New England Wanderlust

Connecticut , Maine , Massachusetts , New Hampshire , Rhode Island , Vermont , Winter  ·  August 26, 2022

28 Best Christmas Towns In New England You Must Visit (2024)

When it comes to celebrating Christmas, the New England region really pulls out all the stops. So many towns gather together to celebrate not just the holiday season, but also their community, and it’s a really special thing to witness.

If you’re looking to visit this area during the month of December, you’ll find charming small towns aglow in twinkle lights, coastal towns adorning their lighthouses with wreaths and bigger cities going all out with decorations and events. This post is all about the best Christmas towns in New England to visit during the most festive time of the year.

There's something especially cozy and comforting about a New England home decorated for the holidays, and when you visit the best Christmas towns in New England on this list, you're sure to see tons of them.

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Best Christmas Towns In New England To Visit (2022)

Honestly, pretty much any town in New England will be wonderful to visit during the holidays, but if you’re looking for the places that really go all out, or are the most picturesque during the holidays, below is my list of the best Christmas towns to visit in New England. I’ve also divided them by state to make it easier for you to plan your trip.

Maine is home to some of the best Christmas towns in New England.

Best Christmas Towns In Massachusetts To Visit

1. nantucket.

The Nantucket Stroll event is one of the best Christmas festivals in New England.

One of my absolute favorites during any time of the year is Nantucket, and it’s also one of the best Christmas towns in New England. During the month of December, the town celebrates with their Christmas Stroll event, which is one of the best Christmas festivals in New England .

During the holiday season on Nantucket, you’ll find dozens of decorated Christmas trees lining the streets of downtown, which creates such a magical and festive atmosphere. Hotels and houses alike will take price in their Christmas decor and string garlands on fences, hang festive wreaths on doors and create the most beautiful winter window boxes.

During your Christmas visit, be sure to stop by the Whaling Museum, which is turned into a winter wonderland with over 50 Christmas trees that have been decorated by local businesses and residents. Each tree has its own theme, and it’s really fun to walk around and pick which is your favorite (even though they’re all beautiful!).

Santa's arrival is always one of the best events during the Nantucket Christmas Stroll.

And of course, you have to swing by Brant Point Lighthouse to take a picture while it’s decorated with its festive wreath, and also stroll along Easy Street to enjoy the little dory boat Christmas tree.

Since Nantucket is an island, you’ll need to take the Hyline Cruises ferry from Hyannis to get there, which operates year-round. Nantucket makes for a wonderful Christmas day trip, or festive weekend getaway.

2. Stockbridge

Stockbridge's Main Street was featured in the famous Normal Rockwell painting, and is one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit during the holiday season.

Stockbridge has become one of the most famous towns to visit during the holidays because you can actually step into one of the most celebrated Christmas paintings of all time. The famous Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas painting by Norman Rockwell is a real-life destination that’s just as magical in person, making this one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit.

During the first weekend in December, the town pays homage to the famous painting with a real-life recreation, where vintage cars are parked in the exact same spots as the original painting, and visitors can feel as though they’ve stepped back into time. Additional festivities throughout the weekend include holiday concerts and performances, horse-drawn wagon rides and historic home tours.

While Main Street in Stockbridge is definitely a must during the holidays, there are a lot of other things to do in town to celebrate Christmas an the winter season, including brunch with Santa and hot beverage pop-ups at the Red Lion Inn and a light show at the historic Naumkeag estate.

3. Newburyport

The shops along Newburyports Market Square never disappoint during the holidays, and this is why it's one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

One of the best New England Christmas towns in Massachusetts to visit is Newburyport. With a giant Christmas tree lighting up town center, charming brick-lined streets aglow with twinkle lights and decorations, and lots of holiday events to go around, this is a great destination to celebrate the season.

Families will especially love Santa’s Workshop, where kids can see in the big guy himself in his own workshop, drop off their Christmas lists and take photos. The local ice cream shop, Harbor Creamery , will be serving up seasonal flavors like eggnog and hot cocoa crunch, and storefronts will be open to welcome you inside and find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

4. Edgartown

Christmas in Edgartown is one of the most fun experiences to have on the island during the holidays. It also makes it one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

On Martha’s Vineyard, Edgartown is transformed into one of the best Christmas towns in New England during the holiday season. Since Edgartown is already packed with charm year-round with things like cobblestone and brick-lines streets, historic houses and quaint shops, it becomes simply magical at Christmas.

When you step off the ferry, you’ll immediately be greeted with a festive lobster trap Christmas tree to put you in the spirit. And once you arrive in Edgartown, you’ll see houses beautifully decorated, streets glowing in twinkle lights, garlands strung everywhere and even Edgartown Lighthouse will get the holiday treatment with special Christmas lights. If you time your visit just right, you’ll be able to attend Edgartown Light’s annual lighting, which is a really fun community event.

During their Christmas in Edgartown event, you’ll find Christmas parades, window decoration contests and craft fairs, and many stores are open to help you find great gifts.

Boston is one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit because of the historic neighborhoods like Beacon Hill that are classically decorated.

Okay, so this is technically a city, but Boston is truly one of the best places to experience Christmas in New England. The North End and Beacon Hill neighborhoods, especially, are absolutely magical when decorated for the holidays (even better after a snowfall if you’re lucky!), and with light displays and Christmas trees all over, you’re sure find yourself in a festive spirit.

You’ll definitely want to swing by Boston Common to see the Christmas tree that’s donated by Nova Scotia each year. Not only is it a beautiful tree that makes for a great photo opp, the story behind it is really heartwarming. Each year, Nova Scotia sends a tree down to Boston as a thank you for quickly coming to their aid during the 1917 Halifax Explosion. They’ve continued this tradition ever since!

An especially fun thing to do in Boston during your holiday visit is the Holiday Cocoa Cruise around Boston Harbor. Enjoy a cup of cocoa while you cruise around the harbor in a 1920’s-style yacht, and enjoy the skyline views of the city while listening to a live band play Christmas carols.

Click here to book your Holiday Cocoa Cruise in Boston!

Taunton's Christmas lights display is one of the best in the region!

One of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit for a festive lights display is Taunton. Each year, they host the Taunton Lights On Festival, where the entire town green is illuminated in thousands of festive lights, including special light displays. The event is such a big deal that there’s also live music and kid’s entertainment during the event.

The lights stay up through December, so even if you can’t visit during the actual festival, you’ll still get the full experience during the Christmas season. Taunton also has a really nice downtown area that’s beautifully decorated during December, and is a charming place to shop for gifts.

Chatham is one of the best Christmas towns in New England if you’re looking to go coastal for your getaway. Not only is it one of the most charming Cape Cod towns year-round, but it’s extra magical at Christmas. The shops on Main Street create beautiful window displays and are stocked with gifts for everyone on your list.

Visitors can also enjoy special events during the town’s Christmas By The Sea Stroll in December like the annual tree lighting, a light parade on Main Street, carolers, photos with Santa and rides on the Holley Trolley.

8. Marblehead

The store fronts in downtown Marblehead, MA at Christmas.

One of my favorite things about Marblehead is all the gorgeous historic homes and streets, which is exactly why it’s also one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit.

The adorable little dory boat with a Christmas tree along the harbor in Marblehead, MA.

Visitors will definitely be filled with Christmas spirit while walking around Marblehead this time of the year, especially with sites to take in like an adorable dinghy boat with a Christmas tree floating in the water, a lobster trap tree on the waterfront, and of course, a beautiful Christmas tree that lights up town center.

Children will especially love Santa’s arrival by boat in Marblehead, and everyone will love visiting during the town’s Christmas Walk, which includes special and festive events to celebrate the holidays.

9. Rockport

One of the best things to do in Rockport, MA in the winter season is enjoy all the holiday decorations and celebrations.

Santa’s arrival on a lobster boat, kid’s scavenger hunts, a special North Pole mailbox and the annual tree lighting are all reasons why Rockport is one of the best Christmas towns in New England. Rockport is one of my favorite coastal towns in this entire area, and a visit during the holidays is sure to bring you some extra cheer.

Be sure to stop by Motif 1, the most painted building in the country, to see it adorned with a special Christmas wreath. Shop small and local at all the unique storefronts along Bearskin Neck (one of my favorite places in New England!), and of course, enjoy all the special decorations all over town. Rockport also participates in the Annual Cape Ann Winter Lights festival, where businesses all over Cape Ann hang special Christmas lights and decorate their windows for visitors to enjoy.

You may find these Massachusetts posts helpful:

  • Best Things To Do In Newburyport, MA
  • Best Things To Do In Rockport, MA

Best Christmas Towns In Vermont To Visit

Stowe, VT is one of the best Christmas towns in New England for its quaint charm, holiday events, and decorations all over town.

One of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit during the holidays is Stowe. Not only is it home to some of the best resorts that provide a very festive holiday getaway, the charming village, covered bridges and Christmas decor will make you feel like you’ve stepped inside a post card.

During the month of December in Stowe, visitors can experience special shopping events at a holiday bazaar, live music playing holiday favorites, ice skating and cookie and ornament decorating. Stores also provide complimentary treats and special discounts for shoppers, making this a great place to check some things off your list.

11. Woodstock

Middle Covered Bridge in Woodstock, VT during Christmas.

Also one of my favorite towns in Vermont, Woodstock is definitely going to provide some holiday magic. All of downtown Woodstock will glow with thousands of twinkle lights, and displays of festive decorations will be found on every store front. You’ll almost feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie while you’re here.

Grab a hot chocolate from Mon Vert Café, and then head over to the covered bridge in town to snap a photo while it’s perfectly decorated with a single Christmas wreath. Pop into the stores to do a little holiday shopping, and admire all the Christmas decorations throughout the neighborhood homes.

During Winter Wassail Weekend, visitors can enjoy holiday house tours, parades, the lighting of the town Yule Log, and tons more.

12. Manchester

Manchester is one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit for a very unique experience. The town offers visitors tours of their most beautiful, historic and cozy inns during the Christmas season, which is such a treat to experience. Each inn is beautifully decked out in holiday decor and welcomes visitors to enjoy their atmosphere on this self-guided tour.

The Hildene estate, also known as the Lincoln family home, is also an amazing place to visit during the month of December, as it’s completely decorated for the holidays in a traditional Victorian style. Visitors can also enjoy a very festive and fun lighted tractor parade through town. And of course, I can’t forget to mention the lighting of the town Christmas tree, which also includes caroling and cookies.

You may also find these Vermont posts helpful:

  • Best Things To Do In Stowe, VT
  • Best Things To Do In Woodstock, VT
  • Best Stops To Make Driving From Boston To Stowe, VT
  • Best Things To Do in Vermont in the Winter
  • Best Vermont Covered Brides Tour Itinerary

Best Christmas Towns In New Hampshire To Visit

13. north conway.

North Conway's downtown during Christmas.

North Conway is one of the best Christmas towns in New England for families, as there are so many ways for children to celebrate the holidays, and of course, just as much cheer to go around for everyone in the family.

Decorations in front of Zeb's General Store in North Conway at Christmas.

Children will especially love the the Santa Holiday Express train ride through the scenic White Mountains, and have fun with an on-board scavenger hunt, as well as enjoy milk and cookies during the journey.

North Conway’s entire downtown area will be transformed into a winter wonderland with twinkle lights and decorations at every turn, and definitely be sure to hop inside the Christmas Loft, which has a life-sized Christmas village to walk through, and over 10,000 ornaments to shop from!

14. Jackson

Nestlenook Farms in Jackson is one of the most magical places to visit during Christmas in New Hampshire.

Just a few minutes from North Conway is the adorable town of Jackson, NH, which is absolutely magical during the Christmas season. You can easily combine both of these towns into one visit, but they definitely deserved their own sections on this list.

During Christmas, one of the best things to do in Jackson is visit Nestlenook Farms for a festive sleigh ride through the woods. Sleigh rides on the property typically open for the season just before Thanksgiving, so by December, they’re in full swing.

