South County Spreads Holiday Cheer

Complete with local arts, shopping, and merriment, the festive season in Southern RI never looked brighter

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Following a year of pandemic restrictions and cancellations reining in festivities, this holiday season is feeling all the more cheery – especially in South County where there’s no shortage of Christmas magic to be found. From quaint main streets transformed into winter wonderlands to art galleries brimming with handmade crafts and ornaments, unique gifts are right at our fingertips (instead of stuck on a shipping container!), and plenty of tree lightings bring neighbors together to convene over hot cocoa and carols. We’ve compiled best bets for celebrating all season long, beginning with family-friendly merriment, art sales, holiday theater, and so much more!

Making Merry

December 2

North Kingstown Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony: Hosted by the NK Chamber of Commerce at Updike Park, the official tree lighting will open with joyous sounds from the NK Community Youth and Adult Chorus and end with a visit from Santa arriving by firetruck. NorthKingstown.com

December 2-5

Wickford Festival of Lights: This South County tradition wows visitors with Santa’s grand arrival via kayak, plenty of caroling, shopping with a Dickens-like atmosphere, horse-drawn hayrides, and hot cocoa, along with an elf parade on Saturday! Wickford, NorthKingstown.com

December 4

Holiday Artisan Bazaar: Artisan vendors and crafts by church member artists offer a variety of handmade items, plus a ReGift Store, bake sale, and holiday greens for sale at the Lutheran Church of The Good Shepherd. Proceeds benefit the South County Domestic Violence Resource Center. Kingston, GoodShepherdRI.org

Christmas Fair: This annual sale at St. Augustine's Church features wreaths and greens, baked goods, basket raffle, handmade crafts, and Santa's Attic. Don’t miss the chance to get a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Kingston, StAugustineURI.org

Coastal Queen’s Holiday Cruise: Take a coastal holiday tour of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay and soak up the festive lights from a warm and cozy boat. Jamestown, CoastalQueenCruises.com

East Greenwich Holiday Parade: The traditional tree lighting of years past will follow a Holiday Parade down Main Street with a festive Dr. Seuss-like theme, along with Christmas carols, dance performances, Santa, and more. EastGreenwichChamber.com

December 4-5

Christmas at the Castle: Smith’s Castle celebrates the season with the theme of “Here We Come A-Caroling” with a variety of family entertainment, crafts and gingerbread cookie decorating for kids, a holiday bazaar, and more. North Kingstown, SmithsCastle.org

Narragansett Festival of Lights: Featuring the Holiday Street Faire, the Towers is an epicenter for holiday cheer with caroling, tree lighting, and fireworks, plus the Jingle Bell Run on the beach. NarragansettCOC.com

December 8

24th Annual Downtown Holiday Stroll and Luminaria: Westerly turns into a wonderland with sidewalks aglow, shops open late, hayrides with Santa, strolling carolers, hot chocolate and cookies, and more. Westerly, Facebook: Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce

A Multi-Chamber Holiday Party: The North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce and the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce present an evening of networking over hors d'oeuvres and cocktails at George’s of Galilee. NorthKingstown.com

December 10, 11, 17 & 18

Santa Checks In: In the midst of the magic leading up to Christmas, Santa checks into Ocean House. Children and their families can make a special visit to the big man’s guest room for a one-on-one virtual Zoom with Santa. Watch Hill, OceanHouseEvents.com

December 11

Cross Mills’ Holiday Ramble: Ring in the holiday season with carolers, Santa, hot cider and treats, and shopping from local businesses, artists, and vendors, plus special events at the Charlestown Historical Society, the Cross' Mills Public Library, and other local orgs. CharlestownHistorical.org

Ghost Tours in the Park: Granite Theatre presents an immersive telling of A Christmas Carol led by Ebenezer Scrooge on a ghostly tour of Wilcox Park. Westerly, GraniteTheatre.com

Christmas By The Sea Shopping Event: North Beach Clubhouse hosts a curated group of hand crafters and artisans selling their festive wares at this lovely venue by the sea. Narragansett, Facebook: The North Beach Clubhouse

December 12

Westerly Light Parade: A nighttime parade of floats, music, and festive holiday displays will feature thousands of LED lights. Enjoy dinner and cocktails with a view of the magical experience. OceanChamber.org

