. We’ve put together a list of some of the best events.

Happy Holidays!

Shopping

Downtown Boston Holiday Market

Downtown Boston’s biggest holiday market has returned, with vendors selling one-of-a-kind jewelry, craftwork, clothing, and artisanal foods, appearances by Santa Claus, and performances by local musicians. The Holiday Market tent is on Summer Street next to Macy’s. It’s the perfect place to find unique last-minute gifts while scoping out Macy’s holiday store windows.

The Downtown Boston Holiday Market, at Downtown Crossing on Summer Street (outside Macy’s), is open through December 28, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Park Street or any Orange Line trolley to Downtown Crossing.

Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Celebrating its 28th season, this juried craft fair is one of the oldest and most popular holiday events in Boston, drawing nearly three dozen artisans from around New England as well as some globe-trotting importers. Browse through the fair’s one-of-a-kind and affordable selection of gifts, including jewelry, pottery, tree ornaments, cards and calendars, art, recycled silk, lamps, hand-knit hats, gloves, and scarves. Find a complete list of vendors here.

The Harvard Square Holiday Fair is held at the First Parish Unitarian Church, 1446 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, at the corner of Church, across from the Harvard Square T stop, weekdays, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, December 21, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 22, noon to 6 p.m. By public transportation, take a MBTA Green Line trolley to Park Street, and transfer to an outbound Red Line train to Harvard Square.

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The Harvard Square Holiday Fair is one of the oldest and most popular seasonal fairs in the area. Photo courtesy of Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Santa in the City

Looking for a photo op with Santa Claus? Head over to the Shops at Prudential Center, where the man of the hour will be on hand to pose for pictures with children of all ages. A variety of photo packages is available, starting at $19.99.

The Shops at Prudential Center are at 800 Boylston St., Boston. Santa’s hours are today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, December 21, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, December 22, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, December 23, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Christmas Eve, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Belvidere Arcade. The mall is closed on Christmas. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Copley.

The Shops at Prudential Center

Don’t miss the many events happening at the Shops at Prudential Center. For all you last-minute shoppers, there are dozens of stores to choose from, including Lord & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Saks Fifth Avenue, Vineyard Vines, and Sephora. Strolling carolers will perform each day from noon to 2 p.m. and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. through December 24. After all that shopping, have your holiday gifts wrapped free of charge at the booth in front of Barnes & Noble in Huntington Arcade (your donations benefit local organizations). Looking to support a good cause? Visit the Cultural Survival Gift Bazaar in the Belvidere Arcade, which has an array of indigenous crafts for sale, live music, Native American storytelling, craft-making demonstrations, as well as the chance to talk directly with guest artisans and community advocates.

There’s also a holiday toy drive benefiting the Italian Home for Children. New and unwrapped toys, books, and clothing may be dropped off at the customer service desk during normal business hours until 6 p.m. on December 24.

The top of the Pru will be lit up in different colors each night through December, helping to promote different community organizations in the Boston area.

The Shops at Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., are open today, Friday, December 20, Saturday, December 21, and Monday, December 23, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, December 22, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, December 24, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The mall is closed on Christmas. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Copley.

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The Marsh Chapel Christmas Eve Candlelight Service is Tuesday, December 24, at 7:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Marsh Chapel

Worship

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Marsh Chapel holds its annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on December 24 with a sermon by Dean of Marsh Chapel Robert Allan Hill and seasonal music by the Marsh Chapel Choir, under the direction of Scott Allen Jarrett. Marsh Chapel will also hold a Christmas Eve Communion Service at noon.

The Marsh Chapel Christmas Eve Candlelight Service is Tuesday, December 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Ave. The service is open to the public.

Concerts

Holiday Pops

There’s no more festive way to celebrate the holiday season than a Holiday Pops concert by the world-famous Boston Pops Orchestra. Led by conductor Keith Lockhart (Hon.’04), the orchestra will perform Christmas classics and carols. Guests can expect a visit from St. Nick as well. Warm up your vocal chords before you go: part of this annual crowd-pleaser features a sing-along.