Nestlenook farms is completely aglow in twinkle lights during this time of the year, so even just your first few minutes of walking around, it’ll be hard to not find your holiday spirit. There are also options for private romantic sleigh rides if you’re booking a getaway with your special someone.

Click here to check holiday rates & availability at the Christmas Farm Inn

*Nestlebook Farms also has a magical outdoor ice rink that feels like it’s straight out of a fairy tale or painting. It doesn’t typically open until later in the winter season, though, but this is something to have on your radar if you’re planning to visit New Hampshire in the winter.

14. Portsmouth

A Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

Portsmouth does an amazing job celebrating the holiday season with their Vintage Christmas celebration, making this one of the best Christmas towns in New England. Portsmouth is home to some of my favorite independently-owned boutiques in all of New England, so you’re bound to get a few things checked off your shopping list.

On top of the great shopping downtown, you can take part in candlelight strolls, holiday shows at the Music Hall theater, gingerbread house contests and ice skating on a picturesque pond. The local breweries have awesome seasonal offerings on tap, and the amazing restaurants also highlight festive flavors.

16. Concord

One of the best Christmas towns in New England is Concord, which hosts so many different activities throughout the season, many of which benefit local charities and important organizations, highlighting that this is also a season for giving and helping those in need. Proceeds from events like the Feztival of Trees and Annual Gift of Lights go to local organizations like the Shriners Hospitals for Children and Loudon Food Pantry.

Not only will you also find things like meet and greets with Santa and an annual tree lighting, children will get excited to spend the day at Canterbury Shaker Village, a historic destination that will feature cookie and ornament decorating, and also historic demonstrations throughout the holiday season. You’ll also be able to shop for hand-crafted gifts at the Arts Market.

17. Hanover

One of the best Christmas towns in New England for outdoor light displays is Hanover. During the holiday season, you’ll be able to walk through the town during the Festival of Lights, where dozens of trees and decorations turn downtown into a real-life winter wonderland.

Visitors can also enjoy the Hanover Holiday Food Market, which is an extensive outdoor market featuring all kinds of delicious holiday-inspired foods and treats. Hanover also has a charming downtown scene with awesome shops perfect for hunting down the best gifts.

Best Christmas Towns In Maine To Visit

18. kennebunkport.

Kennebunkport is one of the most magical and best Christmas towns in New England.

The Christmas Prelude event in Kennebunkport is sure to create wonderful memories and the perfect holiday getaway. It was even named the second best Christmas town in the entire country by HGTV ! During your holiday visit to Kennebunkport, you’ll be able to take part in the lighting of the Dock Square tree (which includes caroling!), enjoy Santa’s arrival to town on a lobster boat, shop for handmade gifts at craft fairs and even take a sleigh ride.

Santa's arrival on a lobster boat in Kennebunkport makes this one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit.

The Prelude event in Kennebunkport is a two-week long celebration that typically takes place the first two weeks in December, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a town that offers more festive things to do within walking distance of Dock Square than KPT!

I actually have an entire post on Christmas in Kennebunkport that you’ll want to check before planning your trip to get the inside scoop on where to stay, the best events, and tips for your holiday getaway.

19. Boothbay Harbor

The largest Christmas light display in all of Maine can be found in Boothbay Harbor at the Maine Botanical Gardens during their Gardens Aglow event. Over 150,000 lights will turn the 14-acre gardens into the ultimate winter wonderland experience, and after your stroll through the displays, you can stop at the cafe for a special holiday cocktail and appetizers.

Visitors will love the town’s annual Harbor Lights Festival, which includes appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus and carriage rides. The event ends with the town tree lighting, as well as a very festive boat parade around the harbor, where each boat is beautifully lit with Christmas lights. You’ll also be able to take the perfect family photo in front of the town’s lobster trap tree.

20. Freeport

The Sparkle Celebration is one of the reasons Freeport is one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

In the southern region of Maine, Freeport has been named by Martha Stewart as one of the most charming small towns in Maine to visit during Christmas. Their popular Sparkle Celebration is the perfect event to attend during the holidays, and includes a Parade of Lights through town, Santa’s arrival (who brings the famous talking Christmas tree to life!), gift certificate giveaways and amazing shopping opportunities in downtown Freeport (which also includes the Flagship L.L. Bean store campus).

And of course, downtown Freeport will be decked out in festive lights and decorations, making it one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

Best Christmas Towns In Connecticut To Visit

The Mystic Seaport Museum gets the holiday treatment. With so many holiday events around town to celebrate this magical season, it's definitely one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

One of the most charming waterfront towns in Connecticut is also one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit. Mystic celebrates the holiday season with so many different events, it’ll be hard to squeeze them all into your trip (but you should definitely try!).

In addition to Victorian lantern light tours at the Mystic Seaport Museum, Santa’s arrival by tugboat, and a lighted boat parade around the river, visitors can also experience a holiday carnival at the Olde Mistick Village, stroll through the streets of downtown lined with hundreds of luminaria, and pick out a hand-crafted wreath to take home with you.

22. Chester

Not only does Chester have a picturesque downtown that’s worthy of being on the set of a Hallmark movie, it also has some wonderful holiday celebrations that make it one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

On Sundays during the month of December, be sure to stop by the Chester Holiday Market to pick up locally-made products and see if you can spot Mrs. Claus walking around. And then, after a day of shopping, be sure to swing by Honeycone to get one of their famous peppermint Bark Sundaes.

23. Greenwich

Greenwich’s downtown is a wonderful shopping destination, and during the holidays, this is one of the best Christmas towns in New England to get a few things checked off your shopping list, and also get into the festive spirit.

The town celebrates Christmas with the annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival, which includes a stroll through Santa’s workshop, pictures with Santa (for both pets and children!), and a reindeer coloring station. Visitors will also love walking through the Holiday Market, which features over 20 vendors selling hand-made gifts and specialty foods. You’ll even be able to take a candlelight tour through the Bush Holley House, which will be beautifully decorated out for the holidays.

24. Litchfield

Simple decorations like this wreath on a Connecticut barn are often more magical than the most impressive light displays.

Litchfield is one of the best Christmas towns in New England because of its incredibly charming downtown and festive holiday celebrations. Shopping for gifts in downtown Litchfield will have you feeling like you’ve been transported into a New England Christmas postcard. The street lamp posts are wrapped in garlands and red bows, and storefronts will be showcasing beautiful holiday-inspired displays.

One of the best reasons to visit Litchfield during Christmas is to hop aboard the Northern Lights Limited train for a special ride through the North Pole to pick up Santa and Mrs. Claus, and take part in carols during the ride with Santa’s elves. Children on board will even receive a special gift from Santa’s bag.

Those who live in Connecticut often cite Essex as one of the best Christmas towns in New England for a lots of different reasons, including its beautifully-decorated and historic downtown, which was an actual Hallmark Christmas movie filming location (check out Christmas at Pemberley Manor !). But the biggest reason everyone loves to visit Essex at Christmastime is because of a small village called Ivoryton.

Each year, Ivoryton strings over 450,000 lights throughout town for an amazing light display everyone can enjoy. During their Annual Ivoryton Illuminations event, visitors will also be able to experience festive activities like caroling, pictures with Santa, cookie decorating and all kinds of fun merriment to get you in the holiday spirit.

Posts on these Connecticut destinations you may find helpful:

  • Best Things To Do In Mystic, CT
  • Fun Things To Do In Chester, CT
  • Fun Things To Do In Essex, CT

Best Christmas Towns In Rhode Island To Visit

26. newport.

The ice rink on Goat Island offers some of the best views during a festive and cozy experience on the ice. This is definitely one of the top things everyone should do in Newport, RI in the winter!

Newport is one of the best destinations in Rhode Island to visit year-round, but because of the charming historic homes, the Gilded Age mansions decked out in their holiday best and twinkle lights all over town, it’s made a name for itself as one of the best coastal New England towns at Christmas.

Visitors will be able to enjoy Christmas in Newport, a two-week event that includes craft fairs, tree lightings, concerts and even cozy candlelight house tours. Be sure to also stay for the Illuminated Boat Parade around the harbor!

One of the best displays of holiday decorations is the British Male store on Spring Street in the historic district of Newport.

If you’re looking to hit the ice, then you can head over to the Goat Island and visit the Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina ice rink, where you’ll be able to rent skates to make a few rounds around the ice under the twinkle lights, while enjoying incredible views of the illuminated Goat Island Lighthouse and Newport Bridge as your backdrop.

27. North Kingstown

The shops decorated for Christmas in Wickford Village, RI.

Known for putting on one of the best holiday light displays in all of Rhode Island, North Kingstown is definitely one of the best Christmas towns in New England to visit. And with it being a very short drive from Newport, you can easily combine the two into the perfect coastal holiday getaway.

You’ll definitely want to plan a visit to Wickford village in North Kingstown to experience their Festival of Lights, which has been regarded as one of the best holiday light displays in all of New England. Each year, this historic village is aglow with thousands of colorful lights, and transformed into a charming winter wonderland. Kids will also enjoy Santa’s arrival by boat, which is led by kayaking and paddle-boarding reindeer.

Visitors can also stop by Smith’s Castle to experience Christmas at the Castle, which includes an afternoon of home baked treats, mulled cider, gingerbread cookie decorating, live entertainment and children’s crafting.

28. Providence

The ice rink in downtown Providence is beautiful and festive, and one of the reasons Providence is one of the best Christmas towns in New England.

Last, but certainly not least, is Providence, which is absolutely one of the best Christmas towns in New England (I know, I know, even though it’s a city, I just had to include it on the list!). Providence is packed with holiday events all season long, and with the charming, historic streets and lights hung everywhere, it’s such a great place to celebrate the holidays.

Not only is this a great place to get a little holiday shopping done, visitors can also enjoy taking in some Christmas shows at some of the local theaters. A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker are on rotation during the entire month for a festive night out on the town.

Be sure to also plan a visit to the Roger Williams Park Zoo for their Holiday Lights Spectacular, which displays over 2 million (yes, million !) lights over 40-acres around the park grounds. Visitors can also hit the ice at the Bank Newport Ice Rink, which is especially beautiful at dusk when the entire city is lit up, and you can enjoy the twinkle lights of the city’s Christmas tree.

Posts on these Rhode Island destinations you may find helpful:

  • Fun Things To Do In Newport, RI In The Winter (Including Holiday Events!)
  • Ultimate Guide On A Newport, RI Day Trip

Best New England Christmas Festivals

There are so many amazing Christmas festivals in New England throughout the entire season that it’s impossible to list them all. But if you’re looking for some of the most exciting to visit, below is my list of the the Best New England Christmas festivals. Many of these have been mentioned throughout the post already, but this is a quick-reference guide for you!

  • Winter Wassail Weekend – Woodstock, VT
  • The Nantucket Christmas Stroll – Nantucket, MA
  • A Traditional Christmas in Stowe – Stowe, VT
  • Freeport Sparkle Weekend – Freeport, ME
  • A Vintage Christmas – Portsmouth, NH
  • Main Street at Christmas – Stockbridge, MA
  • Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude – Kennebunkport, ME
  • Christmas in the City – Boston, MA
  • Wickford Festival of Lights – North Kingstown, RI

Best Christmas Resorts In New England

For a festive weekend getaway during the most magical time of the year, these resorts and hotels pull out all the stops. Here’s a list of the best Christmas Resorts in New England.

The Lodge at Spruce Peak might be my top pick for the best Christmas resorts in New England. Not only is the village of Stowe absolutely magical during the winter season (and also one of the best ski destinations in the Northeast!), but the Lodge will make you feel as through you’ve stepped inside the North Pole, while maintaining a very cozy atmosphere. It has its own outdoor skating rink, which glows with twinkle lights at night, festive menus at their on-site restaurants, and illuminated Christmas trees all over the property.

🎄 Click here to check holiday rates & availability at the Lodge at Spruce Peak

The Omni Mount Washington Resort is one of the best Christmas resorts in New England for a winter mountain getaway. During the holiday season, it offers fireside story time with Santa, sleigh rides and festive movie nights. And that’s on top of all the other amenities like an on-site spa, restaurants and stunning decorations.

