Christmastime in Providence

Here’s to a December filled with holiday traditions.


Here’s to a December filled with holiday traditions that we look forward to year after year. There’s Trinity Rep’s A Christmas Carol, the RISD Alumni and Student Holiday Art Sale, Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker and the amazingly festive holiday displays and tree lightings at the State House. These holiday touchstones take months of planning and coordination to pull off in time for the season, and we got a behind-the-scenes look at how they do it.

Christmas in the City: Trinity Rep's A Christmas Carol

People love a good redemption story, and A Christmas Carol is no exception.

People love a good redemption story, and A Christmas Carol is no exception. While it would be easier to keep things the same from season to season, Trinity Rep re-imagines Dickens’ classic play each year so that no two productions are alike. Grab the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in your life and treat him to a night of theatre magic: We bet even he will have a hard time finding something to complain about.

Did you know?

  • At Trinity’s Chace Theater, no seat is more than 50 feet from the stage.
  • Plans for A Christmas Carol starts in the spring, months before the first rehearsal ever takes place.
  • Designers were brought on over the summer and worked with the director to conceive of the vision for this year’s unique production. 
  • Most of the theatre’s acting talent comes from the company of Trinity actors or the Brown University/Trinity MFA acting program. 
  • 115 kids auditioned at Cardi’s Furniture in September for the six positions in the children’s cast.
  • According to Director James Dean Palmer, when you’ve done A Christmas Carol for 40 years, it can be challenging to solve the play’s big problems in new ways: “You always think, we’ll be the first A Christmas Carol to do something, and someone will say, ‘Oh, we did that in ‘85.’”

What’s on deck for 2016?
Brian McEleney will be playing Ebenezer Scrooge for the fifth time.

$25-$100. Now through December 31. Chace Theater, 201 Washington Street. 351-4242,

Other Productions of A Christmas Carol:

Stadium Theatre: This theatre employs a theatrical flying service and uses a 1926 Wurlitzer organ in each of its performances. December 2-11. 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket. 762-4545,

Artists’ Exchange: If you’re feeling festive, opt to attend a pre-show Holiday Gala at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet prior to the show’s final performance on December 17. December 8-11 at Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston. 490-9475,; December 15-17 at Park Theatre, 848 Park Avenue, Cranston. 467-7275,

Granite Theatre: Take a drive to South County to check out this production, which is a completely original musical rendition of this holiday classic. December 1-23. 1 Granite Street, Westerly. 596-2341,

RISD Gets Crafty with Gift Giving

Odds are good that you’ll be able to find something for everyone on your nice list at the annual RISD Alumni and Student Holiday Art Sale.

Odds are good that you’ll be able to find something for everyone on your nice list at the annual RISD Alumni and Student Holiday Art Sale. Running the gamut of art and design, from jewelry and home goods to children’s clothing and toys, prices range from $5 for stationery to $5,000+ for an original painting or handcrafted furniture. All items are either handmade or fabricated in an ethical way from original designs.

Did you know?

  • The holiday sale began on campus in 1998 then later moved to its current location – the Rhode Island Convention Center – due to a need for more space.
  • There are always more applicants than booths available, so participants are chosen by lottery. 
  • Approximately 5-15 student artists and 200-215 alumni participate. 
  • Artists must be present at the sale, so you’ll have the opportunity to chat with the person who made or designed the item you’re purchasing.
  • There’s always a line to get in at 10am when the sale opens because people want to rush in and get first dibs on items from their favorite artists.

What’s on deck for 2016?

$8 general admission; free for current RISD students and children 16 and under. December 10. Rhode Island Convention Center, One Sabin Street. 709-8585,

Other Holiday Sales

This holiday sale’s popularity spawned the commencement of the downtown brick and mortar store of the same name – this month-long event is now held there. December 1-31. 212 Westminster Street. 272-4285,

Foundry Artists Holiday Show: This seven-day sale, held over the course of two weekends at the Pawtucket Armory, kicks off with an opening reception on December 1. December 9-11. 172 Exchange Street, Pawtucket.

