East Bay Countdown to Christmas

Mark your calendars for events to celebrate all month long


Donning a scarf and bundling up for the big town tree lighting event, neighbors and merchants merrily going all out decorating their doorways for prizes, and nearly half a dozen tree farms ready for tagging or buying are just a stone’s throw away. Common scenes include shoppers strolling along festooned main streets, and even the grouchiest souls smile as they hold open doors for others bustling into cozy pubs, eclectic cafes, and enchanting small shops. Sounds like the setting for a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie but it’s your typical December in the East Bay.

Each municipality of our coveted region has its own allure but as a whole shares a quintessential New England sensibility – from pastoral vistas to rocky shorelines to historic architecture – so adding candles to windows, wreaths on entrances, and swags of greenery across fences only contributes to its many charms. With the return of mostly in-person everything and a continued inventive use of outdoor spaces, events abound all month long – from Santa sightings to workshops, concerts, and more, this entire month promises to be something special. So, keep a mask handy and venture about to revel in the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a uniquely coastal Christmas.

Our editorial elves have done their best to compile a comprehensive list of things to do in the area. Please let us know if we’ve missed your fave by emailing Abbie@ProvidenceOnline.com and if you’ve snapped a stunning photo, tag us on Instagram @thebay_mag or using #heyrhodyphotos and we may share it or use it next year!

Mark your calendar for festive events around the area taking place all month long! For expanded statewide listings, visit HeyRhody.com


Christmas Countdown 

December 1

Official Opening of Christmas: Washington Square gets into the spirit with a tree lighting, cannon salute, and performances by the public school music program. Newport

Newport County Orchestra in Concert: Classical and Christmas music sponsored by the Salve Regina University Music Department. Newport

December 1-3

Newport Nutcracker: Island Moving Company performs the classic ballet in the ballroom, salon, and staircase of Rosecliff mansion. Newport

December 1-9

Door Decorating Contest: Bristol residents and businesses are invited to enter the Deck The Doors contest, for a chance to win “Best Residential,” “Best Commercial,” or “People’s Choice.” Winners announced December 19. Bristol

December 2

First Thursday: The first Thursday of each month, the East Bay Chamber encourages folks to shop local from 5-7pm. 

December 3


Holiday Bright Night: The Bay Magazine is proud to sponsor this evening of energy-filled holiday shopping. Frolic through a festive, brightly lit neighborhood of galleries and shops as you enjoy holiday decor and special offers to complete your list, plus the chance to see Santa paying the village a visit. 

December 3-4

Newport Classical Holiday with Ensemble Altera: Celebrate the holiday season with a program of treble voices, harp, and organ from the chamber choir Ensemble Altera, rounding the concert off with popular Christmas songs. 

Wreath-Making Workshop: Register for this class where you’ll enjoy learning how to bundle greens and other items into a stunning handmade accent. Bristol

December 3, 5

Michael DiMucci’s Fireside Christmas Concerts: The carriage house-style ballroom at Linden Place Mansion provides the setting for two fundraiser concerts with pianist and singer, Michael DiMucci. These fireside concerts are a perennial sellout with a mix of classical numbers and Christmas standards. Doors open at 6:30pm with a cash bar. Bristol

December 3-11

Newport Winter Foodies Stroll: Hosts Tom and Sue lead a progressive stroll (over several hours and one mile in total) along Thames Street with stops to enjoy a three-course meal accompanied by selected wine pairings at three restaurants. 

December 3-17

Annual Re-Tree Exhibition: Now in its eighth year, this unique showcase features trees created with recycled materials dispersed across the grounds of Tiverton Four Corners, with a chance to vote for your favorite. Tiverton

December 4


Barrington Tree Lighting: A schedule of events starts at 2pm and includes decorating cookies from Vienna Bakery, holiday carnival games like snowman bowling, and a roster of musical performances, all leading up to the tree lighting at 5pm with a performance of the BHS Choral Ensemble. 


Bowen’s Wharf 51st Annual Christmas Tree Lighting: The waterfront is transformed with a reimagined celebration kicking off the holidays by the sea with in-person programming and a live-streamed countdown to the tree lighting. Newport

Christmas Bazaar and Greek Food Fair: Kick off the season with baklava at this annual event that includes raffles, delicious Greek foods to eat-in or takeout, a cash bar and more at St. Spyridon’s Hellenic Hall on Thames Street. 9am-5pm. 390 Thames Street, Newport

Coastal Queen’s Holiday Cruises: Experience the festive lights of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay aboard the Coastal Queen. The boat has a weatherproof interior to keep guests cozy and warm. Each cruise is 60 minutes and departs from East Ferry Wharf. Jamestown

Grand Illumination and Parade: Let it glow at this unforgettable East Bay tradition lighting up Bristol’s iconic Christmas tree, this year with a parade featuring Mt. Hope High School Band and the Bristol County Fifes and Drums. 