The Holiday Pops concerts run through December 24 at Symphony Hall, 301 Mass. Ave., Boston. Performances are today and Monday, 4 and 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. and 3 and 7:30 p.m., and Tuesday, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets range from $36 to $134. Purchase them online here, by calling Symphony Charge at 617-266-1200, or in person at the Symphony Hall box office. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Hynes Convention Center, or take any Green Line E trolley to Symphony.

Bach Cantata Series at Emmanuel Church

For more than 40 years, the Orchestra and Chorus of Emmanuel Music have been presenting Johannes Sebastian Bach’s cantatas in the liturgical setting in which they were meant to be heard. The Bach Cantata Series is performed at Emmanuel Church each Sunday following the 10 a.m. service.

On Sunday, December 22, Cantata 147, “Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life,” will be performed. On Tuesday, December 24, Emmanuel will host a special Christmas Eve performance of Cantata 64, “Behold What Love Has the Father Shown to Us,” at 7 p.m.

Emmanuel Church is at 15 Newbury St., Boston. Both performances are free and open to the public. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Arlington station.

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In its sixth performance season, The Slutcracker is a scene-by-scene retelling of The Nutcracker ballet. Photo by Peter Rufo

Theater

The Slutcracker

Back for its sixth year at the Somerville Theatre, this burlesque version of The Nutcracker combines parody and sexual fantasy. The holiday burlesque show bills itself as “a sexy-freaky holiday zeitgeist spectacular.” One visit and you’ll know why.

The Slutcracker runs through December 31 at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville. Shows are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 and 8 p.m. Special musical guests Walter Sickert and Army of Broken Toys will perform at the Christmas Eve show, Tuesday, December 24, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25; must be 18 or older to attend. Group discounts are available for parties of 15 or more; find more details here. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Park Street and transfer to an outbound Red Line train to Davis Square.

Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

There’s still time to see The Nutcracker, one of the world’s most beloved ballets, performed by the Boston Ballet. This year, the company brings back choreographer Mikko Nissinen’s reimagined production, which debuted last year to critical acclaim. A limited number of $20 student rush tickets are available for all performances with a student ID. You must arrive two hours before the performance to get the cash-only discounted tickets. Weekend performances frequently sell out, so call the box office at 617-695-6955 or check online for ticket availability.

The Boston Ballet performs The Nutcracker through December 29 at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 1 and 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 1 and 5:30 p.m., and two special performances on Christmas Eve, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; no performances on Mondays or on Christmas. Performances resume on Thursday, December 26, and the final performance is on Sunday, December 29. Tickets run between $35 and $169. The box office, at 19 Clarendon St., is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (7:30 p.m. on show days), and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (5:30 p.m. on show days); all major credit cards accepted. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Boylston.

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The Boston Ballet performs The Nutcracker through December 29 at the Boston Opera House. Photo courtesy of Boston Ballet

I Love Lucy, the Musical

For those who can’t get enough of one of television’s first—and most iconic—sitcoms, there’s now a stage musical, set in 1952, shortly after the series launched. The premise is that you’re in the audience at Desilu Studios, waiting for two of the show’s most famous episodes to be taped. Step back in time with Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel and watch some of television’s most celebrated moments come to life.

I Love Lucy, the Musical is at the Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston St., Boston, tonight, Friday, December 20, at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 21, 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 22, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $24 to $99; $25 rush tickets are available for students, seniors, and members of the military, the day of the show, two hours prior to performance. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Boylston.

Regal Cinemas Fenway 13 & RPX Movies

Hurry and snag some discounted tickets from the Student Activities Office, GSU, 775 Commonwealth Ave., second floor, to enjoy some of this holiday’s biggest hits, including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, with Will Ferrell reprising his role as bumbling newsman Ron Burgundy.

Regal Cinemas Fenway 13 & RPX Movies is at 201 Brookline Ave., Boston. Show times vary. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Fenway.

Snag discounted tickets from the Student Activities Office to enjoy some of this holiday’s biggest hits, including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Photo courtesy of The Hobbit

Discounted movie tickets are available from the Student Activities Office to enjoy some of this holiday’s biggest hits, including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Photo courtesy of The Hobbit

Light Show

Blink! at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Head down to Faneuil Hall for the second annual Blink! Light and Sound Extravaganza. This state-of-the-art light and sound show transforms the historic marketplace with more than 350,000 LED lights that dance to recorded holiday music by the Boston Holiday Pops. The event is free and open to the public.

