Winter Guide

50 Ways to Beat the Rhode Island Winter Blues

Seasonal events let you get out and have fun all over the Ocean State

So Rhode Island Magazine ·

Can’t Miss Concerts
Sure, outdoor summer concerts are great, but national touring acts come through Little Rhody all year long. On January 19, the ‘80s-inspired indie rockers Rubblebucket are going to play Fete Music Hall in Providence. Aesop Rock is going to rock The Met in Pawtucket on January 24. The Columbus Theatre in Providence will be filled with the soulful sounds of Son Little on January 26. Richard Marx comes to The Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket on February 3, followed by Blue Oyster Cult on February 24 and Marshall Tucker Band on February 25. The Greenwich Odeum has acts like ‘70s favorites Sha Na Na on February 18, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band from New Orleans on February 25, and Keith Partridge himself, David Cassidy, on March 3. Indie rockers Young the Giant play Providence’s Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on February 24, songstress Regina Spektor headlines March 6 and happy hippies Grouplove play March 18.

Get Dressed Up for Charity
You’re probably spending most of your winter bundled up in sweaters, scarves and puffy coats. Ditch the dull duds for a night and don your finery for one of the season’s gala events. The Matty Fund’s annual Snow Angel Ball is a Roaring Twenties Party this year, on January 28 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick. The benefit is to support the Matty Fund’s work with people suffering from epilepsy and their families, and promises small bites, specialty cocktails and great entertainment. The Winter Sparkle, hosted by the Junior League of Rhode Island, is a benefit to support the organization’s charity work. This year, the party is on February 11 at the Lippitt House Museum in Providence. The Herreshoff Museum’s Frostbiter’s Bash happens inside the sailing museum’s Hall of Boats on February 11, and serves up delicious bites from restaurants in Bristol and beyond. Ocean House’s annual Black and White Masquerade Ball is on February 11 at the Watch Hill hotel. This year’s event is Gatsby-inspired, and promises a bit of mystery along with dinner and dessert buffets, cocktails and live music. Providence Preservation Society hosts a Winter Bash fundraiser that’s not to be missed. It’s held every year in an endangered or preserved historic property. This year’s party is on February 25, at 47 Rathbone Street in Providence.

Stand Up Comedy

Major standup comics are coming through Little Rhody this season. Make it a point to see one live. Not only does it help the winter blues, but laughing burns up to 40 calories in just 15 minutes. See? You just saved yourself a trip to the gym. You’ve seen D.L. Hughley on The Hughleys and his Showtime specials. Now see him at Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket on January 12 for an evening of standup. On February 3, Lewis Black comes to PPAC with his Rant, White and Blue Tour, bringing the biting wit and self-described “pissed off optimism” that you’ve seen on The Daily Show and his HBO specials. The Naked Magicians are coming to The Vets on February 25 for an adults-only evening of full frontal illusions, other naughty jokes, plus some magic thrown in. There’s nothing up their sleeves, because they don’t have any sleeves. Billy Crystal is letting all of Rhode Island “Spend the Night with Billy Crystal” when he headlines the PPAC Annual Gala on March 23. Ralphie May, who got his big break on Last Comic Standing and is now four times platinum, comes to the Greenwich Odeum on March 26.

Newport Winterfest
It’s an understandable instinct to want to stay inside, bundled up under blankets, for all of the winter. But if Newport has anything to say about it, that’s not how you’re going to spend this season. Newport Winterfest is back for its 29th season, from February 17-26. The ten day winter fun extravaganza is New England’s biggest winter fest, and has concerts, food events, outdoor fun like ice carving, an outside ice bar, a children’s fair and more: there are over 150 events total. There will even be an Illuminated Garden at Ballard Park from February 23-26, with thousands of lights adorning the park, and a luminary labyrinth made from Chinese lanterns. Who says there’s nothing fun to do in February?

See a Play
Great plays are happening all season long, all over the state. Trinity Rep stages two totally different and totally unforgettable shows this winter. The Mountaintop, from January 12-February 12, reimagines one fateful day in Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will bring Shakespeare’s most magical characters to life from February 9-March 24. Lillian Hellman’s groundbreaking The Children’s Hour will go up at Pawtucket’s Gamm Theatre from January 12-February 12, and the sci-fi fairy tale The Nether follows from March 2-26. There’s a Romantic Comedy going on at Newport Playhouse from February 16-March 26, when a Broadway playwright gets his perfect life turned upside down by a Vermont schoolteacher. Providence Performing Arts Center investigates The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime from February 7-12. The Providence-based Players at Barker Playhouse are staging Wait Until Dark, a sinister tale of murder and deception, from January 20-29, and Romeo and Juliet from March 10-19. Burbage Theatre offers up Don’t Be Evil, a dark comedy about government and technology, from January 27-February 25 at Aurora in Providence. The Wilbury Group in Providence has Harold Pinter’s Betrayal from January 12-February 4, and Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play about what pop culture remains after the apocalypse. Spoiler alert: it’s The Simpsons. For musicals, there are even more options. The Stadium Theatre is showing a live musical production of The Wizard of Oz from February 10-19, High School Musical from March 3-4 and Annie, Jr. from March 24-25. The unforgettable stage production of The Lion King comes back to PPAC for another run from February 28-March 19.

