Sparklefest in Harvard Square

The Harvard Square Business Association is excited to announce the schedule for Sparklefest 2023! Sparklefest is a five-week celebration of the holiday season in Harvard Square that culminates on New Year’s Eve. With stunning holiday lights adorning the trees and street lamps, Harvard Square becomes the perfect festive location to shop and dine during the holiday season. Harvard Square is more than just a world-class destination for shopping and dining. Set aside time to enjoy all the holiday events offered this season!

Noir at The Charles Hotel
Maccabee Bar
November 29th – December 31st

Maccabee Bar is meant for anyone who wants to experience a different side of the holidays, whether you grew up celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza or anything else. While hosting Maccabee Bar, Noir at the Charles Hotel will be transformed into a Hanukkah wonderland with special decor, Hanukkah themed cocktails, and traditional bites, including latkes, hummus, and more. Monday and Tuesday 4pm to 12am and Wednesday through Saturday 4pm to 1am.
Make a Reservation

Harvard Square Giving Tree Kickoff
December 2nd
Brattle Plaza, 4pm

The Harvard Square Business Association members and friends are generously donating hats, gloves, socks, mittens, t-shirts, and scarves. These items will be placed in water-tight zipper bags along with candy canes, chocolates and treats and will be hung on the Holiday Giving Tree. Please bring your own items similarly packaged, or come and help us place ours. People are encouraged to take what they need.
To kick off the installation of the Giving Tree, The Boys of the St. Paul’s Choir School will perform joyous hymns and songs. These young boys have performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein on the legendary stage of Carnegie Hall, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for Pope Francis, and countless Boston Red Sox and Celtics games. Consisting of singers who are both artistically and technically highly developed, it may be surprising to discover that the boys range from grades 3 through 8. Complimentary hot chocolate and yummy cookies for those attending and for passersby will be served by HSBA staff.

El Jefe’s Taqueria
The 6th Annual Ben Abercrombie Day
December 5th

Windborne’s Music on Midwinter
December 6th and 19th

After many years of serving as the vocal bedrock of the hit Boston institution A Christmas Celtic Sojourn, Windborne is performing a full show of their favorite songs of the season! A joyful and heartfelt celebration of song, Windborne’s lush vocals and unique arrangements bring light to a dark time, as they draw on midwinter music from traditional, classical, and folk from the US, British Isles and beyond. Unique from their typical show, the holiday spirit is accentuated with added instrumentation, from guitars and banjos to the Lithuanian Kanklės and Irish bodhran. With Windborne as their guide across continents and centuries, audiences will be delighted by holiday stories, songs, and humor in a livestream concert for the whole family! Sing along with familiar favorites, enjoy new twists on old classics or sit back and enjoy discovering new favorites, but make sure you don’t miss Windborne’s Music of Midwinter!

American Repertory Theater
Real Women Have Curves
December 6th – January 21st

Based on the play by Josefina López that inspired the iconic hit film, Real Women Have Curves: The Musical is an empowering new show that explores life’s unexpected curves. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Arrabal, Ain’t Too Proud, Jersey Boys), this world-premiere musical features a book by award-winning playwright Lisa Loomer (Roe; The Waiting Room; Girl, Interrupted) with an original score by Grammy-winning recording artist Joy Huerta (from world-renowned Mexican pop duo Jesse&Joy) and Fred Ebb Award winner Benjamin Velez (Kiss My Aztec).

Tony Trischka’s Holiday Show
December 7th

Tony Trischka hosts a banjo-driven celebration of the season where he turns his considerable melodic inventiveness loose on Bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. With the backing of his band of extraordinary musicians, Tony is joined by shape-note singer and multi-instrumentalist Tim Eriksen, Hannah Read on guitar and vocals, Jared Engel on bass and vocals, and Sean Trischka on percussion. A diverse, highly textural seasonal collection, Trischka also revels in songs long forgotten and little known. Truly a sumptuous feast for the ears presented as only Tony Trischka can.

