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A Guide to Holiday Celebrations in the Bay

Find Santa Claus, tag your own tree, take in a festive performance, and more.

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town: Get up close and personal with man who’s making a list and checking it twice
Long gone are the days when waiting in line at the mall was your only chance for some face time with Santa. Make sure you’re on the nice list when you go to Breakfast With Santa and Children’s Craft Shop on December 4 at Mt. Hope High School in Bristol. Have a stack of pancakes while your kids make merry with crafts, face painting, balloon animals and a magic show. 199 Chestnut Street, Bristol. ExploreBristolRI.com

The Venus de Milo in Swansea is hosting its annual Breakfast with Santa on November 27 again this year. In addition to a breakfast buffet, there will be a make-your-own-ornament station, cookie decorating and photo ops with Jolly Old Saint Nick. There’s just one unanswered question: who will be back at the North Pole making all of those toys? 75 Grand Army Highway, Swansea. 508-678-3901, VenusDeMilo.com

Sing Along with Santa on December 8 at Blithewold Mansion in Bristol. The interactive holiday music event will be full of good cheer, and Santa himself will read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. A Children’s Holiday Story Time the day before, on December 7, will feature stories set to piano music, a singalong and treats, but no face time with The Man with the Bag. 101 Ferry Road, Bristol. 401-253-2707, Blithewold.org

Let Visions of Sugarplums Dance in Your Head: Take in a festive performance this season
Bristol Theatre Company is staging A Good Old Fashioned Christmas Spectacular on December 2-3 at Reynolds School. The holiday cabaret will feature classic holiday favorites. See if you can stop yourself from singing along. 235 High Street, Bristol. BristolTheatre.com

Island Moving Company is bringing back their beloved holiday tradition, The Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff. It doesn’t get more magical than ballet performed in an actual mansion. This year, performances are happening on two weekends: November 25-27, and November 29-December 2 .There’s also a mini-performance on December 4 at Sandywoods Center for the Arts in Tiverton. 3 Charles Street, Newport. 401-847-7740, IslandMovingCo.org

The Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra is hosting A Jubilant Bach Christmas on December 4 at St. Joseph’s Church in Newport. The company will perform Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, in English, that was first performed at Christmas in 1734. 5 Mann Avenue, Newport. 401-521-5670, RICCO.org

The Neverland Children’s Theatre, a non-profit children’s theatre for kids in Bristol and Warren, presents Neverland Express on December 9-10. The family-friendly show is performed by kids in K-5, and will have cocoa and cookies afterwards. Kickemuit Middle School, 525 Child Street, Warren. Facebook.com/NeverlandChildrensTheatre

There’s something happening every weekend in December at White’s of Westport. On December 11, take in The Edwards Twins’ Holiday Spectacular, a drag cabaret lounge act unlike anything you’ve ever seen, where identical twin brothers perform spot-on celebrity impressions. December 16 is a Christmas Whiteout Party, featuring a holiday buffet and dance party. On December 18, have a Feliz Natal with A Very Portuguese Christmas with The Portuguese Kids. 66 State Road, Westport. 508-675-7185, WhitesOfWestport.com

Celebrate Christmas in the City by the Sea Newport goes all-out for the holiday season
They may be summer cottages, but The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms go all out for Christmas at the Newport Mansions. Think a 15-foot tall poinsettia tree at The Breakers and a Gilded Age streetscape in the ballroom at The Elms, complete with sleighs and a topiary horse, in addition to 28 Christmas trees that reflect the decor in the mansions, and festive events all month long. On select Friday and Saturday evenings in December, there are Holiday Evenings at The Breakers, and a Holiday Evening Duet at The Elms and Marble House on December 17. NewportMansions.org

The Newport Polar Express runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, through December 25. On board the all-first-class train, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while everyone from conductors to elves ensure a merry experience, including a reading of the story itself. Greene Lane Station, Burma Road, Middletown. DiscoverNewport.org

