big plans

5 things to do in Boston this weekend

The tree lighting on Boston Common takes place December 5.
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/file
The tree lighting on Boston Common takes place December 5.


Described as “Boston’s free nighttime contemporary art and light festival,” Illuminus will brighten the streets of the Financial District with light-filled art installations for the fifth consecutive year starting this Thursday. More than 15 artists will use light and technology to display their interactive works on buildings near 100 Summer St. (Thursday, Dec. 5 and Friday, Dec. 6 from 5 to 11 p.m.; 100 Summer St., Financial District; free; all ages)

Boston Common Holiday Tree Lighting

Boston will continue its transformation into a winter wonderland with the Boston Common tree lighting just before 8 p.m. on Thursday, when the tree from Nova Scotia will be illuminated, quickly followed by a pyrotechnic display. The festivities will kick off around 6 p.m., and WCVB will broadcast live from the Common starting at 7 p.m., with appearances by multi-platinum singer-songwriter and Lexington native Matt Nathanson, award-winning Nova Scotian alt-pop stars Neon Dreams, Nova Scotian R&B singer-songwriter Zamani, and others. (Thursday, Dec. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.; Boston Common, Boston; free; all ages)

Holiday Pops

Hear your favorite holiday classics, sing along with the symphony, and even catch a glimpse of Santa Claus during the Boston Pops’ holiday season, which kicked off on Wednesday with conductor Keith Lockhart celebrating his 25th year leading the annual celebration. This year’s concert centers around “The Polar Express,” with images from the 1985 book projected on the screen as the orchestra plays tunes from the 2005 film. (Now through Tuesday, Dec. 24 at various times; Symphony Hall, Boston; $25-$162; all ages)

‘The Slutcracker’


If “The Nutcracker” is too traditional or too expensive for your tastes, its raunchier, more affordable sibling “The Slutcracker” will bow at the Somerville Theatre starting Dec. 6. The burlesque parody created by Vanessa White in 2008 is not a family-friendly affair, but for those who prefer their ballet with a heavy dose of the risqué, “The Slutcracker” is just the ticket. (Friday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. through Tuesday, Dec. 31; Somerville Theatre, Somerville; $30; 18+)


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Cher still goes all out for her live shows at age 73, and her upcoming show at TD Garden this Sunday promises to be no different. The singer, actress, and Twitter freestyle poet will bring decades of hits and some carefully picked ABBA covers as part of her Here We Go Again tour, with funk group Nile Rodgers and Chic opening the show. (Sunday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.; TD Garden, Boston; $47.95 and up; all ages)


Want more ways to get out of your home and not be bored in the city this weekend? Check out five additional things to do from now through Sunday at