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Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: Nov. 24-Dec. 1

This week: Paddling reindeer, a glowing zoo, circus acts, hot chocolate bar, farm animals, and more!

"A Magical Cirque Christmas" is coming to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, R.I., for shows at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 25.A Magical Cirque Christmas

Once the Thanksgiving dishes have been washed, it’s officially The Holidaze: One big blur that lasts until Jan. 2. Fact. And Rhody is swinging into the season in full force. From Santa arriving by boat with his paddling reindeer, to Santa at the zoo, and Santa at a winery, shopping, hot chocolate and a holiday circus, the Ocean State is a’ jingle bell rockin’.


Newport kicks off the holiday season on the ocean with an Illuminated Boat Parade Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. at Newport Harbor. (Because Ocean State.) According to billing: Bundle up and head to the harbor to see boats decked out for the season, with festive music. Boats compete for best decorated. According to Discover Newport’s Instagram post, you can view from the “Newport waterfront, including Perrotti Park, Bowens Wharf, Bannister Wharf, and various points around Newport Harbor.” Event details here.



Not the bad kind. The good kind. Providence-native folk-rockers, touring now on their most recent album “Emotional Contracts,” play two hometown shows Nov. 24 and 25. As of this writing, there are still tickets to see the homecoming on Nov. 24 — night two is sold out. Hop on it. $40. Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m. 270 Broadway, Providence. Details here and here.


After giving thanks, let’s not stampede and strangle each other over new iPads. Each year on Black Friday, my boyfriend and I do something we call “Green Friday” — hiking in Rhody to escape the maddening crowds.

Try Weetamoo Woods and Pardon Gray Preserve in Tiverton, which has some 9 miles of mostly flat, well-marked, color-coded trails that slice through forest and meadow, past farmland, and over streams. Throughout the 650-plus acres, which date to King Philip’s War, you may see historic stone walls, a wooden footbridge, historic sawmill remains, an old stone-arched bridge, ancient outcrops of rock, and a babbling brook.


Up in Foster, try Jerimoth Hill. You can find solitude along the roads and trails of Buck Hill Management Area, Burrillville, or Arcadia Wildlife Management Area, West Greenwich, R.I. Information on those three here.

There’s a nature preserve just a few miles outside of Providence: The Nature Conservancy opened the Moshassuck River Preserve last year with 3 miles of blazed trails that loop through hardwood forests, around glacial boulders, and crisscross small streams feeding into the river. Since the 1990s, this 210-acre parcel has been left wild and open. It’s a peaceful place to contemplate gratitude. More here.

For more info. on local state parks, see our guide here.


The Holiday Lights Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo kicks off Nov. 24. Think “festive, larger-than-life dazzling displays” made of some 3.5 million lights. “Bundle up, grab an adult beverage, hot chocolate, or roast some s’mores and stroll through 40 acres of illuminated pathways,” according to the billing. Don’t mind if I do. If you’ve been good this year, take note: Santa makes an appearance Nov. 30. Trail open nightly through Jan. 1 (closed Christmas Eve/Day), 5-9:30 p.m. Tickets sold online only. Adults $14, kids 2-12, $12; babies 1 and under free. Details here.


Animal lovers, beeline to Tiverton’s West Place Animal Sanctuary for a “Holiday Shop & Stroll” Nov. 24-26. The sanctuary for injured or abused animals near Weetamoo Woods is home to cows, horses, donkeys, alpacas, pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, and more. (How can you not love Jared the cow.) Meet animals, take tours, and explore “the expanded gift shop,” according to website. Adults $24, kids 12 and younger $15. Proceeds benefit the West Place animals. Advance tickets recommended, walk-ins welcome. Rain or shine. Tours 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Details here.



‘Tis the season to see things glowing with twinkle lights, from boats to mansions. Newport’s fourth Annual Sparkling Lights at The Breakers includes a “50-foot long, 26-foot-tall light display on the back lawn in the outline of a train from the Vanderbilts’ New York Central and Hudson River Railroad.” Warm up by fire pits with treats, s’mores, drinks and adult beverages for purchase. Tours at 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Gates close at 6:30 p.m.; house and grounds close at 8 p.m. Adults $40, youth $10. 44 Ochre Point Ave. Details here.


Catch high-flying fun, spectacle and circus vibes when “A Magical Cirque Christmas” lands in PVD. The variety show for all ages, set to holiday classics, wows at The Vets for shows at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 25. From $38. 1 Avenue of the Arts. Get a sense of what to expect here and here. Show details here.



