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Christmas in Newport Rhode Island is a special time of year. While this might be a popular summer resort area, the holiday season is a sparkling gem that you won’t want to miss!
Enjoy all the coastal festivities, from boat parades and buoy decorations to jaw-dropping lights and decor at the famous Newport Mansions.
You might also like our guide to the best Christmas lights in Massachusetts for even more holiday cheer.
Christmas in Newport, Rhode Island
Head to Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay area to enjoy a coastal community where the rich and famous have spent their summers for generations.
It was in Newport that JFK and Jackie Bouvier got married and it’s here where you can see everything from megayachts to mega-mansions.
It’s also a really pretty town with gorgeous cliffs and views!
Come for the Christmas season in Newport and you’ll be treated to lovely celebrations and decorations all around.
These are some of our favorite things to do in Newport RI at Christmas.
If you’re only interested in the mansions, we have a “Christmas at the Newport Mansions” section toward the end of our guide that’s dedicated to the best decorations and events.
Newport Christmas Boat Parade
One of the best things to do in Newport before Christmas is the Newport Illuminated Boat Parade.
Decorated boats take to the water for a shimmering celebration of the festive season.
You can view the boat parade in Newport from the Newport Yacht Club, Perrotti Park, Bowen’s Wharf, Bannister’s Wharf, or other points around Newport Harbor.
It’s free to watch the parade, and the city usually organizes some sort of food drive or other collection to benefit the community.
Get into the giving spirit right after Thanksgiving to kick off the Newport Christmas season!
Christmas in Newport Festival
You can enjoy Christmas in Newport every day in December, thanks to the yearly Christmas in Newport celebration.
Join in with the rest of Newport’s community as they visit mansions, attend tree lightings, and more, all across the city.
If you can’t get enough of Newport at Christmas, stay overnight at the cozy and cheerful Almondy Inn Bed and Breakfast (25 Pelham St).
Bowen’s Wharf Christmas Tree Lighting
A true Newport Christmas would not be complete without the yearly Bowen’s Wharf Christmas Tree Lighting.
In early December, gather around the enormous tree set up at the wharf and watch it light up as the Christmas season begins.
Enjoy live music, refreshments from local restaurants, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus!
One of the most classic Newport Christmas activities is attending the Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff Mansion (548 Bellevue Ave).
Follow the main character throughout the mansion for the first act and then sit in the grand ballroom for the second act.
This might be the most unique showing of The Nutcracker on view, and it is an incredibly special experience to share with your loved ones.
Book your tickets early so you don’t miss out.
This is actually one of our favorite things to do in RI all winter!
Christmas Shop at Bowen’s Wharf and Bannister’s Wharf
Walk along the unique cobblestone pathways and explore small local shops, art galleries, and more.
Plus, you can enjoy sleek, modern accommodations at the Pelham Court Hotel (14 Pelham St) if you’re planning on staying in Newport overnight.
Holiday Market at Hotel Viking
If you’re hoping to find unique Christmas gifts made by local Newport artists, make sure to stop into the Holiday Market at Hotel Viking (1 Bellevue Ave).
All the best and most unique items will be on display at this Newport Christmas market, so get the rest of your shopping done here!
Even better, book a stay and you won’t have to carry your holiday shopping far at all.
Holiday Lantern Tour with Newport History Museum
To honor and celebrate the city’s rich and storied past, the Newport History Museum (127 Thames St) offers a special Christmas treat every year.
The Holiday Lantern Tour is an exploration of the early American Christmas traditions and how Newport residents celebrated in their own way.
Check the schedule to plan your activities around this lovely event.
For even more history, book your stay for your Newport Christmas getaway at one of the genuine historic Newport mansions, the Chanler at Cliff Walk (117 Memorial Blvd).
Shop at A Christmas to Remember on Thames St
There would be no Christmas in Newport without a stop in A Christmas to Remember (130 Thames St).
This sprawling Christmas shop is open year-round, as has been for more than 25 years!
They also offer free personalization for most ornaments, helping you to keep your Newport Christmas memories alive.
If you’d like to enjoy the beauty of Newport at Christmastime after you shop, take the Cliff Walk Self-Guided Walking Tour.
A Christmas for Carol at the Newport Playhouse
One of the funniest Newport, RI holiday events of the season is the showing of A Christmas for Carol at the Newport Playhouse (102 Connell Highway).
The show is hilarious, wacky, and over the top, and it’s a perfect way to balance the more traditional and serious Newport, Rhode Island Christmas events.
If you plan to spend a night in Newport, book a room at the iconic Hydrangea House, which has an incredibly cozy and vintage feel (16 Bellevue Ave).
Grand Bellevue Dinner Train
For a romantic holiday experience, book a trip on the Grand Bellevue Dinner Train (1 Alexander Rd).
The train leaves from Portsmouth and ends in Newport, and offers a full-service dinner along the Narragansett Bay Railroad.
The holiday train runs from the end of November to mid-December and is sure to provide you will all the warm and cozy vibes of the season.
Coastal Queen’s Holiday Cruises
There is nothing more special than the Newport Christmas cruise during the holiday season.
