The Winter People

Are you aware that bears do not actually hibernate during the winter months? I hadn’t actually thought much about this until recent spells of cold weather beat down upon Cape Cod during the latter part of the holidays. Forced in to my own seasonal state of torpor and fueled by wine and a decanted holiday pastry, I began wondering if every other Cape dweller shares the same indoor fate on these oh-soooo-cold days and nights. Or, if by chance, there were other creatures unfazed by these Canadian downdrafts, people who charged out the door to enjoy mother nature in all her wintery glory?

Turns out, such creatures exist! And they all congregate at the Polar Bear Plunge. That’s right, bikinis, speedos and icebergs. Events occur from Provincetown to Cotuit, and are typically held on New Year’s Day. Hundreds of well-intentioned people come together not only to usher in the New Year but for the benefit of individuals and organizations in need. Unfortunately, this year’s frigid temps have put the damper on a few of these scheduled events but there is always next winter to look forward to. That’s right…I said it and I’ll repeat: let’s look forward to next winter! It’s not so bad, is it? So, if you’re in the need for a quick skin tightening and cup of hot cocoa on the beach in January I encourage you to come out of your wintery den and go for a swim at next year’s event. See you at the beach!

Holiday Plans in Provincetown

December starts with a bang (thank you, Holly Folly), simmers down and then kicks it up again for New Years weekend.  It’s the last big party before everyone either heads south or goes into hibernation until May. Here are a few of the other signature events that you won’t want to miss:

FRIDAY

With all the drag shows going on this weekend, you have to hit up at least one. Billie Jean and Tisch DeWilliams are lighting up the Crown & Anchor for a special holiday performance on Friday Night.

SATURDAY
Ptown Art House and Mark Cortale is hosting a concert at Provincetown Town Hall featuring WellStrung, a string quartet with a modern twist. The group plays universally recognized classical pieces while singing pop music hits from the likes of Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, and other pop stars for a uniquely engaging experience.

SUNDAY

We’ll be open and kicking all weekend long at Shipwreck Lounge but if you can only come one night, this should be it. Our “IN WITH A BANG” party kicks off at 5pm. Drinks, music, and good company go all night until 2am.

MONDAY

The POLAR BEAR PLUNGE takes place early afternoon at high tide at the Johnson Street Lot.  I will do this someday before I die.  Maybe this year will be the year. Hot chocolate is included in the registration fee and proceeds go to the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod. You can’t have New Years without fireworks, and this year, the First Light Fireworks will be on January 1st at dusk.

The other parties, performances, brunches, etc. are too numerous to mention but the Provincetown Business Guild has the entire itinerary, you can check it out here.

 

Christmas Shopping in Provincetown

The Christmas season is a great excuse to shop, isn’t it? One of my favorite haunts on Commercial Street is The Canteen and this season, I have one more reason to love it: The Canteen Holiday Market. It is a month-long pop-up shop featuring local artisans and vendors, inspired by the evening holiday markets found in many European cities this time of year. The market kicks off on Holly Folly weekend but continues throughout December and into the beginning of January. Listed below are a few of the vendors I’ll be hitting up for some holiday shopping. I’m also curious to check out their eco-friendly ice skating rink.

Seaside Designs

Sea-inspired paper goods including greetings cards and gift wrap.  Truro-based designer Rebecca Townsend’s style features clean illustrations and fun colors.

2 of 2 goods

One of this Provincetown maker’s handmade miniature houses made of birch, mirrors of translucent acrylic makes an elegant addition to a bookshelf or coffee table.

twigs and bones

Handmade leather goods such as bags and wallets from Florence, an artisan currently apprenticing with well-known owner of ‘Workshop’ here in Provincetown, Victor Powell.

Shoal Hope Ciderworks

This local Provincetown cider made its debut this past summer and is already a hit with locals.

Elixir Confections

This small-batch, family-owned business out of Sandwich, MA crafts sweet treats like the Maple+Maple Cinnamon Sugar Bar, Hot Chocolate on a Stick, and Holiday Advent Bars (a chocolate bar with 24 snap apart cubes embossed with a different holiday image).

