After the excitement of Christmas Day subsides, then there’s winter break. You could take the week to relax and do nothing, or you could use the opportunity to explore the fun the North Shore has to offer.
1. Frozen Fire Festival, Salem | Dec. 26-Jan. 1
Salem’s inaugural Frozen Fire Festival will transform the downtown Charlotte Forten Park into a wintry destination for fun and food. Watch live ice sculpting, play on an Olympic-sized curling rink, shop from local vendors, and groove to live music. Heated igloos, fire pits, and a s’mores and hot chocolate garden will help keep visitors cozy and well-fueled for all the fun.
2. Cape Ann Museum vacation week activities, Gloucester | Dec. 27-30
The museum will be free to families during vacation week, and kid-friendly activities will be set up throughout the museum and its studio. Search for Cassie the sea serpent throughout the museum and try out your own designs in the Folly Cove designers exhibit.
3. Shows at the Wenham Museum, Wenham | Dec. 27, 28, and 29
The Wenham Museum will be hosting three spectacular shows for visitors. Explore science and magic with Ed the Wizard’s Alchemy Laboratory on Tuesday, be amazed by the skills of world yo-yo champion The Yo-Yo Guy on Wednesday, and laugh along with The Magic Fred Show on Thursday. Tickets include museum admission, for even more fun after the show.
4. Goat hike and mini farm tour, Goats to Go, Georgetown | Dec. 27
Stretch your legs with a selection of goats on leads and roaming free. Participants will receive goat treats to feed to their new, four-legged friends and learn about the goats and life on the farm. More information and registration online.
5. Curious Creatures, North Shore Children’s Museum, Peabody | Dec. 28
The newly opened North Shore Children’s Museum would be fun to explore any day during vacation week (except Monday, when they’re closed), but on Wednesday visitors can also check out – and maybe pet – a menagerie of lizards, baby alligators, chinchillas, and more.
6. Minions: the Rise of Gru, The Cabot, Beverly | Dec. 28
See the lovable yellow Minions on the big screen for a small price: just $1 per ticket. Adults and older kids will appreciate the grandeur of the restored 100-year-old theater alongside the animate antics.
7. Outdoor adventures, Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield | Dec. 31
Spend three hours exploring the habitats and creates of the coastal wetlands. An expert naturalist guides the outing, promotes explorations with small group challenges, and helps participants identify the plants and animals they encounter. Registration is required and available online.
8. Wild walks at the Crane Estate, Ipswich | All week
From Monday through Saturday, guided tours around Crane Beach offer up the possibility of catching a glimpse of snowy owls visiting the dunes. A family version of the snowy owl prowl is slightly shorter and slower for the littlest birders. On Wednesday and Friday, the Shipwreck Scholars hike invites families to explore the salt marsh and examine an actual shipwreck on the beach.
9. WinterLights or ZooLights or Coastal Maine Botanical | All week
Even after Christmas, several spectacular holiday light displays continue on in to January. Spot flamingoes and bears as you stroll through a twinkling wonderland at ZooLights at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, or explore the illuminated property at Winterlights at the Stevens-Coolidge House and Gardens in North Andover. If you’re feeling really adventurous, take a day trip or an overnight to Maine to check out the wild wonders of Gardens Aglow at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
10. Skating through break | All week
Strap on some skates and glide across the ice. The Rink at MarketStreet in Lynnfield is open every day, offering up great outdoor skating plus fire pits and hot chocolate to warm you up. Reading’s Burbank Arena and Peabody’s James McVann-Louis O’Keefe Memorial Rink will be open for public skating every day during break, and many other local rinks have public skate times available throughout the week. If you’re feeling ambitious, head into Boston for a skate on the iconic Frog Pond on the Boston Common.