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Holiday shows to light up your season

From festive parades, to classic Christmas tales, to decked out mansions, these December events are making Rhode Island merry

The cast of "The Nutcracker" performs the holiday classic at the PPAC Dec. 16-24.Liza Voll

When the temperature drops and thoughts turn to holiday merriment, the country’s smallest state turns it up a notch to capture the festive spirit in a big way.

For anyone seeking over-the-top holiday decorations, the Newport mansions can’t be beat, and for fans of festive illumination, the Holiday Lights Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo boasts more than 3.5 million illuminated bulbs that transform the zoo into a winter wonderland.

For revelers who relish a more cozy, hometown feel, many communities throughout the Ocean State are offering parades, visits with Santa, and other family-friendly seasonal activities. The Westerly Light Parade (6 p.m. on Dec. 11) is a crowd favorite with floats, music, and holiday displays.


Looking for live entertainment? Rhode Island’s already thriving arts, music, and theater scene takes it to the next level, with something for everyone — from country to classical.

Below is a listing of some of the holiday shows in and around Providence this holiday season.

“A Christmas Carol” at Trinity Repertory Co. (through Jan. 1)

There is a reason that families come back year after year to see this iconic production, a reimagined take on Charles Dickens’ classic tale that has a new twist each year. “You’re getting a New York-quality show, but not paying New York prices,” said Curt Columbus, Trinity Rep’s artistic director. “People are hungry for live performances, especially at Christmas. It gives people a reason to be together and share in something in a way that they don’t when watching television.” Columbus said he always hears from audiences how much they enjoy knowing that each year’s “A Christmas Carol” will be different — while being true to the show’s story line and message. “They know they will see something here that they can’t get anywhere else, and that the focus will be on the local community,” he said. This is the show’s 46th season. For more information, visit trinityrep.com


The cast of "The Hip Hop Nutcracker" performs at the PPAC on Dec. 7.

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” at The Providence Performing Arts Center (Dec. 7)

Billed as a “holiday mash-up for the whole family,” this performance showcases Tchaikovsky’s timeless music interpreted by a cast of one dozen contemporary dancers, a disc jockey, and violinist. The show, celebrating its 10th anniversary, is directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber. For more information, go to ppacri.org.

And for “Baby Shark” fans, The Providence Performing Arts Center will turn into an underwater dance party for “Baby Shark Live!: The Christmas Show” (Dec. 10).

Fans of all ages can partake in this immersive experience as they join Baby Shark and Pinkfong in jungle and under-the-sea adventures and sing-alongs to songs like “Baby Shark,” “Five Little Monkeys,” “Wheels on the Bus,” and “Monkey Banana Dance” — as well as a variety of holiday classics that are sure to get audience members of all ages into the spirit of the season. For more information, go to ppacri.org.

Billy Gilman will perform Christmas favorites in Cranston, R.I., on Dec. 10. Holly Rike

“Billy Gilman Christmas” at the Park Theatre (Dec. 10)

Rhode Island’s own Billy Gilman, a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice” and a chart-topping country singer, will bring his unique sound to Cranston. Gilman, who has sold more than 10 million albums since his debut single “One Voice,” released when he was 12 years old, said he is looking forward to helping his Southern New England fans get into the Christmas spirit with a mix of Christmas classics and non-holiday-theme songs. Gilman, who splits his time between Providence and Nashville, said he “really loves” playing before a hometown crowd — especially for a holiday performance. For more information on “Billy Gilman Christmas: Rockin’ around the Park!” go to theparkri.com


“A Christmas for Carol” at The Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaurant (through Dec. 19)

This holiday comedy follows the trials and tribulations of Carol, who goes overboard with all things Christmas. Her co-workers take it upon themselves to help her remember the true meaning of Christmas — even if that involves some over-the-top office hijinks. “A Christmas for Carol” is written and directed by Daniel Lee White. For more information, go to newportplayhouse.com.

“The Nutcracker” by Festival Ballet Providence at Veterans Memorial Auditorium (Dec. 16–24)

This annual family-friendly holiday tradition includes a magnificent tree that grows 38 feet tall and a Nutcracker character designed by Providence’s own Big Nazo Lab. For more information, go to thevetsri.com.

Marie Osmond performs with the Rhode Island Symphony Orchestra at the PPAC on Dec. 22.

Marie Osmond with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra at the Providence Performing Arts Center (Dec. 22)

The multiple gold- and platinum-selling singer will perform a variety of holiday favorites, as well as hits from her six-decade career. “The Christmas season has always been one of my favorite times of the year,” Osmond said. “We need a little Christmas right now, more than ever. I am so looking forward to celebrating this magical time in Providence on Dec. 22.” For more information about the show, “A Symphonic Christmas,” go to ppacri.org.


“A Christmas Carol” at the Rhode Island Stage Ensemble (RISE) Playhouse in Woonsocket (Dec. 9-18)

With a pre-show concert before every performance, this community theater production of the classic Charles Dickens tale is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Discounted tickets for kids, seniors, military, and first responders are available for this production, adapted and directed by Christian O’Neill. For more information, go to ristage.org.