The Omni Mount Washington is the best resort for a luxury winter getaway in New Hampshire.

🎄 Click here to check holiday rates & availability at the Omni Mount Washington Resort

Romantic Christmas Getaways In New England

While pretty much any destination in New England makes for a romantic Christmas getaway in New England, here are some of the best places that are especially romantic during this festive tine of the year.

One of the most romantic places to stay during Christmas is the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and the Christmas Farm Inn in Jackson is absolutely perfect – not to mention the great name 😉 This cozy inn has amazing cabins to rent with fireplaces, and traditional hotel-style rooms as well. On-site, enjoy spa services and a wonderful restaurant.

The Christmas Farm Inn & Spa in Jackson is one of the best places to stay in New Hampshire at Christmas.

🎄 Click here to check holiday rates & availability at the Christmas Farm Inn

Woodstock, VT is probably one of the most romantic Christmas getaway destinations in New England. There’s just something about seeing the Middle Covered bridge after a light snowfall, walking around the charming town green, shopping at the boutiques and dining at one of the cozy restaurants. One of the most romantic places to stay in Woodstock is the Woodstock Inn & Resort , which is located right by the village green, making it so easy to explore everything on foot. It also features on-site dining and and a spa for a very relaxing (and also festive) romantic getaway in New England.

🎄 Click here to check holiday rates & availability at the Woodstock Inn & Resort

I think Kennebunkport, ME is also one of the most romantic Christmas getaways in New England. Between the quaint town with amazing shops, and all the holiday decor around the charming Dock Square, it’ll be hard to not reconnect during your visit. One of the most romantic places to stay in Kennebunkport during the holidays is the White Barn Inn . Some room options at this cozy inn include fireplaces and free-standing tubs, and the resort is beautifully decorated for the holidays. There’s also an on-site spa and one of the most amazing, romantic restaurants right there at the inn.

🎄 Click here to check holiday rates & availability at the White Barn Inn

You may also enjoy:

  • Where To See The Best Christmas Lights In Massachusetts
  • Christmas In Vermont: Where To Go & Festive Things To Do
  • Christmas in New Hampshire: Where To Go & Festive Things To Do
  • The Nantucket Christmas Stroll: Everything You Need To Know
  • Is Nantucket Worth Visiting In The Winter?
  • Christmas On Cape Cod: All The Best Things To Do
  • Magical Things To Do During Christmas In Maine
  • Winter In Massachusetts: Where To Go & What To Do
  • Best Things To Do In Maine In The Winter
  • Best New England Winter Getaways (Even For Non-Skiers!)
  • Best Things To Do In Portland, Maine In The Winter
  • Best Things To Do In New Hampshire In The Winter
  • Best Things To Do In Vermont In The Winter
  • Awesome Things To Do On Cape Cod In The Winter

That’s A Wrap On The Best Christmas Towns In New England

And there you have it! All the best Christmas towns in New England to plan the most wonderful getaway during the most magical time of the year. Whether you prefer a small town like Stowe or Woodstock, love visiting the seaside destinations at Christmas, or are looking forward to an escape to the city, there are so many wonderful places in New England that provide the absolute best Christmas experience.

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Two Drifters

Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in New England

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure page for full details.

I’m a big fan of the classic, traditional Christmas experience, and that’s why I adore Christmas in New England so very much.

Here, the postcards and carols come to life. Here, the snow falls like clockwork, and a roaring fire is never far away.

If you’re ever after that classic winter scene, look no further. A New England Christmas will be just what you need.

I wanted to share my love for this region’s Christmas season, so I asked some of my friends and fellow New Englanders to contribute their favorite New England holiday destinations as well as their treasured traditions.

If you’re considering Christmasing up in this lovely part of the Northeast, these New England holiday traditions and destinations will give you a great start to your planning.

Table of Contents

Best Places to Spend Christmas in New England 

First, where should you go? If you’re traveling to the region for the holidays, we’re sure you are searching for the best places to visit during Christmas in New England. Unsurprisingly, there are lots! In each and every state, you will find a few of the best New England Christmas towns. 

We’re going to give you a fairly brief overview of some of the best options for where to spend Christmas in New England. These are places that stand out as towns with lots of holiday activities, Christmas events, or even just a Christmassy vibe. 

Christmas in Vermont

Woodstock, Vermont

Surely one of the best Christmas towns in Vermont, Woodstock is known for its annual Wassail Weekend. But even throughout the rest of the year, Woodstock gives off that “Currier and Ives” vibe that is so representative of an old New England Christmas. 

Where to Stay in Woodstock: Woodstock Inn & Resort

A wooden barn with red trim stands tall in a snowy landscape.

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is one of the most beautiful places in Vermont. Its mountain location, quaint Main Street, and general prettiness makes it an excellent place to cozy up for the Christmas season. Check out our post for our top suggestions on things to do in Stowe and the surrounding area.

Where to Stay in Stowe: The Golden Eagle

Christmas in New Hampshire

Jackson, New Hampshire

If you are in search of the finest Christmas vacations New England has to offer, you will absolutely want to consider the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The town of Jackson is perhaps the most idyllic spot of all. In December, there are many Yuletide events, including the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour which conveys you by horse-drawn sleigh. What could be more Christmassy than that? 

Where to Stay in Jackson: The Christmas Farm Inn & Spa

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Perhaps of all the Christmas things to do in New Hampshire, a visit to the coastal city of Portsmouth tops the list. 

With its annual Vintage Christmas celebration, the city has earned the title of 2019 Hallmark Channels’ Hometown Christmas Town , in addition to its other titles as a #1 Christmas destination in the USA.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a Victorian Christmas come to life, Portsmouth is the place to be!

Where to Stay in Portsmouth: The Hotel Portsmouth

Illustration of people looking at a village covered in snow.

Christmas in Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is full of glitz and glamour, home to many impressive Gilded Age mansions that you can visit. But at Christmas, these mansions are decked to the nines and offer lots of festive events. That alone makes Newport, RI a wonderful holiday destination. 

But Newport is also home to one of the best Christmas resorts in New England, the historic Francis Malbone Inn . This bed & breakfast regularly wins local holiday decorating contents and is without a doubt, an idyllic place to spend your Christmas. 

Where to Stay in Newport: The Newport Marriott

Providence, Rhode Island

A New England Christmas doesn’t just mean snowy villages. Big cities like Boston and Providence can make for some of the best New England family Christmas getaways!

Providence, Rhode Island’s capital, has a full roster of Christmas events during the holiday season, including entertainment, shopping, and more. Don’t miss the outdoor ice skating rink at The Bank Newport City Center.

Where to Stay in Providence: Graduate Providence

People ice skating at night with a city skyscape behind them.

Christmas in Maine

Freeport, Maine

Freeport is one of the most popular destinations for Christmas in Maine. Each year the city hosts the Sparkle Celebration , which boasts a parade of lights, the Sparkle Market, decorating contents, and a talking Christmas tree, among other sights!

Where to Stay in Freeport: Candlebay Inn

Kennebunkport, Maine

Another of the beloved Christmas towns in New England is Kennebunkport, known for its Christmas Prelude that transforms the coastal town every December. HGTV once featured Kennebunkport as the “#2 Christmas Town in America.” So many wonderful holiday spots all over New England.

Where to Stay in Kennebunkport: Kennebunkport Inn

Christmas in Massachusetts

Nantucket, Massachusetts

When you think of the best New England towns for Christmas, the coastal areas might not be the first destinations that come to mind. But don’t discount them! The magical island of Nantucket does Christmas right! With an annual Christmas stroll, a 20-foot tree displayed on Main Street, and a festive lighthouse, it’s the best of seaside New England and the holidays. 

Where to Stay in Nantucket: 21 Broad

A white lighthouse on a beach stands tall with a christmas wreath and big red bow on it.

Taunton, Massachusetts

Taunton has a reputation as “The Christmas City,” which started over a century ago in 1914. So many beautiful lights! Visiting Taunton for the Lighting of the Green and Lights on Festival is surely one of the top C hristmas activities in New England.

Where to Stay in Taunton: Hampton Inn Raynham Taunton

Christmas in Connecticut

Chester, Connecticut

Each year, you can see the production of A Connecticut Christmas Carol in Chester, CT. In addition to this sweet tradition, Chester offers a Christmas market, caroling, tree lighting, and a genuinely gorgeous charming downtown area. 

Where to Stay in Chester: Copper Beech Inn

New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven is home to Yale University, which looks especially alluring in the winter snows. The city also offers a huge range of Christmas activities. Don’t miss the iconic tree on the green. 

Where to Stay in New Haven: The Blake Hotel

A college campus is covered in snow. The snow in front of the buildings in the background have footprints scattered through them.

Romantic Christmas Getaways in New England

We couldn’t let you visit our blog without suggesting some wonderful spots for couples to celebrate Christmas in New England. 

You can find beautifully romantic Christmas getaways in New England at the following hotels, inns, and resorts:

The Bedford Village Inn – Bedford, NH

Interlaken Inn – Lakeville, CT

The Nonantum Resort – Kennebunkport, ME

Twin Farms Vermont – Barnard, VT

Check out our whole list of top romantic getaways in New England. 

You might also like:

  • 25 Festive Christmas Traditions for Couples
  • 23 Romantic Winter Getaways Throughout the World

New England Christmas Traditions

No matter where you choose to celebrate Christmas in New England, there are some traditions you’ll want to be sure to participate in. Our fellow New Englanders share their favorite holiday traditions below, including cooking up traditional New England recipes, enjoying the snow and cold, and of course, felling your own Christmas tree! 

Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree

Trekking out to a christmas tree farm and choosing (and chopping) your own tree, is one of the best christmas activities in new england. if you choose the right farm, it’s an especially magical experience:.

Dana shares…

There is nothing more magical than a horse-drawn sleigh ride during the winter. Except maybe taking a sleigh ride through the snow in Vermont to cut down your Christmas tree.

Picking out our tree at  Dave Russell’s Christmas Tree Farm  has become an annual family tradition.

Two horses pull a wagon with people in it while it\'s snowing outside.

Visitors are greeted warmly by members of the Russell Family who also double as their farm hands. While you wait for your sleigh to arrive, they’ll offer you a cup of steaming hot chocolate or a homemade cookie from their warming parlor.

The bells on the horses’ harnesses jingle as you make your way out to the fields. Families often sing carols as well.

The scent of evergreen trees permeates the air as you arrive in a field filled with balsam fir trees of all sizes.

There are saws for you to use to chop down your perfect tree and their staff comes around to pick up it up to bring back to the barn. There your tree will be baled loaded into your vehicle.

Dave and his family are so genuine and helpful. It is clear that they have the spirit of the holidays in mind which they share with all of the visitors who come to their farm.

They open the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve and are located in Starksboro, Vermont.

Bake a New England Holiday Recipe

The holidays are the perfect excuse to eat your fill of tasty desserts and seasonal flavors. perhaps you have an old family recipe you love to make every year, or perhaps you’ll try something new using new england’s bounty..

Rebecca of Sugar & Soul says…

Christmas in New England is truly something special and something that I believe everyone should experience at least once in their life.

It’s so much more than a thing, it’s a feeling.

It’s the joy on the children’s faces as they ride their new sleds down the hill, it’s the gratitude to your neighbor for digging you out when you get stuck in your own driveway because you’re in a rush for a holiday party, and it’s the love that fills a home with family and friends packed in for the festivities.

And so much more!

When I think of Christmas in New England, I think of freshly fallen snow, flannel sheets, and cast iron specialties. It’s not just the most wonderful time of the year, but the coziest too, and the means delicious Bakewell biscuits, pumpkin pie, baked beans, and cranberry EVERYTHING!

Close up of a dessert made with raspberries in a black skillet.

As a born and raised New Englander, I’m all about the cranberries and I take any chance I get this time of year to throw those tart red berries in a recipe.

This recipe gives a whole lotta love to my Northern roots, you’ve got a cast iron skillet, cake, and cranberry, now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like Christmas dessert perfection to me.

