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Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart and Santa at a Holiday Pops performance. Credit: Michael Lutch.

By Erin Behan

Boston — with its cobblestone streets, historic buildings and biting winter air — is made for classic holiday traditions. And it’s not just those on a Boston vacation who flock to Beantown’s holiday events. Attend the Boston Common Tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and you’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with many a native. Distinctions melt away as the Mayor Thomas M. Menino flips the lights and the hot cocoa flows. For a place to stay, check out The Ritz Carlton Boston Common, with views of the 50-acre park.

Some perk for lights, others for legs. That’s where the Radio City Christmas Spectacular comes in. There’s no shame in loving the Rockettes’ long and lovely limbs, but the parade of wooden soldiers and the living nativity also stoke the holiday spirit at the Dec. 2 to 28 shows at the Citi Performing Arts Wang Center. The Radisson Hotel Boston is just a stone’s throw away.

Slightly more refined (thoughno less classic) is the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Boston Opera House from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31. This year is the last for the current version, a grand and bedazzling affair with choreography led by Mikko Nissinen and the music, of course, by Peter Iiych Tchaikovsky. It’s a short walk to the Hyatt Regency Boston while visions of sugarplums … you know.

Boston’s most enduring holiday tradition is likely the Boston Pops’ Holiday Pops season. What’s not to like about everyone’s favorite holiday music being played by the much-loved orchestra? There are even five kids matinees that include a sing-along and optional photos with Santa. It runs for less than three weeks from Dec. 7 to 24 at Symphony Hall, so don’t put off buying tickets. The Colonnade Hotel is a best hotel bet in the area.

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without some shopping, and the SOWA Holiday Market is the Boston destination for cool holiday gifts that didn’t come from the mall—instead they came from one or more of the 80 New England juried artists and designers. The hardest part about shopping the market is not just buying for oneself (whether it’s that vegan designer handbag or unique sterling silver jewelry that catches the eye). The SOWA Market is a one-day only event on Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cathedral High School.

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Erin Behan is a freelance writer and editor out of Brooklyn, N.Y., who counts good food, intoxicating drink and adventurous travel among her favorite things.

Tagged: Hotels

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