Another #SmallBizSat idea: Shop local, help artists at The 5th Annual Holiday ArtMart at the WaterFire Arts Center Nov. 25 from noon to 5 p.m. Find 80+ artists and makers from around Rhode Island and southern New England. Plus live local music, food trucks and more. You might bring an unwrapped toy for the WaterFire Holiday Toy Drive. Admission is pay-what-you-can. 475 Valley St., Providence. Details here.


…Dressed in holiday style. Get your “Silver Bells” vibes on as downcity PVD gets decked for the season. “Celebrate Downcity” kicks off the holidays in PVD Nov. 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Westminster Street, you’ll find food trucks, hot chocolate, Turkish coffee, “festive music, interactive holiday entertainment,” a raw bar on ice, according to billing, and a “Rock and Roll Yard Sale marketplace around the corner.” Plus pics with Santa and meet Ballet RI’s Nutcracker characters. Details here.


Federal Hill rings in the season with its annual “Christmas on the Hill,” Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, from 2 to 6 p.m. each day. Both are billed as boasting “old-world charm,” “the spirit of Christmas,” and “weaving a tapestry of tradition, community, and joy.” I’ll have more on the second event next week. This week’s event, held at DePasquale Plaza, features live performances, free trolley rides, a visit from Santa from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and tree lighting 5 p.m., according to the website. Details here.



It’s go time. The Chanler at Cliff Walk opens its Hot Chocolate Bar Nov. 25. This might be what Polar Express hot chocolate tastes like. Post-Cliff Walk, warm up with a cup of milk or dark — or try a spiked adult version. #HolidaySpirits. Weekends 1-4 p.m. Nov. 25-Dec. 29. 117 Memorial Boulevard, Newport. Details here.


Meet Santa as Garden City Center hosts “It’s a Wonderful Stroll,” Nov. 25. According to billing, the shopping area will “transform into a winter wonderland of yesteryear” with festivities including live music featuring holiday favorites, a Dunkin’ pop-up near the gazebo, street performers, scavenger hunt, and more, with Santa arriving in a vintage car around 4:30 p.m., and tree-lighting at 5 p.m. 100 Midway Road, Suite 14, Cranston. Details here.


‘Tis the season for Dickens’ classic story of a grump and three ghosts. “A Christmas Carol” is on at Trinity Rep, through Dec. 31. From $20. 201 Washington St., Providence. Details here.


Speaking of Christmas-hating grouches who have a change of tune… “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” hits PPAC Nov. 28. According to billing, Max the Dog narrates the classic tale of the holiday-loving Whos. Learn more about the stage production here. Through Dec. 3. Tickets from $45. 220 Weybosset St., Providence. Details here.


While you might spot Santa at the boat parade, elsewhere in Newport, they’re celebrating “ThamesGiving” with pumpkins. (What did I tell you about that holidaze?) The City by the Sea aims to bring a little holiday hustle and bustle to the brick-and-mortar shops of downtown Nov. 30. Shop, dine and see Thames decked for the holidays as some 80 participating shops, hotels, restaurants and public spaces offer specials, with extended hours. Take part in a “Copper Pumpkin Passport scavenger hunt” that covers 80 locations. Find them and you’ll be entered into a raffle. For a full list of participating spots and deals, see here.


Wickford celebrates its 38th annual Festival of Lights from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 with a sensory overload of holiday fun. We’re getting into next week’s column territory here, but for this week: At the tree lighting at Updike Park at 6 p.m. Nov. 30, you’ll find Santa and hot chocolate. On Dec. 1, he makes his official arrival with flair at 5:30 p.m. — arriving by boat to the town dock on Brown Street, “led by the paddling ‘reindeer’ of the Kayak Centre” followed by horse-drawn hayrides around Wickford Village from 6 to 8 p.m. $3 per person. Details here.


I’m serious. We have another Santa sighting. The big guy is all over Rhody this week. Santa pops up Dec. 1 at Newport Vineyards’ “Holiday Extravaganza.” Expect live holiday music, wine or beer tastings, festive fare, hot cocoa bar, and holiday cookies. Don your ugliest holiday sweater for a change to win a prize. You might bring a toy to donate to the MLK Community Center. 5-9 p.m. Kids free admission. Adults 21+, $24. 909 East Main Road, Middletown. Details here.

Until next week, Rhody: Keep rockin’.

Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.