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How to make the most of winter break in Boston

If you’re staying in Boston this holiday season, you’re in luck: there are plenty of ways to celebrate this winter wonderland. From ice skating and a gingerbread house competition to holiday extravaganzas and sporting events, there’s something for everyone in the city.

And if you’re staying around campus, be sure to check out this list of what’s open and closed at Northeastern over the break.

Let there be light—and doughnuts 

Blink! is a state-of-the-art light and sound extravaganza that transforms every inch of Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Now in its fourth year, this light show uses more than 350,000 LED lights to illuminate Boston’s skyline to the songs of the Holiday Pops in a seven-minute spectacle that runs through Sunday, Jan. 1. Performances take place from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., beginning at the Main Tree.

Boston Winter’s Holiday Market brings together more than 40 specialty retailers and artisans from New England and beyond. With vendors selling products ranging from accessories to packaged foods, the Holiday Market makes for the perfect place to purchase gifts for everyone. It includes whimsical glass gifts, locally produced olive oil, Russian Matryoshka dolls, eclectic apparel, and more. The market opens at 11 a.m. daily at City Hall Plaza.

Celebrate Hanukkah with the Boston Menorah Lighting, “a celebration of light, unity, and liberty,” on Tuesday, Dec. 27. The event, hosted by the Chabad Boston, starts at 5:30 p.m. in Copley Square and will include a live music ensemble, menorah kits, dreidels, chocolate gelt, doughnuts, and more.

One of the oldest fairs in Boston, the Harvard Square Holiday Fair, bills itself as “a party where you can buy stuff.” Now in its 31st season, the juried fair will be held at 50 Church St., with additional vendors in the courtyard at the intersection of Church Street and Massachusetts Avenue. It’s open until Dec. 24, though hours vary.

Ice skaters enjoy the cold weather at Boston Common Frog Pond. Photo via iStock.

Ice skaters enjoy the cold weather at Boston Common Frog Pond. Photo via iStock.

If you’re hungry for a different type of holiday celebration, check out the fifth annual Gingerbread House Design Competition, held at BSA Space, located at 290 Congress St., Suite 200. This year’s theme—“Boston, You’re My Home”—tested the talents of Boston landscape and architecture firms to work in a cookie medium. The exhibit is free and open until Monday, Jan. 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Ring in the new year with two of Boston’s signature celebrations, First Night and First Day, in Copley Square and the Boston Common. The events, over than 40 years old, feature fireworks, ice sculptures, musical performances, and more. The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31.

All aboard the ski train

If you’re looking for an opportunity to show off your ice skating skills—or just want to lace up your skates for a leisurely glide across an outdoor rink—there are plenty of options to choose from. You can head to City Hall Plaza to test out the brand new, custom-designed ice pathway, which weaves around the main stage and marquee Boston sign. Or you can head over to the Boston Common Frog Pond to take part in a time-honored tradition of skating and hot chocolate.

If you’re less interested in skating and more interested in skiing, you can hop on the Ski Train to Wachusett Mountain, a specialized car of the MBTA commuter rail designed to accommodate skis and snowboards. Service runs from North Station to Wachusett Station, with a free shuttle to Wachusett Mountain.

Magic, toy soldiers, and dancing snowflakes

The holidays are an especially exuberant time of year for Boston’s already bustling arts scene.

The Boston Pops’ Holiday Pops performances—including traditional favorites and the classic Pops singalong—are not to be missed. Shows run through Saturday, Dec. 31.

Another holiday classic, The Nutcracker ballet, performed by artists in the Boston Ballet, also runs through Saturday, Dec. 31. Purchase tickets online and be transported to a magical world of brave toy soldiers and dancing snowflakes.

For a modern twist on the 19th century fairy tale, check out the Urban Nutcracker in John Hancock Hall in Boston’s Back Bay, a performance that’s been described as “a fusion of modern, multicultural, and classical dance.” The production runs through Saturday, Dec. 31.

For the sports fan on your list

For those looking for live action of a different sort, there are plenty of opportunities to catch some great games.

The Northeastern women’s basketball team will take on Siena on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. in Matthews Arena, and the men will face off against William and Mary on Saturday, Dec. 31, also at 2 p.m.

For some competition on the ice, check out the men’s hockey showdown against Clarkson on Friday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. in Matthews Arena. A week later, the women’s team will challenge New Hampshire on Friday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.

Or, if it’s professional sports action you’re looking for, head to TD Garden. In the NBA, the Celtics will battle the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, Dec. 27, and take on the Miami Heat on Friday, Dec. 30. In the NHL, the Bruins will face off with the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, Dec. 31.

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