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There’s no place like the North Shore to celebrate the holiday season, between its cold temps, community initiatives, and holiday happenings everywhere you look. Below, you’ll find details on the yearly traditions we’ve all grown fond of, like Winterlights, North Shore Music Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, and skating at MarketStreet Lynnfield.

Some of our favorite holiday shopping events are back, too, like Marblehead’s Christmas Walk and Newburyport’s Holiday Invitation Nights. Read on for ten things to do this December north of Boston—we guarantee they’ll put you in the holiday spirit!

The Rink at Marketstreet Lynnfield

The Rink at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Nov. 11 – February 25 The Rink returns to MarketStreet Lynnfield this winter, running through February 25. Operating every day of the week until 8 p.m., the public outdoor skating rink opens at 3 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. on Sundays. Admission is $12, children under three are free, and skate rentals are $5.


Nov. 24 – Dec. 31

The Trustees once again bring back Winterlights to the Stevens-Coolidge House in North Andover this holiday season, along with Naumkeag in Stockbridge and the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton. Thousands of lights illuminate the historic gardens with festive displays, and guests also can expect holiday music and a concession stand with snacks and hot drinks. The exhibit takes about an hour to walk through, and tickets start at $20.

Santa’s Workshop at Smolak Farms

Nov. 25 – Dec. 24

Every Saturday and Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Smolak Farms in North Andover hosts a Santa’s Workshop event. Kids can make their own ornaments in the workshop, write Santa Claus a letter, and take a photo with the big guy himself. Then, head upstairs for hot cocoa and story time with Mrs. Claus.

Newburyport Holiday Invitation Nights

Dec. 1, 8, 15

Holiday Invitation Nights return to Newburyport this December, taking place the first three Fridays of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. Small businesses throughout downtown, the Tannery Marketplace, and Merrimac Place open their doors for festive nights of shop[1]ping (with some holiday discounts!), live entertainment, and refreshments.

Christmas at Castle Hill

Dec. 1–30

The already opulent Castle Hill gets even more decked out during the holidays with Christmas at Castle Hill. This year’s theme, Travels with the Cranes, means each room’s decor takes inspiration from Crane family travels around the world, from Paris and Japan to Egypt and New York. Guests can enjoy cookies and hot chocolate during their visit, and tickets are timed-entry style. Castle Hill is open most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays leading up to Christmas, along with every day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Photograph by Josh Reynolds

Above the Fold” at the Cape Ann Museum

Dec. 2 – March 17

On Dec. 2, the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester opens “Above the Fold: The Photographers of the Gloucester Daily Times, 1973–2005.” The exhibit features a selection of photos from the Gloucester Daily Times over the course of three decades, drawn from an estimated one million photographs recently donated to CAM by the North of Boston Media Group, and highlighting the importance of local photojournalism in documenting community.

Photograph by David Costa Photography

North Shore Music Theatre‘s “A Christmas Carol”

Dec. 7–23

Since 1989, North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly has put on its adaptation of A Christmas Carol, a musical following Charles Dickens’s timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge. This year’s production runs from Dec. 7 through 23, and David Coffee returns for his 29th season as Scrooge. The show features traditional holiday songs like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and tickets start around $75 for most performances. achristmascarol.html

Deck the Halls at the Hammond Castle Museum

Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28

On Thursdays in December, head to the Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester for its annual Deck the Halls event—illuminated by candlelight. You’ll see all of the castle’s festive garlands, trees, and wreaths along with thousands of twinkling lights and candles as guides escort guests through the castle’s many rooms, lit the way they would have been in the 1920s.

Boston Holiday Pops in Lowell

Dec. 17

The Holiday Pops bring their iconic seasonal show on the road for a few performances outside of Symphony Hall this December, including one at the Lowell Auditorium. Sing along with holiday classics as Keith Lockhart’s Pops play seasonal favorites like “Sleigh Ride”— guests might even see a visit from Santa. The show takes place on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2:30 p.m.