All That Glitters in Provincetown for the Holidays – From Holly Folly & First Light to the Polar Bear Plunge
Provincetown is a glittering destination year-round, but the holiday season is when it really puts the sparkles on, takes a Polar Plunge, and welcomes Broadway stars like Christine Ebersole to town. It’s a joyous time in this LGBTQ+ yuletide haven on Cape Cod, as the festive season ushers in celebrations and parties. Here’s a rundown of the festivities:
History buffs know that the Pilgrims landed first in Provincetown before sailing on to Plymouth. Ptown commemorates the occasion with the annual Lighting of the Pilgrim Monument on November 11, 2022, marking the anniversary of the First Landing. Some 3,100 individual lights will be strung from the top of the monument and continue to shine through early January 2023.
Then it’s time for the annual Mr. New England Leather 2023 from November 18 -20, 2022, with a Leather Welcome Dinner at the Crown & Anchor, a Beer Blast at Provincetown Brewing, and this year’s competition at the Paramount Nightclub.
The lighting of the Lobster Pot Tree in Lopes Square on November 26, 2022, has been an annual Provincetown tradition since 2004. This sculptural “tree” is made from over 100 stacked lobster pots adorned with ribbons and lights, celebrating the resident fishing community.
The Canteen’s Holiday Market and Winter Lodge is a month-long pop-up celebration offering a place to gather, warm up, and enjoy holiday foods and drinks. It’s an opportunity to buy handcrafted goods from local artisans and catch live music and performances. The Winter Lodge is open evenings, Fridays through Sundays, and is a chalet-style pop-up restaurant featuring three heated, holiday-themed dining rooms serving classic European winter dishes like homemade pretzels, schnitzel, potato pancakes, and grilled sausages. Starting the Friday after Thanksgiving it’s open on weekends through January 2nd.
Then the holidays go into overdrive with the 25th-anniversary edition of Holly Folly, which runs all weekend from December 2 to December 4, 2022. The centerpiece will be Hung With Care: A Queer Holiday Burlesque Spectacular, featuring performances from premier cabaret artists. Expect burlesque, dance, circus acts, drag, and singing. Look for the Holly Folly Shop Hop and Stroll as well as the Jingle Bell Run & Champagne Brunch, a Santa run in bathing suits. There will be dance parties, sing-alongs, and drag bingo.
The festive spirit continues the following weekend with the Outer Cape Chorale singing “Songs to Light the Way” at Provincetown Town Hall on December 9th and 10th.
At the end of December, revelers usher in the New Year in spectacular fashion at First Light, which runs from December 30, 2022, to January 1, 2023. There are holiday parties galore and highlights such as the Light Bright Bike Ride on New Year’s Eve. At dusk, catch the annual New Year’s Eve town fireworks display over Provincetown Harbor, easily watched from MacMillan Pier.
The entertainment highlight of First Light will be a New Year’s Eve performance by the legendary two-time Tony winner Christine Ebersole, making her Provincetown debut with Billy Stritch at the piano. It’s part of the Broadway@Town Hall concert series. There’s one show only on Saturday, December 31, at 7 PM. Presented by Mark Cortale, Christine Ebersole is currently co-starring on Chuck Lorre’s hit sitcom Bob Hearts Abishola for CBS. She starred most recently on Broadway in War Paint in her Tony-nominated role as Elizabeth Arden, opposite fellow Tony nominee Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein.
On New Year’s Day, Provincetown will celebrate the sixth annual Polar Bear Plunge when an intrepid group of people will gather in the Johnson Street parking lot, collect T-shirts, listen to music spun by DJ Chris Racine and learn about the work of the Center for Coastal Studies. At noon, weather permitting, they will plunge into the waters of Provincetown Harbor. This event, co-sponsored by the Harbor Lounge, Yolqueria, Mezzeterranean, and 8 Dyer Hotel, will feature warm-up cocktails and chili at Harbor Lounge. Registration is $60 and includes a t-shirt and a donation to the Center for Coastal Studies.
For holiday lodging, it’s wise to book soon. Close to two dozen inns and guesthouses will remain open through the festive season, including Pilgrim House, Crown & Anchor, Crowne Pointe Historic Inn and Spa, Aerie House & Beach Club, Anchor Inn Beach House, Revere Guesthouse, 8 Dyer Hotel, and the Land’s End Inn.
This year’s festivities are one of the most sparkling and glorious ways to welcome 2023 in one of the most tinselly towns on the planet. For more on the holiday season in Provincetown, visit Provincetown Tourism.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.