31 Fun Things to Do in Rhode Island this December

From Dressed for the Holidays at the Newport Mansions to cozy autumn fires and tasty treats at Blithewold, we've compiled all the activities to add to your to-do list this month.

FEATURED EVENTS

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Courtesy of The Preservation Society of Newport County (marble house)/Andrea Hansen.

Through 1/1

The Newport Mansions Dressed for the Holidays

WHAT: Marvel at the colorful lights decorating the exterior and landscape of the Breakers mansion, then check out the Christmas extravaganza inside the Breakers, Marble House and the Elms mansion, filled with dressed-up trees, wreaths, floral arrangements, the famous fifteen-foot-tall poinsettia tree within the Great Hall of the Breakers and other festive touches along the way. As holiday music fills the air, visit the Children’s Cottage with the young ones at the Breakers and look inside Santa’s workshop. Visit the website for times and ticket prices. WHERE: The Breakers, Marble House and the Elms mansions, Newport. MORE INFO: 847-1000, newportmansions.org.

 

12/3, 10 and 17

Cozy Autumn Fires and Tasty Treats 

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cOURTESY OF blithewold mansion, gardens and arboretum/photography by Corey Favino.

WHAT: Gather your friends and fam and head over to Blithewold Mansion for irresistible treats. Before autumn goes on hiatus, take a hike around the beautiful property and roast marshmallows in front of a fire pit surrounded by good company during the one-hour session. Dig into the s’mores kit knowing that just one is never enough. Time slots start at noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m. Six-person maximum per fire pit. Members $35; nonmembers $55. WHERE: 101 Ferry Rd., Bristol. MORE INFO: 253-2707, blithewold.org.

 

12/10–11

Christmas Festival Weekend

Bristol Christmas Festival

Courtesy of the Bristol Christmas Festival

WHAT: The two-day European-style Christmas market has plenty in store for the family, including wood-carving demonstrations, craft tables, free photos with Santa, warm mulled wine from Two Gals Cocktails and traditional holiday fare like German pretzels, specialty meats, apple cakes and more. Finish your holiday shopping, then decorate your own balsam Christmas wreath to bring home. Sat. 10
a.m.
–8 p.m.; Sun. noon–6 p.m. Free admission. WHERE: In front of the Burnside Building, 400 Hope St., Bristol. MORE INFO: christmasbristolri.com.

 

THEATER

Wilbury Theatre Group

THROUGH DEC. 18: Erik Blake has brought his wife and mother for Thanksgiving at his daughter and her boyfriend’s new home. His mother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and his other daughter, Aimee, recently went through a nasty breakup. The parents aren’t happy to hear that their daughters are struggling in NYC and are worried that they’re abandoning their values. The Humans by Stephen Karam tells the story of the standard family reunion: a group of people who love each other but wrestle with basic human fears: abandonment, old age, poverty and death. Visit the website for dates, times and tickets. 475 Valley St., Providence, 400-7100, thewilburygroup.org

Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant

THROUGH DEC. 19: During the holidays, Carol takes Christmas a bit too far at work with decorations and traditions that not everyone celebrates. Although the office mates love Carol, she gets on everyone’s nerves this time of year, so they construct a plan for the company party. In A Christmas for Carol, featuring silly office pranks, hijinks, an office romance and even people caught in their underwear, will the office mates be able to help Carol remember the true meaning of Christmas? Visit the website for dates and times. $15–$67.95. 102 Connell Hwy., Newport, newportplayhouse.com

Trinity Rep

THROUGH JAN. 1: The annual production of A Christmas Carol shares the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformative journey with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Directed by Aileen Wen McGroddy, the show runs for ninety minutes with no intermission. Visit the website for show times. $25–$87. Chase Theater, Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St., Providence, 351-4242, trinityrep.com

Gamm Theatre

DEC. 9–24: Back by popular demand, the captivating, life-affirming It’s a Wonderful Life live radio play, based on the holiday movie classic, is a treat for the entire family. Call or visit the website for show times. $38–$75; children and students $20. 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, 723-4266, gammtheatre.org 

 

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

Providence Flea Holiday Markets

THROUGH DEC. 18: Shop local every Friday and Sunday for the most unique and affordable gifts of the season. Featuring local and handmade art, crafts, fashion, accessories, bakery and vintage items from local vendors and artisans. Make sure to check out New Harvest Coffee, Tallulah’s Taqueria, Providence Brewing, Robin Hollow Farm, Wright’s Dairy, Anchor Toffee and Rhed’s Hot Sauce, plus visiting food trucks outdoors. Fri. 5–9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Free admission. 10 Sims Ave., Providence, 484-7783, providenceflea.com

WaterFire’s Holiday Celebration

DEC. 1–3: Let the fire from the basin-lighting warm you while celebrating the holidays during three special nights of WaterFire. On Saturday, catch the holiday market and Santa’s Village. 3:30–9 p.m. Free. Waterplace Park, Memorial Boulevard, Providence, 273-1155, waterfire.org

