8 Best New England Christmas Towns
A wholly picture-book perfect Christmas town, Nantucket, Massachusetts is bound to make any classic holiday seaside list. The hydrangeas have gone for the winter, but Christmas trees, lights, and St. Nick fill the void. Enjoy the annual Nantucket Stroll, when the town turns into a picturesque postcard as old-fashioned carolers dressed in costume fill the streets with song. With the aid of the U.S. Coast Guard, Santa makes his grand entrance. The nearby Whaling Museum celebrates the annual Festival of Trees with 80 trees, decorated by local ACK artists.
Vermont is gorgeous in the fall, but it's down-right magical at Christmastime as towns fill with holiday spirit, glimmering lights, baubles, and sleigh bells. Woodstock, Vermont's annual Wassail Weekend is a quintessential New England holiday fete. It features a parade, craft shows, historic homes tours, a community yule log, and much more over the course of a three-day celebration.
Wickford, Rhode Island
In cozy coastal Wickford, Rhode Island, Santa arrives by boat lead by his kayak team (aka reindeer). The village's annual Festival of Lights begins every year after Thanksgiving, and the festivities continue all weekend with a tree lighting at Updike Park. In addition to the parade, holiday enthusiasts can enjoy decorated storefronts, horse-drawn carriages, and hayrides around the village.
Quaint and picturesque Kent, Connecticut hosts the Annual Kent Gingerbread Festival, a month-long celebration of the spicy-sweet baked goods that are synonymous with the holidays and winter season. Daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., vistors can tour Kent shops (grab a trusty Gingerbread Map at participating retailers) that play host to the variety of sugary architectural masterpieces. Also during the holiday season, look for one-off celebrations like the Annual Kent Holiday Champagne Stroll and Pancakes with Santa.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island's annual Illuminated Boat Parade kicks off the season in this charming New England boat town. Each decorated boat, trimmed with blinking lights in a multitude of colors, will draw gasps of glee and wonder. The parade hosts award prizes for categories such as best-decorated sailboat, best-decorated powerboat, and best-decorated fishing boat. While you're in town, don't miss Christmas at the Newport Mansions, a tour of three magnificent manors decked out in Yuletide glory for the community and visitors.
During winter holidays, the town of Freeport, Maine feels like it's straight from a holiday catalog—mainly because it is. As headquarters for retail company L.L. Bean, the coastal town stays busy with a variety of holiday events. The Sparkle Celebration—2018 marks the 25th annual event—features a parade of lights down Main Street, a famous talking Christmas tree, and of course an appearance from the jolly elf himself.
L.L. Bean also hosts their Northern Lights Celebration, complete with horse-drawn wagons, a model train ride, and much more for visitors and shoppers to enjoy all month.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, you'll find everything you expect of an old-fashioned New England Christmas: horse-drawn carriages, Figgy Pudding, costumed carolers, and windows illuminated by the glow of flickering candles. This year heralds the 39th Annual Candlelight Stroll, a walking tour of the town's historic homes near the waterfront neighborhood of Puddle Dock. After the walk, an outdoor ice skating is available at nearby Puddle Dock Pond, and restaurants are open to offer a warm meal in the winter chill.
Families living in Boston's famous brownstones rarely spare the historic facades of glittery holiday decor. Lights spindling down store fronts and tree-lined streets illuminate the path to the best Christmastime events in Boston. Don't miss the holiday trees in Faneuil Hall Marketplace and in the Boston Common. If visions of the Sugarplum Fairy fill your head, you can catch her in the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker all month. The acclaimed Boston Pops will be in the city for their annual Holiday Pops concert, too.
If your Christmasy tastes steer toward cocoa and looking at lights, turn to the Cocoa & Carols Cruise, a boat ride during which you can take in the city's lights by water. This seasonal cruise is a 90-minute sail, and it features a house jazz ensemble, the Benjamin Young quartet, and their jazz singer.