Ice Cream Social with the Mystic Aquarium Penguins: Ocean House welcomes penguin guests for children and their families to meet and learn about, an experience that wouldn’t be complete without a chilly ice cream bar. Watch Hill, OceanHouseEvents.com

December 13

Gingerbread Village Competition & Community Reception: This complimentary Ocean House event kicks off the Twelve Days of Christmas with a display of local high school students’ entries into a friendly gingerbread house competition. Watch Hill, OceanHouseEvents.com

December 14

Ornament-Making Workshop: Visit Ocean House for a winter evening of ornament-making, with all the supplies you’ll need included to craft spectacular ornaments for gifting or hanging on your own tree. Watch Hill, OceanHouseEvents.com

December 19

Gingerbread House Workshop: Create your own gingerbread house with expert guidance from the Ocean House pastry team. House structures, icing, assorted decorative treats, and more will be provided. Watch Hill, OceanHouseEvents.com

December 31

Annual New Year’s Eve Bonfire: Light up the night at Ninigret Park with a massive bonfire and munch on complimentary donuts and coffee. Charlestown, CharlestownRI.org

New Year’s Eve Dinner and Comedy Bash: Ring in the New Year laughing at the Carriage Inn with a buffet dinner, dancing, and a comedy show featuring Mike Murray, Colleen Galvin, Tom Stuart, and Stephanie Peters. View the Times Square Ball Drop from a giant projector screen. North Kingstown, Facebook: Carriage Inn Dining

January 1

Polar Plunge: Ocean House Marina sponsors this chilly dip at Charlestown Beach, raising funds for RI Center Assisting Those in Need. OceanHouseMarina.com

Art Extravaganza

Artists Cooperative Gallery of Westerly

The Annual Holiday Gift Show features one-of-a-kind crafts and fine arts from ACGOW members. Along with browsing the show for gifts, visitors are encouraged to bring donations of new art supplies to the gallery, which will be delivered to the Jonnycake Center in time for the holidays. The opening reception on December 8 coincides with the Westerly/Pawcatuck Annual Holiday Stroll & Luminaria. The show runs December 3-22. Westerly, WesterlyArts.com

Bosgraaf Stained Glass Studio

Warm up over a complimentary hot chocolate bar while taking in the whimsical glass designs by 50+ student artists at Bosgraaf Stained Glass Studio’s 6th Annual Holiday Sale. Stained glass pieces range from functional to decorative, in holiday, nature, and other enchanting themes for every taste, plus handcrafted ornaments and decor. A portion of all proceeds benefit the Wildlife Rehabilitation Association of Rhode Island. The sale takes place December 4, 10am-4pm and December 5, 10am-3pm. Peace Dale, BosgraafStudio.com

Fayerweather Craft Guild

Members are ready for the holiday season at Fayerweather Craft Guild with plenty of nautical ornaments, handmade gloves, wooden toys, and a range of both decorative and new items. With a mission of promoting old crafting traditions while creating new ones, there's no shortage of one-of-a-kind finds at this former Rhody Gem. Kingston, FayerweatherCraftGuild.com

Field of Artisans

This artisan market is partnering with Whalers Brewing Company for a series of pop-up events every Sunday. Bring friends and enjoy a beer at this seasonal shopping experience, or peruse vendors solo, with plenty of opportunities to connect with the artists and find thoughtful handmade gifts. Consult their “Field Guides” online to see each event’s unique lineup, recurring December 5, 12, 19, 11:30am-4:30pm.
Peace Dale, FieldOfArtisans.com

Hera Gallery

On display in a new expanded gallery space, Hera Gallery presents their Small Works Show of member works in a variety of styles, but all in miniature form and going for under $100 each. Shop the sale through December 18. Wakefield, HeraGallery.org

Jamestown Arts Center

For two days, the galleries will be infused with a little extra magic for the Holiday Arts Market, featuring 15 artists exhibiting a range of fine art, jewelry, ceramics, and one-of-a-kind gifts. Come out to support local artisans and get your Christmas shopping in on December 10 from 5:30-7pm and December 11, 10am-4pm. JamestownArtCenter.org

