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With its historic buildings, snowy temps, and thriving arts scene, there’s no place like the North Shore to celebrate the holiday season. Below, you’ll find a handful of happenings to get you into the holiday spirit this December. Catch a seasonal show at The Cabot, North Shore Music Theatre, or Shalin Liu; see historic art and architecture at the Cape Ann Museum or Hammond Castle; or find family-geared fun at some of the Trustees' North Shore properties. Or just bask in holiday cheer and support small businesses with downtown holiday initiatives in spots like Newburyport and Marblehead. Happy holidays!

Sea Festival of Trees

Blue Ocean Event Center, Salisbury, through Dec. 4

This annual fundraiser invites you to wander awestruck through a maze of more than 100 sparkling, twinkling trees. Raffle tickets are available for a chance to win one of the spectacular themed trees. Children can also visit Santa's workshop and test drive some classic toys, meet Queen Elsa, and keep their eyes out for the Grinch. And don't forget your ice skates so you can take a spin around the indoor ice rink.

Vacation Week at Cape Ann Museum

Gloucester, Dec. 27 – 30

From Tuesday through Friday of the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the Cape Ann Museum will be free and open to all families, with activities for children and parents alike set up throughout the galleries. Visitors can peruse the Designed & Hand-Blocked by the Folly Cove Designers special exhibit, read a book in the museum’s library, or visit the auditorium to watch a film about quarry workers by Walker Johnson.

North Shore Music Theatre’s A Christmas Carol 

Beverly, Dec. 1 – 23

A Christmas Carol at North Shore Music Theatre | Photograph by Paul Lyden

No North Shore holiday roundup would be complete without North Shore Music Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. The original musical adaptation based on the Charles Dickens story follows the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge as he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, turning him into a kinder, gentler man. Now in its 31st year, NSMT’s production features classic Christmas carols, including "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Here We Come A-Wassailing," and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," and has been seen by more than a million guests since its inception in 1989.

Deck the Halls at the Hammond Castle Museum

Gloucester, Nov. 25 – Dec. 30

Returning for its 4th annual celebration, Deck the Halls at the Hammond Castle Museum dresses up almost every room in the museum with Christmas trees, candles, and festive wreaths. Built in the late 1920s by inventor John Hammond, Jr., Hammond Castle overlooks the ocean, combines showstopping art and architecture, and looks especially luxurious during the holidays. On Thursday nights the museum offers special candlelit Deck the Halls tours, and Santa visits the castle on Friday, December 16.

Holidays on the Hill

Long Hill, Beverly, Dec. 3–4 and 10–11

Following the success of its second annual “Halloween on the Hill,” Long Hill in Beverly hosts “Holidays on the Hill” the first two weekends of December. The family-friendly event will feature festive decorations and floral displays throughout the historic home and grounds, with outdoor firepits, seasonal music, and hot chocolate. Families can also look forward to ornament making on the porch, a reindeer scavenger hunt, and a family photo area.

Rock the Holidays with Darlene Love 

The Cabot, Beverly, Dec. 1

Grammy Award Winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love brings her annual “Rock the Holidays” show back to the Cabot in Beverly. Love rose to fame in the 1960s as the lead singer of The Blossoms and a member of The Crystals and has had a prolific career as both a solo artist and backup vocalist, working with ’60s legends like Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, and Sonny and Cher. She also sings the iconic holiday song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," which she’ll bring to the Cabot along with more holiday favorites and songs from her own catalog. Other holiday events at the Cabot this month include Sal Valentinetti’s “Christmas Comes to Town” on December 2 and North Atlantic Ballet’s "The Nutcracker" December 16 through 18.

A Christmas Celtic Sojourn

Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, Dec. 13

A "Christmas Celtic Sojourn" at the Shalin Liu Performance Center | Photograph by Vic Dvorak

Brian O’Donovan’s 20th annual "A Christmas Celtic Sojourn" heads to the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport for two shows on December 13 before moving on to the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston December 16 through 18. Since 1986, the live show has celebrated the season through Celtic and Pagan traditions along with Christian ones, with musicians, dancers, and storytellers. A native of Cork, Ireland, O’Donovan has hosted the weekly WGBH radio program A Celtic Sojourn since 2001, exploring contemporary and traditional music from the Celtic world.

Boston Holiday Pops 

Lowell Auditorium, Lowell, Dec. 18

For one night only, the Boston Pops orchestra, led by Keith Lockhart, brings its famous holiday show to the Lowell Auditorium. They’ll perform seasonal favorites like the signature "Sleigh Ride" and holiday sing-along, and Santa Claus makes a guest appearance at the end of the show. The Pops perform the show in Boston from December 1 through 24, but this is the only show of the season in Lowell.

Newburyport Holiday Invitation Nights

Downtown Newburyport, Dec. 2, 9, 16

Photograph courtesy of Newburyport Chamber of Commerce

On the first three Fridays in December from 6 to 9 p.m., Newburyport businesses host their annual Newburyport Holiday Invitation Nights. Businesses and shops throughout downtown and Merrimac Street offer snacks and beverages as shoppers stock up on holiday gifts. Visitors can also find live music and discounts at many shops—and don’t forget to stop into one of Newburyport’s many fabulous restaurants.


Stevens-Coolidge House and Gardens, North Andover, Nov. 25 - Jan. 7

Winterlights at the Stevens-Coolidge estate | Photograph by Winslow Townson

The Trustees once again bring Winterlights to three of their Massachusetts properties: the Stevens-Coolidge House in North Andover, Naumkeag in Stockbridge, and the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton. Visitors to the Stevens-Coolidge can stroll through festive displays illuminating the property’s gardens with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights. The exhibit takes about an hour to walk through, and the event also features holiday music and concession stands with snacks and hot drinks.

Marblehead Christmas Walk

Downtown Marblehead, Dec. 1 – 4

The annual Marblehead Christmas Walk, now in its 51st year, brings holiday charm to Marblehead’s historic downtown for the first weekend in December. The weekend starts with a holiday shopping preview night on Thursday, December 1, followed by the tree lighting on Friday, the Christmas Walk Parade on Saturday, and more events and shopping around town on Sunday. Don’t miss Santa’s annual arrival by lobster boat, artisan markets, live music, and the Gingerbread festival.