Merry Christmas from Jose James Featuring Aaron Parks
December 7th

José James – VoiceAaron Parks – PianoHave yourself a soulful little Christmas with José James, an R&B-steeped singer who’s as effective evoking Billie Holiday as Bill Withers.
7pm Tickets
9pm Tickets

Scullers Jazz Club
Christian Sands’ Christmas Stories
December 8th

Celebrate the holidays at Scullers with one of today’s most exciting pianists, Christian Sands and his band, for some musical holiday cheer.

“Sands’ live persona, his whole body language, were that of a man who was bursting with talent and creativity, his inventive techniques and various rhythms were offered to the audience in an effortless and charismatic way..”
Tickets 7pm
Tickets 9pm

15th Annual Everyone Loves Latkes
December 9th
Brattle Plaza, 2pm – 3pm

The Harvard Square Business Association is delighted to celebrate Hanukkah by serving complimentary latkes on Saturday, December 9th at the 15th Annual “Everyone Loves Latkes” Party! Hot and delicious potato pancakes will be sampled between 2:00pm – 3:00pm on Brattle Plaza (in front of Bluestone Lane at 27 Brattle Street). 

In keeping with tradition, fresh jelly donuts and gold chocolate coins will be provided. Joe Kessler and his Klezmer band, Klezwoods, will be on hand to entertain the crowd with traditional songs of the season.  

Mount Auburn Cemetery
2023 SOLSTICE: Reflections on Winter Light
December 9th & 10th; 12th & 13th; 15th & 17th; 19th & 21st

Join us as we welcome back SOLSTICE: Reflections on Winter Light to Mount Auburn Cemetery in December 2023! The three outdoor light and sound artworks return with renewed approaches and integrations. A new feature this year is the interactive Hortus Gateway; four imprinted towers that will welcome visitors to enter the landscape through symmetrical illumination. We have also added an extended pathway on Central Ave which will give guests the opportunity to slow down, contemplate, and enjoy the night sky. Each piece may be perceived on its own or intertwined with one another to create a holistic experience. Connect to a landscape of exceptional beauty, consider an intention for the new year, or commemorate the memory of a loved one. Let the solstice light your way as you encounter the unique spirit of Mount Auburn.

St. Paul’s Choir School
Christmas in Harvard Square
December 10th and 17th 

CHRISTMAS IN HARVARD SQUARE celebrates the old and the new this Christmas season, featuring music by composers such as Benjamin Britten, Franz Biebl, Herbert Howells, and more. The evening will include Theodore Marier’s beloved setting of “Silent Night,” plus beloved carols, sung by the Boys and Schola of Saint Paul’s Choir, the Music Scholars of Saint Paul’s Boys Choir, and the Pre-Choristers of Saint Paul’s Boys Choir.

Youth On Fire
Holiday Art and Talent Show
December 13th, 6pm – 9pm

Our members, unhoused youth between the ages of 14-24, will be selling art they’ve made and performing for attendees. All the money they make from sales and performances will go directly to them! We’ll have a bake sale, tons of wonderful art, great performances, and it’s a great chance to get some holiday shopping done while supporting unhoused youth in your community!

Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters
Holiday Open House
December 15th

Guests of all ages are invited to celebrate children’s joy around the holidays, and to embrace the playful spirit of the season amid the decked historic halls of the Longfellow House. Enjoy a luminaria display on the grounds and stroll the halls of the Longfellow House, decorated in period style and featuring live harp music and special seasonal objects from the site’s museum collection that celebrate childhood and play.

