Last weekend was the official start of Christmas in Newport. This annual celebration of the Christmas season is in its 48th year. There are activities scheduled on nearly every day in December. There are more than 1500 volunteers who help bring this city-wide extravaganza to life and along the way raise thousands of dollars for charity. This past week there have been numerous Christmas tree lightings, carol singing, holiday open houses, and wreath sales. But the season has just begun!
Our visitors and guests are in a holiday mood already, despite a clear lack of snow on the ground (for the moment). They are energized and excited by all the beauty of our city and want to know what else they can do during their Newport stay. Learn about all the activities and places they can experience. There is truly plenty to offer them.
While a few highlights and tours are listed here each week, the very best place to find and review all the many Christmas activities and the full calendar of events for this season is on the dedicated website at ChristmasInNewport.org. Another reliable list of attractions and events in Newport during December can be found at DiscoverNewport.org.
Please share these events with our visitors and try to attend as many of them for yourself as well.
Christmas in Newport is Here!
Share the joy of this Christmas and holiday season with everyone you meet!!
TOUR GUIDES TIP OF THE WEEK: BE SENSITIVE TO SPECIAL NEEDS
Unlike any time in the past, more people are traveling and visiting us who have physical disabilities. We are seeing greater numbers of people, particularly the elderly, arriving at our museums, mansions, and other attractions using wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and other mobility devices. New technology and stronger materials have allowed so many of our elderly to have hips and knees replaced and receive a new lease for a more active life. At the same time, portable oxygen machines and lighter speedier wheeled devices have restored their options for mobility and travel all over the globe. These are amazing times. I marvel at their perseverance and continuing desire to travel despite their physical limitations. And I also admire the willingness and patience of the spouses, children and caregivers who accompany these folks on their travel and tours via planes, cruise ships, tour buses, and automobiles. So many of them are unheralded saints.
Our role as tour guides, ticket sellers, and caretakers of our wonderful historic homes and attractions is to be aware and be sensitive to our guests and their companions with physical disabilities as they arrive and tour our venues. We must be particularly aware and alert in this winter season as travel and mobility may be further impaired with the rain, sleet, and snow we will be experiencing. Being more patient, more hospitable, and more careful with the needs of these guests will go a long way to ensuring that each one has a memorable and safe visit with us.
Busy days (and nights) are just ahead for the December and Christmas holiday season, right through the first week of January 2019. There will be many school groups, college students, bus tours, and other visitors. Check with one or more of Newport’s largest employers (see contact list below). There are still a very few seasonal and short-term openings for work at the city’s historic attractions, including tour guides, cashiers, security personnel, and ticket sellers.
NOTICE: This is the best time to research jobs, start making connections, and seeking employment for next year. Most of the city’s largest tour and cruise businesses accept job applications year-round. Get a jump on the next year’s seasonal job-seeking crowd and apply now for 2019 work on harbor cruises, walking tour guides, trolley driver/guides, and cruise ship bus step-on guide work.
Here is contact information for the city’s biggest employers of tour guides and greeters.
- Preservation Society of Newport County. This is the largest owner and operator of historic mansions in Newport. Open year-round. They hire tour guides, housekeepers, and security guards. Check out their web site for current job openings. Info: newportmansions.org
- Newport Historical Society. This organization offers the largest variety and greatest number of walking tours in the city. Tours offered year-round. Info: newporthistory.org
- Newport Restoration Society. This non-profit operates Rough Point mansion (680 Bellevue Avenue, Newport). Seasonal. Info: newportrestoration.org
For continuous and updated job listings, please go to www.whatsupnewp.com.
NEW LISTINGS AND EVENTS: For more information to prepare you to be the best tour guide & greeter ever, read and learn about the following updated listings and previews of the busy season ahead for residents and visitors alike.
SPEAKERS & SPECIAL EVENTS THIS WEEK
Check out the wide selection of lectures, exhibits, talks, classes, tours, and workshops to add to your knowledge and increase your understanding of the people and history of greater Newport.
SUNDAYS ONLY – NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 31 – TOURO SYNAGOGUE TOUR – 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM
Touro Synagogue (85 Touro Street, Newport) is the oldest synagogue in the United States. It was designed by Peter Harrison and dedicated in 1763. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1946. Tours begin at the Loeb Visitors Center (54 Spring Street, Newport). The Center opens a half hour before the start of the tour and closes ½ hour after the tour ends. Info: 401/847-4794; tourosynagogue.org
RANDOMLY THROUGHOUT THE CHRISTMAS SEASON –WASHINGTON SQUARE STREET PERFORMERS
Art & Performance join for impromptu street performances in the magical space of Washington Square in the heart of the historic district of Newport. Dancers, singers, and posing “statues” are all part of the mix when this troupe of performers appear for an impromptu happening. There is no schedule. They prefer to just let spontaneity occur in this busy square. Tell your guests to keep their eyes peeled for street entertainment as they shop and tour our city. More Info: Washington Square Street Performers on Facebook or washingtonsquareperformers on Instagram.
