Boston Winter Opens On City Hall Plaza

Posted December 13, 2016 by Brian Keaney in Downtown Boston
Skate rentals are available to glide around the ice path. Photo Credit: Madeline Bilis

Until last week temperatures in Boston were remaining firmly in the autumn range, but an arctic chill has blown through Boston more recently. With the arrival of the winter temperatures so has Boston Winter, a new collection of shops, tastings, and an ice skating loop on City Hall Plaza.

For the next few months, the normally barren red brick expanse has been transformed into a winter wonderland. As you enter from the side closest to the Government Center T stop, an oversized Adirondack chair greets you and invites visitors to sit in it and take photos. As you proceed in, a small village of “chalets” offers shoppers the chance to pick up Christmas gifts or indulge in a variety of food and beverages.

There is a great deal of variety in the offerings, with the nearby Boston Public Market selling its wares at one of the chalets, as do a number of local merchants, artisans, and vendors. On Friday night, Tunde Bodnar was working inside the Intaglio chalet. The miniature store offers antique prints dating from the 16th century to the 1920s. There shoppers can find drawings and engravings of natural history, the sciences, technology, fashion and pochoir prints, as well as old maps of Boston and all regions and countries of the world.

“These are great gifts for the man who has everything and wants nothing,” Bodnar said.

In addition to the offerings from Intaglio, Christmas ornaments, Boston sports apparel, jewelry, and more are all for sale. For those who want to experience more than they want to shop, there is plenty to do at Boston Winter. Inside a large tent in the middle of the village, the Urban Lodge offers a European-style beer hall where beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks are served. While warming up inside, revelers can enjoy their beverages while enjoying the larger than life pictures of the Public Garden that adorn either end.

A few steps away is a chocolate tasting tent with animatronic elves making toys for Santa to deliver, and Eskimos frolicking with polar bears. Vinopolis is the third large indoor gathering spot in the village, and appropriately enough sells a variety of wine. Erin Hawes stopped in to a tasting sponsored by 90+ Cellars with her husband.

“The mulled wine is festive,” Hawes said while reading the banners showing the history of how wine was made, and a brief history of alcohol in Boston. “Boston Winter is a great thing to have right in the middle of the city.”

Dominating the village of shops, Christmas trees, and oversized nutcrackers is an 11,000-square-foot ice skating path that was Christened by Boston Bruin Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque. A long line of people waited in the cold on Friday night for a chance to get on the loop while a DJ played music. In between songs he made announcements and wished skaters a happy birthday. In the middle of the loop are six large marquee letters spelling Boston, trimmed in alternating red and green lights that matched the lights illuminating the Brutalist facade of City Hall.

The shops will remain on City Hall plaza until the end of the year, and the ice skating rink will remain until the end of February. Admission is free, although there is a $10 charge to ice skate.  Skate rentals are available.