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One of the best ways to experience Boston during the holidays is to see some of its spectacular light displays.
During the Christmas season, many areas in and around Boston transform into a winter wonderland, complete with twinkling lights and festive decorations.
There are also plenty of wonderful Christmas markets in Boston you won’t want to miss!
Lots of visitors stroll down Boston’s iconic spots, like the Boston Common and Public Garden, taking in the sights and sounds of the season.
If you’re planning to visit, this guide will explore some of the best locations to see the Christmas lights in Boston, including tree lighting events and drive-through light displays in the city and nearby places.
For even more options, check out our guide to MA Christmas lights displays.
You may also like our guide to Boston in winter.
Stay a little longer and enjoy NYE in Boston with our recommendations!
Boston Christmas Lights
In this list, we’ll be exploring places where you can see holiday light displays in Boston and nearby.
Christopher Columbus Park
Christopher Columbus Park in Boston gets a makeover for the holiday season!
Around 50,000 LED lights are hung along the 260-foot trellis and 14 nearby trees, creating a magical light garden.
The lights are turned on during a ceremony usually held on the last week of November, and they stay up throughout the holiday season.
There’s also live music and entertainment.
Old State House Holiday Lights
The Old State House is one of Boston’s historic buildings, built in the 1700s.
During the holiday season, you’ll see some trees along streets around the building decked out in festive lights.
Christmas Lights at Boston’s Public Garden
See the lights adorn the trees at Boston’s Public Garden during the holiday season.
There are thousands of holiday lights that illuminate the area that are turned on the day after Thanksgiving until early January.
Holiday Ship Lighting in Martin’s Park
The Holiday Ship Lighting started after the pandemic as a new holiday lighting event in Boston.
The wooden ship, the bridge, and the beach fencing at Martin’s Park (64 Sleeper Street) are all covered in lights for the holiday season, and a special lighting event kicks the season off.
You can meet Santa, who comes by boat, enjoy caroling, and sip on hot chocolate while you wait for the lighting.
Christmas Trees at the Liberty Hotel
One of the coolest places to see Christmas decorations in Boston is at The Liberty Hotel (215 Charles Street).
They hang Christmas trees upside down from the chandeliers on the ceiling.
It is a unique display of trees, lights, ornaments, and ribbons that you can look up and admire.
Somerville Illuminations Tour
The Somerville Illuminations Tour is a fun way to see Christmas lights, especially if you like checking how individual houses choose to decorate for the holidays.
The tour is a self-guided tour that takes you to decorated homes, caroling performances, local businesses, and any other events happening in the area that you can enjoy as you admire the decor.
You can drive or walk the route depending on the weather and what you prefer.
Gardens Aglow is a celebration of lights held at the Heritage Museums and Gardens (67 Grove Street, Sandwich).
This event features beautiful light displays throughout the gardens and festive seasonal decor.
Kid-friendly activities like scavenger hunts and lawn games are also available- plus, there are holiday-themed treats like s’mores, hot chocolates, and more.
Boston Christmas Tree Lighting
Check out spots to visit for tree lighting events happening around Boston.
Most of these events take place after sunset so it might be a good idea to explore more places in Boston at night and find lots of fun things to do.
Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting Spectacular
Faneuil Hall (91 S Market St) is home to the “Big Tree” that gets lit up every year during the holiday season.
The Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting Spectacular takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and that is the big event for lighting up the tree.
The Faneuil Hall Christmas lights on the tree alone are around 30,000 lights.
Other than the tree lighting, there are musical performances and shopping, and it is all broadcast on one of the local TV stations.
Boston Winter Wonderland City Hall Plaza
Each year the city hosts the Boston Winter Wonderland event at City Hall Plaza (1 City Hall Square).
There are plenty of Christmas lights at the event, as well as a Christmas tree.
You can admire the lights from the ice skating path that runs in a circle through the plaza and around some of the trees covered in lights.
There is also a holiday market that resembles the ones in Europe, where you can find Christmas gifts, food, and warm beverages.
The event was on a hiatus when the plaza was under construction, then as a safety measure during the pandemic.
Boston Common Holiday Tree Lighting
Boston Common during the Christmas season is bustling with holiday activities.
The annual tree lighting event is one of the highlights and is held on the first Thursday of December.
Thousands of lights decorate the City of Boston’s official Christmas tree, sent by the people of Nova Scotia every year, as a thank-you gift for the city’s aid during the Halifax Explosion in 1917.
There are also light displays around the area and an ice skating show.
If you’re taking your car with you, check out our list of parking in Boston.
Copley Square Tree Lighting
Catch the Copley Square Tree Lightning (560 Boylston Street) held after Thanksgiving.
The tree is a large 48-foot-tall white spruce that comes from Canada.
This Boston tree lighting event also features visits from Santa, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph, and some musical performances.
Prudential Center Boston Christmas Tree
There is also a Christmas tree at the Prudential Center (105,800 Boylston St) every year.
The Christmas tree is covered in lights, you’ll feel it towering over you.
