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Best things to do in R.I. this week: Dec. 2-9

This week: Santa sightings, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” WaterFires (plural!), and plenty of lovely holiday lights

This week marks the one-year anniversary of this column. We’re now 1, so let’s toast with Del’s and toddle into holiday fun: Santa stops in Rhode Island four times this week. (Can someone get this guy some coffee milk and Knead Doughnuts?) Plus tree lightings, holiday fairs, WaterFires, a skating party, Kurtis Blow, and fireworks. It’s a wonderful life… Yeah, we’ve got that, too.


That’s plural, baby. We’re kicking off December with WaterFires Dec. 1-3 from 3:30-9 p.m. Each features Holiday ArtMart vendors and food trucks offering seasonal treats, among other festivities. Meanwhile, The Avenue Concept will “create a nighttime public art gallery with illumination, sound and cultural experiences, offering different ways to interact with mural and sculpture exhibits throughout Downtown,” according to event billing.


If you’ve been good this year, don’t miss Santa’s Village opening Dec. 3 at 4:30 p.m. Santa arrives by boat at 5:30 p.m. Details here.


Tiverton Four Corners will be decked for the season Dec. 2 with the annual Holiday Bright Night, which looks to be a spirited stroll through the historic corner’s quaint shops and galleries from 4-7 p.m. Meanwhile, the 9th Annual re-Tree Art Contest & Community Exhibition — a festive showcase of trees created with recycled or repurposed materials — kicks off the same day and gives you a chance to play judge: Artist-submitted trees, made of recycled and repurposed materials, will be scattered throughout the Four Corners area. Popular vote winner announced Dec. 16. Details here.


Newport Live’s “Women’s Voices” series continues with Alisa Amador Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Jamestown Arts Center. Winner of the 2022 Tiny Desk Concert of the Year, Amador, who writes in English and Spanish, is a brilliant new voice on the Gen Z music scene. Her latest album is, among other things, about the power of the individual.


Tracks like “Burnt and Broken” or “Nada Que Ver” are about “turning negative cultural narratives on their head and saying: What if we loved ourselves first? What if we created a world where rape culture and toxic masculinity didn’t exist?” Amador told me previously. “What if we envisioned a bilingual or multilingual life as a natural American story?” $35. Details here.


Stroll Atwells Avenue for a European-style marketplace Dec. 3 from 2-6 p.m. “See carolers stroll the Avenue and view holiday pop-up performances. Take a free trolley ride as you shop and dine,” according to event billing. Later, experience the “lighting extravaganza” as the Avenue alights with festive light displays, from dark-9:30 pm. Details here.


Done with chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Try marshmallows toasting on a mansion lawn. Bristol’s Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretums offers fire pits to get cozy and make some s’mores with your crew on Dec. 3. They’ll “provide chairs, s’mores kits, a well-stocked state-of-the-art low-smoke fire pit, and a spectacular view of wintry Narragansett Bay. All you need to do is gather five friends, six marshmallow-roasting sticks, and one reservation,” according to event billing. $55 per group. Details here.


The seaside village of Wickford celebrates its 37th annual Festival of Lights through Dec. 4. And — beep beep beep!— we have another Santa appearance! Mr. Claus himself will travel by boat to Wickford Dec. 2 at 6 p.m., sailing to the town dock on Brown Street “led by the paddling ‘reindeer’ of the Kayak Centre.” Visits and photo opps, $10 per family. Details here.



FirstWorks presents ice skating troupe Le Patin Libre, French for “Free Skate,” Dec. 8. (Note they’ve had a change in date since last week’s column, if you marked it down.) The Montreal-based skating company performs three 30-minute shows — at 6, 7 and 8 p.m., followed by a free, ice-skating dance party, open to all. No tickets are required. Details here.


Rap pioneer Kurtis Blow brings the beats to PPAC Dec. 7. Nearly 45 years after Blow became the first rapper signed by a major label with “Christmas Rappin,” he’s still Christmas rappin’ as MC of “The Hip Hop Nutcracker.”

The stage production sees Tchaikovsky’s 130-year-old ballet “reimagined as a holiday dance spectacle” with “a dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ and an electric violinist who turns the beloved Nutcracker score on its head,” according to show billing.

“The holiday season is my favorite time of year,” Blow told me recently. “The spirit and joy and love in the air. Everyone is feeling good inside. It’s a great time to give your friends and your family a big hug and say thank you for putting up with me all year long.” Dec. 7, 7:30. Tickets from $29.50. Info. here.



