12 Months of Family Fun
• Children of Hangzhou: Connecting with China, through Apr. 26. Visitors will discover that Chinese life today mixes ancient traditions with modern lifestyles, and how life in China is both similar and different from life in North America. The Chinese children in the exhibit act as a bridge to learning and building cross-cultural understanding. Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston; 617-426-6500; myskyexhibit.org.
• Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed, through spring 2015. The largest exhibit of its kind in the United States, “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” gives visitors an understanding of the rise and eventual decline of this majestic civilization through never-before-seen artifacts, hands-on activities, multimedia components and re-created environments. Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston; 617-723-2500; mos.org.
• Blue Man Group, through December. A visually stunning show combining music, technology and comedy to create a form of entertainment that defies categorization and appeals to all ages. Charles Playhouse, 74 Warrenton St., Boston; 617-426-6912; boston.broadway.com.
• Boston Parents Paper 2015 Camp & Summer Expo, Jan. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Clay Center, Dexter Southfield School, 20 Newton St., Brookline.; BostonParentsPaper.com/campfair.
• Revels Twelfth Night Celebration, Jan. 10. Shows start at 1 and 2 p.m. Put the holidays to bed and wrap up the Twelve Days of Christmas at this festive celebration that features singing, dancing, a visit from Father Christmas and other Twelfth Night traditions. Grace Vision Church, 80 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown; 617-972-8300, ext. 31; revels.org.
• Broken? Fix it!, Jan. 17 – May 10. This exhibit encourages children and adults to learn together to diagnose problems and then roll up their sleeves to fix them. Visitors can try their hands at figuring out why the car thumps and clangs, getting a bike rolling again, and fixing a shoe and a toy train track. Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston; 617-426-6500; myskyexhibit.org.
• Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 19. Choruses from around the area, including Boston Children’s Chorus, lift their voices in tribute to our nation’s civil rights leader. Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Ave., Boston; 617-585-1260; bostonchildrenschorus.org.
• Shen Yun, Jan. 23-25. Ancient legends of virtue and modern tales of courage are brought to life by more than a dozen dances and songs, making for one extraordinary, uplifting and unforgettable experience. Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston; 617-259-3400; bostonoperahouse.com.
• Pinocchio, Jan. 30 – Feb. 22. This original adaption of Pinocchio, influenced by Japanese traditions of Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku puppetry, will surprise and delight audiences of all ages. Mystical creatures, musicians and gymnastic choreography make the transformation of an animated puppet to a real boy a dynamic experience. Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston; 617-879-2300; wheelockfamilytheatre.org.
• Stuart Little: The Musical, Jan. 31, Feb. 1, 7 and 8. Join Stuart, the little mouse with a big personality, on his journeys in the big city as this classic tale based on the book by E.B. White comes to life. Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston; 617-933-8600; bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
• Special Family Concert Performance: “Keeping Good Company,” Feb. 7. A one-hour introduction to the full orchestra experience, especially for children ages 3 through 8. Kids under 18 are free. Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston; 617-266-1492; bso.org.
• Pinkalicious: The Musical, Feb. 14 – Feb. 22. In this family-friendly musical, Pinkalicious can’t stop eating pink cupcakes and ends up turning pink from head to toe – a dream come true for this pink-loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can find a way out of this predicament. Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston; 617-933-8600; bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
• Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton offers an affordable way to get your kids on skis or a snowboard this winter, all without having to leave the Boston area. The ski area also offers a February vacation camp for kids ages 7-15, open to all ability levels. 4001 Washington St., Canton; 781-828-5070; ski-bluehills.com.
• The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, Mar. 7, 8, 14 and 15. From Hollywood to Paris to Hawaii and back, Flat Stanley will take you on a whirlwind journey filled with infectious songs, laughter and fun! Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston; 617-933-8600; bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
• The Taste of Sunrise, Mar. 13-22. This bilingual play performed in American Sign Language and spoken English is the second play in Suzan L. Zeder’s critically acclaimed Ware Trilogy, which will be produced in its entirety in collaboration with Emerson Stage and Central Square Theatre. It takes place in the mind and memory of Tuc, who journeys through his childhood from the fever dream that took his hearing to the language of nature that he shares with his father to the deaf school where his mind explodes with the discovery of sign language. Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston; 617-879-2300; wheelockfamilytheatre.org.