Holiday Stroll and Luminaria

DEC. 7: Stroll through downtown Westerly to see the sidewalks lined with beautiful luminaria. Enjoy a hayride with Santa, nibble a cookie and sip hot chocolate in hand. Once you’re warmed up, begin your holiday shopping at the downtown stores. 5–9 p.m. Free. Various locations in downtown Westerly and Pawcatuck, 596-7761, oceanchamber.org

Mount Hope Farm Holiday Market

DEC. 17: The Mount Hope Farm Holiday Market combines the regular farmers market vendors with a variety of local artisan vendors. If you have last-minute holiday shopping to do, head for the market and grab everything you need. 9 a.m.–1 p.m. 250 Metacom Ave., Bristol, mounthopefarm.org

 

TRIPS AND TOURS

Rhode Island Red Food Tours

ONGOING: Explore your favorite Rhody neighborhoods in the capital city and the City by the Sea with a food tour. Walking tours include delicious food samplings plus alcohol pairings at six local restaurants. Reservations required. Thurs.–Sun. at noon. $74–$89. Various locations in Providence and Newport, rhodeislandredfoodtours.com

Newport Foodies Stroll

DEC. 2, 3, 9 AND 10: Rediscover Thames Street with the help of great food during this one-mile walking tour. Wander the historic streets of the City by the Sea with tour guides Thomas and Susan Maxwell in between three-course meals and wine pairings at notable restaurants and pubs like Bar and Board Bistro and Midtown Oyster Bar. 6 p.m. $88; children twelve and younger $37. Meet in front of O’Brien’s Pub, 501 Thames St., Newport, 619-3019, newportfoodiesstroll.com

 

KIDS’ STUFF

The Polar Express Train Ride

THROUGH DEC. 23: Grab a seat with the kiddos and listen to a reading of the classic holiday book, The Polar Express. Rediscover the journey of a skeptical boy as he finds his Christmas spirit aboard a magical train. Ticket also includes a silver bell for the children, a die-cut golden ticket, a cookie and hot chocolate in a Polar Express cup. Fri.–Sun. 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $57.24 for adults; $55.12 for ages twelve and younger; $10 for babies one year old and younger. Polar Express Station, 1 Depot Sq., Woonsocket, 762-4545, blackstonevalleypolarexpress.com

Holiday Lights Spectacular

THROUGH JAN. 1: Let your holiday spirit roam free at the Holiday Lights Spectacular as you take in more than three million illuminated lights. Escape reality for a bit while listening to classic holiday jingles alongside family and friends. 5–9:30 p.m. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas. Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 785-3510, rwpzoo.org

Disney on Ice

DEC. 28–JAN. 2: Mickey and Minnie Mouse bring viewers on an expedition across the sea and mountains during Into the Magic, presented by Disney on Ice. This action-packed extravaganza contains lovable characters from Moana, Frozen, Coco and more skating into the Ocean State. Visit the website for times and prices. Amica Mutual Pavilion, 1 La Salle Sq., Providence, 331-6700, amicamutualpavilion.com

MUSIC

Newport Classical

DEC. 4: Listen to an hour-long performance of Handel’s iconic Messiah, including the Hallelujah chorus and featuring the Choir School of Newport County and the Ensemble Altera on the grounds of Rosecliff. 1 and 3:30 p.m. $60–$75. Rosecliff, 548 Bellevue Ave., Newport. DEC. 10: Celebrate the holiday season with classical Christmas tunes brought to you by the choir and accompanied by the organ, piano and trumpet. Join in on the sing-along carols, followed by a reception hosted by the parishioners of Emmanuel Church. 3 p.m. $30–$50. Emmanuel Church, 42 Dearborn St., Newport, 846-1133, newportclassical.org

 

DANCE

Island Moving Company

THROUGH DEC. 2: Follow Clara on her adventures during A Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff. Explore several detailed rooms in the mansion, then take a seat in the ballroom as she dances with the Snow Queen and battles the Mouse King with the Nutcracker by her side on the way to the Land of Sweets. Visit the website for dates and times. $135–$225. Rosecliff Mansion, 548 Bellevue Ave., Newport, 847-4470, islandmovingco.org

FirstWorks

DEC. 1: Witness the pioneers of contemporary skating combine storytelling, tap and street dance on top of an icy stage. Le Patin Libre (French for “free skate”) was founded in Montreal by former figure skaters who aim to defy stereotypes and transform athleticism into a method of free expression. Stick around after the three free shows for the ice-skating dance party. 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Free. BankNewport City Center, 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence, 421-4278, firstworks.org

Festival Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

DEC. 16–24: Get excited for the production of The Nutcracker, which features unique costumes and sets (think: colorful tutus, a thirty-eight-foot-tall tree and a Nutcracker character by Big Nazo Lab), as well as extravagant choreography by Yury Yanowsky. A children’s cast of several young dancers will perform alongside the Festival Ballet Providence Company of resident artists. Visit the website for times. $30–$100. The Vets, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence, 353-1129, festivalballetprovidence.org

 