The Coastal Queen’s Holiday Cruises range from Candy Cane Express Cruises to the Newport Christmas Boat Parade Cruise.
There’s even a special Santa Meet and Greet trip on the Coastal Queen!
Check the website for availability and to book tickets.
Bask in the Oceanfront Christmas Vibes
Looking to enjoy a long festive getaway?
Make a whole vacation of it with your own apartment at OceanCliff I and II.
Located near Castle Hill Lighthouse, you can enjoy the scenic beauty of winter along the Narragansett coastline with the mansions and activities just around the corner.
The suites are the perfect base to enjoy all the Christmas festivities in Newport while enjoying the total serenity of the off-season in this summer resort community.
Blackstone Valley Polar Express
While The Blackstone Valley Polar Express (1 Depot Sq) takes place in Woonsocket, a 45-minute drive from Newport, the Christmassy vibes just can’t be missed.
Every golden ticket comes with a hot chocolate and a cookie, and children receive their own silver bell!
The train ride is a truly magical experience for any age and is a perfect activity to get into the holiday spirit.
Christmas at the Newport Mansions
The mansions are an iconic part of Newport at any time of year, but especially at Christmas!
These architectural gems represent centuries of wealthy families who called Newport home (or a vacation home).
For the holiday season, the Newport Mansions celebrate Christmas in style and you won’t want to miss it!
Newport Mansions Get Dressed for the Holidays
The best part of visiting Newport in December is going to see the Newport mansions all decorated for Christmas.
Don’t miss the 50-foot Christmas tree made of Poinsettias in the Breakers mansion for the perfect family photo!
Get a ticket to visit any time between the end of November and the earliest days of January to tour some of the most incredible homes in New England.
Keep an eye out for special events, like the Wreath Making Workshop at The Breakers Stables.
A Rough Point Holiday
For a closer look at the history of the Newport Mansions, book a tour for the Rough Point Holiday (680 Bellevue Ave).
The owner of the mansion, Doris Duke, celebrated the holiday in both traditional and unique ways.
Come take a look inside her life on one of the best Newport mansion Christmas tours.
Holiday Brunch at Chinese Tea House
A favorite and unique event at one of the Newport mansions at Christmas time is the Holiday Brunch at The Chinese Tea House (596 Bellevue Ave).
Located at the ‘summer cottage’ for the Marble House Mansion, this high tea experience includes a tea service, an entree, and additional specialty items for purchase.
Unlike the other mansion events, this one takes place over a limited number of days during the holiday season.
Sparkling Lights at the Breakers
Christmas at the Breakers wouldn’t be the same without those special holiday lights known as the Sparkling Lights at the Breakers (44 Ochre Point Ave).
The sparkling lights are set up outdoors, in a true winter wonderland, with music playing and small gnomes directing your path.
Warm fireplaces, fresh snacks and drinks, and even a glimpse into Santa’s Workshop make this an amazing event for the whole family.
Linden Place Mansion Holiday Market
Linden Place Mansion (500 Hope St, Bristol) is one of the most famous mansions in the Newport-Bristol area.
Each year, the holiday market is held in the ballroom, courtyard, and general grounds.
It is important to note that the DeWolf family were slave traders and were deeply involved in the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Their stories are dark and complex, and their history is reflected within the walls of the mansion.
The Friends of Linden Place is the non-profit that currently manages the mansion; they offer a walking tour specifically addressing the slave trade and the impact the DeWolf family had on its prominence in Bristol.
Christmas at Smith’s Castle
Smith’s Castle (55 Richard Smith Dr) is a special house and museum built in 1678.
Every year, they hold Christmas in the Castle, a simple event for the whole family, featuring baked goods, mulled cider, and cookie decorating for kids.
Teaching the history of the earliest European settlers and learning about how Christmas was spent 400 years ago is a unique thing to do in Newport for the holidays.
Christmas at Ochre Court
Mansions that are decked out for the holidays are always so special, but Christmas at Ochre Court (100 Ochre Point Ave) is especially beautiful.
Ochre Court is located along the famous Cliff Walk in Newport, and it serves as the primary administrative building for Salve Regina University.
Holiday snacks, live music, and activities for kids make this event in early December a sweet gathering to officially ring in the holiday season.
A digital family photo is included with admission, so be sure to take advantage of the gorgeous mansion setting!
Christmas at Blithewold Mansion
If you’re looking for a glimpse into the holiday traditions of Bristol, visit Blithewold Mansion for the Christmas season.
Tour the mansion and peek into the bedrooms, halls, and dining areas to get a sense of how the Van Winkle/McKee family spent their Christmases in the Gilded Age.
Trio Pass to the Mansions
Because there are so many festive decorations to see during Christmastime, the Newport Mansions opened up a seasonal Trio Pass.
The Trio Pass allows you entry into any three open mansions, and you don’t have to see them all at once.
Make an entire weekend of it and enjoy all the holiday excitement the mansions can offer.
Newport is gorgeous during Christmas, and you can experience it all on this self-guided walking and driving audio tour.
We hope this guide helped you plan your Christmas in Newport RI! We love visiting the area all year round, but especially during the festive season.
Tell us your favorite Christmas event in the comments below!