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Best things to do in R.I. this week: Dec. 16-23

This week: Christmas displays filled with lights and plenty of treats, horse-drawn wagon rides, and last-minute local shopping

There is still time to see Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular in Providence, R.I., which runs through Jan. 1.Courtesy of the Roger Williams Park Zoo

‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through the state, good times were brewing, our calendar looked great. Rhode Island: let’s deck the halls and do that jingle bell rock.


‘Tis the season to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” a few times, and then a few times more. See the holiday classic on a big screen with your crew at the Greenwich Odeum Dec. 16. $12. 8 p.m. 59 Main St., East Greenwich. 401-885-4000. Info. here.


Pawtucket’s Rhode Island Spirits is moving locations and throwing itself a party. Go for one last drink at 59 Blackstone Ave. on Dec. 16. Before they move to 40 Bayley St., they’re game for one last round of Distillery Trivia at 6 p.m. at the old spot. Free. Starts at 5 p.m. Info. here.



It’s “The Nutcracker” PVD-style: “The Nutcracker” hits The Vets Dec. 16, complete with a tree that grows to 38 feet, a Nutcracker character designed by Big Nazo Lab, and dozens of young dancers performing alongside Festival Ballet Providence. Dec. 16-24. 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence. 401-421-2787. Tickets from $30.

“Nutcracker” superfans: beeline to Clara’s tea party Dec. 18. Meet your favorite characters, enjoy photo-ops and treats. Adults $50; 12-and-under $25. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., at The Vets Gallery. Details here.


Take in the lights and magic of the Gloria Gemma Christmas Display in Exeter, free and open daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Note that they close in high winds, so call ahead to confirm. They plan to give out “special gifts and treats” Dec. 17 from 6-8 p.m, according to their website. For a festive soundtrack, tune into 106.1 FM as you drive through. 106 Ten Rod Road, Exeter. 401-861-4376. Donations welcome, and benefit the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. Details here and here.



Get some last-minute local shopping in: Mount Hope Farm’s Holiday Artisan Market with nearly 50 vendors at the hip Pivotal Brewing Company Dec. 17. Check out Pivotal on Insta. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 500 Wood St., Bristol. Details here.


Head to the WaterFire Arts Center Dec. 17 and 18 for the Providence Artisans Market’s Holiday Show, featuring some 80 local artists. Find anything from paintings and ceramics to jewelry, clothing and more — plus food trucks. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 475 Valley St., Providence. Details here.


Check out Providence Flea Holiday Market, Dec. 16 and 18. 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. 10 Sims Ave., Providence. Fridays 5–9 p.m. Sundays 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Details here and here.

And for more last-minute Rhode Island holiday shopping? See our gift guide and food guides.


OK, so not many outside of Rhode Island know this, but… Santa has a home in Bristol. It’s called the Bristol Santa House and he’s meeting with kids this week. Bring your lists: Dec. 17, 20, and 23, from 5-8 p.m. each day. Visits are free.


Note to grown-ups: The mission of the Bristol Santa House “is to provide a magical Christmas experience for children with special needs and their families.” Check their calendar. Days marked “Private Event” are set aside specifically for those families. All other days are open to the general public. Corner of State and Thames streets, Bristol. Details here.


It’s not a one-horse open-sleigh, but it is a holiday horse-ride through a picturesque scene. Head to the Holiday Stroll at The Preserve Equestrian Training Stables Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You and your crew can ride a horse-drawn wagon through the Preserve’s property, meet the horses, play yard games, and sip complimentary hot chocolate, according to the billing. Ages 13+ $18.88, kids $8.88. Equestrian stable at 61 Pine Hill Road, Carolina. 401-868-1598, or 401-539-4653, ext. 5. Details here.


If you celebrate Hanukkah, there are a few events this week, including:

  • Providence celebrates the start of Hanukkah with “Hanukkah Spectaculah” Dec. 18 with food, music, drinks, candle lighting and art. Free, family-friendly and open to the public. At Biltmore Park, between Exchange Terrace and Dorrance Street. 3-6 p.m. Details here.
  • Join a Car Menorah Parade to the State House on Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. starting at Chabad of West Bay. RSVP to reserve menorah. Details here.
  • “Chanukah at the Warwick Mall” takes place Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. with hot latkes, snacks, Chanukah gelt, Chanukah giftsand a giant LEGO menorah. Details here.


Newport’s mansions are decked to the nines for the holidays. There are a few ways to experience these uniquely and quintessentially Newport spectacles: Tour any or all three of the decorated mansions — The Breakers, Marble House, or The Elms — for those “Downton Abbey” Christmas vibes. Meanwhile, the Sparkling Lights at The Breakers is a walk-through outdoor light display with firepits and treats, s’mores, beverages and adult beverages available for purchase. Santa attends Sparkling Lights Dec. 18 from 4:30-6 p.m. This week’s Sparkling Lights times: Dec. 18, 22, 23; 4:30-6 p.m. Ticket price includes an interior tour. Prices, packages and schedules vary. See here and here for details.



Even if you’re a Grinch or a Scrooge, this looks to be a blast. “Unsilent Night” — a family-friendly soundscape created by composer Phil Kline, written specifically to be heard outdoors in December — hits PVD Dec. 18.

The public art piece “takes the form of a street promenade in which the audience becomes the performer. Each participant gets one of four tracks of music in the form of a cassette, CD, or Mp3,” according to its website. “Participants carry boomboxes, or anything that amplifies music, and simultaneously start playing …creating a unique mobile sound sculpture.” Unsilent Night began in Greenwich Village in 1992, according to the site, and has since been performed in various cities and countries.

Gather at Grant’s Block at 5:30 p.m. for a 6 p.m. promenade through Providence streets. According to event billing, you should visit the site to download one of four tracks — your birth month decides which track you get. Learn more here and here.


The shortest day of the year, Dec. 21, will soon be upon us, and Pardon Gray Preserve in Tiverton celebrates Mother Earth’s spinning with a Winter Solstice Tree Lighting. It’s a gem of a spot — get there early if you can, just to walk the trails. The lighting is free and open to the public. Plus hot chocolate and ornaments available for purchase, a DIY Santa photo op. 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. 3460 Main Rd, Tiverton. Info here.



Calling all Osmond family fans: three-time Grammy nominee, bestselling author, actor and philanthropist Marie Osmond and her nephew David Osmond will team up with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, for “A Symphonic Christmas” at PPAC on Dec. 22. 7:30 p.m. Tickets from $46.50. 220 Weybosset St., Providence. 401-421-2787. Details here.


Catch these events while the season lasts:

  • Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular features 3.5 million lights. Trail 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.
  • Meanwhile, find Santa at the zoo every Thursday. Just BYO camera. Free with that night’s Holiday Lights ticket for 5 or 6 pm time-slots. First-come, first-serve basis. Details here.
  • Get Scrooged at Trinity Rep with “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens’ timeless holiday tale, with Ebenezer, Tiny Tim & crew, on now through Jan. 1. From $25. 201 Washington St., Providence. 401-351-4242. Details here.
  • Bristol’s Blithewold Mansion is illuminated for the season with “Night Lights.” Paths throughout the grounds feature custom light displays and handmade bamboo ornaments. Take a stroll before warming 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.

Until next week, Rhody: keep rockin’.

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