NOW THROUGH JANUARY 1, 2019 – FORT ADAMS GUIDED TOURS – DAILY – HOURS VARY
This is a must-see Newport attraction. Fort Adams is the largest coastal fortress in the United States. From pre-revolutionary earthen cannon emplacements through the WWII command center, learn more about the history of the fortress once called “The Rock on Which the Storm Shall Beat”. Guided one-hour tours are offered weekdays at Noon and 2:00 PM; and hourly on weekends from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Located at Fort Adams State Park (entrance off Ocean Drive, Newport). Admission: $12 (adults); $6 (ages 6-17). Info: 401/841-0707; fortadams.org
NOW THROUGH JANUARY 1, 2019 — CHRISTMAS AT THE NEWPORT MANSIONS
Christmas Season begins in November at the four big houses of the Preservation Society. Christmas flowers and special decorations will fill The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House. Special holiday evenings are scheduled at the Breakers on November 24, December 1, 8, 22, and 29th from 6-8 pm. The Elms and Marble House Duet holiday evening is scheduled for December 15th from 6-9 pm. Info: newportmansions.org
NOW THROUGH FEBRUARY 3, 2019 — PORSCHE THEN & NOW – AUDRAIN AUTOMOBILE MUSEUM
The Porsche is one of the most amazing automobile stories of the 20th & 21st centuries. Check out this exhibit and learn about the history and current leadership of this brand. Open daily, 10 am – 4 pm. 222 Bellevue Avenue, Newport. Info: 401/856-4420. Audrainautomuseum.org
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6 – EIGHT BELLS LECTURE – MCMACKEN COMMUNITY CENTER — FORT ADAMS – NOON
Sam Kleiner delivers an interesting presentation, “The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged a Secret War Against Japan.” Free and open to the public. Info: 401/841-7276
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7 – ROGUES & SCOUNDRELS WALKING TOUR – 10:30 AM
Every tour guide should experience one or more of the great walking tours organized by the Newport Historical Society. This tour about some of the city’s more colorful residents – pirates, criminals, and more — leaves at 10:30 am from the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street (Newport). Info and reservations at: newporthistorytours.org
FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS – DECEMBER 7 – DECEMBER 29 – HOLIDAY LANTERN TOURS — 4:00 PM
One of those most interesting and inspiring Newport walking tours! Guests hear the history of early American holiday traditions on this memorable evening walk. Learn how Newporters did, or did not, observe the holidays.
Tour departs from The Museum of Newport History and Shop (127 Thames Street, Newport). Tickets: $15. Members: $10. Active Duty Military with ID: $10. Reservations recommended. Info: 401/841-8770; newporthistorytours.org
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8 – THE CLAGGETTS OF NEWPORT: MASTER CLOCKMAKERS IN COLONIAL AMERICA
Visit this unique art exhibit at Redwood Library (50 Bellevue Avenue, Newport). Info: 401/847-0292; redwoodlibrary.org
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8 – DISCOVER COLONIAL NEWPORT WALKING TOUR – 10:30 AM
Every tour guide should experience one or more of the great walking tours organized by the Newport Historical Society. This tour offers stories of entrepreneurship, African American heritage and religious diversity during Newport’s colonial period. Tickets: Adults: $15; Children: $5. 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM. Tour leaves from the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street (Newport). Info and Reservations at: newporthistorytours.org
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8 – REDWOOD LIBRARY HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE – 11 AM – 1:00 PM
The Redwood Library (50 Bellevue Avenue, Newport) will open its doors on Saturday, December 8 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm for the Holiday Open House. The Open House will feature Christmas carols performed by the Chariho High School choir, a pop-up exhibition of select treasures from our vault, Christmas book display, scavenger hunt, children’s craft and refreshments. All visitors will have a chance at winning raffle prizes. This Open House is a great opportunity for members and the public to learn more about the Library’s history, its collections, and vibrant programming. Free and all are welcome. Info: 401/847-0292 redwoodlibrary.org
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8 – SAVE THE BAY SEAL TOUR – 1:00 PM
One-hour tour to view seals on Citing Rock with experts from Save The Bay. Tour leaves from Bowen’s Ferry Landing, 18 Market Square. 11 AM – 1 PM. Tickets: $17-$22. Register at: savebay.org/seals.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 15 & 27 — A ROUGH POINT HOLIDAY – DORIS DUKE’S ROUGH POINT
Rooms of the museum will be spruced up for the Christmas holiday while others will be cloaked in their winter coverings. Together, these spaces tell the story of Doris’s holiday traditions and the off-season routines of one of Newport’s most famous summer cottages. Hours: 10 am – 4 pm. Admission: $10, adults; Children 12 and under, free. Rough Point (680 Bellevue Avenue, Newport). Info: 401/847-8344; newportrestoration.org/events
