The holidays are right around the corner and for Newport, that means lights illuminating the harbor, mansion tours bedecked with poinsettias and dozens of other holiday-themed events.
The season was jump-started last Friday with the first of the Newport Historical Society's Holiday Lantern Tours. The tours, which begin at 5 p.m. at the Museum of Newport History, give attendees the chance to stroll Newport's streets in the evening and hear stories about all the ways that colonial residents celebrated—or didn't celebrate—the holiday. Reservations are suggested. Call 401-841-8770 for more details.
Christmas at the Mansions will be back the last week of November. The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House invite the community to "experience the magic" the mansions have to offer. Christmas decorations of poinsettias, evergreen trees, wreaths and period ornaments and silverware will create an elegant and authentic setting for visitors. The holiday displays will be up from Nov. 20 through Jan. 2, 2011.
Visits from Santa Claus at the mansions are particularly popular for families and live performances in the evening draw some of the largest crowds, according to Andrea Carneiro, communications manager for the Preservation Society of Newport County. Guests are invited to take self-guided tours through the mansions and are welcomed to eggnog, cider and other seasonal refreshments. For a complete guide to events at the mansions, go here.
The Breakers opens at 9 a.m. daily and The Elms and Marble House open at 10 a.m. Final tours begin at 4 p.m. and the grounds close at 5 p.m. daily. There are no tours on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, final tours begin at 3 p.m. The Winter Passport ticket allows daytime admission to the three mansions and costs $28 for adults and $9 for children 6-17. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The official Christmas in Newport starts on Dec. 1 and continues until Dec. 31. Each day of the month has several Christmas-related activities, events and performances. There are more choices on the weekends, such as inn and hotel tours, Polar Express train rides, church concerts, and Santa Claus visits for kids. The Preservation Society of Newport, Newport Historical Society, Whitehall Museum House, Newport Art Museum and the Tennis Hall of Fame will put on several of the events.
The original Christmas in Newport celebration began as a two week-long festival with one to two events a day. This year, over 75 events have been planned for the entire month of December. Events range from formal dinners and open houses to casual family outings. Some require reservations and registration fees while others are free and open to the public.
In memory of Ruth Myers, the founder of Christmas in Newport, the city will have a ribbon cutting and dedicate a park bench in front of the courthouse at Washington Square on Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. The bench will be next to the Christmas in Newport tree that is lit every year at the official opening of the celebration on Dec. 1.
Christmas in Newport aims to "highlight the beauty of the season and Newport with simple lighting and fresh greens in an effort to recapture the holidays of bygone days," said Kathy MacKnight, President of Christmas in Newport. She says the festival intends to celebrate the "less commercial" side of Christmas and instead focus on the religious and spiritual meaning of the holiday.
"All events on our calendar must be for the benefit of the community, meaning if fees are charged for events they must go to a charity or non-profit organization," she said. "We try to have events for all segments of the population with numerous family activities."
This year marks the first year for several events, including an open house at Vanderbilt Hall, an interactive mystery play and Victorian dinner theater at the Newport Art Museum, and "A Winter's Tail" at the Newport Library. Also new additions: All in A Chord, a women's barbershop chorus, on Dec. 7; a Christmas Acoustic Concert on Dec. 8; Glitter & Gold concert at the Stanford White Casino Theatre on Dec. 18; and an American Girl Christmas on Dec. 19.
Over 1500 volunteers will come together to put on Christmas in Newport this year. MacKnight said that thousands of dollars are raised for local charities every year.
A complete day-by-by guide to the events during Christmas in Newport can be found here.