Winter, spring, summer and fall, Rhode Island hosts annual events that are inspiring, iconic and entertaining.
Providence Restaurant Weeks
One of America’s hottest food cities (Travel + Leisure mag’s opinion, as well as others’!) must host show-stopping Restaurant Weeks, and Providence does – in January and July. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant in the city that doesn’t participate with prix-fixe special menus featuring three- and four-course meals and a great price. It’s the ideal excuse to try a new place or return to an old favorite.
Eat Drink RI Festival
Local chefs and the people who love them descend on the city each April for this event, which highlights the Rhode Island food, farm and restaurant scene with lectures, demos and, of course, tastings. The festival is both upscale and casual, paying homage to everything from food trucks (there are dozens of them in Little Rhody) to restaurants and chefs who’ve garnered national attention.
This iconic event has helped put Providence on the top destinations map with its installations of bonfires lit along the middle of the city’s rivers. Locals and tourists alike come out on certain nights from May through November to revel in the sights, sounds and smells – golden embers, mystical music, performing artists and of course, lots of food. Artist Barnaby Evans, who created WaterFire almost 30 years ago, has been internationally recognized for this unique celebration.
Federal Hill Stroll
One of America’s oldest and best Little Italy neighborhood swings open its doors for an evening in June to welcome new customers and say hello to regulars. Buy and wear a button that will allow you access to dozens of restaurants, cafes and shops along Atwells Avenue, and experience Hill hospitality with complimentary samples of food and drink. Stop in DePasquale Square for live music, dancing, and people watching.
Rhode Island PrideFest and Parade
Providence is proud to be one of the top destinations for LGBT tourists in part because Rhode Island Pride works so hard to advocate for the rights of their community. This annual weekend-long event, held in June, celebrates the culture, art, music and diversity of the local and regional LGBT population with concerts, bar and club events, and a nighttime illuminated parade as colorful and fun as any you’ve ever seen.
Festival of Historic Houses
The Providence Preservation Society celebrates the city’s gorgeous architectural gems, some dating to the 1600s, with this annual June festival. The tour provides a rare opportunity to step inside historic properties and learn about their origins and inhabitants while viewing firsthand the modern day living spaces – indoor and out – in these prized, preserved places.
AS220’s Foo Fest
Providence’s most unique arts organization, AS220, which provides artists of all kinds space to celebrate their work, seeks with Foo Fest to transform downtown Providence’s Empire Street into a spirited block party attracting thousands of revelers. A genre-spanning bill of nearly two-dozen musical acts takes over the indoor and outdoor stages of Foo Fest. The festival also features more than a dozen artist installations and participatory creative activities, including family-friendly offerings.
Independence Day Celebration
In an invigorating display of patriotism the Rhode Island Philharmonic Summer Pops perform an outdoor concert each July Fourth at India Point Park in Providence. Pull up a blanket on the lawn by the water and enjoy the music, food trucks, street performers and more, and cap it all off with a grand fireworks display.
Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival
This week-long August event is the largest public film festival in New England and a qualifying event for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and the British Academy of Television and Film Arts awards. The festival welcomes entries from Rhode Island and throughout the world and showcases the films, with post-viewing lectures and events, across the city. For film lovers of all kinds, it’s a must-see.
The wooded walkways and paths of Roger Williams Park Zoo are transformed each October into a spooky and oh-so-cool venue for thousands of illuminated pumpkins. Each jack-o-lantern is artistically and meticulously carved into the likeness of celebrities, scenes and scary Halloween designs. The event is the perfect way to get into the spirit of Halloween and enjoy the autumn harvest.
Rhode Island Comic Con
This fun three-day event is Rhode Island's premier toy, comic book, media and collectibles event. Held in November, it attracts thousands of eager fans of everything from “Star Trek” to “Star Wars.” Dozens of celebrities are featured at meet-and-greet and photo-op events, lectures and parties. Many attendees come in costume, making the people watching spectacular!