The Mill at Shady Lea

While the usual December Open Studios won’t be gathering this year, the artists at the mill have been hard at work and many look forward to opening their studios during Shady Lea’s winter hours, December 4, 11, and 18, 10am-3pm. Find participating artists on Facebook: The Mill at Shady Lea. North Kingstown, TheMillAtShadyLea.com

South County Art Association

Celebrating 50 years of hosting their Holiday Pottery and Art Sale, South County Art Association is commemorating the milestone by extending an invitation to artists from past sales, along with current members, to showcase their work. Decked out in greenery, the historic Helme House will be filled with dazzling gifts, from handmade pottery and jewelry to festive cards, paintings, prints, ornaments, woodwork, and more through December 19, Wednesdays-Sundays from 10am–6pm. A special “Meet the Artists” shopping event will be held December 9. Kingston, SouthCountyArt.org

Wickford Art Association

Surprise someone on your list with a dose of local art from Wickford Art Association’s annual Small Works Holiday Art Show and Sale. Over 40 member artists will display works that are less than 14 inches in size and affordably priced to sell, on view December 22. WickfordArt.org

Joyful Sounds

Through December 19

A Christmas Carol: The Granite Theatre puts on its own rendition of the family Christmas classic. Westerly, GraniteTheatre.com

Through December 24

It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play: Back by popular demand, this staged 1940s radio broadcast of Frank Capra’s holiday movie classic features live sound effects and a handful of actors portraying the fateful Christmas Eve story. Warwick, GammTheatre.org

December 4

URI Symphony Orchestra & Jazz Big Band Holiday Concert 2021: Two versions of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite are performed side-by-side – the 1892 original and the playful, jazzy 1960 reinvention by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Kingston, URI.edu/music

Maddie Poppe’s Acoustic Christmas: The American Idol winner brightens the holiday season with an acoustic holiday performance featuring songs from her Christmas From Home EP. East Greenwich, GreenwichOdeum.com

Community Messiah Sing: Enjoy a community sing along of Part One of Handel’s Messiah with the Chorus of Westerly. ChorusOfWesterly.org

December 10

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band Christmas Show: Rhode Island’s own John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band take the stage for a special holiday show at the Courthouse Center for the Arts. West Kingston, JohnCafferty.com

December 11

Ho, Ho, Ho! It’s a Beatles Christmas Show!: Beatles historians bring unique vignettes that explore The Beatles at Christmas, from concerts and public appearances to private moments behind the scenes. East Greenwich, GreenwichOdeum.com

December 18-19

Christmas Pops!: An evening of music and merriment for the whole family featuring the Chorus of Westerly. Westerly, ChorusOfWesterly.org

December 23

Christmas Cocktail Cabaret: It doesn’t get more festive than this. Cocktails, carols, and Christmas spirit at The Towers. Narragansett, ContemporaryTheaterCompany.com

Christmas in Song: A night of traditional song, bell ringers, holiday readings, and more. Watch Hill, OceanHouseEvents.com

Season of Giving

Whether spreading goodwill with toy and clothing donations or bringing shelf-stable goods to your local food pantry, take a moment this season to give back. Here’s a handful of South County organizations collecting for the holidays. 

The Collective Holiday Toy Drive
Peace Dale, TheCollective401.com

Jonnycake Center of South Kingstown
JonnycakeCenter.org

Jonnycake Center of Westerly
Jonnycake.org

Matthew’s Wish Toy Parade
Charlestown, RhodeIslandCan.org

North Kingstown Food Pantry
NKFoodPantry.org

St. Peter’s by the Sea Community Market
Narragansett, StPetersByTheSea.com

Town of North Kingstown Holiday Giving Program

NorthKingstown.org

Welcome House of South County
Peace Dale, WelcomeHouseofSouthCounty.org

Christmas  Trees

Pick your perfect evergreen centerpiece from one of these South County tree farms.

Evergreen Acres,
West Kingston

The Farmer’s Daughter,
South Kingstown

Riverside Christmas Tree Farm,
Charlestown

Slocumville Farm,
Exeter

Stop & Chop Tree Farm,
Exeter 

 

Please note that events may require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test and mask-wearing regardless of vaccination status unless actively eating or drinking. For more information, visit COVID.RI.gov

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