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Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: Dec. 1-8

A “Breaking Bad” star, an elf parade, holiday strolls and markets, Rhody’s favorite two-legged puppy, and more

Kristen Peralta of Vintage Pet Rescue in Bristol, R.I., hugs Joey, the two-legged Tiverton dog who captured hearts when he won Puppy Bowl XIX in February. Joey's owner, Cathy Larson, stands behind them. Joey is now the subject of a book “Joey’s Two-Legged Life.Photo courtesy of Cathy Larson

The holidays are in full swing, but I’m celebrating for a different reason: This week marks the two-year birthday of this column. Best Things to Do is now 2! That’s 104 columns together celebrating fun in the 401, and I’ve loved every last word. Let’s toast with Autocrat to more Ocean State awesomeness — including this week’s fun: Santa stops, tree-lightings, and Gus Fring. (Yup, we’ve got a “Breaking Bad” star in the house.) Let’s ride, Rhody.


Wickford celebrates its 38th annual Festival of Lights Nov. 30 through Dec. 3 with a boat-load of holiday fun including Santa on a boat on Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. The big guy arrives at 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.) Plus caroling and photo opps with Santa. He arrives by the same mode at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, followed by hayrides and caroling.

Meanwhile, families are encouraged to dress “in their elfiest attire” to march in the free-to-participate Elf Parade on Dec. 2. Meet at Sweet Marie’s Tea Cottage (25 West Main St.) at 11 a.m. for a pre-march fuel-up of hot cocoa and cookies. Elves step off at noon in a parade to meet Santa at the town dock. Plus “The Ladies of the Rolling Pin” bring Morris-style dancing and live music. Details here.



Tiverton Four Corners will be decked for the season Dec. 1 with its annual Holiday Bright Night, which looks to be a spirited stroll through the historic corner’s quaint shops and galleries from 4-7 p.m. Snap a pic with Santa at the Cheese Wheel Village Market. (Sure, cookies are cool, but he likes something savory every once in a while.)


Meanwhile, the 10th Annual re-Tree Art Contest & Community Exhibition — a festive showcase of trees created with recycled or repurposed materials — kicks off the same day and gives you a chance to play judge: Artist-submitted trees, made of recycled and repurposed materials, will be scattered throughout the Four Corners area. Popular vote winner announced Dec. 15. Details here.


He’s pairing wine with that cheese, evidently. The big guy 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.


PVD’s Three Nights of Lights kicks off Dec. 1 with the tree-lighting in front of City Hall. Santa will be there for photo ops, as will Ballet RI dancers from “The Nutcracker” — snap pics with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Rat King and the Nutcracker himself. WaterFire’s basins light up Dec. 2 for a holiday market and another visit from Santa. On Dec. 3, find Irish Step Dancing at the Providence Rink. Throughout the weekend, find a roving selfie-station, music, ice sculpture garden at BankNewport City Center, nighttime public art gallery from The Avenue Concept, and more. Details here.



…Was singing, without any presents at all. Because they were in Providence singing to “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.” Max the Dog narrates the classic tale of the holiday-loving Whos at PPAC through Dec. 3. Learn more about the stage production here. Through Dec. 3. Tickets from $45. 220 Weybosset St., Providence. Details here.


‘Tis the season for glowing mansions in Rhody. Aside from the Breakers, we have “Sparkle!” at Blithewold in Bristol now through Dec. 31. You might stroll the illuminated gardens and grounds, take part in a scavenger hunt, warm up around the fire in an enclosed garden, listen to seasonal music, grab a hot drink via RI Cruisin’ Cocktails. You can also add a s’mores kit for $5. Preregistration required. Four-person carload $70. Two-person carload $35. Thursday–Sundays. Choose from 5 and 6:30 p.m. arrival time. Details here.


Treasure hunters, shop local and unique at the Providence Flea’s Holiday Markets, every Friday and Sunday through Dec. 17. This week, it’s Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, from 5:30-9:30 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Expect some 80 local makers, artisans, vintage vendors, plants, plus food trucks, local coffee and spirits, craft beer and cocktails, and more at the Farm Fresh RI Market Hall. Free admission. 10 Sims Ave. Details here.


Federal Hill rings in the season with its annual “Christmas on the Hill,” Dec. 2, from 2 to 6 p.m. Billed as “a European-style marketplace” boasting “old-world charm,” and “the spirit of Christmas.” Head to Atwells Avenue to stroll the marketplace and hear carolers, take in the lights. Details here.