See the Beautifully Decorated Newport Mansions

Christmas can be a great time to visit new england’s fine towns and cities. newport, ri, with its famous mansions shines especially bright with its holiday decor & celebrations..

Jamie says…

In the Roaring 20s, Newport, Rhode Island was the place to have a vacation home for the United States’ new wealthy citizens. Families such as the Vanderbilts built huge, ornate mansions perched right on Newport’s cliffsides.

These mansions are worth visit any time of the year, but are an especially charming place to see all decked out for Christmas.

Three of Newport’s mansions The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House, are open during the holiday season to tour while they are decorated. The kitchens of the Breakers, which is my favorite mansion at all times of the year, has a large display of gingerbread houses.

Interior photo of historic architecture inside a mansion. Tall chandeliers hang from the ceilings, illuminating the room.

You can also watch a quintessential holiday show, The Nutcracker, on a unique stage. The production at Rosecliff dances throughout different rooms in this mansion modeled after France’s Grand Trianon at Versailles.

After exploring the mansions, you can go into downtown Newport for dinner at any of the incredible restaurants and walk along the decorated docks.

Visit The Daily Adventures of Me for more inspiration on how to celebrate the holidays in Rhode Island.

Skiing in the White Mountains

New england boasts stunning outdoors, and in the winter time , everything is typically covered with a blanket of white. take advantage of the snow and go skiing. vermont and new hampshire are some of the top spots for snow sports in new england..

Frank says…

Skiing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is the ultimate Christmas time activity in New England. Nothing compares to the magical feeling of gliding through snow-covered pine and fir trees after a snowfall.

The whole area feels like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.  The beauty of the mountains around is sure to make you feel festive.

Some of the best holiday spirit is found entering a ski lodge after a day on the mountain.  Huge timbered ski lodges decorated for Christmas, with a roaring fire in the hearth, and a cup of hot chocolate is simply bliss.

Empty ski run at a ski resort covered in snow on a blue sunny day.

To experience another side of the skiing in New England, try cross-country skiing in the White Mountains.  The elaborate trail systems are seemingly endless and may make you feel like humming Christmas carols as you go.

Some trail systems even have quaint warming huts that offer a fun atmosphere to meet people, share some laughs, and really bask in the Christmas spirit.  Skiing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is Christmas!

A Cape Cod Christmas

Often, a new england christmas means a beachy christmas it’s worth heading to the coast for unique celebrations..

Brittany says…

Cape Cod might not spring to mind when you think of Christmas in New England. Let me assure you, though, traditions with a nautical flare abound.

Santa always arrives by boat, and Provincetown decorates a “tree” made from lobster traps with twinkly lights and bright red bows in the center of town. Hyannis Harbor lights up during the annual Harbor Lighting and Boat Parade.

The whole month of December is jammed with holiday cheer by the sea.

Christmas strolls are a popular event in each town and on the islands, the one in Barnstable Village being my favorite. Main Street in the village is closed to car traffic while bundled-up revelers sip hot apple cider and snack on New England clam chowder or cookies provided by local businesses.

Close up of Christmas decorations on a tree outdoors.

Perhaps my most favorite tradition of all, in keeping with the seaside theme, is decorating with seashells. I love seeing colorful scallop shells, shiny jingle shells, or swirly purple wampum (made from quahog shells) dangle from the branches of a sparkling Christmas tree.

Cape Cod is traditionally a summer spot, but there are still ways to get a little sand in your shoes during the winter, too!

Braving New England’s Cold

It may comes as no surprise that new england in the winter time can be quite chilly but getting out and playing in the cold is a new england christmas tradition not to miss.

Kim says…

If there’s something us New Englanders aren’t afraid of, it’s the cold. We’re the masters of layering and preparing for all that winter may send our way.

With that being said, my fiancé Dan and I love to stay active even during the holidays. Who wouldn’t want to explore the breathtaking frozen landscapes ahead?

Our favorite trails are within Acadia National Park in Maine. Parts of Acadia will be closed for the season, but the few attractions left open and worth visiting are the trails at the Schooner Head Overlook, Sand Beach, Seal Harbor Beach, and Jordan Pond.

You’ll get to see Acadia in an intimate light that most visitors have never experienced. Imagine wobbling across a frozen lake into the foggy abyss, prancing beneath snow-covered pine trees, then unpacking a homemade lunch paired with a hot thermos of cocoa to warm yourself up.

Acadia National Park is super magical this time of year and our favorite tradition together!

Waves crash against the coast on a foggy winter day. Some snow lines the mountain by the ocean, and the sand.

Make New England Seafood Chowder

New england boasts phenomenal seafood, and you can enjoy it throughout the year. for many of us yankees, these dishes are at their best around the holidays..

Naomi says…

I grew up in a tiny town in  central Maine , so many of my Christmas memories involved playing outside in the snow. From making snow forts to sledding on a handmade toboggan to snowmobiling through the woods for hours, we found plenty of ways to entertain ourselves outside.

But when we hung up our gloves, hats, and snowsuits to dry, one of the best ways to warm up and get cozy inside was with food.

Close up of seafood chowder in a holiday-themed bowl.

Soup or hot mulled cider were regulars during the winter, but it was always a special treat when my mom made some kind of chowder. It could be fish chowder (made with haddock), a simple corn chowder, or the ultimate: seafood chowder (which includes any and all seafood that you want to throw in the pot).

Now that I live several states away from Maine and am only home around Christmas or New Year’s , “chowdah”—served alongside my grandmother’s famous homemade rolls—has become somewhat of a tradition on Christmas Eve.

Find the Best Local Christmas Decor

In new england, christmas decorations are in full swing. from ornaments for our pine trees to outdoor lights and garland. here you’ll find festive items to adorn your whole home..

Danielle says…

Each year, Cataldo’s Gift & Garden in Littleton, Massachusetts, designs dozens of stunning Christmas trees by theme like no other. It has been my go-to locale for unique, quality ornaments to commemorate any milestone or hobby for as long as I can remember.

My Mum and I go together every Christmas to pick out ornaments for the family and to get in the spirit of the season.

Close up of blue, gold, and white decorations on a Christmas tree.

In addition to the many trees, there are decorations and gifts galore, and Cataldo’s is a nursery as well. Pick up a real tree and wreath while you’re at it! No detail is overlooked, and you can wander around the store several times, discovering new gems as you go.

The feel is much more Christmas wonderland than retail and the wooden building and decor are reminiscent of a luxe cabin— in fact, it’s a former dairy barn. Swing by for some hot cider and quintessential New England vibes!

Go to church on Christmas Eve

Amy of Two Drifters says….

If you’re a Christian, heading to church on Christmas Eve or Day may be a part of your traditions. This has always been one of my favorite parts of the holiday.

In New England, the churches are magical, and on Christmas Eve, as the snow falls quietly around, there’s an air of mystery too.

This is such an integral part of Christmas to me.

I love the tradition of attending church with family. I love the excitement of dressing up in Christmas finery and bundling up to make the chilly trek to the church.

As a kid, I was bursting with anticipation for the night ahead and Santa’s arrival. And now, I treasure the quiet, celebratory moments reflecting on the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World.

A snowy path trampled with footprints leads to a brick building in winter.

Where’s YOUR favorite place to celebrate Christmas? 

Check out these other Christmas posts:

  • 14 Romantic Christmas Destinations in the USA
  • 50 Festive & Romantic Christmas Messages for Him
  • 50 of the Sweetest, Most Romantic Christmas Messages for Her
  • 71 Romantic Christmas Movies for Holiday Romance
  • 25 Festive Christmas Traditions for Couples: Have a Magical Season
  • 15 Wonderful Christmas Gifts for Married Couples
  • 16 Perfect Christmas Gifts for Newlyweds

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Amy Hartle   is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships , a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.

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12 Quaint Massachusetts Towns Perfect To Visit During Christmas

best new england towns to visit during christmas

  • Activities and Interests
  • Destinations
  • Holiday Travel
  • Massachusetts
  • Seasonal Travel
  • United States

New England has no shortage of towns that could be mistaken for a Currier & Ives print come to life, or, at the very least, the set of Gilmore Girls. All around the Northeast at Christmas, you can find plenty of cozy, light-strung streets to stroll, spiked cocoa in hand, but the largest density of holiday-ready villages is in Massachusetts.

From communities with pristinely preserved historic districts and cobblestone streets to artsy towns with holiday light displays that rival the best in the world, Massachusetts is the destination for travelers who want to shop, dine, and explore in a landscape that feels like an enchanted snow globe.

Because you just never know what the winter will bring weather-wise, most towns in Massachusetts hold their holiday celebrations in early December. Even if you can’t be there for an official tree lighting or Christmas stroll, you can still soak in the festive atmosphere and visit the local attractions.

Andover Town Hall

A handsome town nearly a straight 25-mile shot north of Boston, Andover is best known for Phillips Academy, the oldest and one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. In 2018, gas fires damaged parts of the town, but it has since been quietly rebuilding.

For those who love big-city style without having to jockey for a parking spot, Andover is a great shopping alternative. Top boutiques include Native Sun , Savoire Faire Home , and Salt & Grove .

Head to the Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy to view an impressive collection of American art. Or enjoy the walking trails at Ward Reservation . At the top of Holt Hill, the highest spot in Essex County, snap photos of the “Solstice Stones,” a series of rocks arranged like a compass to mark the sunset on the year’s longest and shortest days. At night, Winterlights brings the Stevens-Coolidge House and Garden to bright, colorful life.

Colonial Inn; Concord, Massachusetts

Concord, west of Boston, is where the “shot heard round the world,” which kicked off the American Revolution, was fired. To this day it has a different-drummer spirit.

Throughout the holiday season, the downtown, especially along Main Street, is beautifully decorated. A former literary hub — the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau were visitors or residents — the town has a number of historic homes that also get in on the action. These include the Orchard House, which belonged to Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women there. Sign up for a walking tour, or visit the excellent Concord Museum to view the exhibits.

If you’re traveling with grandkids, stop at the Toy Box , a combination toy store and arts and crafts shop with hundreds of Where’d you get that? products. Adults will enjoy the Cheese Shop , which has a much larger selection of international cheeses than you’d guess from looking at the small storefront.

Marblehead Christmas Walk gingerbread houses

11 Affordable Boston Vacation Rentals For Budget Travelers

3. Marblehead

A stroll around Marblehead feels so much like a trip back to the Revolutionary era, you might expect to see wool-waistcoated figures in tricorn hats gathering on every corner. This coastal town boasts about 300 densely packed historic homes, many of which are decked out in greenery swags, wreaths, and lights during the holidays.

Even if you can’t get there in time for the Christmas Walk (events December 1 through 4, 2022), you can still shop and dine around town. Have a cozy meal at 5 Corners Kitchen , and enjoy a nightcap at local favorite Maddie’s Sail Loft .

Hestia Creations on Hawkes Street sells adorable ornaments, nativity sets, and stocking stuffers. Grands will love their Sunday painting workshops, where they can practice their brushstrokes on a keepsake for Mom or Dad. Romantic Harbor Light Inn is a great choice if you plan to stay overnight.

Newburyport Christmas tree

4. Newburyport

Newburyport’s brick-and-cobblestone downtown makes a magical backdrop for a Christmas getaway. Walk between the Victorian streetlamps along avenues strung with lights, then pause in Market Square to admire the enormous tree, which practically drips with ornaments.

From late November through Christmas, you’ll find a comprehensive slate of holiday happenings . Grandkids will love Santa’s Workshop, across from City Hall, where they can peek through the window at Santa and Mrs. Claus and pen their own letter to Big Red. The town also hosts art shows, a makers market, chamber concerts, and a performance of Nutcrackah! a Bostonian twist on the classic ballet. Or explore the many shops, restaurants, bars, and more around this charming waterfront town.  

Shopping in Northampton, Massachusetts

5. Northampton

Northampton is a counterculture-cool city in western-central Massachusetts. Home to Smith College, it combines the exploratory spirit of academia with a stunning historic downtown and a vibrant alternative and LGBTQ scene. Northampton has a full holiday schedule this year, including gospel choirs, galas, and live music in a wide variety of genres and venues.