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9 – GOLDEN TO GILDED WALKING TOUR – 10:30 AM
Every tour guide should experience one or more of the great walking tours organized by the Newport Historical Society. On this tour you’ll get the inside skinny on the transformation of Newport and its people from its colonial Golden Age to Gilded Age summer colony. This tour leaves at 10:30 am from the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street (Newport). Info and reservations at: newporthistorytours.org
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9 — THE BROADWAY HOLIDAY WALK-ABOUT – LOCAL BROADWAY DISTRICT
This annual shopping and strolling event will be held on Sunday, December 9th from 11 am – 4:30 pm on Broadway in Newport. Enjoy local restaurants and merchants all along this vital district. Sponsored by the Broadway Business Association. Info: facebook.com/broadwaynewport/
SuNDAY, DECEMBER 9 – SAVE THE BAY SEAL TOUR – 1:00 PM
One-hour tour to view seals on Citing Rock with experts from Save The Bay. Tour leaves from Bowen’s Ferry Landing, 18 Market Square. 11 AM – 1 PM. Tickets: $17-$22. Register at: savebay.org/seals.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9 – “LA FAMIGLIA” – ART EXHIBIT OPENING RECEPTION – ATELIER NEWPORT – 2:00 PM
Since its opening in 2016, Atelier Newport has hosted numerous artists and their work. This new exhibit brings together a number of these artists’ work for one exciting show. Exhibit will remain through January 20, 2019. Opening Reception: 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Free and open to the public. Info: 401/619-0700; ateliernewport.com
MONDAY, DECEMBER 10 – ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE – 10:30 AM
This tour features riots and rebellion, enemies and allies! Learn about Newport in the years surrounding the American Revolution. This tour leaves at 10:30 am from the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street (Newport). Info and reservations at: newporthistorytours.org
PREVIEW OF WINTER IN NEWPORT
JANUARY 6, 2019 – NEWPORT ART MUSEUM SCHOOL CLASSES BEGIN
The Newport Art Museum School’s courses and workshops for youth and adults begin January 6, 2019. Offerings for the winter term include a professional practices workshop for artists, monotype printing, painting, hand building in clay, and more. Newport Art Museum members receive a 15% discount on tuition. Registration closes one week before the class start date. All classes are held at The Newport Art Museum School located in the Coleman Center for Creative Studies (26 Liberty Street, Newport). More information on the full selection of classes and registration is available at newportartmuseum.org, or by phone at 401-619-7983.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10, 2019 – “I AM AN HONEST WOMAN:” FEMALE REVOLUTIONARY RESISTANCE ALONG THE NEW ENGLAND SEACOAST
Dr. Emily Murphy, Curator for the National Park Service at Salem Maritime National Historical Site, will discuss the popular spinning bees of the New England seacoast in the late 1760s and early 1770s, including several that took place in colonial Newport. This presentation will examine how middleclass women participated in resistance in the years before 1775. Presentation will be held at the Newport Historical Society Resource Center (82 Touro Street, Newport), 5:30 -6:30 pm. Info: 401/846-0813; newporthistory.org
JANUARY 19-25, 2019 – NEWPORT WELLNESS WEEK — NEWPORT MARRIOTT
Start the year off right by focusing on lifelong health and wellness solutions. Join us for this annual celebration of mind, body and spirit featuring a diverse array of events throughout the destination tailored to help you become the best version of yourself. This annual event will feature a Wellness Marketplace on Sunday, January 20th in the Atrium of the Newport Marriott. More info: https://www.discovernewport.org/newport-wellness-week/
JANUARY 24, 2019 – WINTER LECTURE SERIES – ROSECLIFF – 11:00 AM
The First lecture in this Winter Lecture Series is titled, “Rosecliff-Hangers: Stories from the Rose Garden.” Members: $10; General Public: $15. Info and Reservations: 401/847-1000; newportmansions.org
FEBRUARY 15-24, 2019 — NEWPORT WINTER FESTIVAL
Check out the 31st Annual Newport Winter Festival, touted as “New England’s Largest Winter Extravaganza.” the annual Winter Festival will take place throughout Newport and Newport County. It features over 150 events and offers our guests and visitors a unique winter experience combining food, festivities, music, and fun for all ages. Highlighted events include the Family Fun Days, Chili Cook-Off, Mac & Cheese Smackdown, Newport Burger Bender, Princess Party and exciting, fun concerts by the Jimmy Buffett tribute band, Changes in Latitudes and more! Updates and more information: https://www.visitrhodeisland.com/event/newport-winter-festival/39329/
UPCOMING SPECIAL EVENTS IN 2019
JUNE 21-23, 2019 – THE NEWPORT FLOWER SHOW – AUDUBON ARTISTIC ADVENTURES – ROSECLIFF MANSION
The 2019 Newport Flower Show will feature design and horticulture exhibit, a Home & Garden Marketplace, Oceanside Boutiques, outdoor garden displays, lectures, and demonstrations by the top experts in the field. The Opening Night Party will take place from 6-9 pm on June 21.
