Small-town charm meets holiday cheer in the 48th annual Marblehead Christmas Walk. Shops and cultural organizations all over town get in on the fun, and activities include — among many other diversions — tree lightings, caroling, a candlelight stroll, and Santa’s arrival by lobster boat. Weekend visitors can park at the high school and take a free trolley around town. Most events free; Gingerbread Festival $3. marbleheadchamber.org
A Cracking Good Time
Christmastime in New England unofficially begins as Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker opens at the Opera House. Choreographed by artistic director Mikko Nissinen, the beloved tale of young Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, the villainous Mouse King, and the Sugar Plum Fairy — with breathtaking sets, including a Christmas tree that “grows,” and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score — is a magical experience for revelers of all ages. $37-$225. Through December 30. bostonballet.org
See the gardens of The Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover adorned with thousands of LED lights at the first Winterlights. Explore the landmark estate — an 18th-century farm transformed into a horticultural showplace in the early 20th century — and enjoy menorah lighting, Frozen theme nights, live chorus performances, and more through December 30. Thursdays through Sundays 5 to 8 p.m. $20, $17 in advance; under 13 free. thetrustees.org
Take part in a musical tradition at the Handel + Haydn Society’s 165th annual Handel Messiah. The society’s orchestra and chorus fill Symphony Hall with Handel’s 1742 masterpiece — written for Easter, but a Christmas ritual in Boston since 1815. A talk by Globe arts editor Rebecca Ostriker and H+H staffer Teresa Neff precedes the first performance. Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 3 p.m. $25-$104. handelandhaydn.org
Peruse the offerings of more than 100 New England vendors at the SoWa Power Station and explore Winter Wonderland on Thayer Street at the fourth annual SoWa Winter Festival. Expanded this year to two weekends, the event includes an art exhibition, ice sculpting, face painting, holiday craft workshops, and more. Free; fees for crafts workshops. Fridays 5 to 9 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through December 9. sowaboston.comShare your event news. Send information on Boston-area happenings at least four weeks in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.