Johnny’s List of Quirky Boston Events: 12/01/08

I have Christmas on the brain now. I’ve read about Santa’s arriving by parachute, dog sled, fire truck, horse-drawn sleigh, and jumping off a rooftop. Obviously these events are geared around kids and merchants, but if you try, you can find some good ones. Please email me anything non-commercial that I missed!


The Week in Weird
Skating Rink Opening at Charles Hotel Dec 7 Boston Metro
It’s ice skating time! Following Frog Pond, now ice skating rinks are opening at the Charles Hotel and in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Both feature opening celebrations. Free skating, 12-8pm. Performance by skating pros. Santa visits.
Cambridge, MA. more
Holiday on Ice @ Kendall Square Ice Rink Dec 5 Boston Metro
The Kendall Square rink is doing a free night of professional performers, also, which may be opening night Dec 5, 12-9pm, but it may be at some other time. I could not reach them. Check the website.
Cambridge, MA.617 492-0941. more
Fort Point Open Studios (Holidays) Dec 5 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
What is possibly Boston’s best artist community has their annual open studios this weekend. Walk around South Boston and meet the actual artists in their private homes and work studios.
Boston, MA. more
Hyde Park Open Studios Dec 6 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
Even further south, Hyde Park is also having an open studios event. 12-5pm.
1476 River Street, Boston, MA. more
Open House at Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History Dec 6 Boston Metro
Also free is this event at a museum dedicated to the Post Office. Stamp ‘games, puzzles, and hunts’. 12pm to 4pm.
Regis College, 235 Wellesley Street, Weston, MA.781.768.8367. more
Looney Plunge @ Lake Sunapee Dec 6 New Hampshire
Are you insane? Perhaps going up to New Hampshire for some skiing and a dip in the lake would suit you.
Lake Sunapee at the Harbor, New London, NH. more
The Great Marlborough Train Show Dec 6 – Dec 7 Metro West
Not free, but costing only $7, is the largest model train show in New England. Santa will be there as will over 200 dealers. Sat 10-5, Sun 10-4.
Best Western, 181 Boston Post Rd (Rt 20), Marlborough, MA.781-862-0388. more
Nikkomo Dec 6 Rhode Island
Nikkomo is the closest thing in Native American culture to the celebration of Christmas. Come see it for yourself and bring a small gift. They’ll have music, ethnic gifts for sale, and traditional foods. 1-4pm.
Tomaquag Museum, 390 Summit Rd, Exeter, RI.401-539-7213. more
Day of the Ninja Dec 5 Boston Metro
Competing with Talk Like a Pirate Day is the “Day of the Ninja” on December 5th. Dress and talk tough, ninja style. Evening class at 6, 6:45, 7:30pm. I do get a sense that this is their regular class and they aren’t doing anything special for the day. But if you want some tips on how to be a real ninja, this beginner’s class looks like fun.
Boston Martial Arts Center, 161 Harvard Avenue, Suite 4E, Boston, MA.617-789-5524. more
Lecture: “Human Origins Dec 6 Boston Metro
This is a one-night lecture about human origins and why we walk on two legs and such. You’ll get to handle actual stone tools and bones. Register in advance. 9:30am-12pm.
Harvard Natural History Museum, Cambridge, MA.617-495-3045. more