• St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 15. Everyone is a little bit Irish during South Boston’s annual St. Paddy’s Day parade. Break out your green clothing! southbostonparade.org.
• Harlem Globetrotters, March 28-29. The Globetrotters bring their crazy jokes and basketball antics to Boston. TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston; 617-624-1050; tdgarden.com.
• Boston Red Sox Home Opener, April 6. Will the Red Sox make it to the World Series again this year? Cheer them on as they take on the Phillies in their season’s first home game. Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way, Boston; 617-226-6666; redsox.com.
• Shrek The Musical, April 17 – May 24. Based on the irreverent book by William Steig and the award-winning animated film by DreamWorks, this singing, dancing extravaganza about a horrible ogre, a feisty princess and a garrulous donkey explores the relative nature of beauty, the beguiling myth of “happily ever after” and the importance of accepting yourself. Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston; 617-879-2300; wheelockfamilytheatre.org.
• The Diary of Anne Frank, Apr. 18, 19, 25 and 26, and May 2. This poignant play tells the true story of a young Jewish girl in Amsterdam hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston; 617-933-8600; bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
• Swan Boats, TBA. A sure sign of spring, Boston Public Garden’s famous swan boats make their first appearance of the year. swanboats.com.
• Patriots’ Day, April 20. Parades, pancake breakfasts and historical reenactments fill the weekend leading up to this holiday commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord. www.battleroad.org.
• Boston Marathon, April 20. Not a runner? No problem. Just watching the race is exhilarating. Great spots for viewing include the Newton fire station, the brutal Heartbreak Hill and the finish line on Boylston Street near Copley Square in Boston. bostonmarathon.org.
• March for Babies, May 9. Join Boston Parents Paper in walking to help raise money to fund research to prevent premature births, birth defects and infant mortality. 508-366-9066; marchofdimes.com.
• Astronomy Day, May 9. Largest public astronomy event in Greater Boston. Free admission. Clay Center Observatory, Dexter Southfield School, 20 Newton St., Brookline; claycenter.org.
• Duckling Day Parade, May 10. A beloved annual Mother’s Day event celebrating the children’s story Make Way for Ducklings. Dress as your favorite character and join the parade around Boston Common. friendsofthepublicgarden.org.
• Thrill of Contact, May 14-24. A striking program of precision and impressive athleticism featuring works by Balanchine, Robbins, Forsythe and a world premiere by Jeffrey Cirio. Boston Ballet, 19 Clarendon St., Boston; 617-695-6955; bostonballet.org.
• Scooper Bowl, TBA. This all-you-can-eat ice cream benefit has raised more than $3 million for the Jimmy Fund since its inception in 1983. City Hall Plaza, Boston; jimmyfund.org.
• Cambridge River Festival, June 6. A free festival of arts and culture with lots of hands-on activities and a special stage just for family and children’s performances. cambridgema.gov/cac.
• Boston Dragon Boat Festival, TBA. Watch this annual boat race from the banks of the Charles River and then enjoy a festival of Asian performances, food and crafts. bostondragonboat.org.
• HUBBUB: Creative Commotion, June 20. Boston Book Festival launches a new kids’ festival: HUBBUB: Creative Commotion. Favorite authors, costumed characters, science experiences and live music mix to provide the very best in cultural enrichment and fun for children and families. hubbubfest.org.
Newsies, June 23 – July 5. Based on true events, this crowd-pleasing musical tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston; 617-259-3400; bostonoperahouse.com.
• Summer in the City, Tuesdays and Thursday through August. Each summer, Cambridge parks come alive with music, dance, storytelling, theater, puppetry, movies and more! Cambridge Arts offers a wide array of free, multicultural, interactive arts programs, performances and activities, both day and night, for children and families. cambridgema.gov/arts/programs/summerinthecity.aspx.
• Boston Harborfest, TBA. A weeklong festival celebrating America’s rich colonial and maritime history with many free events. bostonharborfest.com.
• Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, July 4. Grab your spot along the Charles River early and enjoy entertainment featuring the Boston Pops. It all wraps up with an amazing fireworks display over the river. Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Boston; july4th.org.
