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12 Days of a Rhode Island Christmas

December 9, 2021

Is Rhode Island the very best place to soak in the holiday season? The answer is a resounding yes! Cozy coastal enclaves straight from a Norman Rockwell party, charming inns decorated to the nines, gatherings that celebrate unique destinations throughout the state, hot chocolate bars overlooking the sea, and more twinkling white lights and illuminated Christmas trees than you can count, here are a dozen events coming up in the Ocean State that’ll ensure you have yourself a very Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and joyous season:

Soulita x InDowncity: Celebrate Downcity 2021 – Dec.18

This is the event of the season that brings together Providence’s local creative community and small businesses to give guests the best holiday shopping experience the city has to offer. All of the action unfolds in Downcity Providence on Westminster Street between Eddy Street and Union Street and Grant’s Block. In addition to the local shops which will be partaking in holiday revelry, more than 20 talented local vendors will be there with their artisan creations ranging from clothing, jewelry and skincare items to accessories, housewares, greenery, and creative finds. Enjoy a varied line-up of favorite food and beverage vendors in addition to craft brew from Long Live Beergarden. Do it all while taking in live performances by the Leland Baker Jazz Trio and Santana Roberts performing some of your holiday favorites!

A Miracle on 34th Street at the Arctic Playhouse – Thru Dec. 19

The beloved 1947 Christmas film starring Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara about a Macy’s Santa Clause claiming to be the real Kris Kringle who wins the hearts of a little girl and eventually all of New York is retold in the form of a live play by an ensemble cast at the Arctic Playhouse. This charming non-profit theater in West Warwick is perched on Main Street in the village of Arctic and is the ideal setting to take in this classic Christmas story which reminds folks to believe in miracles and new beginnings. With live Foley effects and a score of holiday carols, this riveting story full of comedy and drama will delight, putting everyone in the spirit of the season.

The Nutcracker – Thru Christmas Eve

Considered the “crown jewel of the holiday season,” The Nutcracker is back and better than ever. A family-friendly production of the classic holiday fairy tale ballet presented by Rhode Island’s acclaimed Festival Ballet, this brand-new production of The Nutcracker is being performed for the first time ever at the majestic Veterans Memorial Auditorium, featuring the New England premiere of magnificent sets and costumes, plus inventive new choreography that is sure to leave audiences of all ages brimming with holiday delight. Adapted from the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Nutcracker was first danced in Moscow on Christmas 1892 and set to music by Tchaikovsky. Almost 50 years later, the performance became popular in the West. For the first time ever, the Festival Ballet performance will include the talents of Providence’s Big Nazo Lab, bringing stunning magic tricks, scores of vibrant tutus, and a children’s cast of dozens of delightful young dancers performing alongside the FBP Company of resident artists.

The Ice Rink at Gurney’s Newport Resort – Thru Early March

Outdoor ice skating is positively dreamy during the holiday season, and while Central Park or the National Mall in Washington D.C. might seem extraordinary, have you ever skated by the sea, next to the charm of a historic New England lighthouse and in the shadow of the pearl necklace lights of the Newport Pell Bridge? The ice rink at Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina sits on the northern most part of Goat Island and is majestically flanked by Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. Open now through March, Newport’s only outdoor ice rink is open daily with dedicated theme nights including family night, college night and “after work.” Skates are available to rent on site or you can bring you own. With Gurney’s signature dining igloos just steps from the rink, relax with an aprés skate dinner or enjoy a Christmas cocktail in the lounge.

A Christmas Carol at Trinity Rep – Thru Jan. 2

Rhode Island’s family holiday tradition returns! It’s hard to imagine an event more intertwined with the holidays in The Capital City than this annual performance that is reimagined anew every year. It’s a glorious telling of the classic story which evokes the magic and hope of the season and its contemporary relevance. Guided by Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and ultimately inspired by his community, Ebenezer Scrooge embarks on a heartwarming journey toward redemption. Not quite ready or able to gather in-person? No worries. Trinity Rep is offering tickets to on-demand streaming of the performance this year!

