The city-by-the-sea

For many, the holiday season in Newport is best described by a famed Christmas carol: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. White lights illuminate homes, shops, restaurants and the bustling wharves throughout the city. The tradition is meant to represent candlelight from days gone by, when families would wait for their loved ones to return home from their adventures at sea. This December will mark the 42nd Annual Christmas in Newport — a month-long celebration toasting the non-commercial traditions of the holiday season. Holiday events are tailored to entertain every age, including tree lightings, Polar Express train rides, historical tours, shopping strolls, concerts and dances, Victorian-era Christmas festivities, culinary fêtes, arts and cultural celebrations and more. (Where else but Newport can you gaze at a 16-foot working gingerbread lighthouse?)

Christmas at the Newport Mansions is a special highlight of the festivities. The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House—three National Historic Landmarks and icons of the Gilded Age in America—are filled with thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens, and wreaths. Decorated trees reflecting individual room décor anchor many of the magnificent spaces. At The Elms, a 15 foot tall poinsettia “tree” is made up of approximately 150 individual poinsettia plants. And windows of each mansion are lit with individual white candles, in keeping with the colonial tradition.

Take the informative audio tours in each house, as well as the Servant Life Tour at The Elms, to hear first-person accounts of life both upstairs and downstairs. Immerse yourself in the stunning architecture and incredible craftsmanship of these American castles, knowing that your visit helps to support The Preservation Society of Newport County in its mission to preserve and protect all 11 historic houses in its care.

Don’t miss Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions for an extra special and unique experience. Visit The Breakers from 6 – 8 p.m. on November 24, December 1, 8, 22 & 29, to enjoy live holiday music and light refreshments as you stroll through its softly lit rooms, taking in the ambience of a Gilded Age holiday. On December 15, you can experience a similar holiday evening at both The Elms and Marble House.

All three houses will be decorated and open daily for tours from November 17 through January 1. Visit NewportMansions.org for more detailed information about the operating schedule.

Hunt for holiday gifts and antique treasures along Newport’s downtown cobblestone streets or enjoy the peaceful simplicity of a hot cup of cocoa at the end of the docks, where the fishing fleets depart to catch the evening’s dinner special. Relax by the fireplace of a charming inn, be pampered in a luxurious spa, sample the spoils of a local brewery and learn about the role rum production played during the Colonial era, while sipping from a batch made the exact same way. For travel packages, visitor information, a full events calendar and last minute deals, visit GoNewport.com.