Check off your holiday gift list in the boutiques along Main Street, including Thornes Marketplace , a historic center filled with independent shops selling all manner of eye-popping goods. Warm up with a visit to Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory , a botanic garden whose greenhouses date back to the late 1800s.

Buck the holiday trend of ham and turkey dinners with a visit to one of the city’s best restaurants, Bombay Royale . Wrap up your visit with a stop at the Tunnel Bar , a former train-station pedestrian tunnel reimagined as an ambient cocktail lounge.

East Chop Lighthouse; Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

6. Oak Bluffs

Perhaps the most vibrant town on Martha’s Vineyard, Oak Bluffs is quintessential coastal New England. In non-snowy weather, plan to walk the North Bluff seawall, or visit one of the town’s three scenic beaches — even prettier in the hush of winter. Then visit the Gingerbread Cottages, a grouping of small, shingle-sided, brightly painted Victorian homes. It’s strictly a look-don’t-trespass opportunity, as the homes are privately owned. The historic neighborhoods along Seaview Avenue also make for a lovely walk. Or shop for gifts along Circuit Avenue.

Pro Tip: The Steamship Authority is the only ferry provider to Martha’s Vineyard in the winter. Service originates in Woods Hole and terminates on the island in Vineyard Haven. From there, it’s a 10-minute bus or taxi ride to Oak Bluffs.

Lobster trap Christmas tree in Provincetown, Massachusetts

7. Provincetown

Provincetown, or P-town to locals , is one of the most inclusive towns in Massachusetts. A longtime haven for the LGBTQ community, it’s welcoming to people of all ages, orientations, and backgrounds.

While cold temperatures and snowy streets will likely prevent you from partaking in the town’s exemplary beachcombing and biking, there’s still plenty to do at Christmas. The holiday season kicks off in early December with the cheeky Holly Folly and the lighting of the Lobster Pot Christmas Tree, a celebratory “evergreen” constructed from lobster traps and buoys. Throughout the month, you can also listen to live choral and pop music, take in a drag show, and admire the rugged beauty of the Race Point Light .

Christmas decor fans: Stop at Monty’s Christmas . Its collection includes Christopher Radko, Jim Shore, Old World ornaments, vintage music boxes, and more. Stay at the soothing White Porch Inn , a lovely boutique hotel that has its own integrated art gallery.

Editor’s Note: Headed to Provincetown? Don’t miss our picks for The Best Things To Do In Provincetown In The Winter .

Christmas tree at the Addison Choate Hotel in Rockport

8. Rockport

Like most coastal Massachusetts towns, Rockport is better known as a summer destination. But Christmas is a shining off-season moment, and not just because the whole town, including its lobster shacks, are gussied up in twinkle lights. This quirky little town pulls out all the stops for a full slate of holiday events , including Cape Ann Winter Lights , from late November through New Year’s Eve.

Depending on the day, you can take part in an Ugly Sweater Night, watch Santa arrive on a lobster boat or nativity figures parade up Main Street, or check out dozens of creative displays at shops that stay open till 8 p.m. Many local makers offer workshops, and kids can take part in a scavenger hunt that rewards them with sweet treats from Rockport confectioners.

Gift yourself a stay at the Emerson Inn . This boutique hotel, perched on a cliff above a wide-open bay that flows into the Atlantic Ocean, is a singular delight, especially in the off-season.

Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

9. Shelburne Falls

Home to the famed Bridge of Flowers, which, in warm seasons, is decked out in colorful blooms, Shelburne Falls makes a sweet stop at Christmas. Although the bridge itself is closed in the winter, seemingly the entire town gets in on holiday decorating.

While in the village, look for the 12 tile murals that make up the Shelburne Falls Mosaic Murals Project . Each one teaches visitors about a different piece of regional history. The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum is also worth a stop. Step aboard the old trolleys and pump cars, or channel your inner kid with the electric train sets in the visitors center. Have lunch at Baked , a snug restaurant and bakery that serves generous portions of comfort foods.

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

10. Stockbridge

Stockbridge is pretty much synonymous with Christmas, thanks to its most famous resident, Norman Rockwell. His 1967 painting Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas has been memorialized on everything from Christmas cards to coffee mugs. The artwork’s enduring popularity is celebrated each year in a real-life reenactment , with the historic charm of Main Street complemented by antique cars and shop decorations that evoke the 1950s.

Belly up to the bar at the Red Lion Inn for a hot seasonal beverage. Even better, pair it with baked goods from across-the-street neighbor The Lost Lamb , a patisserie that crafts exquisite croissants, cakes, and other treats.

At night, head over to Naumkeag , a Gilded Age “cottage” designed by lauded architects McKim, Mead & White. As darkness falls, Naumkeag’s expansive property sparkles with Winterlights , an 8-week celebration of illumination.

The Duck, a restaurant in Sturbridge

11. Sturbridge

Old Sturbridge Village, a recreated 1830s New England town, is the big draw of Sturbridge, near the border of Connecticut. Visitors flock to its Christmas by Candlelight celebration, which runs from late November through December. Besides holiday decorations throughout the 200-acre campus, the old-timey event includes a Christmas Tree Trail, Christmas Wish Bridge, demonstrations, live music and storytelling, snack samples, and a nightly lighting ceremony.

You can also shop for holiday gifts at the village’s mercantile, and vote for the Best in Show at the Gingerbread House Contest.

Williamstown Holiday Walk

 12. Williamstown

Home of the idyllic Williams College, Williamstown, in Western Massachusetts, doesn’t get the holiday attention of sister Berkshire towns like Lenox and Great Barrington. But whether or not you visit during its early-December Holiday Walk , its petite downtown, which has several restaurants and shops, is a year-round delight.

Williamstown is a top choice for art lovers. Between nationally renowned The Clark and the beautifully curated Williams College Museum of Art — not to mention modern art juggernaut MASS MoCA in neighboring North Adams — you could spend an entire weekend sampling a range of visual arts. Meanwhile, the ’62 Center for Theater and Dance hosts several winter performances, and Images Cinema shows first-run indie films all year long.

Image of Robin Catalano

A specialist in coastal travel, the northeast U.S., and Spain, Robin is a travel journalist and the writer behind the travel blog Once More to the Shore . Her work has appeared in National Geographic , Travel + Leisure , TIME , Smithsonian , Conde Nast Traveler , AFAR , Hemispheres , and a range of other publications, both national and regional.

A New Englander by birth now living in the Hudson Valley, Robin understands the call of the sea, and the allure of rock-strewn beaches and shrouded forests. She also knows that a Maine-style lobster roll — the one true lobster roll — is best paired with a crisp hard cider, and that nothing beats a Rhode Island clam cake.

An honorary Spaniard by marriage, Robin visits Spain at least once a year, and has never met a town or tapa she didn’t like. When she’s not writing about travel, she can usually be found exploring regional lakes in her inflatable kayak, hiking the Taconics, or attempting to snap the perfect photo of the wildlife around her home.

New England With Love

Christmas in Massachusetts: 14 Festive Events, Towns & Things to Do 🎄 2023

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Snow covered path and wintery trees leading to a statue of a man on a horse and overlooking the city at dusk at Christmas in Massachusetts.

Looking for things to do for Christmas in Massachusetts? When it comes to festive holiday magic, Christmas in MA is hard to beat! With storybook towns that seem to be straight out of a Hallmark movie and grand MA Christmas events that are all that is Merry & Bright, the Bay State delivers big when it comes to holiday fun.

If you’re looking for ideas for where to go and what to do for a festive Christmas in Massachusetts, you’re in the right place!

Table of Contents

Quick Tips for Visiting Massachusetts at Christmas

Dress the part.

There’s a Scandinavian saying that gets tossed around New England each winter: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Depending on where you’re from and what you’re used to, you might find Massachusetts’ winter weather to be a bit brutal!

An easy way to be prepared is to dress in layers so you’re prepared for bitter wind chill but can easily take off a layer or two if you find the weather is not as cold as you’d expected.

Don’t forget about footwear, either; canvas tennis shoes will get wet easily in slushy snow, and wet feet + cold weather does not equal a good time. Dress the part and you’ll have a blast during your Christmas in Massachusetts!

Prep your Car

You cannot be driving around Massachusetts at Christmastime without having solid tread or snow tires on your car. This is just basic safety for those of us who live in New England, but if you’re visiting from warmer climates, heads up!

Christmas in Massachusetts: Best Things to Do

Head to the city on a hill.

City at dusk with many white lights, including an overhang with white lights in the foreground in Boston Massachusetts at Christmas

Boston is a great getaway destination any time of year, but a trip to Boston in the winter is absolutely wonderful! Whether you have only a weekend or are planning an all-out romantic getaway , there are so many amazing things to see and do in Boston always.

And come the holiday season? Christmas time in Boston is absolute Christmas magic! There’s nothing quite like seeing the cobblestone streets and historic buildings adorned with twinkle lights and Christmas greenery. While visiting the museums, eating out , or grabbing a quick cup of joe, it seems like the entire city is transformed into a festive holiday paradise.

And Beacon Hill? It’s a definite must visit during your Christmas trip to MA – photo ops for days!

From ice skating at the iconic Frog Pond to the Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting, Boston is a magical Christmas vacation destination. Plus, there are so many amazing hotels and vacation rentals to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding the comfiest, coziest, most festive place to call home during your Christmas getaway!

Take to the Cape

Cape Cod isn’t just a wonderful warm-weather destination, it’s also an amazing Christmas vacation spot! Cape Cod has so many adorable towns that are full of coastal charm; add in some Christmas spice and twinkle lights, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for Christmas magic! Head to Provincetown to see the Lobster Pot Christmas Tree , then schedule your ride on The Polar Express , departing from Buzzards Bay.

You’ll also find unique Christmas celebrations like the Falmouth Holidays-By-The-Sea weekend with caroling and parades by the Nobska Lighthouse, with Santa arriving in Falmouth Harbor by boat.

All around the Cape , you’ll find holiday strolls, artist’s markets, festive fun runs , enchanting villages, and so much more, so really, the Christmas magic is all around you on the Cape! With no shortage of great things to do on the Cape (and fabulous hotels, inns, and vacation rentals to check out) Cape Cod is a wonderful Christmas in Massachusetts destination for anyone looking for that perfect seaside getaway spot.

Step into a Norman Rockwell Christmas

A man and woman riding in a sleigh pulled by 2 Clydesdale horses in the snow during Massachusetts Christmas

The Main Street of Stockbridge, MA is the Main Street depicted in Norman Rockwell’s “Home for Christmas (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas)” work, and the first weekend of December, Stockbridge celebrates its role with its annual Main Street at Christmas celebration.

Stockbridge is already one of the most charming small towns in all of New England , but Christmas time is where it all really adds up. You’ve got vintage cars parked along the meticulously decorated Main Street with carolers singing in front of freshly-hung wreaths, and Santa overseeing it all in a horse-drawn carriage… This is about as picturesque as a Christmas vignette can be!

Warm up with a maple latte at Six Depot Roastery & Cafe in West Stockbridge. I highly recommend, it’s delish!

A hand holding a maple latte at a coffee shop in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Don’t forget to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum while you’re in Stockbridge, and when it comes to where to stay, there are many great local options for comfy, cozy, Christmas accommodations. For a classic New England inn option, check out The Red Lion Inn . Not only is the inn a charming delight, but their onsite tavern and dining room make finding quality holiday meals a breeze.

Click Here to Check Prices & Book!

Go on Island Time in Nantucket

We all know Nantucket is a stellar summer vacation spot, but this island graduates to an entirely new level of cool for Christmas! If you are looking for a magical Christmas in Massachusetts, it’s just a ferry or plane ride away. In fact, Vogue even calls December “Secretly the Best Time to Visit Nantucket,” so if Vogue says so…

Arrive in time for Nantucket’s Christmas Stroll on the first weekend of December where hundreds of decorated trees adorn Nantucket’s adorable downtown, and one lucky local artist is chosen each year to decorate the main 20-foot tree that stands at the top of Main Street and “talks.”

