Festive ways to celebrate the season

By Melissa Snead

With Newbury Street storefronts decked out in festive holiday colors and the Prudential Center strung with twinkling lights, garland and red satin bows, the festive spirit of the holidays is here. Students in search of activities to keep them busy during the colder weather need look no further than in their own backyard.

The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet For students interested in experiencing a traditional holiday performance, the Boston Ballet will feature “The Nutcracker” from Nov. 24 through Dec. 30 at the Opera House at 539 Washington St.. Clark Crowley, Public Relations Associate for Boston Ballet, said the Nutcracker can be enjoyed by students with various interests. “The Nutcracker is an accessible and traditional ballet. Even those without a dance background can easily follow and enjoy the story,” Crowley said. Because the show is so popular, Crowley said to purchase tickets two weeks prior to the performance. Prices range from $22.50 to $92.50.

Sparklefest On Saturday, Nov. 25, Sparklefest kicked off in Harvard Square with a tree lighting at the Charles Hotel and Santa sailing down the Charles River. Each of the remaining three Sparklefest weekends will feature caroling, an ice skating rink, holiday musical entertainment and free food from the Legal Chowder van and other vendors. Denise Jillson, Director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said the “organic vibe” of Harvard Square makes Sparklefest different. A complete schedule of Sparklefest events can be found at www.harvardsquare.com.

MFA For the Holidays If Cambridge is a bit far to go for festivities, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) will present its first annual, “MFA for the Holidays” from Dec. 9 through Dec. 17. The exhibit will include 10 fun-filled seasonal events each day in addition to the art galleries. These events include holiday movie screenings, such as “Snowflake Bentley” and “The Night Before Christmas,” as well as musical groups like the Victorian Carolers. Media Relations Manager Jennifer Standley said the plethora of events make the event special. Most of the featured events are free with a Husky Card.

First Night On Dec. 31 beginning at 1 p.m. and lasting until midnight, Boston will celebrate First Night. First Night is a New Year’s celebration that includes a number of music, dance, theatre, art and film performances at various venues throughout the city. To participate, students must first purchase an activities button for $15. Each year, the buttons are designed by a different local artist. This year’s button uses the painting “Cosmic Dancer,” by Lucilda Dassardo-Cooper. All proceeds support the performing arts community in Boston. Buttons are available now through Dec. 31 at locations like Shaws and Au Bon Pain, as well as online at www.firstnight.org. John Doe of the alternative rock band X will perform at the Orpheum Theatre. There are two showings, one at 7:30 p.m., and one at 9:30 p.m. OrigiNation, Inc. and O’Shea Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance will also perform, fusing African dance with Irish step dancing. Performances will be at John Hancock Hall at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Check out www.firstnight.org for further details and more information on the events.

Ice skating at Frog Pond Ice skating at Frog Pond in Boston Common is a traditional winter activity. The rink opened Nov. 16, and students can skate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Friday and Saturday nights, the rink remains open until 10 p.m. Skating is a free, cheap and festive way to spend your nights. Skate rentals are available if necessary.

Whether you like ice skating, dance, music performances, or festivals, the vibrant city of Boston has something to make your holiday season more memorable this year.

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