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The Holidays on the Outer Cape

Ha Ha Ha AND Ho Ho Ho

by Steve Desroches

Some joke that there are only three seasons in Provincetown: getting ready for summer, cleaning up from summer, and summer. Indeed that stretch from the Fourth of July to Labor Day does dominate much of life in Provincetown, but of course while the rhythms and motions of the town do slow down, the town on the tip comes to a distinctive sparkle and glimmer during the darkest time of the year.

Photo: Chuck Anzalone – Courtesy of PMPM

Thanksgiving through the New Year has become a special time in town, when the community comes together after a bustling autumn and visitors revel in a holiday season that is uniquely Provincetown. It literally starts with a flash as the Pilgrim Monument is illuminated the night before Thanksgiving, and stays lit until January 6, acting as a holiday beacon, followed by the lighting of the Lobster Pot Tree in Lopes Square the Saturday after, in what has become another beloved tradition in town.

While of course Plymouth gets all the attention every year when Thanksgiving rolls around, the Pilgrim Monument and the Bas Relief, featuring a depiction of the signing of the Mayflower Compact, are of course reminders that the Pilgrims landed here first. And in a relatively short and quick amount of time, a lot more visitors are landing in Provincetown to celebrate Thanksgiving. What was once a sleepy weekend has grown into a full-on celebration, as many choose to have Thanksgiving dinner at an ever-growing list of restaurants open for the holiday and offering special menus, as well as second-home owners who rent their places out for the summer coming to enjoy the town with family and friends in tow.

Thirsty Burlington

Now the town is hopping that long weekend as entertainment options have expanded, too. The Crown and Anchor is abuzz starting with Drag Bingo on Friday, November 23. Then, Thirsty Burlington brings back The Cher Show, where she showcases the beloved mega-pop icon, covering everything from the Sonny and Cher days right up to her most recent album covering the hits of ABBA, on Saturday, November 24 as well as a special New Year’s Eve performance. Later that night Gerald Goode takes to the piano at the Dive Bar at the Crown for an evening of good times and music.

The Canteen begins their popular Holiday Market Thanksgiving weekend, which will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to around 6 p.m. through January 1. Featuring locally made goods, the market, modeled after European Christmas markets, also hosts entertainment as well as other surprises throughout the holiday season.
Now in its 28th season, the Coffeehouse at the Mews is up and running every Monday night with an open mic and featured performer, and a special Christmas event planned for December 17.

The Lobster Pot Christmas Tree in Lopes Square. Photo: Rebecca M. Alvin

Over at the Pilgrim House, the fabulous Sharon McNight brings her bawdy comedy cabaret back to town for a show sure to have the Puritans rolling over in their graves on November 23 and 24.

For those looking to keep trim this holiday season sign up for the 8th annual 5k Pilgrim Trot on Thanksgiving Day with all proceeds going to Helping Our Women (HOW) and $100 prizes for the first male and female to cross the finish line (Go to to register).

Sharon McKnight

The very next weekend after Thanksgiving Provincetown gets doused in glitter as the Christmas season kicks off with Holly Folly, the annual LGBT+ holiday festival. The Atlantic House, the Crown and Anchor, and the Porchside Bar and Club Purgatory at the Gifford House throw dance parties all weekend long to keep the party going. But in the true spirit of this time of year, Holly Folly begins with the 10th annual Tis the Season for Giving, a benefit variety show for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod hosted by Anita Cocktail and Barbie Que on Friday, November 30 at the Crown and Anchor. Saturday afternoon at the Crown features Holly Folly Drag Bingo (which returns for New Year’s Eve weekend, as well) followed by the Provincetown premiere of The Boy Band Project: Holiday Edition, an homage to boy bands like NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, Hanson, One Direction, Boyz II Men, and more, as Broadway actors from musicals like Wicked, Hair, Cabaret, Mamma Mia, The Book of Mormon, Altar Boyz, and Rock of Ages perform from boy band Christmas albums.