Throughout the weekend, expect costumed carolers, craft shows, performances, tours, and more! Be sure to visit the Nantucket Whaling Museum for their eagerly awaited annual Festival of Trees, too.

The island is a glittering holiday wonderland of twinkle lights, so most anywhere you choose to stay will likely be decorated to the nines with all the sparkling baubles and fresh-cut greens that a person could want. The stunning Nantucket Hotel and Resort is perfectly located to be able to walk to Christmas festivities, but Nantucket has other great vacation rentals and gorgeous hotels to choose from, too, so wherever you stay will be the perfect fit for your MA holiday getaway!

Hit the Ice

Outdoor ice skating is one of those beautifully quintessential Christmas things to do in Massachusetts! There are outdoor ice skating rinks all around the state, but one of the most famous by far is Boston’s Frog Pond . You won’t go wrong ice skating anywhere in MA, but for a truly iconic outdoor ice skating experience, consider a visit to Boston Common for a spin around Frog Pond!

Unwind in the Berkshires

White picket fence with green holiday garden and white lights with big red bow in Massachusetts at Christmastime.

Looking for a beautiful Christmas landscape? Check out the Berkshires , where you can get all the holiday joy of the season without the hustle and bustle of some of the bigger cities. Go on a Holiday House tour at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in lovely Lenox, then on to a Holiday Lights tour at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead in nearby Pittsfield to get a feel for the spirit of Massachusetts Christmases past!

Visit a few of North Adams’ great museums to take in some local art and history; North Adams has a lot to do and see ! Catch a holiday show or two with the Berkshire Theatre Group on your way to and from the sweet holiday markets and adorable, fully-decorated downtowns as you finish your Christmas shopping in the Berkshires.

There are a lot of amazing vacation rentals to choose from all around the Berkshires, but if you’re looking for a lovely inn for you and your sweetheart to spend Christmas in Massachusetts together, consider booking a room at Lenox’s 33 Main . No matter where you stay, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you and yours during your Berkshires Christmas vacation.

Cozy up in a Massachusetts Cabin for Christmas

There are so many cute cabins and vacation rentals in the Bay State, so depending on what you’re looking for in your Massachusetts Christmas vacation, you’ll be sure to find the perfect Christmas cabin to stay in. What says cozy Christmas in Massachusetts better than a gorgeous little cabin where you can build a fire in the fireplace with your favorite people and snuggle up together?

Have a Christmas Ski Adventure

Massachusetts may not be as well-known as some of New England’s more dramatic ski destinations, but you can find some great skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing in the Bay State! Check out Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, where you’ll find 100 skiable acres and 100% snowmaking capabilities. Butternut typically opens the third week of December, so you’d be arriving in the beautiful Berkshires at the perfect time to enjoy all the magnificent holiday decorations.

Most of Massachusetts’ ski spots are in or near the Berkshires with one notable exception: Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton, just outside of Boston. Not only does Blue Hills have 60 skiable acres and 90% snowmaking coverage, but this modest ski area is only 10 minutes outside of Boston, so you can enjoy all that wonderful Christmas in Boston magic during your ski-cation.

For a fantastically fun and action-packed Christmas getaway, hit the slopes during your Massachusetts holiday vacation!

Enjoy MA Christmas in America’s Hometown

Plymouth Massachusetts, lovingly referred to as “America’s Hometown,” offers a great list of small-town Christmas in Massachusetts things to do, like the Christmas in Historic Plymouth event. This is a parade and Plymouth tree lighting, followed by the annual Winter Lights 5k!

Other great MA Christmas events take place throughout the month in Plymouth, like A Christmas Carol at the Hedge House , featuring live, immersive performances from the classic Dicken’s novel at this gorgeous historic property.

There’s plenty more to do in Plymouth too , of course, but Christmas in Massachusetts in America’s Hometown? Absolutely spectacular.

Visit a Christmas Tree Farm

A woman in a winter hat sniffing pine tree branches in Massachusetts at Christmas

Depending on where you’re visiting from, you may not be interested—or able—to buy your own Christmas tree during your Massachusetts vacation, but there are so many amazing Christmas tree farms in Massachusetts where you can go and enjoy the experience of hands-on, small-town Christmas festivities!

For example, Smolak Farms in Andover has a drool-worthy Hot Cocoa Candy Bar to satisfy your sweet tooth with, and DIY ornament workshops. Sleighbell Farm in Sutton offers a neat prop area to take your own holiday photos in, with fun, festive props like a giant holiday wreath and an antique sleigh!

Most Christmas Tree farms in Massachusetts have great gift shops with unique, one-of-a-kind finds that would make for the perfect souvenir or Christmas gift, and many offer holiday treats like hot cider, hot chocolate, or fresh-baked cookies to their visitors. If you’re looking for sweet and simple Christmas in Massachusetts things to do, a visit to the nearest Christmas tree farm may be just what you’re looking for!

Be Charmed by Cape Ann

Cape Ann’s charming North Shore towns only become even more picturesque as the holiday decorations go up, turning the Cape’s storybook streets into Christmas card scenes!

Some notable Cape Ann Christmas happenings include Santa arriving by lobster boat in Rockport before the tree lighting ceremony,  the Manchester Holiday Stroll in Manchester, and the Cape-wide Winter Lights map that will lead you to the most spectacular Christmas lights on the Cape!

There are so many great things to do and see in Rockport , Gloucester, and elsewhere around Cape Ann, but if you’re looking for the perfect place to cozy up during your holiday getaway, consider a stay at one of Rockport’s great hotels .

If it’s romance you’re after, check out Addison Choate , one of the best spots for a romantic Massachusetts getaway . Wherever you choose to stay during your Cape Ann Christmas getaway, you’ll find plenty of that classic Cape Ann charm!

Revel in Christmas Magic at Martha’s Vineyard

2 white candles in front with a background of snow and trees with white lights at dusk in Massachusetts at Christmas.

An idyllic vacation spot any time of year, come Christmas, Martha’s Vineyard becomes a pristine example of holiday charm! With Edgartown MA Christmas events like the Christmas in Edgartown Parade and the Lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse ceremony, horse-drawn carriage rides around the harbor, and more.

In Edgartown MA at Christmas, the halls will be decked with all of the twinkle lights and fresh evergreens you can imagine… what better way to bring a little extra Christmas magic to your boutique shopping?

Ocean Park Lights in Oak Bluff is an absolute sight to see while you’re enjoying all the great things to see and do on Martha’s Vineyard , as this already delightful park becomes a winter wonderland of light and festive holiday decorations. With great options for where to rest your head during your Christmas vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, you’re sure to have a holly, jolly time wherever you choose!

Nestle in Newburyport for this Season’s Greetings

One of the best beach towns in the Bay State , Newburyport isn’t just a fair-weather vacation destination! Not only is there plenty to see and do outside of the holiday season, but Christmas in this seaside town brings all sorts of fun festivities to the area to really take your MA holiday getaway up a notch.

On the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, Santa arrives in Newburyport by boat, and then it’s on to the Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony , where carols are sung “loud for all to hear,” because everyone (especially Buddy the Elf) knows that’s the best way to spread Christmas cheer!

Shop Newburyport’s lovely downtown during Holiday Invitation Nights, when live entertainment, refreshments, and plenty of twinkle lights make downtown holiday shopping just a little more Merry and Bright!

There are several great options for where to stay while in Newburyport, but Essex Street Inn is a gorgeous historic inn that places you near all the downtown holiday festivities. Christmas in Newburyport MA is a slice of coastal, small-town heaven!

Drive Through MA Christmas Light Displays

All around Massachusetts at Christmastime you’ll find delightful Christmas light displays, offering a warm and cozy, no-fuss way to enjoy beautiful Christmas lights! Many even have radio stations to sync up to for the full immersive holiday experience. This isn’t a completely comprehensive list, but check out the drive-through Christmas light displays in Agawam , Lancaster , Marshfield , Methuen , and Springfield to get started.

Massachusetts 2023 Christmas Events

Don’t miss these popular MA Christmas events happening in 2023!

  • Winter Wonderland at Southwick’s Zoo — November 18 – December 31 — Mendon
  • Red Apple Farm Winter Lights — November 24 – December 31 — Phillipston
  • Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village – November 24-26 and December 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23, 27-30 — Sturbridge
  • Vista Philharmonic Orchestra Christmas Magic Concert — December 9 — Groton

Where to Stay in Massachusetts for Christmas

Wondering where to go in Massachusetts for Christmas coziness? Here are 3 gorgeous hotels and inns that you’ll love:

The Red Lion Inn – This Stockbridge, Massachusetts inn offers the kind of Norman Rockwell Christmas charm that so many of us crave!

The Fairmont Copley Plaza – One of my favorite Boston hotels, this is the perfect mix of elegance and comfort for your Christmas getaway.

Addison Choate Boutique Hotel – Rockport’s finest boutique experience turns their WOW factor aaaaall the way up at Christmas time!

Christmas in MA Wrap-Up

There are so many festive ways to spend Christmas in Massachusetts! Whether you’re looking for big-city Christmas magic or small-town sweetness during your holiday getaway, you’ll find it in MA!

You might also like:

  • 10 Merriest Memory-Making Christmas Celebrations in New England
  • 9 of the Coziest and Best Winter Getaways in New England
  • 25+ New England Gifts: Locally-Sourced & Regionally-Inspired
  • 6 Ideas for an Amazing Winter in Massachusetts
  • 7 Scenic Places to go Cross Country Skiing in Massachusetts
  • Where to Go Snow Tubing in Massachusetts

Pinterest graphic reading "Christmas in Massachusetts How to Celebrate"

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best new england towns to visit during christmas

7 Small Towns in New England That Go All Out for Christmas

W hether it’s Maine’s foliage in autumn or vacations on Cape Cod in the summer, New England is the ideal place to really immerse yourself in the seasons. This is especially true when it comes to winter. Yeah, New England winters are cold. But they’re also filled with perfect snowball snow, Christmas cookies, festive lights, and traditional holiday cheer unlike anywhere else in the country. Nothing exudes Christmas spirit like settling into an 18th-century inn by the fireplace, attending a traditional town tree lighting, or watching as Santa sails into town on a lobster boat. From the White Mountains to Nantucket, these small New England towns take Christmas to the next level.

1. Freeport, Maine

Christmas festivities in Freeport, Maine

Photo: Visit Freeport /Facebook

Freeport is known throughout New England for its wide array of outlet stores and for being the home of LL Bean’s flagship store. But it’s also one of the most festive towns in the area come Christmas time. The annual Sparkle Weekend will be held this year from December 7 to December 9. It features a range of events that will really get you in the Christmas spirit, like the Talking Christmas Tree, old-fashioned horse-drawn wagon rides, and a vintage arts and crafts market. At the workshop at Wilbur’s of Maine chocolate factory, the whole family can learn how to make a chocolate house. There’s also a holiday decorating contest, LL Bean’s Discovery Forest — featuring over 600 light-covered trees — and, of course, the Annual Worldwide Tuba Concert.

2. Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket Christmas Stroll

Photo: Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce /Facebook

When you think of Nantucket , it’s probably all summer cottages and beaches, but this island is more than just a warm-weather destination. On the annual Noel and Christmas Stroll weekend, the island’s cobbled streets come alive with craft shows, concerts, a Christmas marketplace, and community caroling. The centerpiece of the weekend, however, is when Santa Claus arrives triumphantly on a Coast Guard ship and joins Santa’s parade as it marches up Main Street. This year’s stroll is themed “A Beautiful Stroll in the Neighborhood” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the TV debut of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.” The Stroll will take place from November 30 to December 2, with Santa arriving on Saturday, December 1.

