Wintertime Activities al Fresco


Posted: December 2, 2021

When the cold temps arrive in New England, the outdoor activities begin to warm up. From ski mountain explorations to holiday light spectaculars, Central Mass. gives us all the motivation we need to bundle up and get out.  

Festival of Lights on Worcester Common 

Festival of Lights 

December 3rd marks opening night for the Festival of Lights—a family affair that offers a host of large-scale lighting sculptures, ice skating, food vendors, community organizations and performances (and even a visit from Santa). The Worcester Common festivities on December 3rd begin at 4:30pm through 9:00pm, with the tree lighting at 6:00pm.

In partnership with the City and the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District, New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill will install seven large-scale light sculptures. “For this year’s Festival of Lights, we decided to create a visual representation of Worcester’s diverse community,” said Grace Elton, CEO of New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill​​​​​​​. “Each of the seven light sculptures will have a different color combination, representing flags from around the world. We hope to create a sense of inclusion and representation for the many countries and points of origin represented in Worcester.” 

Ice Skating on Worcester Common

The ice rink will be open Friday evenings and weekends through February, as well as holidays and school vacation days. Visiting the city without your skates? No problem - skate rentals are only $5!  Get the most up-to-date information about hours and closure notices here. If you're looking for more things to do downtown - think ax throwing, escape rooms, arcade, live theater, art galleries, and of course, dining - then check out this Downtown Worcester itinerary and download our app to your phone to have your trip plans at your fingertips.


Santa Pub Crawl on Shrewsbury Street

Source: thisweekinworcester.com

Santa Pub Crawl on Shrewsbury Street 

December 11th brings Santas from far and wide when Shrewsbury Street's Santa Pub Crawl turns the block into a hub for festive fun. Local spots participating in the organized exuberance include the likes of Flying RhinoRedemption RockWormtown Brewery and several others. You’ll find Italian, American, Mexican, Irish, sweets, treats, coffees and so much more. With food samples and adult beverages galore, this one’s for the 21+ crowd.  


Build Your Own Bat House at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary 

A truly unique winter experience lies in making your own bat house. Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary hosts, alongside Lead Educator Chris Eaton, an instructional afternoon on December 17th at 1:00pm-3:00pm to uncover the truths behind local bats—their diet, habitat and behaviors—all while creating a bat house that you can bring home after the program. Animal adventurers, unite.  


Blue Moon Labyrinth Walk

Full Moon Lavendar Labyrinth at The Farm at SummitWynds 

On December 18th, things will get a little brighter around here—during SummitWynds’ Full Moon Lavender Labyrinth Walk. As you reflect on the year that’s passed, you’ll witness the full moon reflecting on passersby during this unique and mystical walk-through. This adults-only adventure is limited to 40 labyrinth-goers, so be sure to sign up for your journey under the Cold Moon soon.  


Festival of Illumination, Southwick's Zoo

Festival of Illumination at Southwick’s Zoo 

Southwick’s Zoo is illuminated with custom-built exhibits and hundreds of handcrafted Chinese lanterns, the largest of its kind to be hosted in New England. When darkness falls each night, the lights spark wonder in every viewer who visits the Festival of Illumination. Guests from now through January 2nd will drive through the zoo to admire stunning holiday lights and displays.


Night Lights at Tower Hill

Night Lights New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill​​​​​​​

Night Lights at New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill​​​​​​​ is another visual spectacle, a season’s greeting for wintertime and the joyous moments to come. Whether it's a date night or for family fun, Night Lights offers a curated experience for all. Take a winter wonderland scavenger hunt with the kiddos, make a romantic stop at the Secret Garden for a magical moonlit scene, and soak in the fragrance of the citrus and subtropical plants in the indoor greenhouses. Tickets sell out fast, so you'll want to book in advance!


Old Sturbridge Village, OSV

Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village 

"Celebrate Christmas past while creating new traditions.” Old Sturbridge Village comes to life with holiday flair this December, during Christmas by Candlelight, when the Village is dolled up with beautiful décor, a peaceful Christmas Tree Trail, live storytelling, musical numbers and more.  


Wachusett Mountain

Ski & Snowboard at Wachusett Mountain 

You’ll find the backdrop of Wachusett Mountain is reason to visit alone, but all the outdoor action certainly doesn't hurt. Sitting at a summit elevation of 2,006 feet, Wachusett boasts 26 trails and over 100 acres of land. Skiers of all levels will find terrains catered to match their skills, and snow bunnies will find their groove at the warm lodge with a fireplace and sun decks surrounding the space. 


Ski Ward, Shrewsbury

Snow Fun at Ski Ward 

Shrewsbury’s Ski Ward is just minutes from Worcester (and an hour from Boston) for skiers, snowboarders and tubers alike. Bring your whole crew or take a solo trip for a peaceful ride down the mountain—however you get there! To note, Ski Ward may run limited hours at the beginning of the winter season. View the Snow Report here for the most updated info regarding your visit.  


The cold weather shouldn’t be a reason you’re stuck inside, but instead a call to all of the new adventures that Central Mass. has to offer. We’re New Englanders—this is kind of our thing.