Ho Ho Holidays
Mrs. Gore’s Holiday Tea & Tours Dec 5 – Dec 13 Metro West
Holiday events, ok let’s get real, Christmas events are dominating the events calendar now. As usual I list things from most interesting to least. To start, this is a re-enactment of “tea time” from the Victorian era at this old historical home of former Massachusetts Governor Gore.
Gore Place, 52 Gore Street, Waltham, MA.(781) 894-2798. more
Victorian Christmas Feast @ Astors’ Beechwood Mansion Dec 6 – Dec 20 Rhode Island
Also re-enacted is this 19th century holiday feast at one of Newport’s mansions. Fridays @ 7pm. Reserve in advance.
Astors’ Beechwood Mansion, 580 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI. more
Holidays at Heritage Museum Dec 6 – Dec 7 Cape Cod
This one is also not to be missed. The Heritage Museum & Gardens have an expansive grounds with lighted paths for walking, with an auto museum, an arts museum, an outdoor maze, and a lot more. This event is free. Take photos with Santa in an old Model T car. Crafts and live music, too.
67 Grove Street, Sandwich, MA.508-888-3300. more
Sutton Chain of Lights Dec 6 Worcester
Not closest to Boston, but possibly the best, are some big events in small towns. Here they have the usual caroling and tree lighting with Santa at 5:30pm. But it’s proceeded by events all around town with a trolley tour. And followed by a roast beef dinner!
Sutton, MA. more
Amesbury Santa Parade & Tree Lighting Dec 6 Northern Mass
And another parade. (Parades beat plain tree lightings!) 3:30pm.
Amesbury, MA. more
Concord Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting Dec 7 Metro West
This one in Concord is going up top also, since it seems to also be fairly non-commercial. 12pm-5pm open house tour of 6 decorated historic houses, then parade at 5:30pm and tree lighting at 6pm. Santa will arrive by fire engine and they’ll have carolers and hot chocolate. The parade starts at Dunkin Donuts on Sudbury Road and ends at town common.
Visitors Center, 58 Main St., Concord, MA.978-369-3120. more
Plymouth, NH Hometown Holiday Parade Dec 6 New Hampshire
Even better than a parade — fireworks! They’ll have 36 parade units throwing candy and parading down Green Street, around the rotary, and to South Main Street. Santa will arrive on a fire truck, and afterwards they’ll have soups and Santa events at the Senior Center. Parade at 5pm, then fireworks at 5:45pm on the Holderness-Plymouth bridge.
Plymouth, NH.603-536-2890. more
Annual Conway, NH Village Festival, Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec 6 New Hampshire
Also a parade and Santa, but with ice skating and professional ice skate performances. Plus free admission to the movie “Wall-E”.
Conway, NH. more
Festival of Trees or Portsmouth Illuminated Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting Dec 6 New Hampshire
While you’re visiting the Strawbery Banke event, see this parade in Portsmouth, NH. 6pm.
Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, NH.603-610-5510. more
Pembroke Tree Lighting Dec 7 South Shore
Here’s a creative one — tethered balloon rides and hay rides are part of this tree lighting event! Santa arrives by fire engine. Must use Internet Explorer to view calendar.
Pembroke, MA. more
Copley Square Tree Lighting Dec 3 Boston Metro
OK, now we’re ready to return to metro Boston. No parade here. With a flick of the switch, Boston is lighting a tree. But they’ll have music and dance performances in Copley Square. Santa will be there, and free refreshments. 5-6pm.
Copley Square, Boston, MA. more
Boston’s Official Tree Lighting Dec 4 Boston Metro
And in Boston Common they’ll have Santa and “performers from Nova Scotia”. I guess being more specific was impossible for their PR talent. And the ice skating rink will be open. 6-8pm.
Boston Common, Boston, MA. more
Macy’s Enchanted Trolley Tour & Tree Lightings Dec 5 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
Do you not live near Copley Square or Boston Common? The mayor and Santa and “Macy’s Store Characters” will be driving around town in a trolley doing little 30 minute tree lightings & kids stuff, in 15 different Boston areas. Stand outside like you’re waiting for the bus. A bus full of elves that you can’t step onto.
Various, Boston, MA. more
City of Worcester’s Festival of Lights Dec 5 Worcester
5-8pm. This one’s less commercial seeming because they’ll have horse drawn hayrides, as well as the ubiquitous Santa, music, and tree lighting. And it takes place in the town common, not a merchant district.
Worcester City Hall Common, Front St, Worcester, MA. more
Brookline First Light Festival Dec 4 Boston Metro
This merchant event is taking place all over the city in various venues, with music and dance and arts & crafts workshops. Oh, and shopping. 5-8pm.
Various Locations, Brookline, MA. more
Lexington Holiday Festival Night Dec 5 Metro West
So basically, this is also a merchant event where stores stay open late. But Santa’s coming around 6:30 for the tree lighting! 4-9pm.
Lexington, MA. more
Haverhill Annual Christmas Stroll Dec 7 Northern Mass
This one’s also a straightforward merchant event, with Santa. Free “train rides” whatever that means? Santa arrives by horse-drawn sleigh.
Haverhill, MA. more
Annual Christmas Stroll Weekend, Nantucket Dec 5 – Dec 7 Southern Mass
If you happen to be on Nantucket Island, this one’s worth a shot. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive to the island via Coast Guard and ride up Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage. Carolers in Victorian costumes, bell ringers and other musicians.
Nantucket Island.508-228-1700. more
USS Constitution Tree Decorating & Lighting Dec 5 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
The USS Constitution is the oldest active duty ship in the nation, from the 19th century, and they will have a tree lighting ceremony. I am sorry to say that I attended their July celebration and the military mindset of entertainment is essentially grim faces and schoolkids playing music badly. So… probably skip this one. They will fire the ship cannons though.
Bldg 5 Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA. more
Falmouth Holidays-By-The-Sea Dec 5 – Dec 7 Cape Cod
This one’s original! “Seafaring Santa” will arrive by boat! And they’ll have a pancake breakfast, participatory carol singing and a parade. Unfortunately these events are all on different days.
Main Street, Falmouth, MA.508-548-8500. more
Grafton Celebrates the Holidays Dec 7 Metro West
12-4pm, with tree lighting at 4:30pm. Merchant event with open houses at various businesses. Then Santa comes, ice sculptures, petting zoo, and tree lighting. There’s no info on their website but I called in about this.
Grafton, MA.(508) 839-5335 x156. more