3. Kennebunkport, Maine

Santa on a lobster boat as part of Kennebunkport's Christmas Prelude

Photo: Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude /Facebook

If you want the perfect coastal Christmas experience but don’t want to trek all the way down to Nantucket, Kennebunkport puts the perfect New England twist on the holiday. From lobster bakes to trolley rides and chocolate bars , the Christmas Prelude has all the Christmas spirit you can handle. Like in Nantucket, Santa will arrive by sea, riding on a lobster boat that will dock at the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel on Ocean Avenue. Accompanied by his Lobster Elves, he will make his way to the Community House on Temple Street for photos. And in case you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, stores will be open late and offering free holiday treats.

4. Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Horse-drawn Christmas carriage for the Stockbridge Christmas festivities

Photo: Stockbridge Christmas /Facebook

Art connoisseurs may recognize Stockbridge from the famous Norman Rockwell painting, “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.” The painting is meant to epitomize a cozy small-town Christmas atmosphere, and fittingly, the town itself doesn’t disappoint. From November 30 to December 2, the town offers holiday readings, historic house tours , caroling, and a holiday concert. To cap off the weekend, Stockbridge really embraces its Normal Rockwell association by recreating the exact scene from the famous painting. Vintage cars are parked in the spots seen in the picture, invoking a fond sense of nostalgia, and reminding visitors that Stockbridge is indeed the perfect New England Christmas town. The full schedule of events can be found here .

5. Woodstock, Vermont

Horse-drawn carriage decorated with wreaths in Woodstock during Christmas

Photo: Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce‎ /Facebook

Woodstock’s Wassail Weekend , named after an English medieval drinking ritual, might be one of the most unique Christmas celebrations in New England. Wassail Weekend features classic light displays, decorated historic homes, a breakfast with Santa event, and even a traditional 19th-century farm-style Christmas at the local Billings Farm. But the most memorable part of the weekend is undoubtedly the parade, which features over 50 horses and riders in period holiday costumes from the 1800s. Wassail Weekend takes place from December 7 to December 9, with the parade happening on Saturday at 2:00 PM. If you’re lucky, you could even win a free trip to Wassail Weekend, courtesy of the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce. It would include two nights at the Woodstock Inn & Resort , two dinners, free sleigh-ride admission at the Billings Farm, and a host of other gifts.

6. Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts

Costumed Christmas carolers in Old Sturbridge Village

Photo: Old Sturbridge Village /Facebook

For some old school yuletide charm, take a trip through history at Old Sturbridge Village . This 18th-century reenactment village hosts its Christmas by Candlelight events every weekend in December. Events include a nightly tree lighting, a gingerbread-house contest, sleigh rides, and the reading of classic stories, all set against the backdrop of an authentic 1700s village. Eat a festive feast at one of the local taverns or even stay the night in a lodge. One-day tickets are $28 for adults and $14 for children.

7. White Mountains, New Hampshire

Plate of Christmas cookies and brownies

Photo: Country Inns in the White Mountains

If you’d rather not stay in one place all weekend but still want a healthy (or maybe unhealthy) dose of Christmas charm, atmosphere, and treats, you should probably check out the Inn to Inn Holiday Cookie Tour in the White Mountains. From 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM on December 8 and 9, a self-guided tour allows you to journey through the White Mountains — the perfect Christmas setting — and visit several participating inns, each of which features traditional holiday cookies, candies, and Christmas decorations. And when you go home, you’ll actually be able to take home recipes so you can make the treats yourself.

There are 11 inns participating this year: the Darby Field Inn in Albany; the Inn at Crystal Lake and Pub in Eaton; the Snowvillage Inn in Snowville; the Inn at Ellis River in Jackson; the 1785 Inn in Intervale ; the Admiral Peary Inn B&B in Fryeburg, Maine; and the Eastman Inn , Old Red Inn & Cottages , Cranmore Inn , White Birch Inn , and the Samuel O’Reilly House in North Conway.

best new england towns to visit during christmas

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9 Best Coastal Christmas Celebrations in New England

From lobster trap trees to Santa’s arrival by boat, coastal Christmas celebrations are a hallmark of New England’s holiday season. Here are nine of our favorite merry meet-ups by the sea.

By Yankee Magazine

Dec 03 2021


Among the nine lighthouses in the Newport area, the 1842 Newport Harbor Light on Goat Island stands out for its green beacon—which looks especially appropriate during the run-up to Christmas.

Please note that many establishments throughout New England have modified their hours and/or operations in response to COVID-19. Please check with individual businesses and organizations for the latest information before making travel plans.

From lobster trap trees to Santa’s arrival by boat, coastal Christmas parties are a hallmark of New England’s holiday season. H ere are eight of our favorite merry meet-ups by the sea.

best new england towns to visit during christmas

Kennebunkport, Maine

The historic village of Kennebunkport, Maine, is more than just a bustling summer place with stellar eat-in-the-rough lobster shacks and rocky, kayak-worthy coves. During Christmas Prelude, a two-week volunteer-run festival that kicks off with the memorable Dock Square tree lighting, you’ll find a buoyant, roving block party that’s part Whoville, part Mardi Gras.

Bristol, Rhode Island

Bristol is a town that believes in making the season last, and its Christmas Festival runs well into December. But two highlights are the pre-Thanksgiving Preview Weekend, which invites shopping, dining, and strolling downtown, and the Grand Illumination (Dec. 5), when Santa arrives, the tree is lighted, and a huge snowflake over Hope Street blazes to life.

Delivered Daily: The Latest in Travel, Food, and Living in New England

Holiday Weekend on Nantucket

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Rockland, maine.

The world’s largest lobster trap tree, rising more than three stories tall and topped with a five-foot fiberglass lobster, is the centerpiece of the Festival of Lights, which also offers shopping and arts events, wagon rides, a parade, and Santa’s arrival via a Coast Guard boat (Dec. 4). 

best new england towns to visit during christmas

Mystic, Connecticut

The holiday season kicks off with Santa cruising in on a festive red tugboat, followed by the tree lighting in Mystic River Park and a glittering lighted boat parade. Just a few days later, downtown Mystic hosts a holiday stroll amid hundreds of luminarias.

Ogunquit, Maine

When Christmas by the Sea comes around (Dec. 10–12), count on this beach town to show up with bells on. Past highlights have included tasting events, tree lightings, concerts, and of course Santa’s arrival by lobster boat, followed by a parade from Perkins Cove to the Main Beach.

best new england towns to visit during christmas

Newport, Rhode Island

Portsmouth, new hampshire.

For more than 15 years, Portsmouth has brightened the snowy season with a citywide, monthlong party called Vintage Christmas. Signature attractions have ranged from candlelight strolls at Strawbery Banke to a gingerbread house contest and free trolley rides.

Boothbay & Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s annual lights extravaganza, “ Gardens Aglow ,” is a big lure during the Boothbay Lights festival, but also look for a lighted boat parade, the Festival of Trees, and fireworks.

Which New England coastal Christmas celebration is your favorite?

10 Best New England Christmas Towns

5 best new england christmas cities.

best new england towns to visit during christmas

10 Quaint and Cute New England Towns to Visit

I love living in New England, because there are so many fun and interesting places that are just a short ride away. Instead of driving hours and hours, some of these spots are just one or two hours away from my home.

There are also a number of fabulous New England family resorts to stay in during your trip. Whether you live in New England and are looking for some fun new places to explore, or are visiting the area and want to see as much as possible, here are some quaint cities and towns in New England to visit with kids. Did I miss your favorite? Leave a comment!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that we may get a small commission when a link is clicked and/or a purchase is made. We experienced a few of these attractions at no cost for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.

Cute New England Towns to Visit

Rockport, ma.

Rockport is probably my favorite quaint town in Massachusetts. Located on Cape Ann in Massachusetts, Rockport has a small-town charm, with delicious restaurants, cozy shops, and beautiful views. Don’t miss seeing Motif #1 , a frequently-photographed replica fishing shack.

You can spot Motif #1 from the adjacent Barefoot Neck area, a downtown area where you can eat, shop, and explore among gift shops, seafood restaurants, and art galleries. Park in one spot and then walk around the whole area. There are several beaches in Rockport and adjacent Gloucester , so it’s definitely a nice spot to visit during the summer.

See our things to do in Rockport here , and  hotel reviews in Rockport here .

Freeport, ME

Freeport Maine is famous for being the worldwide headquarters of L.L. Bean, but the area also features a number of outlet stores and smaller shops. My kids always love exploring the flagship L.L. Bean store, where you’ll find kids’ activities in addition to clothing and other outdoor gear. It’s more than a store, it’s a full experience.

For a completely different experience, head to Wolfe’s Neck Farm, which offers a number of family programs and has free admission every day. Freeport is also conveniently located near other popular Maine towns, so you can stop by on a day trip if you’d prefer. This is also a great place to visit if you want to see the beautiful New England fall foliage.

Find hotels in Freeport here .

I have such fond memories of visiting Mystic Connecticut when I was a kid growing up in Rhode Island, and so I have loved bringing my kids back there as an adult. Mystic offers a number of activities for families, including Olde Mistick Village, a shopping center made up of small buildings designed to look like a village of the 1700s. It’s a fun spot to explore and feels like a historical town.

Mystic is also home to the Mystic Aquarium, which is a fantastic aquarium to visit with kids. It’s a great size for kids and offers shows and other events for families. If your kids are tweens or older, they’ll appreciate visiting Mystic Seaport, a maritime museum with interactive exhibits and shows.

I’d recommend staying in Mystic for at least a weekend since you’ll want to have about two full days there to see the Seaport, Aquarium, and Village. Don’t forget to stop at Mystic Pizza.

See our things to do in Mystic, CT with kids here , and  reviews of Mystic hotels here .

Foodies will love the drive into Stowe, Vermont – with the Ben and Jerry’s Factory and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill located right on the drive off the highway. Make sure you leave enough time to visit both on your way into Stowe.

Once you arrive in Stowe, you’ll have a number of fun activities for families, including those at Stowe Mountain. It’s such a beautiful, quintessential New England town with restaurants, shops, and beautiful things to see.

See hotels in Stowe, Vermont here .

Newport, RI

Newport, Rhode Island is a gorgeous city, with lots of great things to do. Brick Marketplace and the adjacent Thames Street feature fun shops and delicious restaurants in a beautiful environment. If you visit Newport, I’d definitely recommend spending some time on the waterfront.

In addition, Newport is home to several stunning Gilded-age mansions that you can tour. My favorite for families is the children’s audio tour at The Breakers – my kids really enjoyed learning about the history of this historic home. Tennis lovers may also enjoy visiting the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which is located right in town.

Want to spend some time on the water? There are several different sailboats and other boat rides that you can catch right from the waterfront. Newport is best visited in the summer months, although some of the mansions are decorated for Christmas.

See Newport hotel reviews here .

Portland, ME

Portland Maine, not unlike the same-named city on the West Coast, is known for its artsy vibe and delicious food (including lobster rolls!). If you are visiting during the summer, you can take one of the many boat tours and cruises that are offered and can see a Portland Sea Dogs baseball Game.

But even if you choose to visit in the off-season, there are fabulous museums, fun shops, and of course, great food. I love visiting Portland in the winter when the crowds have all left. Just keep in mind that the water activities are only open seasonally.

See our things to do with kids in Portland, Maine here, and read Portland hotel reviews here .

Portsmouth, NH

Portsmouth New Hampshire is located right near two states – Massachusetts and Maine. This seaside town offers kid-friendly museums, shops, and restaurants as well as harbor cruises. While you are there, head to neighboring Kittery, Maine to shop the various outlet stores. Although, keep in mind that New Hampshire doesn’t have any sales tax, so it’s great to shop there as well.

See hotels in Portsmouth, NH here

Nantucket, MA

Nantucket is a city and an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. While it’s romanticized by the popular author Elin Hilderbrand, Nantucket really is beautiful and charming. Like its sister island Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket is an incredibly popular summer vacation destination. But it’s definitely worth visiting for a quintessential New England summer vacation.

While you can just go for the day, try to stay for at least an overnight so that you can fully explore the island. However, I’d recommend a longer stay so you can really explore. In December, they host a

See hotels in Nantucket here .