Then, follow the festive front path to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy President’s House at 115 Brattle Street – the other big yellow house – to enjoy Big Smile Entertainment’s Holiday Victorian Carolers and Rosalita’s puppet shows, in addition to parlor games, a festive tree, “take-and-make” crafts, and treats for the whole family. Refreshments, including cookies and hot beverages, will be served.
Free; no reservations required. 4:00 PM-8:00 PM

Longy School of Music of Bard College
Winter Solstice Recital
December 15th and 16th
Winter Solstice concert performed by students of the Keyboard Studies Department.Tickets

Blue Heron
Christmas in Medieval England
December 15th – 16th

Our well-loved English Christmas program returns after six years, refreshed & revised with new carols, chant & motets.Tickets

Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts
Black Business Holiday Pop-Up
December 15th – 17th

Shopover Weekend
December 15th – 17th

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and there is no better place to spend it than historic Harvard Square. With so much to see and do, come for the weekend!

Hotels! Shopping! Dining! Ticketed Events! Outdoor family-friendly free events! Come Friday and stay for the weekend. Shop until you drop! Dine on the run or sit down for a luxurious dinner. When you’ve shopped and eaten your way through the Square, take some time to enjoy a show, concert, movie or a play.

The Brattle Theatre
It’s A Wonderful Life
December 15th – 18th

A Holiday Tradition! Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a forlorn small-town banker who, while considering suicide, meets Clarence, an angel in training. Clarence shows George what life would be like if he had never been born, and through this George is able to realize how valuable one person’s life can be. Forget about watching this classic film at home on TV, we’re showing it the way it was meant to be seen: on the Big Screen on real-live 35mm film!

Harvard Square Holiday Fair
1 Brattle Square
December 15th – 17th and December 21st – 23rd  

Thurs./Fridays 12-7
Saturdays 11-7
Sundays 12-6

One of the oldest and most popular fairs in the Boston area. Held in Harvard Square for 8 or 9 days with free admission. Juried, with a mix of craftspeople from the region and world traveling importers. A great selection of beautiful, original, affordable gifts. Talking with the artist gives us a connection to what we are buying. A high energy marketplace with a great soundtrack. See old friends and make new ones.

Midwinter Revels: The Feast of Fools
December 15th – 28th

Our 53rd Midwinter Revels drops us into the colorful medieval Feast of Fools, where everything is topsy-turvy by design. The status quo quickly becomes the status disruptus as the body politic officially lets off steam. Rulers are temporarily deposed by servants, wit triumphs over power, and a fool finds himself steering the ship of state. This musical feast will feature vibrant processionals, lively carols, delicate harmonies, vigorous dances, and a full ritual serving of the wild and the holy. Come sing favorites old and new and dance your way with us into the lobby of Sanders Theatre and out into the brand new year! On this shortest day of the year, what could possibly go wrong?

Santa Claus Jazz Band and Treats
December 16th, 1:00pm – 3:00pm
The Pit

Join the Harvard Square Business Association as we present the Santa Claus Jazz Band performing from 1pm – 3pm in the “pit” in the center of the Square. Bask in the glow of the sights, smells and sounds of the season! Plenty of hot chocolate and cookies will be available to give you that extra energy boost as you holiday shop!

Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters
Holiday Tours
December 16th

Reserve your spot on a free, 30-minute guided tour of the Longfellow House first floor, decked out for the holidays! Space is limited and reservations are required.

Scullers Jazz Club
Sun Music & The Record Co present Lezlie Harrison – Holiday Rhythm
December 16th

Ms. Harrison will be performing songs from her Jazzweek, Top 20 album release, Let Them Talk, along with other holiday treats. 
Lezlie is her own personal renaissance. Her constant state of evolution and growth brings with it, gifts for those paying attention. As a vocalist both bold and subtle, her vulnerability attends to the fragile matters of our collective human affairs while her optimistic momentum inspires us to rise above any tribulation to rejoice. Be it Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Soul, The American Song Form, original compositions, or any song in ANY form, Ms. Harrison imbues it with her distinctive stamp and makes a very personal delivery.

The Smoke Shop BBQ
2nd Annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party With Maker’s Mark
December 18th

‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and dress UGLY. The Smoke Shop BBQ is hosting our 2nd Annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party with Maker’s Mark. You and your friends will enjoy a full BBQ dinner spread with some of our most popular dishes, a special event cocktail, plus a tasting & education of 3 whiskeys from the Maker’s Mark portfolio. And to celebrate the tradition that is the ugly holiday sweater, we’ll award some fun prizes to the guests with the ugliest sweaters, so be sure to wear yours to be entered to win!

