If you are thinking of taking an enjoyable Christmas vacation, Providence, RI is a destination worth considering.
Providence is the capital city of Rhode Island. It is home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design making it a happening community that is conducive to the arts. 18th century homes line the streets and Waterplace Park serves as home to the WaterFire art installation that lights up the tidal basin making for a terrific outdoor event venue.
Read on to find out about activities that will make a holiday visit to Providence a lot of fun.
Ice Activities at BankNewport City Center
The BankNewport City Center is a year-round venue located in the heart of downtown Providence. During the winter months, it transforms into a skating rink that offers ice skating, skating lessons and ice bumper cars. There is also a Subway concession area on site. Visit for some terrific seasonal fun.
Open Air Saturdays in Downtown Providence
There are several shops in downtown Providence that make for great holiday shopping. From mid-November through to Christmas, retailers welcome shoppers for an Open Air Saturday event. Cars are blocked from driving down the streets to allowing guests to roam through the area freely.
Downtown Providence is full of great boutiques and restaurants where you can stop to get a bite to eat. As an added bonus, Trinity Brewhouse hosts a pop-up garden at Grant’s Block with live musical performances.
Holiday Lights Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo
The Roger Williams Zoo is a great place to check out the animals. For the holiday season, they light up the grounds with larger-than-life luminous displays and over 1.5 million lights. Although 2020 was a drive through event, other years have featured Brew at the Zoo, a Jack-o-Lantern spectacular and special events at Carousel Village.
Rhode Island State House Tree Lighting
Rhode Island may be the United States’ smallest state, but it has one of the grandest state houses in the country. It features a majestic white marble dome and a museum showcasing the Colonial Charter granted in 1663 by King Charles of England which guaranteed religious liberty. A statue of Rhode Island’s Independent Man stands on top of the dome representing freedom of thought and action.
You can visit the State House at any time, but for the ultimate experience, why not come by for the Tree Lighting?
The event takes place in early December and offers holiday treats, kids crafts’ and a special visit from Santa. The governor and his family light the tree making for a terrific cap to the evening.
Tree Lighting at City Hall
Although the downtown Providence area has changed over the years, City Hall is a mainstay. It was constructed in the 1870’s and features a cast iron and masonry structure.
The annual tree lighting occurs in early December and is led by the city’s mayor. Guests can come by to enjoy live performances, special giveaways and a festive Winter lights Market.
The mayor will light the 35–45-foot tree which sits on the steps of City Hall. Other festive elements include life size ornaments in Biltmore Park, snowflake lined streets and seasonal projections on the building itself.
After the festivities at City Hall end, guests are welcome to head over to the BankNewport City Center for PRIDE ON ICE featuring the figure skating drag queen Milk who appeared in RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Bank Newport City Center Tree Lighting
The BankNewport City Center has its own tree lighting for people to enjoy. In addition to the tree being lit, guests can also enjoy a World Champion ice skating demonstration. The performance typically features an ice-skating celebrity host and emcee as well as figure skating medalists.
Winter Lights Market at Burnside Park
The Winter Lights Market takes place over the course of a weekend in early December at City Hall’s Burnside Park. It features an array of activities including two tree lighting ceremonies, ice skating demonstrations, children’s programming, music, Culinary and Artisan Markets and more.
A Christmas Carol at Trinity Rep
Trinity Rep is an acting troupe and venue in Providence. Every year, you can count on the members to present a live production of the classic “A Christmas Carol”. Accompany Scrooge on his journey through past, present and future so he can find out what the season is truly about.
Christmas Scotch Party at Lippitt House
The Governor Henry Lippitt House is a historic house museum on the east side of Providence. It is a historical landmark and one of the finest Italianate mansions in the state.
The house will be fun to see during the annual Scotch Party. Guests will have the opportunity to sip and savor various types of whisky and artisan hors d’oeuvres as they stroll around the grounds.
Benefit Street Stroll
Benefit St. is a Providence street that stretches 1.2 miles long and is full of residential, institutional and religious architecture from the colonial and Victorian eras. In early December, it lights up with its holiday finest. Visitors can stroll down to check out the wreaths hung on the doorways, the candles illuminating the windows, the many decorative lights and the streetlamps hung with greenery.
Food trucks line the streets providing treats to enjoy as you stroll.
Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker
If you can’t go a holiday season without catching the Nutcracker, the Festival Ballet has your back. Every year, this ballet theater hosts a performance of the famous production that follows Clara and the Nutcracker Prince through a magical world.
Annual Little Picture Show
The Providence Art Club serves as a venue and community where local artists can create, display and circulate their works. During the holiday season, guests are welcome to come in and view what’s available and take home a piece for themselves. Oil still lifes, landscapes and mixed media pieces will be sold, all for under $300.
If you are looking to make your holiday special, consider traveling to Providence. It’s a capital city that has a lot to offer. What will you be doing when you’re in town?