75 SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE THINGS TO DO BETWEEN NOW AND 2019:
ART (AND SHOPPING)
Holiday shopping is a GREAT opportunity to support local artists. Whatever budget you’re working with, there are creative people in Rhode Island making (frequently) amazing things by hand. They can’t do it forever, though, unless people like you actually go out and buy their work.
So with that in mind…
This weekend PROVIDENCE ART CLUB opens its annual Little Pictures exhibition, where you can buy small, affordably priced artworks and actually take them right off the wall. Pieces get replaced over time for a revolving two-month exhibit. (11/11-12/23) Newport’s SPRING BULL GALLERY is doing the same thing, but in Newport. That one already opened and runs through 12/30. There’s also an exhibit of Small Works at Westport’s DEDEE SHATTUCK GALLERY, although I don’t know whether that one has the same grab-n-go format.
Then there are the one-day/one-weekend sales! So, so, so many of them. The Steel Yard is first out of the gate with a one-day RESIDENT ARTISTS HOLIDAY SALE on Saturday, November 10. (That’s today!) That’s part of a larger, neighborhood-wide open studios in the Valley part of Providence, though only the Steel Yard attached the word holiday to their event. There’s an AWESOME AFFORDABLE ART SHOW in Warren on 11/15, the Narragansett Brewing-sponsored MADE ON HONOR MARKET in Pawtucket (11/17-18), the BLITHEWOLD WINTER MARKET in Bristol on 11/18, OCEAN STATE ARTISANS at CCRI Warwick on 11/23, the FOUNDRY ARTISTS HOLIDAY SHOW at the Pawtucket Armory from 11/29-12/9, and the PVD WINTER LIGHTS MARKET takes place under a heated tent in Burnside Park on 11/30-12/1.
Moving into December… DWRI LETTERPRESS has their annual open house on 12/1. Consider also the open studios at THE MILL AT SHADY LEA (12/1-12/2) in North Kingstown, a holiday sale at NEW URBAN ARTS in Providence on 12/8, the ART PROVIDENCE HOLIDAY SHOW at the RI Convention Center (12/8-12/9), a HOLIDAY OPEN STUDIOS in Pawtucket on 12/8 and the CRAFT AND KITSCH WINTER MARKET at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative (12/8-12/9). FIELD OF ARTISANS will set up at Whalers Brewing in South Kingstown every Sunday from 12/2-12/23.
For something hands-on, LETTERPRESS YOUR HOLIDAY CARDS! at a three-hour workshop in the AS220 Printshop (12/9). For seasonally appropriate art you don’t have to think about buying, the RE-TREE event at Tiverton Four Corners features illuminated trees made from entirely recycled materials. That opens 12/15.
Trinity Rep is doing A CHRISTMAS CAROL, as they do, with Stephen Thorne in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge this year and a different local choir performing on stage every night. That runs through the end of the year. If you don’t want to visit Providence, or just want cheaper tickets, two other local productions of A Christmas Carol are happening at the Arctic Playhouse in West Warwick (12/6-12/9) and the Contemporary Theater Company in Wakefield (12/6-12/16). If you like comedy, Epic Theatre Company is doing AARON BLANCK’S A CHRISTMAS TO FORGET (11/29-12/8), the Barker Playhouse has something called THE BUTTERFINGERS ANGEL, MARY & JOSEPH, HEROD THE NUT & THE SLAUGHTER OF 12 HIT CAROLS IN A PEAR TREE (11/30-12/9), and the Newport Playhouse is doing A DOUBLEWIDE TEXAS CHRISTMAS (11/23-12/30). Combining Dickens and comedy, Attleboro Community Theater is doing THE TRIAL OF EBENEZER SCROOGE, a Christmas Carol sequel in which Scrooge sues all the ghosts for breaking and entering (11/30-12/16). For something different, Pawtucket’s Community Players are doing IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: THE MUSICAL (11/30-12/9).
Google “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie” and you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of people (correctly) stating that yes, DIE HARD is in fact a Christmas movie. Whether you agree or not, there are 30th anniversary screenings at the Providence Place and Warwick Showcases on November 11 & 14. Cinemaworld Lincoln is running a FREE KidFest, with daily screenings of Christmas favorites including HOME ALONE (11/30-12/6). IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the gloomiest Christmas movie, screens at the Greenwich Odeum on December 21. I’m hoping at least one local theater will screen ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, the new British zombie Christmas musical, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one. In the meantime, Disney’s THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS sounds like a dud, but reviews are surprisingly positive for THE GRINCH. (It features the voice of Angela Lansbury so how bad can it be?) The only Thanksgiving screening I’ve come across is from local schlock horror series Dreadphile Cinema: they’re showing killed turkey-man slasher movie BLOOD FEAST on 11/15. For something wintry but secular, see ski documentary THE FACE OF WINTER at the Jane Pickens (also 11/14).