Bonde Fine Wine Shop
Christmas Dinner – Wine Tasting & Class
December 20th

Come take a respite from the holiday madness for a luxurious evening of wine and food.

Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony
December 20th & 21st

Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony is a loose collaboration of Boston-based musicians organized by veteran singer/songwriter Jennifer Kimball, who celebrate the holiday season with their delightful annual program of sacred, secular and wintery pop music rearranged, reharmonized, and often just plain turned on its head. Wielding fiddles, cellos, ukes, guitars and glockenspiels, this ensemble re-envisions the sounds of the season by reharmonizing classic songs, reinterpreting pop tunes, composing new songs for the season and bringing unknown pop gems to the lexicon of holiday-ish music.Tickets 12/20Tickets 12/21

Commonwealth Wine School
All the Bubbles! Sparkling Wines and the Party Treats That Love Them
December 29th

As we wrap up the holidays, everyone prepares for one last hurrah – New Year’s Eve. That final celebration that ushers in a new year with cheer and excitement. What better way to celebrate than with a glass of bubbles? We’re pulling out all the stops for this incredible end-of-the-year tasting. Join our own educator and author (and bubbles enthusiast) Adam Centamore for an elevated evening exploring the glorious world of sparkling wines and party treats. You’ll try a variety of bubbles from around the globe, paired with foods that are right at home on your next celebratory table. Think gougères, smoked salmon, chocolates brought straight from Italy’s chocolate capital, Torino…it’s sure to be an evening worthy of cheering in the new year!


The Midnight Gala: A New Year’s Eve Celebration with Dwight + Nicole
December 31st

Ring in the New Year with Dwight + Nicole’s soulful ensemble as they make their stunning return to Regattabar this New Year’s Eve, paying tribute to the deep legacy of the greats who’ve played before them and welcoming a new generation of great memory makers as the clock strikes midnight. Tickets are limited!

Scullers Jazz Club
Ring in the New Year with Elan Trotman
December 31st

Tickets 8:30pm
Tickets 11:00pm

The Sinclair
The Glitter Boys – New Years Eve at The Sinclair
December 31st


A Perfect New Years Eve
December 31st

Toys for Tots

Cambridge Firefighters will once again partner with the United States Marine Corps Reserve in collecting toys in the annual “Toys-for-Tots” drive. In existence for 76 years, the program was started in Los Angeles, CA when a handful of Marine Reservists distributed 5,000 toys to needy children on Christmas Eve 1947.
Since its inception, 281,000,000 needy children throughout the United States have benefited from the donation of over 627,000,000 toys.
Toys-for-Tots is a program that brings all elements of a community together for a common cause for a few weeks each year, dedicated to helping in the development of our children. Toys-for-Tots delivers a message of hope to children who have little reason to have hope for the future.
The Cambridge Fire Department is once again proud to work with the Marines in this great endeavor.

New, unwrapped toys may be dropped off at any Cambridge Fire Station until the morning of Tuesday, December 19, 2023, (except Engine 6 on River Street which is closed for reconstruction).
Monetary donations can also be made via the Toys-For-Tots Website:
Thank you for your continued generosity.

Secret Santa for Seniors

Cambridge Winter Warmth Drive

For the past 10 years, I have worked with First Parish Cambridge Unitarian Universalist, Harvard Square Business Association, Hilton’s Tent City, and the Central Square Business Improvement District, on the Winter Warmth Drive, a fundraising effort to purchase sleeping bags for unhoused people in Cambridge.
Today we are launching year 10! These sleeping bags are essential as the weather gets cold. Our goal is to raise $20,000. The sooner we raise these funds, the sooner we can purchase the bags. Any amount is welcome.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation today.

Thank you!
City Councillor Marc McGovern