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New England: December Events 2014

Ho, ho, ho – it’s holiday time in New England! Listed below are some of the region’s major holiday events and attractions and some that are just sheer fun. Please note: the first part of this list shows events that begin in November and those that run throughout the month of December. See individual websites for confirmed dates, hours and associated fees. Some events may require pre-registration or ticket purchases.

For a complete list of New England events in December 2014, check the state tourism links at the bottom of this page.

Make plans today with other New England winter travel ideas.


Ventfort Hall: A Home for the Holidays

Late November – New Year's Eve 2014 (Closed Christmas Day)
Lenox, Massachusetts

Come tour the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox, Massachusetts, during the holidays with its beautiful decorations, holiday events, Victoria teas, museum shop and more. Ventfort Hall is an imposing Jacobean Revival-style mansion built in 1893 for Sarah Morgan, the sister of American financier J. P. Morgan. This magnificent Berkshire “cottage” was rescued from demolition and has undergone substantial restoration. It was even used in the Academy Award-winning film The Cider House Rules. Ventfort Hall is now the home of the Gilded Age Museum, which interprets the great changes that occurred in American life, industry and society during the nineteenth century, a fascinating period of American history.


Christmas at the Newport Mansions & Evening Events

Late November - January 1, 2015 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Newport, Rhode Island

Step back into a Christmas of the Gilded Age at the famous Newport Mansions. Make holiday memories with your family by visiting The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House, all decked out for the holidays with thousands of poinsettia plants, spectacular evergreens, trees, wreaths, fresh flowers and 19th century-style ornaments. The mansions feature dining tables set with period silver and china and music of the season. Also on offer are special evening events.


Blink! at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Late November - December 31, 2014
Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Blink!, featuring the music of the Holiday Pops, is a fun new feature at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Each night an LED light & sound production fills the marketplace with sounds and scenes of the holiday season. There will be 12 performances each night.


Ice Skating – Bank of America City Center

Mid November 2014 - Mid-March 2015 (pending weather)
Greater Kennedy Plaza – Providence, Rhode Island

As one of New England’s most popular winter destinations, the Bank of America City Center offers a fun, family activity at an affordable price. The 14,000-square-foot skating rink is twice the size of Rockefeller Plaza’s ice rink in New York City! Skate rentals available. (May close pending weather conditions – call first.)


Bright Nights at Forest Park/Spirit of Springfield

November 26, 2014 - January 4, 2015 (closed Dec. 2 & 3)
Springfield, Massachusetts

One of New England’s best Holiday lighting experiences with more than 600,000 lights along a 3-mile route.


Festival of Lights – Historic Wickford Village, Rhode Island

December 4-7, 2014
Wickford, Rhode Island

Several days of holiday celebration in this picturesque Rhode Island coastal town. Santa arrives at the town dock aboard the Sea Princess, led by kayaks from The Kayak Centre. Enjoy the tree lighting and hayrides with Santa. Shops are open until 9pm!


All Aboard! Christmas Festival of Lights

Select dates throughout November and December
Edaville Railroad – Carver, Massachusetts

During the Christmas season, Edaville is transformed into a winter wonderland of holiday delights! Passengers can relax comfortably in warm and dry coaches while riding through a spectacular holiday setting featuring an explosion of lights. Kids of all ages will enjoy an array of vintage amusement rides and a visit with Santa in one of our indoor play areas. Stay for a delicious full meal or enjoy seasonal treats while roaming our beautifully decorated grounds.


Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour

November 29 & 30, December 6, 7, 13 & 20, 2014
Jackson, New Hampshire

Head to New Hampshire’s White Mountains for what was named as one  of five tasty tours in the Granite State by The Concord Insider. Board your Austrian Drawn Sleigh at Nestlenook Estate where you will be greeted by Carolers and presented with your Jingle Bell and first Chocolate Treasure. You’ll be whisked away to Jackson Village stopping at various locations throughout where you will be greeted with especially prepared Chocolate Treasures. The sleigh will return you to the enchanting Nestlenook Estate. These rides sell out early, so please book your Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour early.


Santa Trains – Hobo Railroad

November 28-30, December 6 & 7, 13 & 14, 20 & 21, 2014
Lincoln, New Hampshire

A short drive from Boston, the Hobo Railroad offers a Santa Train that takes you through New Hampshire’s White Mountains region. Santa will be on board to visit with each family. Santa’s Elves will serve hot chocolate and cookies. Purchase tickets online.


Annual “Nutcracker” Ballet

November 28 - December 31, 2014
Opera House - Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker Ballet is a must-see holiday event for the whole family! Join Clara on her magical journey through an enchanted winter wonderland to a palace of sugary confections.