Holiday Flash Mob: Get your jingle on and join the fun as illuminated and costumed revelers celebrate the season with a dancing flash mob at Queen Anne’s Square! Live music provided by the Providence Drum Troupe and there will be trophies. The fun begins at 4pm. Newport

21st Annual Lucy’s Hearth Designer Wreath Sale: Find holiday greenery like wreaths and table top decorations created by local designers, artists, gardeners, and florists. Newport

Traditional Christmas Tea: A special seasonal high tea at St. Columba’s Chapel. Middletown

December 5

A Colonial Christmas: Enjoy a Colonial Christmas at the home of the 18th century philosopher George Berkeley. Admission free, donations gratefully accepted. Begins 2pm. Middletown

Wreath Making Workshop: Create your own holiday wreath at Blanc & Bleu using all locally grown and foraged foliage and blooms. Ticket includes materials, instruction, and refreshments. Bristol

December 9

Christmas at Mt. Zion: Both old and new, sacred and secular, holiday music by the Voices of Unity/RPM Voices of Rhode Island. Newport,

Student’s Impressions of Christmas: An exhibit of artwork by students K-12 and the commemorative Christmas in Newport postmark by United States Postal Service. Newport

December 10

Christmas in Song: The annual concert of the Newport Navy Choristers benefits the Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm, an educational project of Portsmouth Middle School and Eastern RI Conservation District, begins at 7:30pm. Portsmouth

December 10-11

Annual Holiday Arts Market: The work of 15 exhibiting artists will be on sale at this yearly event at the Jamestown Arts Center. To ensure safe social distancing, participating artists and artisans were selected by invitation only. 

December 11

A Holiday Happening with Bike Newport: A must for bike enthusiasts featuring snacks and hot cocoa; coincides with the annual Holiday Bike Giveaway where kids are matched with lovingly restored bicycles. Begins 11am. Newport

Christmas Open House at the Irish History Museum: View exhibits while enjoying Celtic holiday music, eggnog, and cookies. From 3:30-4:30pm, there will be caroling by the Ancient Order of Hibernians Men’s Singers and Celtic-inspired bracelets and lapel pins available for sale with proceeds to benefit the museum. 

December 11-12

Festival Weekend: For the 35th year, the Bristol Christmas Festival Committee is hosting a European-style Christmas market in front of the Burnside Building. Bristol

December 12

Holiday on the Common: Gather at the First United Methodist Church of Warren for a holiday folk concert by Atwater Donnelly and Bank of Ireland benefitting Hope & Main’s Nourish Our Neighbors program. Warren

Messiah at the Mansion: Newport Classical presents the Christmas portion of Handel’s celebratory Messiah, featuring the singers of The Choir School of Newport County, Brown University Chorus, and Providence Baroque Orchestra. 

Painting with Paper: Artist Galen Snow will lead participants in crafting a holiday-themed piece of art using a sancase board and paper at the Audubon Nature Center and Aquarium. Registration required. Bristol

December 18

Christmas Pop-Up Market: Head to the Sandywoods Center for the Arts for an afternoon of holiday shopping. Find gifts from local makers and artists, artisanal food, live music, food trucks, and more. 

Christmas Story Time: Tune into the Bristol Christmas Festival’s annual story time, a live broadcast featuring members of the fire and police departments and surprise guests reading holiday classics. Bristol

Holiday Dinner Dance: A Gilded Age gala at The Breakers featuring cocktail hour on the loggia, three-course dinner in the Great Hall, and dancing in the Music Room. Newport

December 19


Annual Snowflake Raffle: Presented by Bristol Merchants Association, earn tickets throughout the season by shopping local participating merchants, leading up to a visit from Santa Claus, who will draw winning tickets at the bottom of State Street. Bristol, ChristmasBristolRI.com

Readings of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Gather at Eisenhower Park to hear locals read the classic poem at noon, 12:30, 1:00 and 1:30pm. There will be live music, treats, and Santa will be available to pose for pics (BYO camera). 

Thursdays at Blithewold: Register for Sing-Along with Santa events, held at the mansion from 6-8pm. Bristol

Saturdays at Mount Hope Market: Start Saturdays early at this year-round Farmers Market held 9am-12:30pm at idyllic Mount Hope Farm, a historic piece of conserved property. In the winter months, the market takes place in the farm’s large converted barn. Bristol

Through December 8

Newport Doorway Contest: Decorated doors vie for making an entrance; judges will select the winners. Newport

Through December 22

Singing For Shelter: Virtual ‘living room concerts’ by local musicians for the benefit of Lucy’s Hearth and The McKinney Shelter daily at 6pm and 7pm. Go to Facebook.com/SingingForShelterNewport for viewing; donations at www.LucysHearth.org/donate and/or the McKinney Shelter

Through December 30

Holiday Lantern Tours: On select dates through the season, tour Newport by lantern light as you learn about American holiday traditions through the ages. 

Through January 1

Holidays at the Newport Mansions: Backdropped by the sound of music, The Breakers will be awash in thousands of sparkling lights, while the interior of both The Breakers and The Elms are adorned with poinsettias. 

Through January 2

A Rough Point Holiday: On select dates through the season, meander through the Christmas- and winter-themed rooms of Rough Point Museum. Newport

Through January 7

Night Lights: Stroll lit paths throughout the Blithewold grounds featuring stunning displays, handmade bamboo ornaments, and the natural beauty of the arboretum. RI Cruisin’ Cocktails will serve hot drinks, some with a kick! Bristol

Through March 31

Gurney’s Newport Skating Rink: Open to the general public, enjoy skating by the sea at the Goat Island resort. Visit the website for rental fees and hours. 


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