OCTOBER 3-6, 2019 – AUDRAIN’S NEWPORT CONCOURS & MOTOR WEEK – INAUGURAL EVENT
The Audrain Automobile Museum presents the inaugural Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week coming to Newport, Rhode Island on October 3 -6, 2019. Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019 will be the first of an annual event which aims to enliven the story of the automobile and its racing history in the northeast region of our country. With all this history, and help from their Event Chair, world renowned collecting, restoration, and culture expert, Jay Leno and their Concours Chair, Donald Osborne, noted classic car historian, consultant, writer and television personality, the Audrain Automobile Museum adds another chapter to Newport’s extensive book of automotive and sporting fascination.
With the support and assistance from the Preservation Society of Newport County, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Salve Regina University, along with car enthusiasts, luxury car brands, venue partners, and supporters in Newport, Audrain plans to execute one of the highest quality events that the community has ever seen and raise money to increase the local economy. Info: 401/856-4420; audrainautomuseum.org
A NEW EXHIBITION AT ROSECLIFF: BILL CUNNINGHAM: FACADES
BILL CUNNINGHAM: FACADES, the newest exbibit at Rosecliff, opened on Sunday, December 2nd. Celebrating the creative intersection of fashion and architecture through the lens of a visionary photographer, this exhibition explores Cunningham’s self-created project, begun in 1969, documenting the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City. Here he captures Manhattan’s Egyptian temples and Russian cathedrals, Beaux-Arts mansions, Gothic Revival churches, art deco office buildings, and high Victorian department stores. Bill Cunningham found antique clothes in New York’s thrift shops, street fairs and auctions, and dressed Editta Sherman, “the Duchess of Carnegie Hall,” in his fashion finds, posing her in front of a wide variety of these Manhattan sites. The results are mesmerizing.
There are currently two new books, both published this year, you can read now to get an insight into the life and careers of multi-talented photographer and milliner (hat maker), Bill Cunningham. Check out his intriguing autobiography, FASHION CLIMBING, A Memoir with Photographs (New York: Penguin Press, 2018).
Also, look for POLKA DOT PARADE: A BOOK ABOUT BILL CUNNINGHAM, by Deborah Blumenthal. An earlier book of 128 of the photographs from this project, FACADES (New York: Penguin Books, 1978), by Bill Cunningham and Marty Bronson, is currently out of print.
BILL CUNNINGHAM: FACADES at Rosecliff will be open through March 1, 2019. Info: newportmansions.org
GO ON THESE TWO MANSION TOURS!
SERVANT LIFE TOUR AT THE ELMS: EXPANDED NUMBER OF TOURS!
Considered by many to be the best tour in Newport, The world-famous guided “Servant Life Tour” at The Elms has added two additional daily tour times to meet demand during this holiday season. Tours are now offered at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm. The tour is one hour. Info: newportmansions.org
BENEATH THE BREAKERS TOUR: EXPANDED NUMBER OF TOURS!
The Breakers tour, “Beneath the Breakers,” is scheduled daily. Tours are now offered at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm. Tour is one hour. Info: newportmansions.org
HANDBOOK FOR NEW TOUR GUIDES & GREETERS
If you’re new to Newport and/or new to this field, get your copy of THE OFFICIAL 2018 NEWPORT GUIDES & GREETERS HANDBOOK [Direct from the author or via Amazon.com] to help you become a master hospitality ambassador for our city. It also lists many of the best tour companies and hospitality organizations hiring seasonal and year-round people here. Consider working in ticket sales or other support positions at one or more of these tour companies. It will give you some visitor services experience and make you aware of tour guide and greeter jobs as they become available during the season.
KENNETH PROUDFOOT, a Newport Tour Escort and Guide, is the author of The Official 2018 Newport Tour Guides & Greeters Handbook (Shoreline Press (RI), 2017).