Santa's Holiday Express

November 29-30, December 1, 7 & 8, 14 & 15, 21-23, 2014
Conway Scenic Railroad – North Conway, New Hampshire

The Jolly Old Elf will visit with all children during the ride and give each a small gift. In addition to seeing Santa, passengers can enjoy a relaxing train ride through the Mt. Washington Valley countryside aboard heated coaches, powered by one of the Conway Scenic Railroad’s powerful diesel locomotives.


Santa’s Village

Open select days in December
Jefferson, New Hampshire (White Mountains Region)

Come meet Santa’s (real) reindeer at this favorite family attraction in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. Santa and his “helpers” are eager to welcome you into their village where fun is ever present. This pristine park has fun-filled rides, award-winning shows and interactive play. Santa greets every child, and Mrs. Claus joins in on the hospitality. Be sure to stay until after dark when the beautiful lighting throughout the park displays a sense of wellbeing and warmth on those cooler nights. Dress warmly as it gets snuggly cold on the Skyway Sleigh Monorail or the Merry Christmas Ferris Wheel.


Christmas in Newport

December 1-31, 2014
Newport, Rhode Island

The Christmas in Newport celebration boasts multiple activities for nearly each day of the December calendar. In a community collaboration, clear bulbs illuminate Newport’s scenic harbor and wharves, the restored colonial homes in the Point and Historic Hill sections, and the Victorian splendor of Bellevue Avenue. The lights are meant to recapture the candlelit holidays of bygone days. Take a Holiday Lantern Tour, buy gifts at harborside shops or the Christmas Bazaar and enjoy one of the many holiday concerts.


A Victorian Christmas at Hildene

December 1-31, 2014 (closed December 24-25)
Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home – Manchester, Vermont

Come see a Victorian Christmas as Robert and Mary Lincoln celebrated it when they stayed at Hildene through the holiday season in 1909. Hildene was the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. Enjoy the holiday season in the scenic Shires Region of Vermont and shop at the nearby upscale Manchester Designer Outlets.


Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A month-long celebration - specific dates for the Candlelight Stroll
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A month of strolls, shows and stayovers in the historic seaport of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Listed as “one of the Top 100 Events in North America” (American Bus Association) and  “one of the Top Ten Things not to miss in New England” (Boston Globe), Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth has people returning year after year. The signature event is the Candlelight Stroll on special nights in December when the quaint lanes of Strawbery Banke Museum are aglow with hundreds of luminaries, the historic homes are festively decorated, and alluring scents and sounds of the holiday season fill the air. Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth also offers live holiday shows, opera broadcasts and films in The Music Hall’s landmark Historic Theater and the new intimate Music Hall Loft on Congress Street, and welcoming stays in the elegant and delightful holiday downtown.


Christmas in Salem: Historic House Tours

December 5-7, 2014
Salem, Massachusetts (North of Boston)

Explore 18th and 19th century homes decorated for the holidays, all within easy walking distance. Enjoy free trolley service, dining and shopping discounts, special museum offers, concerts, lectures, theater and movie tie-ins, wine tasting and more.


Holly Folly Weekend

December 5-7, 2014
Provincetown, Massachusetts

Enjoy the season in Cape Cod’s liveliest town – a favorite with gay and lesbian travelers. Partake in the Snow Ball, the Holly Folly Inn Stroll, Holly Folly Sing-A-Longs and Holiday Drag Bingo. Lots of fun in a beautiful seaside location with many shops and restaurants.


Annual Christmas Prelude

December 5-6 and 12-13, 2014
Kennebunkport, Kennebunk, and Cape Porpoise, Maine

The charming seaside village of Kennebunkport, Maine, was voted America’s #2 Christmas town by Home and Garden Television (HGTV)! Christmas Prelude is a magical season of shopping and special events including a champagne reception, candlelight caroling, tree lightings, arts & crafts shows, 12 music programs, a pancake breakfast, lobster bake, the arrival of Santa by lobster boat and much more. Shops offer extended hours and many provide special treats to celebrate the season.


Boston Holiday Pops – Boston Symphony Orchestra

Select dates in December
Symphony Hall – Boston, Massachusetts

Experience the wonder of a Holiday Pops concert this season. For a few weeks in December, historic Symphony Hall is transformed into a magical place for all ages as the Boston Pops perform the most beloved holiday music. Join together with other New Englanders, Bostonians and visitors from around the globe to continue your family’s tradition or start a new one. Order your tickets now to ensure you’ll be a part of it all.


