Deck the Halls

Jumpstart your holiday spirit with some glittering Newport history


“Silver and gold mean so much more when I see silver and gold decorations on ev’ry Christmas Tree.” Burl Ives wrote and sung these lyrics for the annually anticipated 1964 television holiday special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. However, this song could easily describe Christmas at the Newport Mansions, as the glitter of gold and the sparkle of silver dazzles the eye at three of Newport’s most celebrated “cottages” decked out in Yuletide finery. The display, which opened last month, continues through January 1 and offers music, tours and spectacular decorations.

The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House – three National Historic Landmarks and icons of the Gilded Age in America – are filled with thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens and wreaths.

The decorations on the trees are tailored to reflect the décor of the rooms, and the trees anchor many of the magnificent spaces. At The Elms, a 15-foot-tall poinsettia “tree” is made up of approximately 150 individual red poinsettia plants. Dining tables set with period silver and china complete the elegant settings.

For an extra special holiday treat, Holiday Evenings at The Breakers are held Saturdays, December 1, 8, 22 and 29 from 6-8pm. Holiday Evening Duet at The Elms and Marble House will happen on December 15 from 6-9pm. Enjoy live holiday music and light refreshments as you stroll through softly lit rooms, taking in the ambience of a Gilded Age holiday.

Voices of Christmas will once again be performing for Holiday Evening Duet, and John Black, a 16-year-old virtuoso on the piano, will perform at the beginning and ending of the Holiday Evenings at The Breakers. Black, from Barrington, is also the church music director at the Barrington Presbyterian Church and his choir will also perform on December 15 at the Marble House.

Barbara Thornton, a member with the Voices of Christmas says, “The group began singing in Newport over ten years ago and they look forward to singing at the mansions. “The rooms are large and resonant, and we sound great in bouncy spaces like these grand rooms.” The group will dress in period costume to approximate the Dickens Victorian period a la A Christmas Carol as they perform a mix of traditional carols, secular holiday songs and some of their own arrangements of seasonal favorites.

Whichever way you decide to celebrate, may you enjoy the pleasures of silver and gold this holiday season.