fb-pixelBest things to do in Rhode Island this week: Dec. 8-15 - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: Dec. 8-15

This week: Nazo Nutcracker, Taylor Swift party, square-dancing, ghost-hunting, farm fun, Grateful Dead tunes, and more!

Kobe Atwood Courtney as The Nutcracker, in Festival Ballet Providence's 2021 production of the Christmastime classic.Liza Voll

My friends, a Westerly homeowner has been named TIME’s Person of the Year, beating out King Charles III and Barbie, and I am choosing to take this as a victory for Rhode Island. “Sure, Windsor Castle and Barbie Land are cool, but have you been to Misquamicut State Beach?” was clearly a thought in that editor’s meeting. So rejoice, neighbors!

I’ve found a week’s worth of awesomeness for you — including a Swiftie party, square dancing, Nazo Nutcracker, Grateful Dead tunes, and more. Let’s rock.


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 the 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.

And note that on Dec. 15, they’re knitting hats. Same place, same price.



Treasure hunters, shop local and unique at the seasonal Providence Flea’s Holiday Markets. This week’s dates: Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 from 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Dec. 10 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.


I launched a subsection of this column called “Hot Tickets” because (hopefully) you Globe Rhode Island readers rely on this column to plan your fun, and I care that you rock Rhody to the fullest.

These are big name or otherwise wicked cool events that I predict will sell out before I get time to alert you to them week-of. In these instances, when tickets become available, I’ll break the glass, pull the lever and sound the hot ticket alarm. [Sirens wail.]


  • On Dec. 8 at 10 a.m., tickets will go on sale for Kevin Hart at PPAC. Hart’s “Brand New Material” hits PVD Jan. 14. Details here.
  • Tickets are on sale now for D-lister Kathy Griffin at The Vets Feb. 15. From $65.
  • And Wanda Sykes arrives at The Vets March 3. Tickets from $29.50.


Shop local as Bristol hosts a European-style Christmas Market Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Dec. 10 from noon to 6 p.m. According to billing, think “rustic huts” where vendors sell holiday fare and wares, plus entertainment, Santa, wreath-decorating and kids crafts. 400 Hope St. Details here.

Meanwhile, Bristol’s Linden Place Mansion celebrates the town’s Christmas Festival Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. with Victorian-style carolers on the front steps. Free. 500 Hope St. Details here.


‘Tis the season to watch the story of George Bailey over and over… and over again. For old-school family fun, Warwick’s Gamm Theatre presents “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a live radio play starting Dec. 9. For fans of the classic movie, this looks to evoke all the nostalgia and happy holiday vibes. Ticket prices vary per day. Though Dec. 24. 45 Jefferson Blvd. Details here.


Calling all Deadheads! Playing Dead, the Grateful Dead tribute band that rocked PVD’s Oystermania last month (I danced until my feet hurt) makes its R.I. return to rock The Met in Pawtucket Dec. 9. #TheMusicNeverStopped. $15 advance, $20 door. Doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m. 1005 Main St. Details here.


Sure, he has a house at the North Pole — but did you know Santa also has a house in Bristol? True. According to their website, the nonprofit Bristol Santa House is “a free-of-charge holiday destination focused on creating magical Christmas experiences for children with special needs and their families.” The Man in Red meets with kids Dec. 9 and 10. Parents, learn more here.



OK, this looks storybook-cozy. Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol hosts “Christmas on the Farm.” According to billing, you can “frolic through our pathway of trees, play traditional games, and listen to classic stories….Explore a life-sized Candyland game in the garden… listen to classic Christmas stories in the barn with our sheep, smell the sweet aroma of gingerbread baking in the decorated farmhouse, enjoy hands-on crafts like tin-punching or luminaries, and roast marshmallows by the bonfire.” Yes, please. Dec. 9 and 10, 4-7 p.m. Adults $20, ages 4-17 $15, 3-and-under free. 1 Colt Drive. Details here.


You’ve heard of mansions aglow for the holidays — but what about a mansion aglow for the holidays… with ghosts? Yup, the historic mansion Belcourt of Newport hosts a candlelight “Candlelight Walk with Ghosts Tour” Dec. 9 and Dec. 15. According to billing, “Belcourt has a fascinating paranormal history…the house was once known as the most haunted house in Newport.” Take a nighttime tour and “hear our spooky tales of the spirits that once roamed this great house. Are they still here? You be the judge!” (...I’m under the bed already.) Have at, ghost lovers. Kids 6-12, $10; adults $20. Details here and here.



Providence hosts a “Hanukkah Spectaculah” Dec. 10 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Expect an evening where “art, music, and community spirit come together under the festive lights,” plus bites from Bubbie’s, a candle-lighting ceremony, and ice skating, according to billing. 10 Kennedy Plaza. Details here.


Swing your partner round and round! Promenade family, Allemande left and do is do! Yup, just lil’ ol’ me practicing for Brown’s free public square dance at Fulton Rehearsal Hall Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. Brown Bears and non-Bears alike can dance to the swing of Brown University Old-Time String Band, MCed by Craig Edwards “an accomplished Shanty Man and maritime music historian at Mystic Seaport” who has been calling square dances for years, according to Brown. Wear your best dancing shoes, partner. Details here.


‘Gannsett is also in the holiday swing. Aside from collabing with the Bing Crosby estate on a Bing x ‘Gannsett brew (I love it), they host an Ugly Sweater Party Dec. 13 from 6-10 p.m. You know what to do. If it’s corny, cringe, or otherwise hideous, don it and you just might win a prize. Plus a “retro game tournament” and DJ. Free admission. 271 Tockwotton St., Providence. Details here.


It’s the classic holiday story of a girl, a mouse, and a wooden man… Yup, “The Nutcracker,” presented by Ballet RI arrives at The Vets Dec. 15 and runs through Dec. 24 — complete with Nutcracker and Mouse King characters designed by Big Nazo Lab. Because Providence. From $45. 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence. Details here.



Swifties, if you’re looking to toast with tea to Taylor’s TIME honor, it might be time for a road trip to Harwich, Mass., for “SwifTEA, an immersive, Taylor Swift-inspired high tea service” at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club.” On Dec. 15, and Fridays throughout December, expect Swift-centric teas (“Love Story Victoria Chai” and “You Need to Calm Down Marrakesh Mint,” ect.) and Eras-themed treats while the Eras Concert streams in the background. On the menu, a mix of sweet and savory: chai cookies, chocolate ganache brownie, gingerbread scones, local cheeses, caviar, lobster rolls, truffle fries, and buttermilk fried chicken slider — no word yet on if a dipping sauce will include “Seemingly Ranch.”) Fans can also “play dress up” with accessories, swap friendship bracelets and snap Polaroids. #SwiftiesRoadTrip. $65 per person; includes tea tray, pot of tea, and friendship bracelet. 2173 Head of the Bay Road, Route 28. Harwich, Mass. Details and reservations 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.

Meanwhile, “Sparkle!” at Blithewold in Bristol glows 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.

Check out the Hot Chocolate Bar at the Chanler at Cliff Walk. 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.