Original Boston Common Christmas Tree, 1931

The Christmas season officially kicks off in Boston on Thursday night at the 70th annual tree lighting ceremony in the Boston Common. The tree, a 45-foot white spruce, has been a traditional gift from Nova Scotia for 40 years as a way of thanking Bostonians for emergency support in 1917 when Halifax, Nova Scotia was devastated by the explosion of a cargo ship. This year’s tree was donated by Ken and Donna Spinney of Central Argyle, Nova Scotia.

Mayor Menino and Santa Claus will do the honors of turning on the 4,000 lights of the Christmas tree along with 48,000 lights decorating 60 trees throughout the Common and Public Garden. For the first time, these lights will all be LED. Way to go green this Christmas, Boston.

The holiday-themed evening will also feature performances from Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block, American Idol finalist Siobhan Magnus, the Radio City Rockettes, Rockapella, the Boston Ballet and the Boston Children’s Choir. For those who don’t want to brave the cold and crowds, the ceremony will be filmed live at 7pm on Chronicle.

In addition to the main event, there will be a pre-show at the Frog Pond beginning at 5pm with skating performances from synchronized skaters, champion singles skaters, and up-and-coming students from the Frog Pond’s Skating Academy.

Luckily, tonight’s ceremony won’t feature anything like the creepy/scandalous/awkward Mariah Carey/Justin Bieber video that premiered last night at the tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller Center.

Or will it? You never know what Mayor Menino has up his sleeve (remember this?). See you tonight!

Image via Boston.com