Rhode Island is grand for short travels to fun destinations during the summer. It doesn’t take long to get to a beach, find a hiking trail or enjoy tranquility in a park. However, there are many reasons not to escape the city, but instead embrace everything about it. Not only is it a prime source of arts, music, films, nightlife and tours, but some of the biggest events celebrating them take place all summer long!
Rhode Island Monthly’s 23rd Annual Best of RI Party: The event features live entertainment from the rhythm and blues of Steve Smith and the Nakeds, dancing on stage, silent auctions and a variety of local foods. Tickets also include unlimited wine and Narragansett Beer, which is always a plus for a good time. The party is on Thursday evening, July 21. Tickets sell out fast, so pick yours up at ppacri.org.
Rhode Island International Film Festival: Whether you are a movie buff or casual film fan, the RIIFF is an experience to behold. The six-day festival is a showcase of works from international independent filmmakers with indoor and outdoor screenings, tours and even dinner with a movie options. To put it in perspective, last year there were 265 films screened from 66 countries, and 73 of those were world premieres! The RIIFF takes place August 9 – 14 with a full schedule of events listed on film-festival.org.
Foo Fest: Since 1995, one of the greatest festivals of local arts and entertainment in RI has been Foo Fest! This family-friendly event includes various musical and art performances, DIY technology, food and drink. Headlining will be composer and electronic musician Dan Deacon. AS220’s annual Empire Street block party returns on Saturday, August 13 from 1pm to 1am. Tickets and information can be found at foofest.as220.org.
WaterFire: There’s nothing quite like the powerfully visual and musical environment that’s created around Providence’s WaterFire. Large blazing torches line the canal from Waterplace Park down to the edge of Narragansett Bay. Eclectic atmospheric tones and classical compositions fill the air. Local art vendors and performers engulf the surrounding blocks. Gondolas filled with friends and lovers ride up and down the waters with intimate views of the fiery braziers. Mark on your calendars the following WaterFire dates: July 9, July 23, Aug 6, Aug 20 and Sept 24. There are also full lightings in October and November. For more information on times and sponsors, go to waterfire.org.
However, big events like these aren’t for everyone. Sometimes it’s lovely to enjoy the city’s summer life on a smaller scale. The grand part of Providence is that it doesn’t require subway lines to get around. Trolleys and pedicabs are available, but a nice stroll can reveal many hidden treasures from shops to bars, from historic locations to performance venues.
College Hill: It’s not just for students and professors as you might assume. Home to famous educational centers such as Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), College Hill is a quaint community for all ages and interests. Heading east and uphill from the river, passing the homes of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe and the Providence Athenaeum, you can find the central corridor that is Thayer Street. Thayer and its surrounding blocks offer a variety of shops to everyone. International cuisines, unique clothing shops and bountiful bookstores are scattered about the neighborhood. After an afternoon of shopping, eating and taking walking tours, one can take in an independent film shown at the Avon Cinema.
India Point: If you need a break from the brick and concrete, the greener edge along the waterside of India Point Park is a great place to breathe. A park that’s easily accessible without having to go too far occasionally features special events, such as the 7th Annual Waterfront Reggae Festival on August 13. For that event and others, go to newportwaterfrontevents.com.
Downtown Nightlife: Depending on your taste in atmosphere, there are many popular bars and venues downtown. If you prefer a place with open air, the Hot Club by the waterside or the views from Rooftop at the ProvidenceG provide two great options. If you prefer being indoors with local music and a casual vibe, Aurora on Westminster St and the Salon on Eddy St offer a variety of special nights for your mood. And if you want the drive-in movie experience for free while sitting on your choice of blankets or beach chairs, check out Movies On the Block.
All of these awesome places post updated schedules on Facebook, so make sure you have your calendars updated! It’s a small city with more to offer than you can imagine, so don’t miss out on at least a little of it this summer.