When you think of Cape Cod, warm summer days on the beach might be the first thing that comes to mind. But come the holiday season, everyone is in the spirit, whether it’s enjoying dinner by a cozy fire, caroling by a lighthouse, or donning red speedos to dash through the snow.
Read on for 13 ways you can catch the holiday spirit on Cape Cod.
1. Greet Santa Dockside
Holiday revelers can next see Seafaring Santa on Saturday, November 25th when he cruises into the Orleans Yacht Club, or on Saturday, December 2nd when he sails into Falmouth Harbor (watch from the Flying Bridge Restaurant dock).
2. The Lobster Pot Tree
There is quite possibly nothing more quintessential New England than a Christmas Tree made entirely out of lobster traps. Provincetown’s Lobster Pot Tree is made using over 100 of them – all borrowed from local lobstermen – and is accentuated by 3,000+ LED lights and colorful buoys. Visit Provincetown’s Lopes Square anytime during the holiday season to capture it for an Instagram-worthy post!
3. Chatham Christmas by the Sea Stroll
On December 8-10, downtown Chatham transforms into a winter wonderland; you’ll find homemade cookies, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, Santa Claus at the Kate Gould Park bandstand, a tree-lighting ceremony and festive promotions at local shops.
4. Unique Holiday Shopping
Speaking of shops, Cape Cod has been named one of the country’s top places to visit during the holidays, and a quick stroll through any of the bustling downtown hubs will quickly show why. You’re sure to find a one-of-a-kind gift as you browse eclectic art galleries, independent bookstores, trendy boutiques, exquisite jewelers and charming shops both on and off the beaten path. From glimmering whimsical characters to shimmering jewel-toned orbs, the hand-blown ornaments at Sandwich Glass Museum's Glassblowers' Christmas (November 17-December 30) are perfect for holiday gift-giving. On Saturday, December 2nd, the Love Local Holiday Fest embodies the spirit of community, drawing together local artisans, artists, farmers and makers to sell their wares on the Hyannis Village Green. And starting the day after Thanksgiving through the New Year, The Canteen in Provincetown transforms into a magical place to gather, enjoy holiday foods and drinks, and buy handcrafted goods from local artisans.
5. “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
This holiday classic follows the Herdman siblings as they take over the church's annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale. Presented by the Harwich Junior Theatre, performances will be held throughout December, Fridays & Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Buy tickets now!
6. The Polar Express
All aboard! Magic is in the air on the Cape Cod Central Railroad’s Polar Express, where passengers will sing carol over cookies and hot cocoa. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away for a festive trip to meet Santa. Trains depart out of the Buzzards Bay depot from late November through December.
7. Cozy Inns
Nothing makes the holiday season more warm & welcoming than a stay at a quaint Cape inn or B&B. From antique farmhouses to historic sea captains’ homes – many of which feature luxurious amenities and fireplaced guestrooms - you’re find a warm welcome for a wonderful winter escape.
8. Grand Illuminations
Gardens Aglow at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich celebrates the season with over nine miles of holiday lights. Stroll through the illuminated grounds, while also taking time to pose with Santa in a 1914 Ford Model T, take a ride on a vintage carousel, roast marshmallows, and participate in a reindeer scavenger hunt. Drive through Sandwich and try to spot all of The Giants, over two dozen illuminated sculptures along 6A. For an unexpected extravaganza of holiday lights, drive around the Mashpee Rotary one evening on your way to the Mashpee Commons shops and eateries. Thousands of colorful lights twinkle at passerby; we guarantee you won't go around the rotary just once.
Falmouth has one of the state’s largest Christmas parades (Sunday, December 3), featuring floats, costumed characters, marching bands, Clydesdales and plenty of Christmas cheer. Also that weekend is Hyannis’ highly anticipated harbor lighting and illuminated boat procession through Hyannis Harbor (December 2). Mashpee’s Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 10th is sure to dazzle as the Cape’s only nighttime walking parade featuring colorfully lit floats.
10. Festive Runs
The holidays are notoriously bad for the waistline, so combat the overindulgence with a fun 5k run, three of which are happening on Saturday, December 2: In Falmouth, the Jingle Jog 5K & Kids Elf Run is part of the town's Holidays by the Sea weekend festivities; in Provincetown, the Holly Folly Jingle Bell Run kickstarts the holidays as only Provincetown can, with participants donning either Santa suits or red speedos; and in Orleans, runners will take to the streets the annual Santa Stampede & Family Fun Run, featuring a Kids’ Run and a timed 5k, both starting and ending at the Barley Neck Inn in East Orleans.
11. Holiday Pops
Rock around the Christmas tree with special guest Chatham Chorale at the Cape Symphony’s Holidays on the Cape concert (December 1-3), a beloved holiday tradition that is sure to keep your spirit soaring.
12. Dine Fireside
Escape the winter chill and enjoy a warm meal next to the glow of a fireplace. Dine on hearty fare by the dining room’s crackling fireplace at the Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa in Sandwich. At The Pheasant in Dennis, sit by the fire in the charming surrounds of a 250-year-old farmhouse and partake in locally sourced eats and top-notch hospitality. Warm yourself by the hearth at Alberto’s, in Hyannis while you nosh on delicious Italian cuisine. Or cozy up with a Hot Cocoa Martini and Butternut Squash soup at Bayzo's Pub in The Mansion at Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster,
13. Caroling by the Sea
The Falmouth Holidays by the Sea weekend gets a rousing start with Christmas caroling at Waterfront Park on Water Street in Woods Hole Village on Friday, December 1 at dusk. There’s nothing quite like a rendition of “Jingle Bells’ as you watch the sun set over Vineyard Sound to get you in a festive mood.