Things to do in Newport

We Want You Back!: After a year without festivals, we miss them

Rhythm and Roots Festival, 2019; Photo by Phil Stewart

Some claimed that by 2019, we had hit peak festival and there was nowhere to go but down. But we didn’t quite see last year’s total festival cancellation coming. And like a jilted lover who only now realizes what we had, we want you back, festivals. We promise we’ll appreciate you better.

Although it appears that festival planners are baby stepping into the season, with many reluctant to announce their plans at time of press, some are diving right in with COVID protocols in place. We’ve rounded up a list of the best festivals the season has to offer (so far). And before you start complaining about the powdered sugar from your doughboy sticking to your sunscreen-coated face, just think about last year and how lonely you were without them.

Providence’s art, culture and culinary communities traditionally came together each year to kick off summer with PVDFest. But this year, it’s going to  be a little different. The festival is being coy so far by releasing nothing more than a slickly produced teaser video and some dates, but we’re here for it. Citywide events to take place all summer long, with a summer closer taking place the weekend of September 25 – 26. for more info,

The 38th Narragansett Art Festival returns with artisans exhibiting their work, including acrylics, oils, pastels, watercolors, drawings, graphics, sculpture, photography and more. Jun 19 – 20. Veterans’ Park, 35 Ocean Rd, Narragansett.

For everyone who loves flowers and mansions (who doesn’t?), the Newport Flower Show is back in bloom with a reimagined presentation. The three-day event, held at the historic Rosecliff Mansion, offers self-guided tours of garden displays on the first floor of the mansion. Jun 18 – 20. 548 Bellevue Ave, Newport.

Wickford Village is well-known for its eclectic shops and colonial homes, and it is also well-known for hosting one of the longest-running outdoor art festivals in New England. The Wickford Art Festival, produced by the Wickford Art Association since 1962, will invite more than 200 artists from across the country to exhibit their fine art. An added bonus: RI doesn’t collect sales tax on fine art sales, so shop away! Jul 10 – 11. Wilson Park, North Kingstown.

The Narragansett Lions Club has been hosting the Blessing of the Fleet Celebration since 1972. Over the past 47 years, the event has grown from one day to a full three days of celebrating! The Blessing of the Fleet Celebration includes a three-day festival that includes a 10-mile road race on Friday and the blessing of the fleet on Saturday, with hundreds of vessels joining the parade! Jul 22 – 24. Memorial Square, Narragansett.

The Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF), is a six-day festival that’s going hybrid this year. Screenings happen online and at various locations around the state. RIIFF has been a qualifying festival for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences qualifying event in three categories since 2002. Aug 9 – 15.

Dogapalooza Family Festival is a two-day festival with live music, children’s entertainment, food, vendors, crafts, raffles and contests. The festival offers free admission and free parking, with all committee tent proceeds benefiting the Pawtucket Dog Park. Jul 31 – Aug 1. Pawtucket Dog Park at Slater Memorial Park, Newport Avenue, Pawtucket.

The 5th annual Looff Arts Festival brings together artists, authors, live entertainment and more along the scenic EP waterfront. The Looff showcases all types of art and a Writers Row. And don’t forget to take a spin on the Looff carousel! Aug 14. Crescent Park, 700 Bullocks Point Ave, Riverside.

Head on down to the 55th annual Washington County Fair! COVID-safe planning is still in progress, but planners have officially scheduled the 5-day event. Aug 14 – 18. Washington County Fairgrounds, Route 112, Richmond.

The 12th annual SENE Film, Music and Arts Festival will take place this summer, with a bonus fall SENE taking place in October. This festival is dedicated to giving life to independent cinema, music and art. Jun 17 – 19. Artist’ Exchange, 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston.

Food Festivals

Attention all seafood lovers! The Charlestown Seafood Festival is a must-attend event – lobsters, steamers, fish and chips, chowder, a raw bar and more! Don’t like seafood?? No problem! The festival offers foods for every taste. Aug 6 – 8. Ninigret Park, Park Old Post Rd, Charlestown.

As summer winds down, check out the 9th annual Rhode Island Seafood Festival. Enjoy the delicious offerings from a wide variety of seafood vendors, live music, beer, wine and spirits, and planned activities the whole family can enjoy. Sep 11 – 12. India Point Park, 201 India St, PVD.

Music Festivals

The Newport Music Festival’s month-long schedule includes an array concerts and events. Many of them are already sold out, so get your tickets now!. July.

The Newport Folk Fest, recognized as one of the first modern music festivals in the country, made some COVID adjustments this year, and turned it into two 3-day events to allow for social distancing. As of this writing, the schedule hasn’t been announced, but it’s already sold out. Jul 23 – 25 & Jul 26 – 28. Fort Adams State Park, 90 Fort Adams Dr, Newport.

The Newport Jazz Festival, will expand to three days this year, with reduced capacity each day. The event features four stages, beer and wine gardens, food and crafts. Jul 30Aug 1. Fort Adams State Park, 90 Fort Adams Dr, Newport.

Blues, food, drink and the outdoors makes for a perfect summer afternoon at the Rhode Island Blues Festival. It offers everything from traditional to modern blues, the event showcases both established and up-and-coming blues musicians from across New England. Jul 17. Mulligan’s Island, 1000 New London Ave, Cranston.

There’s Labor Day weekend fun for the whole family at the Rhythm & Roots Festival. The annual event attracts attendees from all across the US and Canada. A perfect summer sendoff, R&R offers music, dance floors, delicious food, children’s activities, workshops and more! Sep 3 – 5.  Ninigret Park, 5 Park Ln, Charlestown.

The Rhode Island Folk Festival, formerly Providence Folk Festival, returns this year with three stages of live performances. The free music event was the 2017 Motif Magazine Award winner for Best American Festival. Aug 29. Rose Larisa Park, 701 Bullocks Point Ave, Riverside.

Cultural Festivals

The Day of Portugal celebration, which has taken place since 1978, offers live entertainment, food, dance, a parade and a spectacular sunset torch procession. Jun 13. Waterplace Park, PVD.

The Japan America Society of Rhode Island presents the 38th annual Black Ships Festival, celebrating the friendship between Japan and RI. The event is marked with Japanese arts, music, martial arts and a free drum concert. Jun 12 – 13. Independence Park, Thames Street, Bristol.