If you see some mice scurrying around the city this month, don’t freak out. They’re probably cast members of Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Based on the story The Nutcracker and the King Of Mice, it tells the tale (no pun intended) of a girl named Clara and her handsome nutcracker prince. $23-85. 8pm December 14, 2pm and 7pm December 15, 1:30pm December 16. 220 Weybosset Street. 421-2787, ppacri.org.
Sing out to Heaven at Handel’s Magnificent Messiah!, December 8 at the Vets. The annual production pairs the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra with the Providence Singers for a rendition of the choral work Handel’s Messiah. $30-$70. 7pm. One Avenue of the Arts. 248-7000, providencesingers.org.
It’s a bummer that the Benefit Street Stroll won’t be happening this year. Luckily, the awesome shop owners up on Hope Street are picking up the slack and throwing a Hope Street Holiday Bash on December 6 from 4-8pm. You can expect live music, fire jugglers and, of course, Santa. The big guy will swap his sleigh for a convertible this year to take his place in the neighborhood parade. hopestreetprov.com.
Contrary to some misguided belief, the zoo does not shut down come the cold weather. In fact, you can Visit Santa at the Zoo on December 1-2. Enjoy a tasty treat, a fun family-friendly activity and photo op with everyone’s favorite jolly man. Bring your cameras. The fun takes place in the zoo’s greenhouse. $5-10 kids; free for parents. 10am-noon or 1pm-3pm. 1000 Elmwood Avenue. 785-3510, rwpzoo.org.
Wasn’t it you who sewed a third arm on your sweater back in home ec class? You – yes, even you – can create a handmade fabric gift that’s sure to be treasured for years to come. Head to a DIY Holiday Gift Workshop at Kreatlier (pictured above) and get schooled by skilled sewers; learn to make bird garland, lavender sachets or bunny dolls. No fingers will be pricked in the process. 804 Hope Street. 432-7995, kreatelier.com.
Avoid the cookie cutter gifts by doing your shopping at the Festival Fete Holiday Market on December 1-2. Featuring over 100 artists selling jewelry, ceramics, paintings, home décor and more, kids can visit with Santa, make crafts and enjoy strolling entertainment while you visit with the folks behind the free gift wrapping counter. 10am-5pm. Garden City Center, 100 Midway Road, Cranston. festivalfete.com.
Maybe it’s because this event falls on my birthday, or maybe because I have an affinity for puppets, but I think everyone should take the kids to see Sparky’s Puppets on December 27 at the Providence Children’s Museum. The colorful hand puppets tell folktales from around the globe. Think creepy Rice-A-Roni hand meets Anansi the Spider. 1pm & 2pm shows. 100 South Street. 273-5437, childrenmuseum.org.
On December 9, children’s musician Elizabeth Mitchell will be performing with her extended family band, You Are My Flower. Together, they will interpret Hendrix, Bowie and Van Morrison in their own special way. Mitchell knows the trick to raising kids who get it: Introduce them to the classics, early and often. $10- $15. 1pm. RISD Auditorium, 20 North Main Street. brownpapertickets.com.
You could see A Christmas Carol (pictured below) at Trinity Rep every single year and never get sick of it. The theatre always puts a unique spin on the tale. For his 15th time, Timothy Crowe stars as Scrooge, the penny-pinching miser who is forced to take a walk through Christmas past, present and future in order to rediscover his goodwill. Now through December 29. $15-$60. 201 Washington Street. 351-4242, trinityrep.com.
Atwells Avenue will be bumpin’ on December 15 for the Federal Hill Christmas Stroll. It kicks off at 4:30pm with a tree lighting in St. John’s Park featuring Mr. and Mrs. Claus, live music and carolers singing in English and Italian. Participating merchants will be offering face painting, gingerbread making and dinner specials. 4:30-6:30pm. 432-7783, federalhillprov.com.
