Santa Claus is Coming to These 8 Spots in Rhode Island
From Blackstone Valley to Newport, Santa will arrive in style by boat, fire truck and horsedrawn carriage.
This time of year, it’s hard to miss Santa’s jolly laughter and ho-ho-hos at most holiday events, including tree lightings, winter festivals and craft fairs. Mr. Claus is officially coming to town with his list (checked twice!) in hand. Here are some of the best places where you can pay him a visit to kick off the holiday season with the kids — who have hopefully been good, for goodness sake.
Westerly: Fri., Nov. 26: Santa Claus is headed to downtown Westerly to greet children before he heads back to the North Pole. Ring in the holiday season as Santa, “Winter Lady” and other holiday characters make their debut on fire trucks. Free coloring books, crayons and lollipops will be given to all children in attendance. Come to this family-friendly event to visit with Santa and his friends from 6–7 p.m. and get into the holiday spirit with the kids. Don’t miss the tree lighting the next day. Dixon Square, Downtown Westerly, 4 High St., Westerly, 401-596-7761, oceanchamber.org.
Wickford: Thurs., Dec. 2 through Sun., Dec. 5: The thirty-fourth annual Festival of Lights in Wickford will have Santa arriving in style: each day, he’ll be coming to town aboard a Safe Sea boat! On Dec. 2, there will be a tree lighting and visits from Santa to kick off the festivities. Take a hayride throughout Wickford Village with Santa for $3 per person (cash only). Each day of the festival will have fun events, including an Elf Parade, live nativity, an ice sculpting demonstration and Christmas at the Castle. There will be musical entertainment, shopping and plenty of opportunities to greet Santa. For a full schedule, click here. Historic Wickford Village, Wickford, 1-877-295-7200, wickfordvillage.org.
Thursdays in December: Celebrate the holiday season at Roger Williams Park Zoo by heading to the annual Holiday Lights Spectacular on nights with Santa! Visits are free with pre-purchased Holiday Lights tickets for the 5 and 6 p.m. slots, and families should bring their own cameras to snap photos. Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 401-785-3510, rwpzoo.org.
Warren: Fri., Nov. 26 and Sat., Nov. 27: The thirty-third annual Warren Holiday Festival will take place over the course of two days, and will include a musical procession, visits with Santa, dancing, a tree lighting and Mt. Hope High School’s marching band to top off the evening. Santa will arrive atop a fire truck at 5 p.m. on Friday, but returns on Saturday at noon to lead a fun scavenger hunt about town. Shop around town for deals, treats and merriment in honor of Small Business Saturday. To view the schedule of both days’ events, click here. Downtown Warren, 401-245-1972, warrenholidayfestival.com.
Bristol: Sat., Dec. 4, Sat.-Sun., Dec. 11-12: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Bristol. Head to the waterside town during its annual Christmas Festival, which features a Grand Illumination with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Watch the two light the downtown decorations and town tree. On Dec. 11 and 12, visitors can spend Festival Weekend watching performances and demonstrations and browsing a quaint European holiday market in front of the Burnside Building at 400 Hope Street. Inside, there will be crafts projects available for kids as well as visits with Santa. 400 Hope St., Bristol, christmasbristolri.com
Cranston: Sat., Nov. 27 through Fri. Dec. 24: Santa arrives via a horse drawn carriage to Garden City Center in Cranston, where the gazebo is transformed into his very own magical cabin. Visits are free and professional photos are available for purchase. There will also be face painting, crafts and treats at the event. Santa’s Arrival will be held from 10 a.m. –12:30 p.m., and hayrides are available for a $3 donation to the Tomorrow Fund. Visits with Santa at Garden City continue daily until Christmas Eve (staff is vaccinated and all visitors outside of the photo participants are required to wear masks). View Santa’s Cabin hours here. Garden City Center, 100 Midway Rd., Cranston, 401-942-2800, gardencitycenter.com.
Scituate: Sun., Nov. 28: Head to the Hope Village Green for visits with Santa, plus hot cocoa and popcorn. Don’t forget to pop your letter to Santa in the special red mailbox near the Hope Library! The event, which begins at 4 p.m., also includes a tree lighting, goodie bags and musical entertainment. Hope Village Green, 88 Main St., Hope, facebook.com/SBAscituateri.
Newport: Sat., Dec. 4: Bowen Wharf’s fifty-first annual Christmas Tree Lighting will dazzle you — and not just with lights. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus sail into the evening by boat immediately following the tree lighting at 6 p.m., and live music and carol sing-alongs add to the fun at this free event. Local shops will be open both before and after the event with in-store deals to check off you holiday shopping list. For more information, click here. Bowen’s Wharf, 13 Bowens Wharf, Newport, 401-849-2243, bowenswharf.com.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated from a previous version. Reporting assistance by Jamie Coelho and Casey Nilsson.