Christmas in Newport is a month-long event where festive things are happening every day. Things kick off on December 1 with a tree lighting in Washington Square, and goes all month long, from lantern-lit holiday walking tours to wreath and art sales, festive concerts, black tie galas and more. There’s even New England’s biggest gingerbread lighthouse on display. ChristmasInNewport.org

Shop Local, Really Local: Find the best, most unique gifts at art and craft sales
Now through December 25, DeBlois Gallery’s Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Show offers one-of-a-kind holiday gifts galore from local artists and artisans, like fine art and sculpture, jewelry and handmade ornaments. 134 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown. 401-847-9977, DeBloisGallery.com

All month long, Muse Handcrafted is hosting the annual Awesome Affordable Art Sale, featuring the work of Lucky Skye, Bliss Birch, Sandra Black Culliton and Swallowfield along with local mixed media artist Lauren Enjeti of Bristol. 279 Water Street, Warren. 401-289-2150, MuseHandcrafted.com

On November 30, paint your own holiday scene of downtown Bristol at A Paint and Pour Event, hosted by the Bristol July 4 Committee. Leave it to Bristol to give you ways to think about July 4 seven months early – and help support it. 180 Franklin Street, Bristol. 774-644-2466, ThePaintLadies.com

Middletown is home to two art sales on December 10, both for good causes. The Potter League for Animals (87 Oliphant Lane, Middletown. 401-846-0592, PotterLeague.org) is hosting an Artisan Craft Fair and Boutique Sale, benefiting the shelter, and the Knights of Columbus (7 Valley Road, Middletown. 401-935-4904, CherishTheMoments.net) are hosting a Christmas Craft Fair as a fundraiser for Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

Tiverton Four Corners hosts their annual Winter’s Arts and Artisans Fair on December 10, when The Meeting House will be full of local merchants offering their unique art, crafts and creations. 3850 Main Road, Tiverton. TivertonFourCorners.com

Rock Around the Christmas Tree: Your holiday isn’t complete without a holiday festival and tree lighting
The entire town celebrates for the Warren Holiday Festival, happening for the 28th year from November 25-26. There will be concerts and performances all over town, stores will stay open late for holiday shopping, caroling, a tree lighting at Town Hall and the arrival of Santa himself on a fire truck. Facebook.com/WarrenHolidayFestival

Barrington Town Hall is getting in the holiday spirit for their Festival of Lights. Meet Santa as he arrives by fire truck, play a round of holiday-themed mini-golf and enjoy performances from Arts Alive, the Barrington Middle School a cappella choir and the High School Choral Ensemble before the tree lighting. 283 County Road, Barrington. 401-247-1900, Barrington.RI.gov

Bowen’s Wharf will be having its 46th annual Christmas Tree Lighting on December 3. Children can see Frosty the Snowman, Mrs. Claus and Santa himself as they arrive by boat. In addition, join in on a Christmas carol sing-along and watch the tree come glowing to life. 13 Bowen’s Wharf, Newport. 401-849-2243, BowensWharf.org

Bristol’s Grand Illumination, one of the oldest tree lightings in New England, is happening again this year on December 3-4 – but the town is celebrating all month. In addition to the living windows and extended shopping hours, there are performances and events happening throughout December. On December 18, winners will be drawn for their annual Snowflake Raffle: you get a ticket for every $25 you spend, and you enter your tickets to win cash prizes. ExploreBristolRI.com

Just Like The Ones We Used to Know: Celebrate the holiday with old-fashioned traditions
Just what does wassailing mean anyway, and why would you want to do it? Find out at Christmas at Whitehall on December 4. The 18th century house offers a candlelight tour, as well as holiday treats and “wassail.” Admit it, you’re curious. 311 Berkeley Avenue, Middletown. 401-480-4183, WhitehallMuseumHouse.org

Travel back in time to Christmas with the Whitehornes on December 10. Historians at Newport’s Whitehorne House will explain holiday traditions from the early 1800s, from everything from decorations to food to Christmas trees. Participants also get a booklet of recipes from Mrs. Whitehorne’s Sugar House Book. 416 Thames Street, Newport. 401-847-2248, NewportRestoration.org

At Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, life is lived the way our forebears did in 1790. Celebrate Christmas at Coggeshall Farm on December 3, with good old-fashioned holiday cheer. There will be performances, honey and maple syrup made at the farm for purchase, and a Christmas tree sale that’s a fundraiser for the nonprofit museum. 1 Colt Drive, Bristol. 401-253-9062, CoggeshallFarm.org

Do Something Delicious Epicurean events ring in the holidays in good taste
Raise a cup of cheer at Greenvale Vineyards when you Warm Up for the Holidays on December 10. In addition to the jazz and wine tastings they normally offer on weekends, this event will feature food from local vendors, gift baskets for sale and mulled wine. 582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth. 401-847-3777, Greenvale.com

Westport Rivers Winery is hosting a Holiday Open House on November 26. In addition to reduced wine tasting prices, there will be food from food trucks, free hayrides all day with hot chocolate for kids, treats for sale from local vendors, Christmas music, games, kettle fires and an art gallery. 417 Hix Bridge Road, Westport. 508-636-3423, WestportRivers.com

Blithewold Mansion in Bristol has a lot of delicious events lined up for this month. They offer High Holiday Tea weekdays throughout the month, and Children’s Holiday Tea on December 5, 12 and 19, when kids can take their picture with Santa, enjoy hot chocolate and fancy cakes, and shop with Santa’s elves. On December 7, check out The Great Blithewold Baking Show: Holiday Edition, when Kathleen Seguin from Bristol House Bed and Breakfast will give a cooking demonstration while you enjoy holiday desserts and libations. On December 15, You’re Invited! An Evening of Holiday Food and Drink is another cooking demonstration, this time focusing on savory and sweet foods, and a little tippling, too. At both cooking events, guests leave with recipes to make at home. 101 Ferry Road, Bristol. 401-253-2707, Blithewold.org

Don your tackiest holiday finery for The Ultimate Ugly Sweater Party on December 2 at Rachel’s Lakeside. The event features a dinner buffet, an ugly sweater contest, a photo booth and a dance party. 950 State Road, Dartmouth. 508-636-4044, EventsByLHC.com

Explore the Great Holiday Outdoors Spend some time outside while you’re full of warm and fuzzies
It’s a scientifically proven fact that Christmas is 100% more jolly if you tag your own tree from a local farm. (Seriously, Google it.) At PineCrest Tree Farm in Westport, not only can you tag your own tree starting on the last weekend in November, there’s a sleigh ready-made for family Christmas card pictures. Kids get hot chocolate, treats and tree ornaments. 285 Pine Hill Road, Westport. 774-309-0522, Home.Earthlink.net/~PineCrestFarm/

Let’s face it: December is the last time you’re going to enjoy being outside until the tulips are blooming again. Enjoy the moments at Sparkle! An Outdoor Family Event on Friday evenings through December 23 at Blithewold Mansion in Bristol, when the whole property lights up with holiday cheer. Trees on the extensive grounds are decorated with lights, there’s a bonfire to roast marshmallows and there’s a lot of cocoa, family fun and merrymaking. On December 11 and 18, literally discover what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh at their Horse-Drawn Holiday Carriage Ride and Photo Shoot. 101 Ferry Road, Bristol. 401-253-2707, Blithewold.org

In Tiverton, there’s a different kind of winter wonderland: the Re-Tree Exhibit in Tiverton Four Corners. People craft trees out of recycled materials and install them on the grounds of the Four Corners Meeting House for a must-see art exhibit. 3850 Main Road, Tiverton. 401-624-6200, TivertonFourCorners.com

Bristol is doing something totally unique this year: a Living Windows Festival. On December 10, shops in downtown Bristol will be putting on live displays in their windows. Is there a better way to experience the magic of Christmas? Even better: finishing up your holiday shopping at the same time. Various locations, Bristol. ExploreBristolRI.com