BENEFITS

Music and Merriment

DEC 6: This festive fundraising event features delicious hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine along with classic Christmas carols. Mingle with the core artists of Ensemble Altera before belting out classic holiday jams. Proceeds support the artistic and community programs hosted by Ensemble Altera. Cocktail attire encouraged. 7–9 p.m. $125–$200. Providence Art Club, 11 Thomas St., Providence, ensemblealtera.com

 

MUSEUMS

RISD Museum

ONGOING: Plan your in-person visit in advance online and check out exhibitions like “Past Made Present,” “Take Care” and “Being and Believing in the Natural World.” Tues., Wed., Sat., Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thurs. and Fri. noon–7 p.m. $17; seniors $12; youth eighteen and younger free. Free admission Thurs. and Fri. after 5 p.m. and all-day Sun. 20 North Main St., Providence, 454-6500, risdmuseum.org

Audrain Automobile Museum

THROUGH DEC. 4: Audrain’s twenty-sixth exhibition, “Collecting Moving Forward —Youngtimer Landmarks,” reflects, highlights and encourages the growth of the world of automotive enthusiasm by celebrating iconic vintage vehicles twenty years old and up. Daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Members free; adults $18; seniors, military and students with ID $10; children six through seventeen $8. 222 Bellevue Ave., Newport, 856-4420, audrainautomuseum.org

 

GALLERY

Little Pictures Exhibition

THROUGH DEC. 23: The 118th annual Little Pictures Exhibition features more than 600 artworks created by the members and staff of the Providence Art Club, priced at or under $350. Feel free to browse for artistic inspo or to find some gifts for loved ones. Noon–5 p.m. Free and open to the public. 11 Thomas St., Providence, 331-1114, providenceartclub.org

Holiday Arts Market

DEC. 9–10: Join the Jamestown Arts Center in supporting the creative work of local artisans and artists at the Holiday Arts Market. Fri. 5:30–7:30 p.m. (reception held Friday evening); Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Free admission. 18 Valley St., Jamestown, 560-0979, jamestownartcenter.org

 

ETCETERA

Fall/Holiday Carriage Rides

THROUGH DEC. 31: Go on an old-fashioned carriage ride led by majestic draft horses down serene back roads or quiet farm trails. The farm offers private carriages for a group of two or four people, or a private group ride for up to fourteen riders. Visit the website for times. $75–$175. Liberty Farm and Carriage Company, 60 Ironmine Rd., Burrillville, 651-6004, libertyfarm.net

Bright Night

DEC. 2: Tiverton Four Corners invites shoppers to frolic through the neighborhood of shops and galleries, brightly lit and adorned in holiday decor. Enter Groundswell Cafe and Bakery for some hot coffee and delicious house-made treats, then stop by the Cheese Wheel Village Market (visit Santa while you’re there!) as well as Courtyards, a Tiverton Four Corners mainstay, for some holiday shopping. 4–7 p.m. Free admission. 3851 Main Rd., Tiverton, 624-2600, tivertonfourcorners.com

Pasta Night

DEC. 2, 9 AND 16: Load up on delicious carbs and build the perfect pasta platter for dinner. Choose between penne, cheese tortellini, gemelli and farfalle to pair with vodka sauce, alfredo, marinara or pesto. Not to mention add-ins like chicken, meatballs, mushrooms and more, along with a side salad. 5–9 p.m. $55. Preserve Sporting Club and Residences, 87 Kingstown Rd., Richmond, preserveaspot.com

Christmas at the Castle

DEC. 3–4: See the halls of Smith’s Castle decked out for the holidays. Sip hot mulled cider, snack on home-baked sweets and listen to live seasonal music. Kiddos can make crafts and decorate gingerbread cookies. Noon–4 p.m. Visit the website for prices. Smith’s Castle, 55 Richard Smith Dr., Wickford, 294-3521, smithscastle.org

Christmas by the Sea

DEC. 10: Browse goodies from local vendors and artisans like Forever Blooms by Tammy, Munsterwood Designs, South County Herbals and others at this Christmas shopping extravaganza. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Free admission and parking. North Beach Club House, 79 Boston Neck Rd., Narragansett, northbeachclubhouse.com 

Modern Calligraphy and Ornament Lettering 

DEC. 15: Learn modern calligraphy and ornament lettering with Sip and Script and Shanna Lyn Calligraphy. Discover the basics of the art and take your skills home for whenever you’re writing holiday cards, gift tags and more. The beginner’s kit includes two letter guides, tracing paper, a black ink pot, two nibs and a straight pen holder. 6–7:30 p.m. $68. Reiners at the Graduate, 11 Dorrance St., Providence, 421-0700, graduatehotels.com/providence

 

LOOKING AHEAD: JANUARY

ONGOING: Gondola Village dining, Ocean House, Watch Hill, oceanhouseri.com

ONGOING: Aquidneck Growers Market, Newport, aquidneckcommunitytable.org

JAN. 12–FEB. 12: By the Queen, Trinity Rep, Providence, trinityrep.com

JAN. 26: Gianmarco Soresi Comedy Night, Comedy Connection, East Providence, ricomedyconnection.com 

JAN. 31–FEB. 5: Annie, PPAC, Providence, ppacri.org