The Providence Athenaeum is the site for A Winter Concert for Fairies and Elves on December 15. It’s an upbeat family-friendly performance by Celtic musician Mary King. After the show, guests are invited to browse the children’s library at the Athenaeum, filled with books, games, toys and DVDs. 251 Benefit Street. 421-6970, providenceathenaeum.org.
Do you and your kids love sledding but have a backyard that’s flatter than a pancake? Conquer the hill at Roger Williams Park beside the Temple to Music at 1000 Elmwood Avenue. Or try the steep hill at Moses Brown at 250 Lloyd Avenue. And, of course, you can always head to Yawgoo Valley. It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it. 160 Yawgoo Valley Road, Exeter. 295-2276, yawgoo.com.
Head to PPAC for A Christmas Celtic Sojourn on December 19. It’s Christmas music, dancing, songs and stories in the Celtic tradition, hosted by Brian O’Donovan. Harps, violins, pianos and angelic voices combine for a peaceful sound that’s sure to rid you of holiday stress and bring your heart rate back down to acceptable level. 7:30pm. 220 Weybosset Street. 421-2787, ppacri.org.
On December 21 and 22, let visions of sugarplums dance in your head as you enjoy Providence Ballet’s rendition of Twas the Night Before Christmas at RIC. Watch as professional dancers and local children take the stage, with dazzling costumes and moving sets. 7:30pm Friday, 2pm Saturday. The Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts Sapinsley Hall, 600 Mount Pleasant Ave. providenceballet.org.
This year marks the 10th annual Bright Night Providence, a New Year’s Eve celebration for all. The downtown event features music, magic, comedy, art and more. Performers of years past included jugglers, magicians, rappers, opera singers, mimes, spoken word artists, storytellers and dancers. Every year sees a different line-up so I guess you’ll have to just wait and see. noon-midnight. brightnight.org.
Pawtucket’s Winter Wonderland in Slater Park takes place this year on December 1-2 and December 8-9. Visit with Santa and the Mrs., take miniature train, carousel and hay rides, see an 18-foot talking Frosty the Snowman, enjoy face painting, crafts, entertainment, food and more. Mrs. Claus will read a story at 4:30pm each night. 4-8pm. Armistice Boulevard. 726-3185, winterwonderlandpawtucket.com.
At the 8th Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest, prizes will be awarded to winners in each age category. Onlookers will enjoy raffles, grab bags, face painting, snacks and holiday photo stations. You’ve always wanted your picture taken with the Abominable Snowman, right? 9am-6pm. $12 to enter the contest. 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston. artists-exchange.org.
Bundle up and head downtown to the Bank of America City Center Skating Rink. The 14,000-square foot is twice the size of NYC’s Rockefeller Plaza’s rink. Adults skate for $6, while children 12 and under skate for just $3. Don’t know how? Lessons are available. During the month of December, the rink is open seven days a week until 10pm. 2 Kennedy Plaza. 331-5544, kennedyplaza.org.
Don’t wake me up out of my nice warm bed unless you’re taking me on some sort of a magical adventure. For a variation of the classic Chris Van Allsburg story, see JUMP! Dance Company’s Scenes From the Polar Express (pictured above). This young person’s dance company will perform the ballet on December 22-23. $5-$10. Wheeler Theatre, corner of Hope and Angell Streets. jumpdancecompany.org.
Teach your kids the true meaning of the holiday season. Sign the whole family up to volunteer. Judy’s Kindness Kitchen is a soup kitchen that prepares meals for distribution at Crossroads Rhode Island. Children as young as eight can assist by making sandwiches on Sundays from 8:30am-10am at Congregation Beth Shalom. Judy’s Kindness Kitchen, 275 Camp Street. judyskindnesskitchen.org.
For some historical holiday fun, visit Smith-Appleby House where Santa and Mrs. Claus will meet kids for photos on December 2. While children discuss their Christmas lists and smile for the camera, costumed Colonial era volunteers will present history of the home while cooking on the hearth. $5 adults; free children. 1pm-4pm. 220 Stillwater Road, Smithfield. 231-7363, smithapplebyhouse.org.