Metro, Boston

Thousands Welcome the Holiday Season at the Boston Common Tree Lighting Ceremony

On Thursday night, Boston’s sky was illuminated with holiday lights and a spectacular fireworks display at the 70th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Boston Common. The event, which featured the official lighting of Boston’s towering 47-foot Christmas tree, marked the start of the holiday season in the city.

The festivities began at 6 p.m. when thousands of spectators gathered to watch the Holiday Lights Concert. The lively audience was treated to music by Town Heroes, Country singer Timmy Brown, and the cast of A Christmas Carol. This year’s headliner, R&B group Bell Biv Devoe, entertained the exuberant concertgoers, performing unique renditions of traditional Christmas songs.

Just minutes before 8 p.m., Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, WCAS ’09, was joined on stage by Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Santa Claus—who made a surprise appearance—to signal the start of the lighting ceremony.

As spectators watched in anticipation, the smaller trees around Boston Common were simultaneously lit with festive decorations and white lights that filled the Common with a warm glow. The lighting of the giant, white-spruce Christmas Tree followed, as Walsh pulled a large candy cane-shaped switch that turned on the tree’s multicolored lights. To the delight of the audience, the display was not over yet. It concluded with a thrilling display of pyrotechnics—a series of large red and green sparklers shot off into the Boston night sky.


As explained in a statement from the city of Boston, in keeping with long-standing tradition, this year’s Christmas tree was donated by Nova Scotia. For the past 45 years, the Canadian province has given Boston a Christmas tree in return for its relief efforts after the Dec. 6, 1917 explosion in Halifax Harbor.

This year, the ceremony attracted an eclectic mix of students and Boston locals who all came together to take a break from their hectic weeks to celebrate the holidays. Kie Watanabe, a student at Harvard Business School, expressed her desire to attend the event.

“It’s my last year here in Boston and I’ve always wanted to watch the tree lighting,” Watanabe said. “I think it’s a great tradition.”

Not letting the icy December winds deter them from having a good time, spectators flocked to all corners of Boston Common to soak up the holiday spirit. Friends and family gathered together singing Christmas carols and snapping pictures. Those patient enough to wait in the long lines enjoyed classic American hot dogs and freshly made donuts.


Boston native Daniel Brown noted the significance of the event, and explained why he returns every year. 

“It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season,” he said. “I love coming together with my family and friends to admire the decorations around Boston Common.”

Featured Image by William Batchelor / Heights Editor

December 2, 2016