And, to compliment the tree, the Prudential Center lights up on the outside too, and it is part of the 31 Nights of Light events.
Every day in December, the building is lit up in a different color to represent a different nonprofit organization.
The tree at the Prudential Center is great to see since there are other Christmas activities at the center too.
You can go shopping, enjoy a hot chocolate or cocktail, or enjoy the rest of the holiday decorations throughout the shopping center.
Macy’s Tree Lighting Boston
Another Boston Christmas tree lighting is at Macy’s (450 Washington St).
They light up their Christmas tree during the week of Thanksgiving then it stays lit for the rest of the holiday season.
They also reveal their holiday windows at the tree lighting, which is their annual tradition of decorating the windows at the store with holiday displays and stories.
Check out the nearby Downtown Boston Holiday Market while you’re here!
Light Up Seaport
Head on down to the Seaport District for their annual tree lighting ceremony at the Seaport Common (85 Northern Ave), as part of the Light Up Seaport held around the first week of December.
You can find live music performances as well as cafes and restaurants in the area serving hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies.
The Lookout Boston is a rooftop bar worth visiting during the festive season if you’re looking for views of the cityscape lit up.
It’s located in Seaport at The Envoy Hotel, just take the elevator up to the rooftop and enjoy a drink underneath the heaters.
The Envoy’s rooftop is one of our favorite winter things in all of Massachusetts!
Lighting at the Commonwealth Avenue Mall
Following the lighting of the official city tree, there is also another lighting at the Commonwealth Avenue Mall (15 Commonwealth Avenue).
At the event, all the trees that run along Commonwealth Avenue are lit up, and when it is done, the city is ready for Christmas!
Boston Drive Through Christmas Lights
Looking for light shows in Boston you can see from your car?
While there aren’t any drive-through Christmas light shows in the main city, you can find some in the suburbs, which makes for a good drive on a cold winter day.
These are all within just a short drive from the city (less than 1 hour).
You may also like our guide to Boston to Maine road trip.
North Shore Holiday Light Show
The first place you can drive through to see Christmas lights in Boston is at the North Shore Holiday Light Show (1058 Boston Rd, Haverhill).
There is over a mile-long route covered in Christmas lights that you can drive through.
You can also turn on the radio station that syncs the lights to festive music.
Greater Boston Celebration of Lights
Another option for Boston drive-through Christmas lights is the Greater Boston Celebration of Lights (200 Trapelo Road, Waltham).
Drive-through light shows are a great way to get in the Christmas spirit since you are paying per car, not per person.
You can even bring pets along with you in your car as you drive along the Christmas lights route.
Magic of Lights at Gillette Stadium
Another place you can drive through to see Christmas lights is Gillette Stadium (67 Washington St, Foxborough).
The Magic of Lights event has around one million lights on display, and you will be able to hear music as you drive through and admire them.
This event goes on in any weather, so you can visit during snowfall for an extra magical drive.
South Shore Light Show at the Marshfield Fairgrounds
The South Shore Light Show is held at the Marshfield Fairgrounds (140 Main St, Marshfield), just around half an hour’s drive from Boston.
While driving through the mile-long course, you’ll be able to view dozens of large displays that light up in sync with a radio program you can play in your car.
The event runs from late November to December.
Other Ways to See Christmas Lights in Boston
One of the ways you can see all the Christmas lights in Boston is by taking a tour.
These tours are not made specifically for seeing Christmas lights, but you will be able to see some of the decorated areas of the city on the tours, while also learning about the city.
If you’re touring on a tight budget, you can check out our list of free things to do in Boston.
First is taking the hop-on hop-off trolley tour, which stops at 14 places in the city and passes more than 100 others, along with many of the places decorated for the holidays.
You’ll tour sites like Beacon Hill and the Seaport District.
You can stay on the trolley for the entire route to admire the sights, or you can get off as you please and visit some of the places on this list to see the lights.
The tour includes a narrated guide of all the attractions featured on the route which is a nice bonus.
This option also gives your feet a rest.
If you prefer to walk, you can simply take a stroll around the city.
But if you want to add a bit of thrill, taking a haunted walking tour is great since it takes place at night, and you can see the lights around downtown Boston fully lit up.
You will also learn about some of the city’s scariest places along the way.
Your guide has all the information and stories you’ll want to hear about the haunted past and present of one of the oldest cities in the country, all while admiring its Christmas beauty.
Private City Highlights Tour
Another option is the city highlights tour, which is nice since you are able to customize it for your group.
Typically it focuses on the best and most important places in the city, but around the holidays, you can customize the tour to see some of the best Christmas lights in Boston.
Bike Around the City
If the weather is dry, you can rent a bike and cycle the city at your own pace.
This method of exploring only works if the weather cooperates, but you will be able to visit all the places above that have Christmas lights throughout the city and even find some lesser-known spots that are decorated.
If you want to see some amazing Christmas lights in Boston, check out the locations we featured in this guide.
Any places we missed mentioning? Let us know in the comments.