Newburyport, MA

Newburyport, on the north shore of Massachusetts, is home to shops, restaurants, and a beautiful waterfront. In addition, you’ll find the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge as well as Plum Island, which features a beautiful beach. You could stop there on a day trip or a road trip.

See hotels in Newburyport here .

Chatham, MA

While I love all of the quaint towns on Cape Cod, Chatham is one of my favorites. This charming waterfront down has a great downtown area, with shops and restaurants. Whenever I’m on the Cape, I try to go to Chatham to do some shopping.

There’s also the Chatham Fish Pier, where you’ll find harbor seals frolicking in the water. There’s also the iconic Chatham lighthouse. During select days of the summer, you can take a lighthouse tour.

See more about places to go in New England with kids here .

The post 10 Quaint and Cute New England Towns to Visit appeared first on Family Travel Magazine .

I love living in New England, because there are so many fun and interesting places that are just a short ride away. Instead of driving hours and hours, some of these spots are just one or two hours away from my home. There are also a number of fabulous New England family resorts to stay …

Flowers and boats lining the harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts. Editorial credit: Keith J Finks /

  • 8 Most Scenic Small Towns in New England

New England is an incredible destination filled with history, natural beauty, and adventures. All of these amazing features and more are best experienced across the scenic towns in this region, some of which are perched beside river banks and the gorgeous shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. Every season, these towns put on new looks to stun visitors; whether during the freezing winter or the refreshing spring, there is always something to appreciate in these towns. From the world-famous ski town of Stowe to the town of Bar Harbor and its coastal allure, here are the most scenic towns in New England worth running to on the next available flight.

Rockport, Massachusetts

Aerial view of Rockport Harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Rockport is a scenic seaside resort town on Cape Ann, overlooking the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This town in Massachusetts is home to several beaches where visitors can bask in the ocean's beauty, sunbathe, enjoy picnics, swim, build sand castles, surf, and play like time does not exist. Some of the top beaches here include - Old Garden, Pebble, Cape Hedge, Long, Front and Back Beaches. Rockport is also home to Halibut Point State Park, where visitors can explore numerous tide pools and trails, hold picnics on rock ledges, and catch scenic views of the nearby Mount Agamenticus. For more scenery and adventures, visit the Headlands for charming views of the water, and then take a boat to nearby Thacher Island to see two iconic lighthouses on the majestic bluff.

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe Ski Resort during the winter in Stowe, Vermont.

Stowe is a picturesque mountain town in Vermont, renowned as the Ski Capital of the East. This town is home to the Stowe Mountain Resort, which boasts 13 lifts and 116 ski runs at all levels. Whether it is lessons along slow slopes or jumps on expert routes, there is something for every skier here. Visitors can also experience the Gondola Skyride to witness spectacular views of mountains and greenery. For a more hands-on experience, visitors can go hiking or biking on the 5.3-mile Stowe Recreational Trail, which begins at the historic Stowe Village and ends at the postcard-perfect covered bridge. Similarly, the Smugglers Notch State Park offers pristine wilderness to hike, camp, and see a waterfall. If the waterfall seemed interesting, head to Moss Glen Falls to hike and see more waterfalls.

Brattleboro, Vermont

View of buildings and the Whetstone Brook River in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont.

Brattleboro is a quaint town nestled along the strip of land at the confluence of West River and Connecticut River in Vermont . Ode to the cascading river, the town beckons travelers with gorgeous scenery and natural attractions like Fort Drummer State Park, featuring scenic trails, and West River Park, featuring a river for swimming, hiking trails, and picnic areas. For more adventures, visitors can rent a boat at the Vermont Canoe Touring Center and proceed to explore the town’s waterbodies. Choose between various activities, from kayaking through calm waters to fishing along the coast. Meanwhile, one can soak in more views inland at the Creamery Covered Bridge and stop at the Brattleboro Farmer’s Market afterward to shop for food and handmade crafts.

Camden, Maine

Aerial view of Camden Harbor in Camden, Maine.

The beautiful Camden rests at the foot of Camden Hills in Penobscot Bay, where it prides itself as the Jewel of the Maine Coast. It takes one visit to Camden Harbor to agree that this town is truly exciting as it offers a ton of activities, including fishing, boating, and sailing. Visitors can patronize the several tour companies at this harbor, offering cruises around the bay, down to several small nearby islands, including Curtis Island, home to the iconic Curtis Island Lighthouse. Next, visit the Camden Hills State Park to hike to the summit of Mount Battie and relish in picture-perfect views of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. Not satisfied? Head to Harbour Park to savor more natural scenery with plenty of picnic spots for the whole family.

Ogunquit, Maine

Boasts docked along the colorful Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine.

The name Ogunquit means "beautiful place by the sea," and this is already a guarantee that the town is full of scenery. Here, visitors are welcomed by aquatic attractions like the Ogunquit River, which flows through the town and offers fishing, kayaking, swimming, and boating opportunities. Further aquatic splendor is available by walking the the iconic 1.25-mile Marginal Way that hugs the Atlantic Ocean and bypasses a beautiful lighthouse, beaches, and ends at Perkins Cove - a small fishing village filled with restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The cliff walk also leads to Ogunquit Beach, which features three miles of charming dunes. Take a break from the waters and head to the Barn Gallery to browse some exhibitions, or visit the Ogunquit Heritage Museum to learn more about the town.

North Conway, New Hampshire

Fall foliage reflecting off Echo Lake in North Conway, New Hampshire.

North Conway is a laid-back and scenic town on the southern edge of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire . This town's beauty revolves around natural attractions like Echo Lake State Park, an excellent place for swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and picnicking. Rock climbers are also welcome to this park as it is home to Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges, which present incredible views of the White Mountains . Conway Lake is another stunning natural attraction in this town that offers boating, swimming, and fishing opportunities. With bass, bluegill, and catfish in the lake, one can enjoy a relaxing evening of sport fishing. More things to do for scenery in North Conway include - a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad, a walk to the 75-foot Diana Bath waterfalls, and a scenic drive on the Kancamagus Highway.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Boats along the coast at Bar Harbor, Maine.

If there's just one place to visit in New England, it should be Bar Harbor , one of Maine's priceless coastal jewels. This beautiful town in Mount Desert Island is home to the largest portion of Acadia National Park , where visitors rejoice at the sight of mountains, streams, lakes, rivers, forests, beaches, coastlines, meadows, and hiking trails that lead to them all. Besides hiking, other activities like kayaking, rock climbing, fishing, swimming, and canoeing are available in this park. It also features the Abbe Museum, where visitors can learn about the area’s indigenous Wabakani people.

Agamont Park is another exciting attraction worth a visit in Bar Harbor, as it offers gorgeous views of Frenchman Bay and great picnic areas. Away from the parks, Downtown Bar Harbor is another great place to soak in some scenery, shop for souvenirs, and dine at local restaurants. Before leaving, head to Bar Harbor pier to take some photos and go cruising in the waters.

Newport, Rhode Island

Rustic buildings and small boats in Newport, Rhode Island.

Newport is a beautiful town on Aquidneck Island that is famous for its incredible sailing history and exciting attractions. On arrival, visitors here can have the first bite of the town's natural scenery at the Newport Cliff Walk, a photogenic 3.5-mile public walkway offering spectacular ocean views. After that, the town's beaches are ideal destinations to relax, enjoy the sun, and admire the seaside allure. Some top beaches to choose from include - Easton Beach (the largest beach in town), King Park Beach (great for picnics and fishing), and Gooseberry Beach (great for relaxation).

Besides the shorelines, Newport is home to some exciting parks like Brenton Point State Park, where visitors can fish, hold picnics, explore the iconic Portuguese Discovery Monument, and admire Narragansett Bay as it meets the Atlantic Ocean . The scenery doesn’t end with the outdoors but is also palpable through the town’s history. For example, history buffs can check out the rustic White Horse Tavern, believed to be one of the oldest taverns in the United States as it was opened in 1673.

The picturesque towns of New England are great places to craft sensational experiences against the backdrop of unspoiled nature. Whether one sits back and admires boats sailing on a harbor or hiking into the mountains to explore, every moment in these towns is memorable. The sea, the mountains, history and old-world charms, lively cultures, social locals, and crisp, clear air combine to make them even more exciting. Unplug from the noise of cities today and find rest, serenity, and beauty in these small towns in New England.

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Maps of the April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

By Jonathan Corum

On April 8, the moon will slip between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow across a swath of North America: a total solar eclipse.

By cosmic coincidence, the moon and the sun appear roughly the same size in the sky. When the moon blocks the glare of the sun, the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, will be briefly visible.

Below are several maps of the eclipse’s path as well as images of what you might experience during the event.

Where Can I See the Total Eclipse?

The eclipse will begin at sunrise over the Pacific Ocean, then cut through Mexico and cross the United States from Texas to Maine. Most of North America will see a partial eclipse, but viewers within the deepest shadow — a band sliding from Mazatlán, Mexico, to the Newfoundland coast near Gander, Canada — will experience a total solar eclipse.

Percentage of

the sun obscured

during the eclipse


Little Rock

San Antonio

Viewers inside the path of the total eclipse may notice a drop in temperature , a lull or shift in the wind , the appearance of bright planets in the sky, and the quieting of birds and other wildlife.

Many cities lie inside the path of the total eclipse, as shown below, the width of which varies from 108 miles to 122 miles.

20% partial eclipse





San Francisco

90% partial eclipse

Los Angeles

Mexico City


Explore our interactive cloud outlook for eclipse viewing times and average cloud data at your location.

What Will I See?

A composite image of the 2017 total solar eclipse over Madras, Ore.

A composite image of the 2017 solar eclipse over Madras, Ore.

Aubrey Gemignani/NASA

If the sky is clear, viewers in the path of the total eclipse should see a “diamond ring” effect a few seconds before and after the total eclipse, as the edge of the sun slips in and out of view.

The sun’s corona during the 2017 total solar eclipse.

The “diamond ring” effect during the 2017 solar eclipse.

Rami Daud/NASA, Alcyon Technical Services

The sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, is normally hidden by the sun’s glare. These tendrils and sheets of gas, heated to a million degrees Fahrenheit or more, are in constant motion and shaped by the sun’s swirling magnetic field.

The sun’s corona during the 2017 total solar eclipse.

The sun’s corona during the 2017 solar eclipse.

The sun is relatively active this year and is nearing the expected peak of its 11-year solar cycle . Researchers at Predictive Science are using data about the sun’s magnetic field to predict and model a dramatic corona for the April eclipse.

A prediction of how the sun’s corona might appear on April 8.

A prediction of how the sun’s corona might appear during the April 8 total eclipse.

Predictive Science

What Colors Should I Wear?

As the sky darkens, light-sensitive cells in human eyes become more sensitive to blue and green hues than to reds and oranges. This shift in color perception is known as the Purkinje effect , after a 19th-century Czech scientist, and is typically seen at twilight.

People watch the 2017 total eclipse at Southern Illinois University.

Watching the 2017 total eclipse at Southern Illinois University.

Andrea Morales for The New York Times

To take advantage of the Purkinje effect, wear green clothes or a contrasting combination of greens and reds. Blue-green colors (shorter wavelengths) will appear brighter, while red colors (longer wavelengths) will appear to recede into the darkness.

What If I Miss It?

The next two total solar eclipses in the United States won’t occur until 2044 and 2045 . But eclipse chasers might catch one in 2026 in Greenland, Iceland and Spain; 2027 along the coast of Northern Africa; 2028 in Australia and New Zealand; or 2030 across Southern Africa and Australia.

best new england towns to visit during christmas

A Total Solar Eclipse Is Coming. Here’s What You Need to Know.

These are answers to common questions about the April 8 eclipse, and we’re offering you a place to pose more of them.

By Katrina Miller

best new england towns to visit during christmas

What’s the Cloud Outlook for Eclipse Day? See if History Is on Your Side.

April 8 could be your best opportunity to see a total solar eclipse for decades. But if clouds fill the sky, your shot at seeing the spectacle could be lost.

By Josh Katz, K.K. Rebecca Lai and William B. Davis

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