• New England Patriots Training Camp, end of July. Join thousands of Pats fans to watch the team’s daily training sessions for free. After practice, snag some player autographs! Gillette Stadium, 1 Patriot Place, Foxboro; 508-549-0001; patriots.com.
• The North End Fisherman’s Feast, Aug. 13-16. Check out the Italian festival in Boston’s North End for delicious food and the annual procession of the Madonna. fishermansfeast.com.
• August Moon Festival, mid-August. Celebrate the end of harvest season in Boston’s Chinatown with music, food, storytellers, martial artists, lion dancers and a dragon parade. Harrison and Beach streets, Boston.
• Marshfield Fair, Aug. 21-30. There’s something for everyone at this summer fair, including animals, carnival rides, music and magic. 140 Main St., Marshfield; marshfieldfair.org.
• Pick-Your-Own Apples. Nothing beats the taste of an apple picked right from the tree. Massachusetts is home to numerous farms that allow you to pick your own. Many of them also have activities for kids, such as hayrides and corn mazes. BostonParentsPaper.com/applepicking.
• King Richard’s Faire, Sept. 5 – Oct. 25. Chow down on a turkey leg and grab a seat at a jousting match. Wandering performers, games of skill and even tigers entertain visitors of all ages. 235 Main St., Carver; 508-866-5391; kingrichardsfaire.net.
• BeanTown Jazz Festival, Sept. 26. Boston’s South End swells with world-class music on three stages. Children can participate in an “instrument petting zoo,” face painting and other hands-on activities. Columbus Avenue between Burke Street and Massachusetts Avenue, Boston; beantownjazz.org.
• Topsfield Fair, Oct. 2-12. Get your fill of fair food, midway rides and animal exhibits at the nation’s oldest agricultural fair. Don’t miss the giant pumpkin contest and sand sculptures! Topsfield Fairgrounds, Route 1, Topsfield; topsfieldfair.org.
Boston Book Festival, TBA. Book lovers rejoice at the annual free festival featuring discussions, panels, costumed characters and story times with a strong children’s literature component. bostonbookfest.org.
• Salem’s Haunted Happenings, throughout October. Give yourself a scare on a haunted walking tour or attend a costume ball. The monthlong celebration of Halloween has something for all ages, from scary to not-so-scary. hauntedhappenings.org.
• Thanksgiving Celebrations. Celebrate the harvest with the food and traditions of the Pilgrims and early New England settlers at Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village. Plimoth Plantation, 137 Warren Ave., Plymouth; plimoth.org. Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge; osv.org.
• Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction, Nov. 27. Teams build Rube Goldberg-style contraptions and hook them all together for a mega chain reaction. Build your own or just come watch the hijinks. Rockwell Cage Gymnasium, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 120 Vassar St., Cambridge; 617-253-5927; museum.mit.edu.
• The Nutcracker, throughout December. Sugar Plum Fairy fans can take their pick from half a dozen high-quality local performances. From the Boston Ballet’s classic performance at the Boston Opera House to Urban Nutcracker’s version featuring hip-hop, step and tap dance, there’s something for everyone. BostonParentsPaper.com/nutcracker.
• Holiday light displays are a surefire way to summon up holiday spirit. Visit Edaville USA in Carver for its Christmas Festival of Lights or the Stone Zoo for ZooLights. edaville.com; zoonewengland.org.
• Ice skate on Boston Common’s Frog Pond and take in the surrounding Christmas lights, throughout December. View the massive Christmas tree on the Common, donated each year by the people of Halifax, Nova Scotia, as thanks for Boston’s help during a Halifax explosion in the early 1900s. 617-635-2120; bostonfrogpond.com.
• Holiday Vacation Week, TBA. Free and fun activities for families all week long at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston; mfa.org.
• First Night, Dec. 31, various locations, Boston. Ring in the New Year a little early with First Night, Boston’s family-friendly celebration. Storytelling, music, top entertainment, food and other kids’ activities will keep the littlest revelers busy. An early fireworks display occurs on Boston Common. For older revelers, artistic performances are scheduled throughout the city, as well as a spectacular midnight fireworks display over Boston Harbor. firstnight.org.