Rhode Island puts on an amazing list of holiday events to celebrate the festive Christmas season. Whether you visit Newport’s stunning mansions and fun traditions, Bristol’s Blithewold Mansion Gardens, Providence’s Roger Williams Park Zoo’s lighting extravaganza, or Woonsocket’s popular Polar Express, you will be guaranteed to be filled with holiday cheer.
We have assembled some of our favorite holiday celebrations that bring historic charm, festive music, Christmas revelry to this southern New England state. The events below are listed in no particular order.
1. The Polar Express
The Children’s Christmas fairytale The Polar Express comes to life on the Blackstone Valley Polar Express train ride. During this 90-minute clickety-clack-down-the-track experience, youngsters and the young at heart can enjoy a visit with Santa, delicious hot chocolate, a perfect Christmas cookie, singing, games, and a reading of The Polar Express. Have your golden ticket punched by a real train conductor and enjoy the beautiful decorations festooning the train cars as you relive your childhood wonderment through the eyes of children.
Before you board the special Polar Express run to the North Pole, the whole family can enjoy a special pre-trip holiday show and pose for seasonal photos. Tickets can be purchased online through the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council.
2. Newport Mansions
The Newport Mansions are always gorgeous and lavishly decorated; they are a must-visit during the holiday season for anyone enjoying Rhode Island’s Christmas spirit.
Explore the “Sparkling Lights at The Breakers” as you wander the meandering outdoor paths of stunning lighting displays and many other festive touches that will surprise and delight you. Be sure not to miss the legendary 15-foot tall Poinsettia Christmas Tree, the grand centerpiece of the Great Hall where 150 Poinsettia plants stand as one to create a magnificent showstopper.
Two other Newport mansions are dressed in their finest Christmas decorations: the Marble House and The Elms. A holiday visit to all three mansions is a wonderful way to celebrate the season with friends and family. For more information about the Newport Mansions at Christmastime, visit our Mansions of Newport at Christmas overview.
Reservations are not required. You can purchase your tickets online or at the Newport Mansions.
3. Classic Holiday Happenings In Newport
In addition to the gorgeous Newport Mansions, this coastal city pulls out all the stops for Christmas. During the month of December, Newport’s event calendar offers lots of fun and unique ways to celebrate the holidays.
Christmas at the Blithewold Mansion gives guests the opportunity to explore the beautiful gardens illuminated with the Night Lights display. This is the spot to take your best date on a romantic moonlit stroll through the gardens with the stunning Blithewold Mansion as a backdrop. The Night Lights display runs through December 19.
On Saturday, December 4 at 4:30 p.m., the 51st Annual Bowen’s Wharf Christmas Tree Lighting festivities begin. Caroling and all-around merrymaking set the stage for the 6:00 p.m. tree lighting ceremony. Everyone will enjoy watching Santa and Mrs. Clause arriving in the traditional seafaring way, not by sleigh, but by boat. Follow the tree lighting with some Christmas shopping or dinner at any of the wonderful restaurants. For great ideas on how to spend your weekend in Newport, visit our Newport destination guide.
4. Roger Williams Park Zoo
The Holiday Lights Spectacular is illuminating the Roger Williams Park Zoo with a walk-through holiday lighting extravaganza. Festive holiday music floats across the zoo serenading you as you explore the 40 acres of illuminated decorations. Open throughout the month of December (ends January 2). Plan on spending one to one and one-half hours strolling the grounds and experiencing the magical lighting display. The pathways are fully accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, making this a perfect event for the whole family — from grandparents to grandbabies.
Enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate or munch on lip-smacking s’mores while enjoying your visit. When you want to get out and enjoy an up-close look at fabulous Christmas decorations, a welcome diversion from the pop-up, drive-through lighting displays, Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular is the place to go.
Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available online here.
The Holiday Season In Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a wonderful getaway spot to get you into the Christmas spirit and enjoy a pre-holiday getaway. Whether you make it a romantic outing or a family reunion vacation, you will love all the charming events scheduled around the state in celebration of this festive season.
If you are looking for just the right Christmas getaway, explore our list of other New England towns that put on the best Christmas celebrations. Giving the gift of travel and dedicated bonding time is a wonderful way to let your loved ones know how much you appreciate them in your life. Maybe it’s time to switch up your Christmas traditions and plan a trip to one of these amazing events in Rhode Island to celebrate the holiday season.