Island Moving Company is doing its annual NEWPORT NUTCRACKER at Rosecliff (11/23-11/30), Festival Ballet is doing THE NUTCRACKER at PPAC (12/21-12/23), and at least two smaller companies are also doing (surprise!) The Nutcracker. There’s a ballet version of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS at Rhode Island College (12/14), while the State Ballet of Rhode Island does Marsden’s COPPÉLIA in Cranston at the Park Theatre (11/30-12/1).The PROVIDENCE GAY MEN’S CHORUS do their annual holiday show (12/6-12/9). The 2018 HOLIDAY POPS TOUR features the Boston Pops at the PPAC (12/8). Aurea Ensemble do their annual take on Dylan Thomas’s A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES in Providence (12/8) and Barrington (12/14). Voices of Unity/RPM Voices of Rhode Island present CHRISTMAS AT MT. ZION: THE REASON FOR THE SEASON in Newport (12/14). The CHORUS OF WESTERLY Christmas Pops performs on 12/16. For something unusual, the four-member ST. PETERSBURG MEN’S ENSEMBLE perform Russian choral and folk songs at Emmanuel Church in Newport (12/16), while the Swanhurst Chorus does its 26th ANNUAL MESSIAH SING on 12/22.
DARLENE LOVE will perform her 1963 hit “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and a bunch of other songs at the Greenwich Odeum on 12/6. Country act THE MAVERICKS do a Christmas show at the Strand on 12/4, while country-pop star BILLY GILMAN performs at the Dunkin Donuts Center on 12/8. The holiday edition of the monthly SWEET LITTLE VARIETY SHOW happens at Mirabar on 12/13. The MISHNOCK BARN COUNTRY DANCE CHRISTMAS PARTY takes place in West Greenwich on 12/15. WGBH brings a CHRISTMAS CELTIC SOJOURN to The VETS on 12/20. On New Year’s Eve, go out with a bang doomg something really unexpected, like splurging on $100 a ticket for the HYE NYE celebration with live Armenian music (12/31).
Author CLAREMARY SWEENEY launches locally set Christmas mystery Last Carol of the Season at Wakefield Books (11/24), while dozens of writers will be selling their work at the RHODE ISLAND AUTHOR EXPO at Rhodes on The Pawtuxet (12/1). Polar Express author CHRIS VAN ALLSBURG is reading and signing his most famous book at An Unlikely Story in Plainville (12/9).
A bunch of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants stop at the VETS for A DRAG QUEEN CHRISTMAS (11/13). Trans* and gender diverse people can celebrate Thanksgiving together with a free TRANS* THANKSGIVING DINNER at the Zuccolo Recreation Center in Providence. On December 1, the local chapter of Black and Pink will host a HOLIDAY CARD WRITING PARTY for incarcerated LGBTQ+ people. Later that night there’s a vigil at the State House in honor of WORLD AIDS DAY. December 17th is the INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS, and the day will be marked locally by the organization COYOTE RI with a vigil and documentary film screening. Local drag icon Sabrina Blaze does her annual HOLIDAZED show at Woonsocket’s Stadium Theatre on 12/20.
LA SALETTE SHRINE opens its annual Festival of Lights on Thanksgiving night (12/22) and keeps it open through the Epiphany (January 6). It’s a Catholic shrine, but it also features some 300,000 Christmas lights and a really involved display of nativity scenes from around the world. The Rhode Island Indian Council hosts an INTERCULTURAL LAB in Providence with art, music, and a panel discussion about Native and Latin identity (11/30). I found very few Hannukah happenings this year, but the family event at Temple Beth-El (12/2) features a FESTIVAL OF LASER LIGHTS for the kids, so that might be worth checking out. The ASALTO NAVIDEÑO is a Puerto Rican holiday celebration at the Southside Cultural Center (12/8).
FOOD AND DRINK
This isn’t tied to a specific holiday, but the self-described GREATEST ARMENIAN FOOD FESTIVAL IN NEW ENGLAND happens this weekend (11/10-11/11) at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet. Bartenders compete in the AIRING OF THE BOTTLES at Twin River on 12/11, while bakers compete in front of an audience at the GINGERBREAD COMPETITION at the Ocean House in Westerly (12/12).
The NEUTACONKANUT HILL CONSERVANCY GUIDED HIKE takes place in Providence’s only wild forest on 12/1. Throughout the month of December, the KRAMPUS 5K/10K is a “virtual run” – that is, you do it wherever and whenever you want – that benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Wrap up the year by scoping out seals on Save The Bay’s WESTERLY NATURE CRUISE, running once or twice a week until Christmas and then running daily from 12/27-12/31. Then on New Year’s Day, you can plunge into the frigid waters of Westerly at the 13th annual PENGUIN PLUNGE, benefitting the WARM Center.
Three Newport Mansions – The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House – are decked out for CHRISTMAS AT THE NEWPORT MANSIONS (daily from 11/17-1/1). Newport’s annual ILLUMINATED BOAT PARADE happens in the harbor on 11/23. On Fridays you can have AFTERNOON TEA AT BLITHEWOLD (11/23-12/28). Also on 12/1, Woonsocket’s MUSEUM OF WORK AND CULTURE is hosting an open house and visit from labor expert Santa Claus, while the PLAINVILLE WINTER FESTIVAL features a tree lighting AND a gigantic bonfire. If you really want to do the weirdest thing possible, the Xtreme Wrestling Alliance is hosting a NEW YEAR’S EVE BASH (ha ha) on 12/31 in West Warwick.