This is just a taste of the kinds of distinctive treasures to be found on Commercial Street and beyond. Just the right place to find just the right gift. No time to wait! Shop on!

IT’S HOLLY FOLLY TIME!

It’s that time of year again! Well, no, not turkey time. That’s practically in the past already. We’re talking Santa hats, knit knickers, plenty of red spandex and fake fluffy beards…well, it must be time for Holly Folly Weekend!

Holly Folly is right around the corner. There’s so much to do that weekend, here are our top 5 picks of how to spend it right. Of course, this is just my opinion and you pretty much can’t go wrong with the general light-hearted merry-making that weekend. Just come…and bring your antlers!

THE BOSTON GAY MEN’S CHORUS

Well, obviously we have to start with them, since we ourselves are hosting a little shindig here at the Brass Key for them. The party starts at 9pm at Shipwreck Lounge. Tasty cocktails and talented tenors? Sounds pitch perfect to me. Oh, and of course, the main event is the BGMC’s annual performance on Saturday night at Ptown Town Hall.

JINGLE BELL RUN

Who says exercise can’t be fun?! Bust out your gold spandex and fluffy mittens (yes, the bathing suit is a requirement) and support the Ptown Business Guild in this fun-run followed promptly by a champagne brunch.

SHOP, HOP, & STROLL

Too many good things happening on Commercial Street on Saturday to name them all but suffice to say you should bring your wallet and see where the day takes you!

BAYSIDE BETSY’S PAJAMA DRAG BRUNCH

Brunch, brunch, I wish every day was brunch day! This is a well-loved annual tradition for Holly Folly Weekend and not to be missed! You’ll have to be patient though, as it’s first come first served.

GREGG’S COOKIE PARTY AT THE PORCHSIDE BAR

Yes, it’s Sunday but that just means there are still several more hours until we have to get back to reality so better take advantage! Finish the weekend with something to satisfy the sweet tooth. This is another fun holiday tradition, hosted by The Gifford House Inn.

A New Day

That’s the trick with Halloween. Just like that, it’s November. It sneaks up on you, doesn’t it? We did something new for Halloween this year, transforming the guesthouse into a Haunted Hotel, thanks to the magical skills of David Flower Productions. I like to think we put on a pretty good party. By my measures, we did. This morning, I woke up to a trail of glitter, feathers, fake fur, and impractical shoes leading to my front door. Always the sign of a good time had by all. The day after clean-up is never at the top of my list, so instead of tackling that chore, I’ll just jump right ahead to whatever is next on my calendar. What is next? Well, time to trade in the “no-strings-attached + free candy + excuse to wear goofy/crazy/sexy costumes” holiday for “everyone’s favorite end-of-the-year familial minefield” (a.k.a. Thanksgiving and Christmas). I don’t mean to be too snarky here, I really love both of these holidays too…just not as much as Halloween.

November and December are not obvious choices for a visit to Provincetown. But perhaps they should be. Tomorrow, it will be close to 70 degrees (so they say). Downright balmy by New England standards and perfect for a fall stroll on the beach. The off-season sales will be starting soon on Commercial Street, perfect for tackling the Christmas shopping list. Plenty still going on in town, between PAAM, the Provincetown Theater, and the many year-round restaurants (hello, Squealing Pig!). And, Bay State Ferry just announced they are extending the Fast Ferry service from Boston to Provincetown through Thanksgiving. Yay!

If you’re looking to book an off-season getaway before the year’s out, here are some fall/winter dates that are worth a visit:

Thanksgiving (November 22-26)

Plenty of good, old fashioned, Ptown traditions to take part in like the Lighting of Pilgrim Monument, the annual Pilgrim 5k Trot to benefit PAAM, Arts & Crafts Fairs, and the Lighting of the Lobster Pot Tbrasree.

Holly Folly Weekend (Dec 1-3)

A weekend full of festivals, parties, shopping and cultural events to kick start the Christmas season.

Christmas (Dec 23-25)

Make merry and celebrate with us!

New Years (Dec 28-Jan 1)

One of Ptown’s best parties of the year, New Year’s Eve is not to be missed. We know how to beat Cape Cod’s chilly weather!

