Rhode Island may be the country’s smallest state in terms of area, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in heart when it comes to holiday celebrations. When you book a stay at a cozy Rhode Island vacation rental, you can easily attend festive winter events and see stunning Christmas-themed displays. Experience old-fashioned holiday spirit by staying in the charming town of Bristol. Make your Christmas a little merrier with a visit to one of these cities and towns in Rhode Island.

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1. Newport

The city of Newport goes all out for Christmas, celebrating the holiday throughout the entire month of December. Book your vacation rental for early in the month so you can be present for the official opening of Christmas in Newport, which consists of a tree-lighting ceremony, a cannon salute, and live entertainment. Costumed carolers roam the streets, and the Colony House is open for tours. Check out the local homes and shops, dripping with lights and holiday decorations in anticipation of the Newport Doorway Contest judges’ decisions.

During the rest of the month, the city’s calendar is packed with holiday concerts, walking tours of historic homes and lavish mansions, and visits from Santa Claus. The Newport Skating Center is open for ice skating, and the Newport Public Library hosts winter story time and holiday-themed crafts for little ones. Take the kids for a visit with the man in red at The Elms, or bring your own special ornament to participate in the community tree decorating event at Seamen’s Church Institute in mid-December.

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2. Wickford Village

Historic Wickford Village has an unbeatable charm that really comes alive during the holiday season. The waterfront streets of this quaint village are lined with unique shops and eateries, so you can do plenty of Christmas shopping during your visit. Come in early December for the annual Festival of Lights, where there’s a tree-lighting ceremony, and merchants stay open later to accommodate holiday shoppers in search of the perfect gift. Santa goes sans sleigh for the evening, arriving in Wickford aboard the Sea Princess. Be sure to join the jolly old elf for a hayride.

Another festive Wickford event is Christmas at the Castle, hosted by Smith’s Castle. Docents don period clothing at this 1678 museum, which is one of the oldest homes in the state of Rhode Island. Sip hot cider as you enjoy the live entertainment. Purchase a fresh wreath to hang on the door of your vacation rental, or let the kids take part in the Christmas cookie decorating activity.

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3. Providence

Book your vacation rental in Rhode Island’s capital city for a full month of holiday-themed activities to keep the whole family entertained. Providence City Hall hosts its annual Winter Lights Market and Tree Lighting near the beginning of December. Be on hand as the city mayor lights up the huge, brightly lit tree at City Hall, then head to Burnside Park to stroll the artist marketplace, listen to carolers, and see live performance from dance troupes, fire jugglers, and more.

Head to the Alex & Ani Skating Center for the second day of the celebration. Lace up your skates, and take the kids out on the ice. Check out the beautifully decorated rink tree, and stick around for the ice skating demonstration that features national champion skaters. Showcase Cinemas in Warwick brings “It’s a Wonderful Life” back to the big screen on select dates in December, or you can catch a performance of the “The Nutcracker” by the Festival Ballet at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

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4. Bristol

Bristol, Rhode Island, knows how to do Christmas right with its annual Bristol Christmas Festival. Be there on the first Saturday of December for the Grand Illumination, when the town’s Christmas tree is lit in front of the historic Burnside Building. Get there early for festive music and dance performances, and be sure to watch out for Santa, who gets the honor of lighting up the tree and giant snowflake that hangs over Hope Street.

Spend an enchanted afternoon touring Blithewold Mansion, where you find room after room, as well as the outdoor garden, filled with lights and holiday decorations. The Mansion even hosts children’s holiday tea events, which are wildly popular and sell out quickly. If you’re spending the holiday in Rhode Island, make the 15-minute drive to Triverton to get a Christmas tree for your vacation rental. Check out Clark’s Christmas Tree Farm, Pachet Brook Farm, or Naugatuck Farms.

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5. Pawtucket

Pawtucket’s Winter Wonderland Festival takes place over the course of two weekends in early December. Get ready to see plenty of lights, as Slater Memorial Park glows, filled with more than 500 illuminated Christmas trees that line the roadway, circle the pond, and wind up the hill. Families and businesses sign up every year to decorate their own tree, a tradition that started in 1999 with only 100 trees. Twenty Victorian buildings are decked out in lights, and there’s even an 18-foot-tall snowman that talks, to the delight of the little ones. There are free craft activities for the kids, and they can ride on the miniature train or historic carousel. Take a hay ride with the family, and sip some hot chocolate to warm up while you check out the nightly entertainment.

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