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25 Things to do in South County this Holiday Season

Southern Rhode Island has the holiday spirit

So Rhode Island Magazine ·

December is the busiest month of the year. Between all of your shopping, cooking, warpping and marrymaking, take some time to enjoy the festive celebrations happening all over southern Rhode Island.

They may be summer cottages, but The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms go all out for Christmas at the Newport Mansions. Think a 15-foot tall poinsettia tree at The Breakers and a Gilded Age streetscape in the ballroom at The Elms, complete with sleighs and a topiary horse, in addition to 28 Christmas trees that reflect the decor in the mansions, and festive events all month long. On select Friday and Saturday evenings in December, there are Holiday Evenings at The Breakers, and a Holiday Evening Duet at The Elms and Marble House on December 17. 

At Santa’s Arrival in Downtown Westerly, Santa makes his grand entrance by fire truck on November 25. Along with the Winter Lady and other characters welcoming in the season, this free event will also feature coloring books and lollipops for the good boys and girls that attend. 

Ocean House may be a chic summer destination, but in December, it’s all about feeling like a kid again. There are festive events all month, and their holiday decorations include a lifesized gingerbread house scene. Enjoy a Brunch with Santa on Sundays in December, a Madeline Children’s Tea on November 25 or a Children’s Christmas Tea: The Nutcracker on December 11. 

East Greenwich kicks off their holiday festivities with Small Business Saturday on November 26, when businesses along Main Street and beyond will be offering specials in their stores, and there will be live entertainment and games along the streets. Things get even jollier on December 2 for the Town Hall Tree Lighting, with music by the St. Luke’s Children’s Choir before Santa arrives on a vintage fire truck to light the tree. 

The Wickford Village Festival of Lights is a beloved annual tradition, where the quaint harborside village turns up the coastal charm. The fun begins on December 1 in Updike Park with the tree lighting
and performances from the North Kingstown Community Youth Chorus and the Lafayette Band. Festivities will continue through December 4 with Santa’s arriving daily at the Town Dock by boat, hayrides around Wickford, an elf parade and more. 

Charlestown is ringing in the holidays with their Annual Tree Lighting on December 2, with caroling by the Chariho Middle School choir, snacks, crafts and a visit from Santa. Entries into the town’s gingerbread competition will be on display, and prizes will be awarded. 

The Wakefield Village Association is putting on Wakefield Winter Wonderland on December 3. The evening of merrymaking will include a tree lighting, caroling by the Contemporary Theater Chorus, a scavenger hunt throughout local boutiques and trolley rides. Luminarias will line the streets, and merchants will be dressed up as characters to reenact your favorite holiday scenes. 

Christmas in Newport is a month-long event where festive things are happening every day. Things kick off on December 1 with a tree lighting in Washington Square, and goes all month long, from lantern-lit holiday walking tours to wreath and art sales, festive concerts, black tie galas and more. There’s even New England’s biggest gingerbread lighthouse on display. Various locations, Newport. 

Narragansett is having two festive events on December 4. The Narragansett Festival of Lights is an all day affair, featuring kids activities like face painting and photos with Santa, performances by Narragansett school chorus groups, a Hello Van Gogh painting party, food trucks, puppet performances and more. The event is capped off with a tree lighting and fireworks display at 5pm. Nearby at Pier Marketplace, they’re hosting a Luminary Stroll, with horse-drawn wagon rides, goodies and shopping deals at the shops. 

Things are sure to get delicious at Sweenor’s Chocolates Holiday Open House on December 4. The annual event features live candy cane making demos, samples of candy and hot chocolate, and photos with Santa.

Travel back in time to Christmas with the Whitehornes on December 10. Historians at Newport’s Whitehorne House will explain holiday traditions from the early 1800s, from everything from decorations to food to Christmas trees. Participants also get a booklet of recipes from Mrs. Whitehorne’s Sugar House Book. 

The Newport Polar Express runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, through December 25. On board the all-first-class train, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while everyone from conductors to elves ensure a merry experience, including a reading of the story itself. Greene Lane Station, Burma Road, Middletown. 

Any other day, an Italian meal would be a carb fest – but not on Christmas Eve. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a traditionally religious Italian meal, but anyone can enjoy it as part of your holiday festivities. The Weekapaug Inn in Westerly is serving their version on December 24, called Feast of the Fishes Christmas Eve Dinner, where you can enjoy all of the tradition with none of the cooking. 

There may be other Scrooges on stage this month in Rhode Island, but none of them are going to sing. Granite Theatre in Westerly stages its annual production of A Christmas Carol, A Musical, from November 25-December 23. The show is an original musical adaptation by company Music Director Stephen DeCesare. 

Island Moving Company is bringing back their beloved holiday tradition, The Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff. It doesn’t get more magical than ballet performed in an actual mansion. This year, performances are happening on two
weekends: November 25-27, and November 29-December 2. There’s also a mini-performance on December 4 at Sandywoods Center for the Arts in Tiverton. 

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, well, don’t. It’s too early for real snow. But if you’re dreaming of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, that’s another thing entirely. Ocean State Theatre Company puts on a stage version of the beloved movie musical from December 2-24. You might not see Bing Crosby live on stage, but this is the next best thing. 

Laugh off your holiday stress at Contemporary Theater Company in Wakefield. They’re offering their comedic variety show An Evening with Donner and Blitzen from December 2-24. You’ll actually be able to say you joined in reindeer games. 

Loving to sing isn’t the same thing as having a great voice, but if you’ve got great singers to follow, none of that matters. Join the Chorus of Westerly for their Messiah Sing on December 3 or their Christmas Pops on December 18. There’s no more instant way to channel holiday spirit than to make a joyful noise. 119 High Street, Westerly. 596-8663, 

The Warwick Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday show is back for another season. This year, the theme is The Kingdom of This World. There are two performances locally: December 4 at St. Kevin Church in Warwick, and December 11 at the URI Fine Arts Center Recital Hall. 

The Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra is hosting A Jubilant Bach Christmas on December 4 at St. Joseph’s Church in Newport. The company will perform Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, in English, that was first performed at Christmas in 1734. 5 Mann Avenue, Newport. 521-5670, 

Let visions of sugarplums dance in your head this month. You might not normally love ballet, but during the holidays, all bets are off. Providence Ballet Theatre brings the classic poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas to life at The Prout School in Wakefield on December 18. 4640 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield. 861-4842, 


Don’t miss South County Art Association’s 46th Annual Holiday Pottery & Art Sale. It’s been happening this long for a reason: great artwork by South County artists, at affordable prices. Think assorted prints, photography and small paintings, cards, jewelry and ceramics by SCAA members, on sale from November 25-December 17.

Conanicut Island Art Association is having its fun, yearly Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair at the Lawn Avenue School on December 3, complete with music, food and quality items from more than 35 vendors. 55 Lawn Avenue, Jamestown. 

On December 3-4, Shady Lea Mill opens its doors for its 19th Annual Open Studios. See talented, world-class artists in their natural habitat, as glass blowers, potters and guitar makers offer a glimpse of what goes into making their stunning works. If you buy something as a gift, great – but if you buy something for yourself, we won’t tell. 

The Jamestown Arts Center’s Holiday Arts Market features high quality and unique curated works like glass, clothing, painting, prints, ceramics and jewelry by local artists on December 9-10. 

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