By Sandi Barrett, Contributing Writer
NEWPORT, R.I. – Gaze in wonder at the twinkle and glitter of the Newport mansions decked out for Christmas. Silver, gold, red, and green herald the season in Rhode Island’s wealthiest Gilded Age mansions.
Surround yourself with the magic of the Newport mansions during the holiday season. See The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms in all their festive finery―a beloved Newport tradition. In neighboring Bristol, the Blithewold mansion is also dressed up for the season and ready to greet visitors.
As you approach Corneilus Vanderbilt‘s mansion, The Breakers, the exterior decorations impart an expectation of enchantment. As Newport’s most prestigious Gilded Age chateau, The Breakers is not to be missed.
The Great Hall, with soaring ceilings is richly decorated; the perfect setting for their annual 15-foot poinsettia tree. Decked out in all her glory, The Breakers’ mantels, walls, and free surfaces are filled with swags, wreaths, and colorful arrangements.
The Morning Room is a study in shine and reflection. The original platinum panels play a role in creating a bright and festive feel. In the Dining Room, gleaming gold leaf, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, and glittery decorations enhance the room’s architectural beauty. Not to be missed is Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom. It offers a peek into the luxurious lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Meandering through paths on the mansion’s 13-acre property is the seasonal lighting display, Sparkling Lights at The Breakers. The festive colored lights illuminate enchanting characters and charming tableaus. The spectacular holiday displays will light up your holiday spirit.
The massive scale of decorations required to take the foyer from cold marble to warm and inviting requires masterful skill. The entry shimmers with Christmas cheer. As you ascend the stunning marble staircase, allow the grandness of this beautiful mansion to sweep you away to a happy holiday interlude.
The Elms, another popular summer retreat, was the home of Edward Julius and Herminie Berwind. Known for their elaborate parties, it makes you ponder what stories these walls would tell if they could talk.
The solarium, with its beautiful fountain and ornate statues, is the perfect setting for elaborate decorations. Copious amounts of rich evergreens envelop you as you step into the room. It is a picture-perfect holiday moment.
The Elms offer a Servant Life’s tour, a peek into the “downstairs” servant’s work in these Gilded Age mansions. The number of staff required to manage the massive homes is mind boggling. Downton Abbey fans will love this tour.
Blithewold Mansion in nearby Bristol is also beautifully decorated for the Christmas season. Its extensive gardens are lit with fun and festive lighting for the mansion’s Sparkle event. Blithewold was the sprawling estate of Augustus and Bessie Van Winkle. With the lawn stretching down to Narragansett Bay, the 33-acre grounds are perfect for a winter eve’s walk.
Stroll about the grounds and enjoy the illuminating experience. Enjoy holiday music, toast s’mores with friends, sip your favorite winter libation, and savor the holiday experience.
The mansion is also decked out with its finest holiday decor. Each room is artfully draped in glittery silver and gold set off by vibrant reds and rich greens.
If you go
Holidays at the Newport Mansions (https://www.newportmansions.org/events/holidays-at-the-newport-mansions/) is a wonderful time to visit. Holidays at the Newport Mansions runs from November 18, 2023 – January 1, 2024. Visitors can purchase regular tickets to tour the mansions. A special timed ticket is required to tour the Sparkling Lights at the Breakers and includes the mansion visit.
Blithewold Mansion’s season Sparkle event (https://www.blithewold.org/event/sparkle/) begins November 24, 2023, and runs through December 31, 2023. You can also purchase a mansion tour.