The Best Holiday Events in New England

Come along with Yankee magazine as we explore the holiday season in New England. Whether it’s an exciting Santa Sunday on the slopes, an 1830s-style Thanksgiving dinner, or a horse-drawn sleigh ride with plenty of handmade chocolate treats, there’s something here for everyone.

Christmas at Old Sturbridge Village

Come along with Yankee magazine as we explore the holiday season in New England. Whether it’s an exciting Santa Sunday on the slopes, an 1830s-style Thanksgiving dinner, or a horse-drawn sleigh ride with plenty of handmade chocolate treats, there’s something here for everyone.

If there’s one thing we know how to do in New England, it’s celebrate the seasons. You can find us at Fenway Park in the spring, at the ocean or the lake in summer, and taking in the world-famous scenery of autumn as only New England can offer. The November and December holiday season is no exception. The days may be growing shorter, but that doesn’t stop us from taking full advantage of everything our part of the world has to offer. The hardest part is trying to decide which events and activities we want to get to!

A favorite of ours happens to be one of the largest helium balloon parades in the country. This yearly tradition features giant inflatable characters, award-winning marching bands, and fabulous floats. Of course, there’s nothing like stepping into a Norman Rockwell Christmas painting, and that’s exactly what you can do in one Massachusetts town. Enjoy holiday readings, house tours, caroling, and concerts.

If Santa is your favorite jolly elf, you won’t want to miss breakfast with Santa during a postcard-perfect Wassail Weekend in Vermont that also includes historic house tours, a parade featuring more than 50 horses and riders dressed in holiday costumes and period dress, and plenty of live music.

And that’s just the beginning! Here’s what you can expect throughout New England!

Boston at Christmas

Maine is home to many talented crafters and artists, many of whom display their wares at winter festivals throughout the state. Stained glass, pottery, jewelry, knitted items, and delectable baked goods and hot cocoa are the norm at holiday celebrations in small villages and larger cities. You can also celebrate with stories, lectures, films, and klezmer music at one inaugural Yiddish cultural celebration.

And if you’re having a little trouble getting into the celebratory spirit, try walking through a 14-acre garden decorated with 650,000 LEDs. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, maybe the s’mores pit will.

From Maine, head south to Massachusetts for folk art shows, Christmas concerts, studio art tours, and one of the region’s largest holiday light shows. Drive a magical three-mile route through sparkling displays and holiday scenes while you enjoy a musical simulcast from “Elf Radio.” And don’t miss out on a Christmas festival that showcases over 350 pop-up boutiques featuring crafts, clothing, and specialty foods.

Make sure you take the time to appreciate a true holiday treasure: Handel’s Messiah. Enjoy this performance the way the composer intended, with dazzling vocal solos, spine-tingling instrumental fireworks, and some of the most glorious choral music of all time.

There are a cornucopia of Thanksgiving festivals to tantalize your taste buds, too. Start with orchard tours, cider-making demonstrations and tastings in early November, then travel back in time to experience the Thanksgiving traditions of 19th-century New England.

Where are these fabulous holiday events? Where can you enjoy a tuba Christmas concert, sample farm-fresh foods, or take part in a Gingerbread House decorating contest? All the details are in Out & About in the Special Holiday Issue of Yankee!

New Hampshire
Not to be outdone by Massachusetts, New Hampshire is home to a number of sensational holiday activities. Watch a magical parade that boasts illuminated floats, horse-drawn wagons, marching bands, and jolly ol’ Saint Nick himself. You can also celebrate the simple pleasures of the season with a candlelit stroll through a small village, with occasional stops to make your own Christmas cards and ornaments, or be dazzled by a 19th-century magic show!

Next door in Vermont you can take part in the oldest continuous craft tour in the country, find one-of-a-kind basketry, ceramics, glass, or furniture, or take your pick of historical homes to tour. If you’re the more active type, go ice skating, snowtubing, or snowshoeing at one resort, or cheer on your favorite Alpine racer in slalom races that attract some of the top winter athletes, including members of the U.S. Ski team.

Rhode Island
Restaurant Week, A Christmas Carol, the Polar Express, and a 200-person chorus performing your holiday favorites are just the tip of the season in Rhode Island. Stroll through a 1678 castle decked out for Christmas, tour an elaborately decorated Victorian-era mansion led by volunteers in period dress, or wander through a historic village by the sea, taking in holiday light displays or venturing into small shops for that perfect gift.

Christmas Time in New England

Looking for the perfect gift? Head to Connecticut’s longest-running indoor fine crafts event with over 200 artists and crafters from across the country. For something more reflective, you have a choice of Christmas tree celebrations, with plenty of sparkling trees, wreaths, music, performances, and, naturally, visits from Santa.

Find out where and when all these events take place, plus discover dozens more activities that will help make your holidays the best ever. The Special Holiday Issue of Yankee is your guide to a season filled with light and joy. Celebrate the best of New England with your choice of destinations that are fun for the whole family, or perfect for an intimate escape.

Your Yankee All-Access Charter Membership opens New England to you instantly. Find out how to make the most of the season with this Special Holiday Issue of Yankee.

Discover five tiny Bed and Breakfasts that offer a truly special escape. Get the inside scoop on New England’s best cheeses, charcuterie, chocolates, and jams. Find out where you can get carefully crafted handmade gifts from some of New England’s most skilled artisans. And visit the Gilded Age’s favorite summer resort town as it gets dressed up for winter cheer.

The Special Holiday Issue of Yankee brings the magic of the season to your home.

Discover the wonders of New England with this special issue of Yankee, full of hand-picked events and activities perfectly made for a joyous holiday season.

Don’t miss this Special Holiday Issue of Yankee. With your Yankee All-Access Charter Membership, you have full access to everything in this issue, including:

  • Christmas in Newport, a short history of how this famous summer resort location became a Christmas destination
  • Your guide to New England’s artisans and creative entrepreneurs, in Handmade for the Holidays
  • A lesson on baking and living well, with cookbook author Dorie Greenspan, in The Sweet Life

Sleigh Ride in the Snow