Pawtucket Winter Wonderland – Dec. 11 & 12

Thirty acres, 650 decorated Christmas trees and a ton of holiday spirit, Pawtucket’s Winter Wonderland does not disappoint. Taking place this weekend between 4pm and 8pm, the roads of Slater Mill Park are closed and visitors can walk through the festive displays while special festivities take place throughout the area. On all other nights throughout the month of December, traffic is allowed through the display and the lights are on until 9pm nightly. You can also visit during the day but be aware that lights and music are only on in the nighttime. Visit with Santa, ride the miniature train and the historical Looff Carousel, enjoy a hay ride with  family or friends, take a stroll among the illuminated trees and 20 Victorian houses, “talk’ with the18-foot talking Snowman, walk through the “Night Before Christmas” displays, visit the historical Daggett House (the oldest standing house in Pawtucket and one of the oldest surviving buildings in the state) and be entertained every hour by a local dance studio, band, choral or professional entertainers.

A Kwanzaa Song – Thru Dec. 17-19

Kwanzaa Song is celebrating 22 years and three generations of its performance this year, presenting a powerful and exhilarating musical story written and directed by veteran actor, writer, and composer and 2017 Pell Award recipient, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, who co-founded the theater in 20 with his wife Bernadet V. Pitts-Wiley. Since its inception, the Mixed Magic Theatre has strived to bring diverse stories and images to the stage through prose and song, tackling well-known dramatics as well as original theatrical productions. This year’s Kwanzaa Song brings together talented singers, dancers and musicians from past productions in a glorious celebration of this annual holiday favorite.

Christmas at the Newport Mansions – Thru Jan. 9

The Newport Mansions are on a mission this year: more lights, more trees and more festive decoration! A total of 28 Christmas trees will glow in various places throughout The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms, featuring ornate decorations that reflect the room where they are located. As always, the 15-foot poinsettia tree in the Great Hall of The Breakers – made up of 150 poinsettia plants – will provide a perfect holiday photo opportunity for visitors. Poinsettias, flowers, evergreens, wreaths and floral arrangements will decorate the fireplace mantels, tabletops and staircases of these Gilded Age mansions. For an al fresco wonderland experience, Sparkling Lights at The Breakers: An Outdoor Magical Wonderland returns this year, bringing thousands of lights to illuminate the historic landscape.  Stroll along a winding path and enjoy holiday music and displays including Peppermint Woods, Gnome Knoll, Snow People Corner and a Tunnel of Light, among others. 

Christmas in Newport – Thru December

Founded in 1971, Christmas in Newport began as a two-week festival that celebrated the noncommercial traditions of the holiday season. Now in its 51st year, the annual program boasts multiple activities for nearly each day of the December calendar.  In a community collaboration among residents, businesses and the city, only clear bulbs illuminate the scenic harbor and wharves, the restored colonials of the Point and Historic Hill sections, and the Victorian splendor of Bellevue Avenue. Pictures with Santa, presentations of Handel’s iconic oratorio Messiah, Holiday Lantern Tours, Reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas In Newport Washington Square, Kids Reindeer Games and more.

Holidays Lights at Roger Williams Park Zoo – Thru Jan.2

This dazzling light display through the Zoo is nothing short of an illuminated spectacular. Gather round ye family and friends to experience this all new walk-through experience just that is a toast of the holidays featuring festive larger-than-life luminous displays and over 1.5 million illuminated lights. Dubbed “the finest zoo in New England” by the Boston Globe, this beautifully landscaped 40-acre zoo is one of the nation’s oldest and this time of year, it’s the most wonderful way to ring in the holidays.

Ice Bumper Cars at The Providence Rink – Thru February

Wanna have some holiday hijinks…or workout some rage? Ice bumper cars allows you to do both as you drive these bumper cars, moving forwards, backward and sideways with a full 360-degree turn radius allowing you to bump opponents out of your way. The first outdoor rink to host this unique all-ages entertainment, The Providence Rink is ideally situated in the heart of The Creative Capital. Ice skating is also available daily, so before dining with our friends at Kin, Durk’s Bar-B-Q, The Malted Barley, Yoleni’s, Ellie’s, Gracie’s and Dune Bros.!

Ocean House Season by the Sea – Thru December

Throughout the holiday season, Watch Hill’s triple 5-star resort, the Ocean House, and its partner property, the Weekapaug Inn, offers spirited special events that evoke the “unmistakable twinkle of Christmas at every turn. From Brunch with Santa to whimsical tea parties, boozy get-togethers to downright decadent five-star meals, guests young and old will ignite their holiday spirit the moment they step on property.” And staying at either with have your holiday spirit thriving in the lap of luxury. Pedicures & Prosecco, ornament making workshops, a children’s Christmas Party, cinema under the stars, a gingerbread house workshop – is a whimsical wonderland not to be missed.

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