Bristol’s signature event of the Christmas season, the Grand Illumination, will take place on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 5:30 p.m. Rain date is Dec. 3.

The free event features light displays and performances by local students and artists along Hope Street. The highlight of the evening will be the arrival of the “Man in Red” from the North Pole, who will flip the switch to light up the town Christmas tree and the giant snowflake, officially marking the start of the Christmas season “Bristol-style.” 400 Hope St., Bristol. Details here.


Legend alert! The Ocean State’s favorite two-legged good boy, Joey from Tiverton, melted hearts as a star of Puppy Bowl XIX. Joey — so named because he hops like a baby kangaroo when not in his wheelchair — is out to teach the world that special needs dogs need love, too: the 13-pound hero is now the subject of “Joey’s Two-Legged Life,” by Kristen Peralta, illustrated by Robbin Lynch. Peralta is the executive director of Vintage Pet Rescue, where Joey once lived. Now Vintage Pet Rescue hosts a book paw-singing/adoption event with Joey at Rumford Pet Center in Smithfield. Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 445 Putnam Pike. Details here. Read my story on Joey here.



It’s a Santa thing. Yup, while he likes to travel by boat in Wickford, Santa drives a Jeep when he’s in Cumberland. Santa’s Jeep Parade hits Diamond Hill Park Dec. 2 from 3-6 p.m. Just pay for what you eat and drink at the free admission event. Expect food trucks, train rides, DJ, photo opps with “Christmas characters,” make-your-own ornaments, a meet-and-greet with Santa himself — and a Jeep parade. Details here and here.


But wait — this town isn’t done yet. Cumberland celebrates with its 15th annual Blackstone River Theatre Craft Fair & Holiday Festival at the Blackstone River Theatre, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The free admission fest features live music, crafters, artisans, raffle and bake sale. 549 Broad St. Details here.


Woonsocket brims with spirit this weekend: The 15th annual Woonsocket Main Street Holiday Stroll takes place Dec. 2 from 2-7 p.m. With an aim to bring shoppers to the brick-and-mortar businesses in the Main Street area, expect “entertainment all afternoon and evening.” On the docket: horse-drawn cart-rides, tractor-drawn cart-rides, photo booth, live music, fire performer, dancing, and more. Details here.

Meanwhile, from 3-8 p.m. on Dec. 2, you could head to River Island Art Park for “Winter Wonderland Woonsocket.” Expect Santa, Tree-lighting, petting zoo, pony rides, live ice-carving demos, live wood-carving demos, free books and crafts, fire pit, kids entertainment, light displays, and more. And Woonsocket’s Lops Brewing hosts an indoor holiday market from 1-5 p.m. that day, with art vendors and Aquidneck Island Oyster Co. Details here.


Whether you know him as Gus Fring, Stan Edgar, or Moff Gideon, hear the amazing Giancarlo Esposito speak at URI Dec. 4. I love him in “The Boys,” but to me, he’ll always be the stone-cold drug-dealing chicken restaurant manager whose face melted off. The Emmy nominee and NAACP Image Award winner speaks at URI Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. in an event open to the public. Hosted by URI’s Student Entertainment Committee, Esposito — who has a lengthy resume, from “The Usual Suspects” to “Better Call Saul” to “The Maze Runner” — will talk “about his journey on stage and screen and the hurdles faced as a person of color and learning to embrace his biracial identity as a part of his acting,” according to URI. $25 general public. ($10 for URI students, $15 faculty/staff) Info. here and here.


The Collaborative, a Warren-based arts nonprofit, hosts its Small Works Show opening reception Dec. 7 from 6-8 p.m. Expect light snacks, cash bar and lots of small works — 8 inches and under — for purchase, according to their website. 4 Market St., Warren. Details here.


Welp, this sounds cozy. Head to Smug Brewing Dec. 8 to crochet a scarf to give or keep while you sip brews. Each $40 ticket includes a crochet kit with all supplies needed to make an adult-sized scarf or cowl, along with pattern. Beginners welcome, but basic crochet understanding is suggested. Cozy Time Bear vibes. 6-7:30 p.m. 100 Carver St., Pawtucket. Details here.


‘Tis the season for…

Wild animals and bright lights: The Holiday Lights Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo, a Rhody holiday tradition, brings us “larger-than-life dazzling displays” made of some 3.5 million lights. Grab an adult beverage, hot chocolate, s’mores and stroll through 40 acres of illuminated pathways, according to the billing. Santa makes an appearance Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. 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.

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.

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 Blvd., Newport. 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.

Until next week, Rhody: Keep rockin’.

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