Rhode Islanders are lucky to experience four full season. While the chill in the air may disappoint beach bums, it's now time for the snow lovers to rejoice. But even the most ardent sun seeker can find reasons to celebrate this winter, especially if they have children. The holiday season is a family-friendly time, and there's an abundance of events and activities geared towards kids.
A number of stage classics will provide holiday entertainment for culture lovers of all ages. Trinity Rep has been staging its annual production of A Christmas Carol since 1977, and the show draws crowds year after year. One of the secrets to its success is that it always changes. In 2006, for instance, the play was presented as a children's story, with a narrator reading from an oversized children's book. Last year's show was much scarier, with lots of light trickery and fog. Many locals are waiting eagerly to find out what director Birgitta Victorson does with this year's production. A Christmas Carol runs from November 20 through December 27, with tickets starting at just $10.
If you like dance, then you'll be pleased to know the Festival Ballet will again present The Nutcracker as part of its 32nd season. Featuring glittering costumes and a breathtaking score by Tchiakovsky, the annual production is a wild success year after year. The show takes place at the Providence Performing Arts Center and runs for just one weekend, from December 11-13. Tickets start at $18.
Another holiday dance treat comes via Jump! The innovative company's young dancers choreograph their own performances, and their annual holiday show, Scenes from The Polar Express, is quickly becoming a tradition in its own right. Based on the beloved storybook by Providence's own Chris Van Allsburg, the show takes place on December 12 and 13 at Nathan Bishop Middle School; tickets are $10. If you don't want to wait that long, though, the dancers will be doing presenting the show for free on November 20 at the Providence Children's Museum.
Tickets to holiday shows are a great gift idea, but if you're looking for something else, there's no shortage of unique, locally-owned gift stores in the area. The East Side has several distinct shopping districts, including Hope Street and Wayland Square. Wickenden Street in Fox Point has lots of options for new and antique items, and Westminster Street downtown has a number of stores, many of which sell locally produced items.
Smaller, more out-of-the-way stores are definitely worth investigating, too, if you're after something truly unique. You never know what you might come across at one of a kind specialty stores like the Lion's Eye on Brook Street or The Old Fashioned Robotic Store, tucked on a side street behind Federal Hill. Ethnic markets are also great places to get food baskets and gifts for your favorite cook. Any of the Italian, Portuguese, and Cambodian markets throughout town would be a great place to start.
Make sure you don't tire yourself out shopping, though, because there's one more activity you won't want to miss. As long as there's snow on the ground, there's sledding to be done! What better way is there to take advantage of the fact that Providence was built on seven hills? Roger Williams Park is the city's largest open space, and offers many hilly slopes to stake out.
But there are over one hundred parks in the city, which means there's probably a sledding hill within walking distance; David Park in Smith Hill and Wanskuck Park in the North End are two good choices, if you're looking for somewhere to start. Or you could go for the big one: Neutaconkanut Hill on Plainfield Street is the tallest point in Providence and the one-time ski slope is a perfect place to bring your sled. The park's been cleaned up significantly in the last few years, and when it snows the hill is full of eager kids racing to the bottom.
Whether you're looking for culture or just somewhere fun (and free) to take the kids, there's no shortage of fun to be had in the city this winter.