Um, so this sounds amazing. Narragansett’s Holiday Street Faire — yes, there’s an “e” there. Ye olde England festival vibes — is jam-packed:

On Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., shop an “Artisan Barn” — some 40 local artisans and makers offering local wares — visit an “Outdoor Village” with Santa, strolling carolers, alpacas, a lobster pot tree (it’s a New England thing), holiday photo opps, food trucks including barbecue, pizza, fries, and coffee milk lattes (yes please.) Warm up at the “Warming Lodge” with live music, baked treats, hot drinks (spiked optional), and more, according to event billing.

Next: Narragansett’s “Festival of Lights” Dec. 4 kicks off at 10 a.m. with shopping, music, face-painting, pics with Santa, pizza, crafts, food trucks, candle-lighting, hot chocolate and cider, DJ, tree lighting and fireworks at 5 p.m. I’m looking here at my Official Holiday Fun Checklist, and they have not missed anything. Faire info. here; lighting info. here.


Fresh from NBC’s “Christmas at Rockefeller Center Special, sing along to the hits of husband-and-wife duo Foster and McPhee at PPAC.

They don’t call him “The Hitman” for nothing: Foster, 73, is a 16-time Grammy award-winning musician, composer, and producer who has created hits for a Who’s Who of A-listers: Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton… I’ll stop there. McPhee first hit it big on “American Idol” and landed in “Waitress” on Broadway. Together, they’ve got “Christmas Songs” and oodles of stage chemistry. Dec. 4, 7 p.m. Tickets from $47.50. 220 Weybosset St., Providence. 401-406-6071. Details here.



Zuzu’s petals, Clarence’s wings and Bedford Falls come to life in a Gamm Theatre’s staged 1940s radio broadcast of Frank Capra’s holiday movie classic at Gamm Theater. The cult-favorite story of George Bailey’s Christmas revelation will be told with “live sound effects and a handful of actors,” starting Dec. 9. Tickets prices vary, show runs through Christmas Eve. 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick. 401-723-4266. Details here.


Catch these Rhody events as they roll on this season:

  • The Chanler at Cliff Walk’s Hot Chocolate Bar serves up the kind of hot chocolate they might drink on the Polar Express. Want a kick? Try a spiked dark hot chocolate with Tuaca and Grand Marnier, or a milk chocolate with Irish Cream and vanilla vodka. #HolidaySpirits Weekends 1-4 p.m. through Dec. 18. 117 Memorial Boulevard, Newport. Details here.
  • Get Scrooged at Trinity Rep with “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens’ timeless holiday tale, with Ebenezer, Tiny Tim & crew runs through Jan. 1. From $25. 201 Washington St., Providence. 401-351-4242. Details here.
  • Bristol’s Blithewold Mansion is lit for the season with “Night Lights.” Lit paths throughout the grounds feature custom light displays and handmade bamboo ornaments. Stroll then warm up with a hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee, or “hot drinks with a kick” via RI Cruisin’ Cocktails. 101 Ferry Road. Prices vary per carload, details here.
  • Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular features “festive, larger-than-life dazzling displays” made of some 3.5 million lights. Grab a hot chocolate, treat, and stroll 40 acres of illuminated pathways. Open nightly through Jan. 1 (closed Christmas Eve/Day), 5–9:30 p.m. Tickets sold online only. Adults $12, kids 2-12, $10; babies 1 and under free. Details here.
  • Find Santa at the zoo every Thursday. Just BYO camera. #SantaThursdays. Dec. 1, 5-7 p.m. Free with that night’s Holiday Lights ticket for 5 or 6 p.m. time slots. First-come, first-serve basis. Details here.
  • Shop local at The Providence Flea Holiday Market running both Fridays and Sundays through the holidays. Aside from the artists, artisans, makers, bakers, plants and florals, vintage vendors, food items, food trucks, find “Sip ‘n Shop Local.” That means handcrafted cocktails on Friday nights with another visit from RI Cruisin’ Cocktails vintage camper outdoors. Plus coffees, brews and cocktails Fridays and Sundays indoors via New Harvest Coffee & Spirits and Providence Brewery. #DrinkLocal. 10 Sims Ave., Providence. Fridays 5–9 p.m. Sundays 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Details here and here.

Until next week, Rhody: keep rockin.’

Lauren Daley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.

Lauren Daley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.