Add Variety Shows to Your Weekend
Traditional theatre is one thing: lovably weird performances are quite another. Try something out of the ordinary this winter, like Empire Revue. The monthly sketch and variety show is a ton of fun, and happens on the first Sunday of the month at AS220 in Providence. Sweet Little Variety Show takes place at mixed performance space Aurora in Providence on the second Thursday of the month – January 12, February 9 and March 9. The show features a rotating cast of musicians, performers, comedians and people with weird talents, and it’s different every month. Every Friday night, Everett Company in Providence stages Friday Night Live, a family-friendly evening of sketch comedy, on-the-spot musicals, live music and dance.

Classical Entertainment
When temps go low, you go high – highbrow, that is. Make good on that New Year’s resolution to become more cultured. The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra has formal concerts all winter at The Vets in Providence: Schubert’s Unfinished on January 21, Beethoven’s Eroica on February 18 and All Brahms on March 17. The Friday night before each Saturday performance, the orchestra holds an open rehearsal, offering inexpensive tickets and an informal atmosphere for people with kids, or who are just trying out classical music for the first time. Festival Ballet is staging a world premiere performance of Romeo and Juliet from February 10-12 at The Vets, featuring spoken word scenes directed by Tony Estrella from The Gamm Theatre. FirstWorks is bringing a noteworthy contemporary dance performance to The Vets on February 3, when the world-famous Paul Taylor Dance Company performs Esplanade to Bach’s Double Violin Concerto. Shen Yun returns to PPAC on February 4, bringing with them 5,000 years of Chinese history through incredible feats of dance and storytelling.

Bring Books to Life
Reading with Robin brings big name authors together for the monthly Point Street Reading Series at Point Street Dueling Pianos in Providence. The January 17 event features readings by Rachel Hulin, Fiona Davis, Amy Poeppel and more. On January 18, Two Amigos and Friends: A Poetry Celebration brings together two of Rhode Island’s former poet laureates – Tom Chandler and Lisa Starr – for an evening of readings at the North Kingstown Free Library. The Rogers Free Library in Bristol hosts a monthly Adult Reading Group, discussing Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling on January 25 and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez on February 22 in collaboration with Roger Williams University. On the second Wednesday of the month, the Barrington Library hosts a Literary Pairings Book Discussion Group, which pairs a classic work with a contemporary, complementary one. The February 8 meeting will discuss Winter by Christopher Nicholson.

See a Different Kind of Movie
You could Netflix and chill, or you could check out something unexpected and under the radar at a film event. The Jamestown Arts Center hosts Third Thursday, an evening of short films on the third Thursday of every month, in conjunction with the Rhode Island International Film Festival. The Three Stooges Film Festival is a free night of nyuk nyuk nyuks at Woonsocket’s Stadium Theatre on January 6. On January 14, you’ll be able to measure the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow when John Cleese comes to PPAC for John Cleese and the Holy Grail, a showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail followed by a Q and A session with The Black Knight himself. The Providence Children’s Film Festival is happening February 17-26, and has kid-friendly films and workshops for aspiring young filmmakers all over the city. The Galactic Theatre in Warren shows vintage movies on the weekends: Thursdays are for classic ‘40s film noir and ‘50s B-movies. Fridays are for old school horror movies. Saturdays are Cult Movie Nights, and Sunday afternoons are for Cartoon Matinees, showing old cartoons and Three Stooges shorts.

Rubblebucket, Fete Music Hall, Aesop Rock, The Met, Columbus Theatre, Providence, Son Little, The Stadium Theatre, Woonsocket, Blue Oyster Cult, Marshall Tucker Band, The Greenwich Odeum, Sha Na Na, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Young the Giant, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, Regina Spektor, Junior League of Rhode Island, The Matty Fund, Frostbiter's Bash, Providence Preservation Society, Stadium Theatre, Naked Magicians, Ralphie May, D.L. Hughley, Newport Winterfest, Midsummer Night's Dream, The Mountaintop, The Children's Hour, Gammm Theatre, The NEther, Romantic Comedy, Newport Playhouse, Providence Performing Arts center, The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime, Barker Playhouse, Wait until Dark, The Wilbury Group, Betrayal, Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Burns, High School Musical, Annie, Jr., Empire review, AS220, Sweet Little Variety Show, Everett Company, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, PPAC, FirstWorks, Festival Ballet, Reading with Robin, Point Street Reading Series, North Kingstown Free Library, Rogers Free Library, Two Amigos and Friends, Adult Reading Group, Jamestown Arts Center, third Thursday, The Three Stooges Film Festival, Providence Children's Film Festival, Galactic Theatre, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Galactic Theatre,