Stay at the Haunted Hotel!

Halloween weekend is coming up soon and promises to be better than ever. This year, we’ve all decided not to leave the hotel to get our fill of tricks, and creeps, and hauntings. Our own David Flower, chief imaginer at David Flower Productions and one of the producers of Dead Silence, to put his event-making magic to work at Brass Key. What he’s come up with will not disappoint. If you like your Halloween full of chills and thrills, search no more, book the room, and be sure to stay through Tuesday, October 31. On that night, the Brass Key will be no more, overtaken by the Haunted Hotel, a once-esteemed establishment that became the scene of deviant acts and unspeakable terror. What evil horrors await you in this forsaken place? I’m not saying any more and you’re just going to have to come and experience it for yourself!

Shipwreck Lounge will be hopping, serving a forgotten cocktail from a bygone age. Please make sure to leave the kids at home. This adult-only attraction contains graphic violence, and sexual content. You must be 21 or older to attend (strictly enforced).

Oh, and I was just kidding about the never having to leave the hotel. There’s just too much going on Halloween weekend to stay in one place! The 3rd Annual Provincetown Halloween Gala! Parades! Tea dances! Costume balls at the Crown & Anchor! Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at Provincetown Theater! Yup, looks like we’ve got a full dance card. Bring in on!

Catching the Last of Summer

Yes, it’s officially fall now. The solstice came and went. Apparently no one told the tourists though, because visitors have still been pouring into town in droves. But not in bad way. It is much quieter. And let’s not talk about our crazy weather. It went from 80s and humid to 60s and, well, not in 24 hours. Makes clothing decisions challenging. I’m thankful for the switch to cooler climes. Makes sleeping with the windows open a delightful treat – as long as you’ve got someone to snuggle with!

As summer slips away, we grab at whatever we can to hold on. Plenty still to do before the “hunkering down” starts, right! Here’s what I’m doing the next couple months before I’m cooped up and too bored, wet, and cold to even go outside for coffee.

ONE LAST BOAT RIDE

Be it a whale watch, a schooner, a yacht, a charter fishing boat—I don’t care. Just get me out on the water one more time! I love it when it’s cool and we have to bundle up with sweaters and blankets on deck…again, great snuggling opportunities here, people!

ONE LAST ICE CREAM

I could eat ice cream all year long, I don’t care if it’s too cold for it to actually melt. But Columbus Day is closing time for a lot of the seasonal ice cream shops in town and let’s face it, they are way more fun than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from Stop & Shop. Gotta get me one last scoop!

ONE LAST SWIM

This time of year, every dip in the ocean starts to feel more and more like a polar bear plunge. It’s invigorating, that’s for sure! Gotta get a full taste of that salty water, in my hair, on my lips, and on my skin cause the memory has to hold me over all winter.

ONE LAST SUNSET?

NO, no need to worry about the sunsets—they are just as glorious in winter as they are in summer! But let’s face it, we can never get enough of them!

Fall in Provincetown

There’s definitely a strong argument to be made that fall is THE BEST time to visit Provincetown (or the rest of Cape Cod, for that matter). Just as an example, the past two weeks have been dominated by glorious weather: abundant sunshine, temperatures in the 70s, with not a cloud in the sky. The crowds disperse. Traffic lessens. There’s still plenty of buzz around but it’s not quite so chaotic. And if you are paying attention, you just might notice something akin to relief in the faces of the waitstaff, business owners, and service folks you encounter. Yes, we made it through another summer season! Everyone literally has a chance to stop and catch their breath. It’s downright relaxing! So that’s where I stop. I don’t need any additional reasons, do you? Ok, fine. Here are a few:

ART & LITERATURE

PAAM has three new exhibitions up through the middle of October. Two of them highlight their wonderful permanent collection with one show devoted to abstraction and another to a recent acquisition of drawings, watercolors, and diaries by Edward and Josephine Hopper. The second annual Ptown Book Festival (September 15-16),hosted by the Provincetown Public Library, will feature authors Sebastian Junger, National Book Award winner Julia Glass, and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russos.