Annual STOCKBRIDGE MAIN STREET AT CHRISTMAS

December 5-7, 2014
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

The town of Stockbridge, made famous by Norman Rockwell’s painting of the village during the holidays, becomes a magical New England setting decorated with holiday wreaths and festive lights. The celebration includes holiday house tours, caroling, and a holiday concert. Capping off the weekend is a recreation on Sunday of the scene depicted in Rockwell’s “Main Street at Christmas,” complete with vintage automobiles parked in the spots occupied in the painting. The day’s activities include horse drawn rides, a visit from Santa, Roger the Jester, lunch at the Christmas Food Booth and much more. Tickets may be purchased in advance through the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce (complete form and mail in) or in person at The Red Lion Inn the week of the events.


CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT AT OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE

Weekend throughout December — check website for specific dates
Sturbridge, Massachusetts

On nine special evenings in December visitors to Old Sturbridge Village can experience the magic of a candlelit New England village while learning about the real history of today’s Christmas traditions at OSV’s Christmas by Candlelight celebrations. Historic interpreters in costume will explain the origins of Father Christmas, sugarplums, Yule logs, Christmas trees, mistletoe and more. Guests can ride in a horse-drawn sleigh (snow permitting) or a horse-drawn wagon, sip hot cider, hear stories, see chestnuts roasting by an open fire and enjoy period music, carols and holiday songs.


Bowen’s Wharf Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

December 6, 2014
Newport, Rhode Island

Bring the whole family to see Frosty the Snowman, Santa, and Mrs. Claus for an evening of Christmas cheer in America’s favorite sailing town. Make a day of it and check off that holiday gift list at Newport’s many retail shops. Festivities begin at 4:30 with Frosty the Snowman, followed by a Christmas Carol Sing-a-long and the tree lighting. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by boat (weather permitting) at 6 pm.  Retail shops stay open until 9 pm.


Christmas at Canterbury Shaker Vilage

December 6 & 13, 2014
Canterbury, New Hampshire

A Christmas celebration from a simpler era, Shaker-style! Canterbury Shaker Village will be lit up and decorated for the season. Enjoy a candlelight stroll and horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride. Enjoy musical performances and Shaker entertainment. See a 19th-Century Magic Show and traditional craft demonstrations. Visit the Gingerbread Spectacular and more!


Smith’s Castle – Cocumscussoc: Christmas at the Castle

December 6 & 7, 2014
North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Smith’s Castle-Cocumscussoc is an award-winning historic site where four centuries of Rhode Island history are preserved and interpreted through tours, historic reenactments and educational programs for both adults and children. For this special weekend, the halls of Smith’s Castle are decked in period fashion for a celebration of Christmas past. Nibble on home-baked treats, sip hot mulled cider and enjoy live music from an earlier era.


Annual Christmas by the Sea Celebration

December 12-14, 2014
Ogunquit, Maine (Southern Maine)

A festival of holiday activities designed for the young at heart in quaint Ogunquit Village. Tree lightings, caroling, bonfires, shopping, open houses, Chowderfest and more.


Christmas at the Farm – Billings Farm & Museum

December 6-7, 2014 and December 20, 2014 - January 1, 2015 (closed Christmas Day)
Woodstock, Vermont

Visit the authentically decorated farmhouse with preparations underway for the holiday meal; tour the operating dairy farm, enjoy holiday programs and activities, plus make historic ornaments. After Christmas, there are horse-drawn sleigh ride or wagon rides. View the Academy Award-nominated film, A Place in the Land, which chronicles the development of the Billings Farm. Tour or walk the grounds of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park across the road or go shopping in the picturesque town of Woodstock.


Annual Santa Sunday at Sunday River

December 7, 2014
Sunday River Ski Resort – Newry, Maine

Come see dozens of “Santas” headed down the slopes at this favorite resort in Maine. Celebrate the arrival of winter and the upcoming holiday season while raising money for a good cause. Dress in a full Santa costume, and you can ski or ride for free. Pre-registration required.


Freeport’s Annual Sparkle Weekend

December 5-7, 2014
Freeport, Maine

Only a short drive or train ride from Portland, Maine (via Amtrak’a Downeaster train starting in Boston), Freeport is home to the flagship store of the outdoor retailer L.L. Bean and home to many designer outlets and other interesting shops. This annual event features the Sparkle Parade of Lights, carolers, a Talking Christmas Tree, Santa, horse drawn carriage rides and much more. At the L.L. Bean “campus” see the Northern Lights display and the giant L.L. Bean boot!


