Central MA After Dark

Posted: September 15, 2022

Local events light up the season’s nights with after-dark spectaculars, from outdoor illuminations and family festivals to movie nights and music.  


Festival of Illumination at Southwick’s Zoo 

The awe-inspiring Festival of Illumination once again lights up Southwick’s Zoo this season, immersing guests in the world of illumination and mastery of handcrafted Chinese lanterns, courtesy of the Zigong Lantern Group. This year’s theme, “Once Upon a Time,” brings zoo-goers through a journey of myths, legends and fairytales from around the globe. Advanced ticket purchase is encouraged for this experience, running Wednesdays to Sundays, now through December.  

Fairies Aglow at New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill 

Explore the wonders of the natural world as the seasons change at New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill. The Enchanted Forest: Nature-Inspired Fairy Houses display has transformed Tower Hill's Ramble, a 1.5-acre whimsical woodland garden for children and families, of which guests can enjoy during daytime hours or at a series of special evening events known as Fairies Aglow. On Fridays from Sept. 30 through Oct. 28, Fairies Aglow is fit with dazzling light displays, ethereal music and enchanting activities.   

Phantoms by Firelight at Old Sturbridge Village 

Find a fright at Phantoms by Firelight. Running for 13 nights only, you can explore Old Sturbridge Village through the dark and eerie, as the night progresses and a mysterious troupe of traveling performers appears in the shadows of firelight. Expect costumed kids, spooky stories, gravity-defying acrobats, creepy conjurers and fate-tempting fire jugglers scattered throughout the living history museum. 

Double Feature at Redemption Rock Brewing Co. 

Catch a double feature with the filmmaker. Presented by Cinema Worcester, Redemption Rock Brewing Co. goes Hollywood with movie creator Greg Sestero and a screening of his films, “Miracle Valley” and “The Room.” Enjoy a classic movie night out, complete with a Q&A with the maker.  

Saint Spyridon Grecian Festival 

Embrace Grecian traditions with authentic cuisine, Agora (Bazaar) shopping, cultural displays, a Cathedral tour, music and dancing under the stars. Saint Spyridon Cathedral’s Grecian Festival, a staple to Central Massachusetts for over 45 years, honors local Greek forefathers—immigrants who came to Worcester to work and create a new life, while fostering lasting contributions to its political, economic and cultural development. Sept. 16 through Sept. 18, celebrate till the wee hours of the weekend.  

Worcester Railers Season Opener 

Oct. 22 kicks off the Railers season, debuting at the DCU Center with a hometown advantage. The Worcester Railers take the Adirondack Thunder to commence a season that’s bound to excite. To follow, the Railers continue with a chalk-full schedule, hitting the ice several times weekly, both locally and away.  

Farm Party Worcester

REC Farm Party  

Celebrating 50 years in Worcester, the Regional Environmental Council’s Farm Party brings a night of anticipated joy and jubilee on Sept. 30 with live music, local food and drink, a raffle and youth-led tours of YouthGROW urban farm. Proceeds from the event directly support the REC’s Community and Mobile Farmers Markets, UGROW’s 65+ community and school gardens, and the YouthGROW employments and leadership development program for Worcester teens. 

A Night at the Musuem: Music with Mark & Raianne

A Night at the Museum: Music with Mark & Raianne brings, on Oct. 14, these beloved local singer-songwriters to perform at the Samuel Slater Experience. Based out of Webster, Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards are known for their vocal harmonies, poetic lyrics and down-to-earth character. Reservations are recommended for this free event, and can be made here.


Electric Haze 

There’s no shortage of evening entertainment at Electric Haze, the go-to spot for nighttime happenings, where they stay true to their mission of showcasing creativity, while providing a comfortable and de-stressing ambience. Millbury Street welcomes late-nighters with live music and art in a sleek lounge setting, plus a curated menu with the likes of specialty cocktails, craft beer and fine wine. Events on tap this season include: Malodies Drag Karaoke, Sunday Drip and the Drum Nomads.  

Off the Rails 

Bringing a bit of Nashville to Worcester, Off the Rails boasts Southern cuisine from Executive Chef Rick Araujo surrounded by his scratch kitchen and country style bar, with a side of live music. Accented with guitars and authentic country music memorabilia throughout, Off the Rails offers live music, Wednesday through Sunday evenings. Some of the notable upcoming names: The Travelin’ McCoury’s, Rhett Miller and Blanco Brown. 

Hanover Theatre_Erb Photo

Image Credit: Erb Photo

Hanover Theatre & Conservatory 

An embodiment of the transformative power of the arts, The Hanover Theatre stands as a staple of entertainment in Central Massachusetts. The Theatre continues to draw over 196,000 patrons annually with world-class performances and headlining acts including Broadway hits, and this season will feature the likes of “Tootsie,” a laugh-out-loud love letter to the theater, and Mean Girls, the film-to-stage adaptation.   

Image Credit: Erb Photo

DCU Center 

Another entertainment go-to is Worcester’s DCU Center, one of the largest-scale local spaces and home to events of all interests. Spend an evening this October and catch the excitement of a WWE Smackdown, the tunes of a Walker Hayes concert or the joys of Disney on Ice’s Frozen & Encanto.  

The Palladium 

A historic concert venue in the heart of Worcester, The Palladium prides itself on being extremely artist friendly. And that shows in their continuously impressive lineups, this season hosting names like 311, The Wonder Years and GWAR. 

Mechanics Hall 

Adjacent to The Palladium sits Mechanics Hall, a concert hall renowned for its elegance and sound qualities, its cultural significance and stunning décor. Its architectural detail even earned it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a truly unique downtown spot. This fall, catch the likes of The Knights & Aaron Diehl, The Worcester Chamber Music Society, Jazz Hamilton’s “Carnevale” and evening performances presented by Music Worcester.  

Samuel Slater's Restaurant

Image Credit: Ejona Jano Photography

Samuel Slater’s Restaurant 

Samuel Slater’s sits as the on-site restaurant of Webster’s outdoor concert venue, Indian Ranch, hosting alternatively indoor events as the months get colder. From comedy sets and a mystery dinner to drag shows and an 80s tribute night, their outings keep life fun.  

Don’t let early evenings and cooler temps deter you from the joys of a night out. Bundle up and see what’s out there!