Providence Flea Holiday Markets:
Held over three consecutive Sundays at Hope High School, this annual sale features 50 vendors offering handmade and vintage goods. December 11 and 18. 324 Hope Street. 484-7783,

Christmas in the City: Festival Ballet's The Nutcracker

Festival Ballet Providence (FBP) once again presents Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

$23-$85. December 16-18. PPAC, 220 Weybosset Street. 421-2787,

Festival Ballet Providence (FBP) once again presents Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at the Providence Performing Arts Center. And what a show it is. Artistic Director Misha Djuric is known for his attention to detail – none is too small to be rehearsed and perfected. In fact, the FBP professional company devotes about 350 rehearsal hours to the production each year. And you thought you were tired.

Did you know?

  • The massive Nutcracker set requires two large 18-wheeler trucks to transport it from a warehouse to PPAC. It then takes two days to “load in” and assemble.
  • Since the costumes sit in storage for eight months out of the year, they need to be brought back to life each season and tailored to fit the dancers who will wear them.
  • FBP brings in a special floor called “marley” that is laid atop PPAC’s stage deck. It allows the dancers to have greater control over their movements.
  • Thirty-six delicate and sparkling Swarovski snowflake crystals dangle above the Snow Scene at the end of Act I. 
  • It takes 19 stagehands to make the transition between Act I and II, which includes sweeping up two trashcans of paper snowflakes that fall during the Snow Scene.
  • One of the show’s most tenured cast members is Archie, a 16-year-old dog who has performed in more than 150 shows.

What’s on deck for 2016?
This year’s production features three students from FBP School’s Adaptive Dance program, which is designed for children with Down Syndrome.

Other productions of The Nutcracker:

Stadium Theatre: Presented by Heritage Ballet, this is a full-length version of the beloved holiday production. $20-$40. December 17-18. 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket. 762-4545,


Christmas in the City: The State House Tree Lighting and Holiday Display

Consisting of trees, garlands, wreaths, poinsettias, topiaries, mantelpieces, bells and a gingerbread display, the State House is an albeit unlikely holiday destination that’s well worth a visit, so stop by during normal working hours

Consisting of trees, garlands, wreaths, poinsettias, topiaries, mantelpieces, bells and a gingerbread display, the State House is an albeit unlikely holiday destination that’s well worth a visit, so stop by during normal working hours. Festivities that are free and open to the public include a performance by the Governor’s Own 88th Army Band, as well as Christmas tree and menorah lighting ceremonies.

Did you know?

  • This year, there are more than 9,000 light bulbs on the main Christmas tree in the rotunda.
  • In addition to the main tree, there are between 16-20 other decorated trees that are part of the holiday display. 
  • The Heroes Tree is decorated by family members to honor Rhode Islanders who have joined the military.
  • The main tree is usually between 15-20 feet tall. This year it will be donated by Big John Leyden’s Christmas Tree Farm of West Greenwich.
  • There are approximately 30 performers in the Governor’s Own 88th Army Band.
  • The gingerbread display in the State Room is donated by the Exeter Job Corps Academy each year.
  • The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission’s table displays show how various groups of Rhode Islanders celebrate the holidays.

What’s on deck for 2016?

  • The Governor’s Own 88th Army Band will perform at the tree-lighting ceremony on December 1.
  • A menorah lighting celebration is also scheduled for December (check the Governor’s website for an announcement)

Free. Open throughout December, Monday-Friday. 82 Smith Street.

Other Tree Lightings and Holiday Displays:

City of Providence: Join Mayor Elorza for the City’s 2016 Holiday Celebration and Christmas Tree Lighting, complete with a performance by the Providence Gay Men’s Chorus and a figure skating demonstration by Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan. December 2 at City Hall; December 3 at Alex & Ani Skating Center. 680-5770,

46th Annual Christmas in Newport: This month-long celebration features a wide variety of activities including a wreath sale, lantern walking tour, Mistletoe Madness cocktail reception and more. December 1-31. 849-6454,

31st Annual Festival of Lights:
Historic Wickford Village is the site of this four-day festival, which includes a tree lighting, hayrides with Santa, caroling, an elf parade, ice sculptures and more. December 1-4. 295-5566,