Woodstock’s Winter Wassail Weekend

December 12-14, 2014
Woodstock, Vermont

Voted one of Vermont’s Top Ten Winter events. For the past twenty-four years, Wassail Weekend in Woodstock has welcomed people from near and far. Journalists have recommended this special event as a unique way to enjoy Vermont during a special time of year. The highlight of the weekend is the Wassail Parade through the center of Woodstock with more than fifty horses and riders dressed in holiday costumes and period dress from the early 19th Century. Mr. Claus himself usually puts in an appearance and then heads on to our Little Theater where he greets the children at the magical “Christmas Visions.”


Christmas in Edgartown

December 12-14, 2014
Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

This island celebration begins with the lighting of the lighthouse and continues with the Great Chowder Cook Off, a Christmas Parade and other events throughout this historic town. Edgartown is filled with shops and restaurants — perfect for a pre-Christmas getaway!


Coolidge Holiday Open House

December 6, 2014
President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site – Plymouth, Vermont

Plymouth Notch, Vermont, is the birthplace and boyhood home of Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States. The village is virtually unchanged since the early 20th century. The homes of Calvin Coolidge’s family and neighbors, the community church, cheese factory, one-room schoolhouse, and general store have been carefully preserved and many of the buildings have their original furnishings. On this day, enjoy the traditions of the season. Visit the Coolidge birthplace, decorated as it would have been in 1872, the year the future president was born. Winter exhibits at the Aldrich House, Plymouth Cheese Factory, and 1924 Summer White House office. This event features old-time music, craft demonstrations, sleigh rides, lunch at the Wilder House Restaurant, special cancellation at the historic Plymouth post office and children’s holiday activities.


Inn to Inn HOLIDAY Cookie & Candy Tour

December 13-14, 2014
Intervale, New Hampshire

Each of the 12 inns on the 18th Annual Inn to Inn Cookie & Candy Tour will feature original holiday cookies and candies, along with exquisite decorations offering tour goers the bonus of taking home holiday decorating ideas as well as scrumptious cookie and candy recipes for themselves. The participating inns have developed original recipes for everything from sweet to savory holiday treats, with each inn featuring a new recipe for this year’s tour, so those that return year after year will be treated to new sweet treats!

Known as the oldest and original cookie tour in New England, participants tour 12 inns decked in all their holiday finery offering signature decorations, holiday cookies and candies. Additionally, tourgoers go home with a collection of recipes and guests of the inns participating in the tour will receive a collector’s ornament custom-made for this tour by Deneen Pottery. Chosen by editors of New Hampshire Magazine as “The Best Sugar High,” here’s your chance to participate in the ultimate cookie walk.


First Night Portsmouth – New Hampshire

December 31, 2014
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

First Night was created by a group of civic-minded artists in Boston as a meaningful alternative to traditional New Year’s Eve revelry. Each year thereafter, other communities began to ask the founding members of First Night Boston for assistance starting their own similar celebration on New Year’s Eve. First Night festivals celebrate creativity, imagination, and participation, and emphasize family programming that honors a no-alcohol policy. The festival showcases high-quality programs that highlight a spectrum of performing and visual arts activities and events. Portsmouth, New Hampshire became a First Night® community in 1986 and celebrates First Night® with music, dance, fireworks and ice sculpture.


First Night Burlington: Burlington & MONTPELIER

December 31, 2014
Burlington & Montpelier, Vermont

Come ring in the New Year with the 28th New Year’s Eve Festival of the Arts. Enjoy performances and events at these annual substance-free, New Year’s Eve festivals in the cities of Burlington and Montpelier.


FIRST NIGHT

December 31, 2014
Boston, Massachusetts

Boston’s First Night Festival of the Arts showcases the work of 1,000 artists in 200 performances and exhibits at 35 indoor and outdoor venues located throughout the downtown area on New Year’s Eve. This signature Boston event is the oldest and largest of its kind in North America, typically attracting about one million people from throughout the region. The day-long celebration runs from 1 pm to midnight each year on December 31. In addition to the broad range of lively music, dance, theater, visual art, and film programs offered, First Night’s traditional activities include a Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center, a Grand Procession down Boylston Street, colossal ice sculptures that dot the city’s landscape and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.


First Night Hartford

December 31, 2014
Hartford, Connecticut

First Night Hartford is Hartford’s premier New Year’s Eve party, a multicultural, artistically unique, alcohol-free New Year’s experience with countless professional musicians, artists, performance groups and exhibits that inspire thousands of people of all ages to attend each year. Come to the many venues that welcome the public on New Year’s Eve, including: Hartford Public Library, Hartford City Hall, The Old State House, State House Square, Wadsworth Atheneum, Center Church, South Church, Christ Cathedral Church, Charter Oak Cultural Center and The Bushnell Carousel.


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