ON THE STAGE

The Tennessee Williams Theater Festival packs tons of international plays into a four-day event from September 21-24. The Provincetown Theater has performances running in September and October. The newly renovated Fisherman Hall is hosting performances through the fall, including comedian James Judd.

ON THE TOWN

PTown’s nightlife keeps pumping through the fall. The Tea Dances go strong until the end of October (with a kicking Halloween party to end the season).  Shipwreck Lounge continues its lineup of Mellow Mondays, TIki Tuesdays, and Rewind Wednesdays and also has two special parties coming up: the Gay Pilots Welcome Party Sept 14 (during Gay Pilots Cape Cod Classic Weekend).  and the Single Women’s Mixer on October 11 (during Women’s Week 2017). But for the biggest party of the fall, you can count on Halloween!

Provincetown’s Best Bakeries

Summer is for indulgence, am I right? Well, indulgence to me means one thing: food.  What can I say? I love to eat! And while I slurp up plenty of cool, frozen deliciousness in summer, I also appreciate a great morning treat.  Here are my favorite bakeries in town:

Provincetown Portuguese Bakery

May not look like much on the outside, but this Ptown treasure serves up delicious pastries and a little nod to history as well (it wasn’t that long ago when Ptown was a Portuguese fishing community).  The house specialty is malassada, the Portuguese version of fried dough.

Happy Camper

While they serve all kinds of treats (and delicious lunches and dinners too, the donuts are to die for!  Stop by and lounge in their comfy outdoor seating area in back.  Plus, the yellow paint job on the outside and the fun décor inside, makes me smile before I have even ordered.  Win!

Relish

Their tag line is ‘more than just great sandwiches’ and that is certainly true. One of the owners was trained as an artist, and you can tell from the stunning confections (the COOKIES!) that have become this small shop’s specialty. They are a little out of the way from the bustle of Commercial Street and are just steps away from the beach.  Grab a cookie. Sit on the sand. Eat and enjoy!

Connie’s Bakery

This home style bakery is small and hidden (tucked in the back of the Aquarium Mall) but it makes the “Must Eat Here” list for many visitors and residents. People actually swoon over the sandwiches.  The cookies and treats are an added bonus!

A Taste of Provincetown’s Music Scene

 

Musical entertainment is never hard to find in Provincetown. Just stroll down Commercial Street in the evening and follow your ears! The options are vast. Everything from live performances, DJ’d dance parties, classic standards, Broadway show tunes, cabaret, and acoustic nights. Chances are, someone, somewhere on Commercial Street can scratch whatever musical itch you’re feeling at any given time. If you are looking to catch some live music, here are a few of my favorites venues.  Each one has a jam-packed schedule for the summer season.  No matter when you’re here, you can catch a great show.

Crown & Anchor

This perennial favorite rocks all kinds of music in each of its signature venues. Listen to sing-along favorites while dining on delicious bistro-style fare at the Central House Piano Bar. Looking for the afterhours hot spot? The Paramount may hit the spot, with top international DJs and entertainers lined up all summer long.

Payomet Performing Arts Center

Just down the hook, in North Truro, Payomet is an easy drive from Ptown and brings an eclectic mix (40-50 concerts a year!) of up-and-coming and established performers to the Outer Cape. It’s a great venue with a real range of national and international talent, on a local stage. Upcoming artists for 2017 include Suzanne Vega, Aaron Neville, Las Cafeteras, the Skatalites and newer musicians such as Anna & Elizabeth, Sienna Hull, and Harold Lopez-Nussa (direct from Havana, Cuba!).

The Art House

This place embraces and upholds Provincetown’s spirit of fun, adventure, and escape…for all. Presenting high quality performances ranging from live music to stand-up comedy, it has something for everybody. The Broadway@The Art House series, now in its fifth seasons, brings Broadway superstars to the Outer Cape.  This year’s series includes Tony award winners Sutton Foster and Laura Benanti.

Post Office Café & Cabaret

If it’s cabaret you’re after, this must be your first stop. Located right in the heart of town, with a fantastic line-up of performers such as Thirsty Burlington, Elektra!, Atomic Bombshells, Suzanne Westenhoefer and Jimmy James. Plus, their breakfasts are legendary.