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.
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.
Best Christmas Towns In Massachusetts To Visit
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, 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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 Christmas Towns In Vermont To Visit
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.
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 Cafe, 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.
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 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.
Children will especially love the the Santa’s 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!
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.
One of the best places to stay in Jackson during the holidays is the Christmas Farm Inn, which is obviously so perfectly named for a holiday getaway. 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.
*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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 Christmas Towns In Rhode Island To Visit
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!
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
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.
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.
For the ultimate holiday weekend at the coast, The Nantucket Hotel & Resort is a hard one to beat. Not only will you be minutes from downtown to enjoy all the events of the Nantucket Christmas Stroll, the hotel also installs firepits on their front porch, where you can enjoy a festive drink under the glow of string lights. They also host a special brunch with Santa for the kids, and have wonderful, seasonal menus to make dining right at the resort fun and easy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You may also enjoy:
- Where To See The Best Christmas Lights In Massachusetts
- The Nantucket Christmas Stroll: Everything You Need To Know
- Christmas On Cape Cod: All The Best Things To Do
- Magical Things To Do During Christmas In Maine
- 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
- Best Boston Food Tours
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.