Winter Carnival Kicks Off in Harvard Square

Harvard squareCourtesy of Denise Jillson.

Harvard Square kicks off months of programming designed to bring people to the neighborhood during the coldest months of the year today, promising a whole host of events including a chocolate festival, a chili cook-off, and celebrations for the Chinese New Year.

“You take all of those things and you put them together and you realize, my goodness, there’s a lot going on in Harvard Square during January and February and early March, when people tend to want to hunker down—just giving people a good reason to come to the square and help support our businesses,” says Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association.

The Winter Carnival starts today with the Boston Celtic Music Festival, an annual celebration of Celtic music and dance hosted by Passim that runs through the weekend with events like an emerging artist showcase, concerts, and guided dancing.

Next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday bring the Taste of Chocolate Festival with a free chocolate tasting that draws thousands as its centerpiece event on Jan. 27. The square’s restaurants get into the theme—think chocolate appetizers, chocolate cocktails, and chocolate entrees.

The “Some Like It Hot” Chili Cook-off on Feb. 3 pits local restaurants against each other in what Jillson calls “very friendly competition.”

The Winter Carnival’s third major event, a Chinese New Year celebration in partnership with the Hong Kong, will happen on March 11.

Numerous other events including celebrations for the Hasty Pudding woman and man of the year (Mila Kunis and Paul Rudd, according to the organization), a History of Booze tour, and various Valentine’s Day events take place throughout the Winter Carnival.

The carnival runs through the end of March. Visit for updates on events.