Also Fun
MassArt Annual Holiday Sale Dec 1 – Dec 6 Boston Metro
Student art sales are a great way to find a creative holiday bargain. This one’s at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. 10am-7pm.
Tower Building Lobby, 621 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA.617-879-7710. more
Weekly Dig’s Annual Holiday Shindig Dec 2 Boston Metro
TONIGHT! It’s a fundraising. It’s a party. It’s the poorly advertised holiday party for Boston’s free weekly events newspaper. 7pm.
Hard Rock Cafe, 24 Clinton St., Boston, MA. more
New England International Auto Show Dec 3 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
Most auto events in New England focus on the past, but if you want to see the cars of the future, here’s where to go.
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA, Boston, MA. more
Christmas in Salem House Tour Dec 5 – Dec 7 North Shore
Declaring that Salem has more than just Halloween, these history buffs will give you tours of local historic homes, all dressed up for the holidays.
Hamilton Hall, 9 Chestnut Street, Salem, MA. more
Hot Chocolate Run in Northampton Dec 6 Western Mass
There are numerous charity walks and runs, but this one caught my attention because they’re serving 2,500 cups of hot chocolate. It’s a 2 mile walk and a 5 mile run.
Downtown Northampton, 38 Gothic Street, Northampton, MA. more
Union Square Winter Craft Market Dec 6 Boston Metro
Taking a chance on the weather, here’s an outdoor market with some singing. 11am-4pm.
Union Square, Somerville, MA. more
Bazaar Bizarre Dec 7 Boston Metro
This one’s another pure merchant event. But an off-beat arts & crafts one.
Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA. more
Boston Music Awards Dec 7 Boston Metro
This is the annual awards ceremony for best local and national music acts.
Orpheum Theatre, One Hamilton Place, Boston, MA.617-931-2000. more

