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Things you won't want to miss as the holidays near

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This is the time of year when social gatherings, holiday events and fundraisers abound. And this year, winter is going to bring an exciting new outdoor venue to the city's waterfront!

There's always a lot happening in Boston but the holiday season in particular is a time when helping those in need comes to the forefront. This week, Tommy Doyle's Irish Pub in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA hosts its annual fundraiser for Mass Nine For The 9th, a Newton North high school community service initiation that developed from Newton's Innovation Lab.

Vocational high school carpentry students contribute their skills to help bring families in New Orleans' lower 9th ward home. The developing technical skills of the students are harnessed to help Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans residents. The goal is a simple one - returning families to their homes.

This year's evening of fun and food takes place from 6 to 9 p.m.at Tommy Doyle's at 96 Winthrop St. in the Square.

The following week will bring a surprise to the Boston waterfront - a brand new opportunity to get outdoors, enjoy the harbor, and enjoy a favorite outdoor activity for the whole family! The week of December 14 brings the official debut of Winter on the Wharf, Boston's brand new ice skating rink under Boston Harbor Hotel's iconic archway at 70 Rowes Wharf. The approximately 2,500 sq. ft. Rotunda Rink is made of real ice and accommodates up to 75 skaters. With harbor and city views, it brings a unique skating experience to the city's waterfront. The season opens Saturday, Dec. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. (complimentary and open to the public).

Enjoy food, drink and Boston Harbor this winter with a season of festive events. Warm up after skating with apre-skate treats such as specialty s'mores, hot cocoa and Rowes Wharf Sea Grill's seasonal Frost Tea. Hand-crafted cocktails, signature dishes and snacks will be available daily in the Grille, Meritage and Rowes Wharf Bar. The rink will operate from 3 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, so bring the whole family and enjoy a healthy and festive outdoor activity on Boston's beautiful harbor. Warming rooms and skate rentals will be available on site and a portion of the proceeds from fees (adults $10, children $5) and skate rentals and lockers will benefit the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.

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