The Pilgrim House celebrates Holly Folly with the return of Lee Squared: An Evening with Liberace and Miss Peggy Lee, a hilarious performance of a concert that never happened between Mr. Showmanship and the jazz singer who gave everyone fever! It’s a night of fantastic live music and singing, spot on impersonations, and most of all, big laughs. A huge hit this past summer and again during its return engagement in September, don’t miss this chance to see this truly one-of-a-kind show on November 30 and December 1.

Laura Cappello as Patsy Cline

Of course, the signature event of Holly Folly is the annual holiday concert by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus at Town Hall Saturday night. This year the Chorus presents Brass, Bows & Boys, a show featuring a diverse array of holiday themed songs. If the holidays have you feeling a bit naughty, take part in the Jingle Bell Run, where participants take a jog down Commercial Street in just holiday themed Speedos and bikinis like the North Pole is having a heat wave.

Each weekend in December features great sales throughout the unique shops of Provincetown, as well as a surprising amount of restaurants still open to feed the hungry shoppers. There are also several events throughout the month to entertain, like the Outer Cape Chorale as they take over Town Hall on December 7 and 8 to present Faure Requiem also featuring John Rutter’s When Icicles Hang. The Provincetown Theater presents Always…Patsy Cline, starring Laura Cappello as the legendary country singer and Julia Salinger as a fan whose life is forever changed after a brief encounter. That show runs Thursday through Sunday from November 29 to December 16. The theater also marks the season with The Townie Holiday Show, a musical variety performance open to all residents to take to the stage December 21 through 23.

Every Saturday throughout the month comedian Kristen Becker and singer and actor Darlene Van Alstyne present Sandy Clause at the Pilgrim House, and on Tuesday, December 11, Penny Champagne and her Merry Band of Misfit Elves hold the Kook Toy Drive at the Grotta Bar, an annual wild night that raises money to help Provincetown families in need (see feature in this issue).

Take a drive down Route 6 to Wellfleet Preservation Hall, which hosts the 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows on December 14 and 15. This film festival screens 15 animated shorts from around the world.


True to form, Provincetown knows how to throw a party to welcome the New Year like no other town. Newcomers to the First Light celebration are always surprised how many people are in town for New Year’s as this tiny town mixes the cozy and warm with the fun and outrageous. Nightclubs, bars, and restaurants offer up a wide array of dining and dancing options, including the Leather District Dance Party on Saturday, December 29 at the Crown and Anchor, which also hosts the fabulous Suede, presenting her annual New Year’s show. Come Sunday the Crown presents the Dina Martina Christmas Show, a not-to-be-missed holiday offering from the beloved demented darling. Her Christmas shows made her a legend in her hometown of Seattle; so do not miss this one-night-only hilarious holiday romp. New Year’s Eve Thirsty Burlington rings in 2019 with The Cher Show just before the Crown hosts its Resolution Dance Party with DJ Chris Racine and VJ Tom Yaz. And on New Year’s Day, the bravest and/ or craziest of revelers take a dip into frigid Provincetown Harbor for the Polar Bear Plunge and then later that night either bundle up on the beach or enjoy a cocktail in a waterfront restaurant or bar to watch the annual fireworks and welcome in 2019.

This holiday edition of Provincetown Magazine marks our last for 2018. It’s been a fabulous year full of great shows, art exhibitions, and the unique spirit of Provincetown that keeps it one of the most interesting and fun places on Earth (which, despite what a growing number of people think, is indeed round). It’s a thrill to cover arts, culture, and entertainment on the Outer Cape, and we can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store. Have a wonderful winter! See you in April!

Lee Squared

Venues Mentioned

4 Masonic Pl. 508.487.3821

225 Commercial St. 508.487.3800

11 Carver St. 508.487.8442

247 Commercial St. 508.487.1430

9 Carver St. 508.487.0688

429 Commercial St. 508.487.1500

336 Commercial St. 508.487.6424

1 High Pole Hill Rd. 508.487.1310

238 Bradford St. 508.487.7487

260 Commercial St. 508.487.7000

335 Main St. 508.349.1800

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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