Recurring Events
Wenham Museum’s Gingerbread Contest Nov 28 – Dec 14 North Shore
This one’s the one to see though! It’s a gingerbread house contest, with all kinds of surprisingly large and intricate displays, include one with model trains. I’ve been to the Wenham Museum and it’s one of these New England-y places in the middle of nowhere with a world class attitude and really worth a visit.
132 Main Street, Wenham, MA. more
Cultural Survival Bazaar Nov 28 – Dec 14 Boston Metro
This one I’ve actually been to, and they really do have inexpensive arts and crafts from all over the world. But you won’t meet any artists, just merchants. Nov 24-25, 10am-6pm, Cambridge College, 1000 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA. Dec 1-2, 10am-6pm, Episcopal Divinity School, 5 Phillips Place, Cambridge, MA. Dec 8-9, 11am-7pm, Hynes Convention Center, Boston.
Various Metro Locations, Boston, MA. more
Faneuil Hall Marketplace Bellringers Nov 29 – Dec 20 Boston Metro
Boston’s tourist mecca is Fanueil Hall, a place as a resident I would normally avoid avoid avoid. However, they do have fun events there. One is this handbell performance. Saturdays, Nov 29-Dec 20. 12pm & 2pm outside the West End between Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Bad weather: in Quincy Market, top floor.
Faneuil Hall, Boston, MA.617-523-1300. more
Shaker Supper @ Hancock Shaker Village Nov 8 – Dec 27 Western Mass
A similar experience is available at Hancock Shaker Village, but it’s a smaller attraction that I would only recommend if you feel you’ve “done” Plimoth Plantation. You get a tour by re-enactors, an authentic dinner, and a cappella Shaker music from the 1830s. Nov 8, 29, and Dec 27.
34 Lebanon Mountain Rd., Hancock, MA. more
Petting Zoo in front of Seasons Four Furniture Store Nov 21 – Dec 28 Metro West
I can’t tell you how tired I am of seeing merchant events with a stark theme. This one’s different, with a petting zoo, Santa, elmo, face painting, singers, balloon animals, etc.
1265 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA.(781)861-1200. more
Harvard Square Holiday Crafts Fair Nov 29 – Dec 23 Boston Metro
I’m entirely skipping the Harvard Square Merchant event “Sparklefest”, because there’s no real event, it turns out, just a calendar of the usual stuff in Harvard. However, here’s one that looks promising: a church selling goods. I seem to recall that made Jesus angry. Whatever, it’s Christmas! Sat 10-7, Sun 12-6, M-F 12-7:30. Daily Dec 18-23.
Church at corner of Church St & Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA. more
Holiday Murder Mystery at the Astors’ Beechwood Mansion Nov 7 – Dec 19 Rhode Island
And if those events are sold out, try the murder mystery dinner in Newport, RI at one of the mansions. The Astor’s Beechwood Mansion is the only Newport destination that re-enacts the Victorian era with live actors. I’ve always wanted to check this out! It’s every Friday @ 7pm through Dec 19. Reserve in advance.
Astors’ Beechwood Mansion, 580 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI. more

Kuumba Singers of Harvard College Dec 5 – Dec 6 Boston Metro
The performance of the week is this concert by Harvard’s Kuumba Singers. While they celebrate african american music, they are open to everyone and it’s easily the most “diverse” way of seeing the black church concept of standing up and swaying and clapping during the music.
Memorial Church, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA. more
The Merchant of Venice Nov 6 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
Yet more Shakespeare. One you probably haven’t seen.
Midway Studios, Fort Point Channel, Boston, MA. more
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nov 7 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
Tom Stoppard is sort of a modern Shakespeare, having written the script for the movie “Shakespeare in Love” and the play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”. Now here’s his Broadway hit about Eastern Europe, rock music, and history.
BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA. more
Between Jobs Nov 7 – Dec 12 Boston Metro
My favorite improv comedy theatre is hosting a series of nights commenting on unemployment, following in a long tradition of satire going back to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.
Improv Boston, Cambridge, MA. more
The Nutcracker Nov 28 – Dec 28 Boston Metro
And… It’s The Nutcracker. If you’re ever going to check out ballet (I haven’t), this would probably be it.
Opera House, Boston, MA. more

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