Blink! at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, One Faneuil Hall Square, Boston, begins at 5 p.m. each evening and runs every half hour until 10 p.m. through January 5, 2014. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Government Center.

Comedy

Improv Asylum’s Holiday Show

Just in time for Christmas, the comedy troupe is staging a holiday-themed revue combining its signature audience-inspired improv with written sketches.

The show at Improv Asylum, 216 Hanover St., Boston, runs tonight, Friday, December 20, and tomorrow, Saturday, December 21, at 7:30 and 10 p.m., and Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m. (no performances Christmas Eve or Christmas). Tickets range from $20 to $25. Groups, students, and military with ID receive $5 off, except for Saturday shows. Phone: 617-263-6887. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Haymarket.

ImprovBoston

Presenting improv, sketch, and stand-up shows for comedy lovers of all ages, this Cambridge comedy club has earned deserved recognition, being named the “Best of Boston” by the Phoenix, the Improper Bostonian, and the Weekly Dig. Improv Boston is running a special “Holiday Spectacular,” with songs and sketch comedy, tonight, Friday, December 20, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $18.

ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect St., Cambridge, presents shows Wednesdays through Sundays (no performance Christmas). Find a schedule of upcoming shows here. Beer, wine, soda, and snacks are for sale at the bar. The theater has no age restriction, but recommends audience members be at least 16 for 10 p.m. shows. Classes in improv comedysketch comedy writing, and stand-up comedy are available through its comedy school. By public transportation, take any MBTA Red Line train from Park Street to Central Square.

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ImprovBoston performed Merry Christmas, Mr. Lamppost in 2012 as an improvised tribute to It’s a Wonderful Life. Photo by Ryan Kelly Coil

Guided Tours

The Freedom Trail Foundation’s Historic Holiday Stroll and Historic Pub Crawl Tour

Walk along Boston’s historic Freedom Trail, as tour guides dressed in 19th-century Dickensian costumes take you back to the days when Boston hosted the American premiere of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Hear stories about how the celebration of Christmas and various holiday traditions have evolved over time. End the tour with hot chocolate, tea, wine, and a slice of famous Boston cream pie at the Omni Parker House Hotel. If you’re a fan of beer, the Freedom Trail Foundation also offers the Historic Pub Crawl tour on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. The 90-minute tour takes visitors to four city pubs that played a role in the American Revolution.

The Historic Holiday Stroll starts at the ArtsBoston BOSTIX booth at Faneuil Hall, One Faneuil Hall Square, Boston, at 3:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through January 31. Holidays excluded. Reservations, by phone at 617-357-8300, are required. Tickets are $29 for adults and $19 for children 18 and younger. Reservations are also required at least 24 hours in advance for the Historic Pub Crawl Tour. Call 617-357-8300 for details. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Government Center.

Boston City Walks

Explore the rich history, mixed architecture, and lively culture of Boston with one of six Boston City Walks, including a walking tour of the North End (“Little Italy”), Old Downtown, and waterfront. Whether you have yet to discover historic Beacon Hill, Back Bay, or Harvard Square, founder and tour guide Alan Maltzman will bring these neighborhoods to life for you.

Tour times and prices vary by tour, with most costing about $25. Tours last approximately two hours. View all available walking tours and reserve your spot here, or call 800-979-3370. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Government Center.

Interested in more theater, music, dance, or comedy shows? View upcoming shows and festivities in the area on BosTix.org and the Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular.

Looking for ideas on how to celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Boston? Check back on BU Today December 26  for a list of events you won’t want to miss.

Sonia Su can be reached at ssu@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @SoniaSu_.

2 Comments

2 Comments on A Guide to a Holly, Jolly Christmas

  • Yang Yang on 12.20.2013 at 11:03 am

    Really love this guide!

  • sgh on 12.24.2013 at 5:11 pm

    Don’t miss the Urban Nutcracker by Tony Williams Dance Group and all the hip-hop to Duke Ellington to percussion etc..

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