Providence PrideFest Source: GoProvidence

Discover Magical Summer Nights in Providence


What could be more magical than summer nights in Providence? As the summer sun goes down over this east coast hotspot, the nights heat up with lively events you don't want to miss. From exciting festivals and riverfront dining destinations, to boating adventures and PVD's very own PrideFest, your summer of fun awaits in the Rhode Island capital.

Festival Season

Kick off festival season in PVD with the one and only WaterFire, a dazzling public art installation celebrating its 30th anniversary. What began as a small non-profit's efforts to revitalize the capital city has transformed into a summer long display of sparkling bonfires, wood burning aromas, torch-lit vessels and musical melodies along the downtown riverways. Millions of visitors descend upon Waterplace Park to witness the lighting ceremony as the enchanting fires light up the night sky. Check out the GoProvidence website for this year's schedule to experience this unforgettable public art show.

It wouldn't be summer without Pride, and the Rhode Island PrideFest promises to be a smash hit. Held in District Park in downtown, the festival comes alive with hundreds of vendors and food and drink stands. Stay tuned for this year's lineup of mainstage performances! Then stick around for the crown jewel of Rhode Island Pride: the Illuminated Night Parade. As the summer sun crests on the horizon on June 15, catch the floats and revelers as they weave through the streets of downtown – along Dorrance and Washington, then down Empire and Weybosset. "Glowing with pride, the parade illuminates the night with a captivating procession of diversity, love and acceptance."

Source: GoProvidence

Popcorn and movies are the stuff summer dreams are made of and Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival is a dream come true. Dubbed "One of the Best International and Short Film Festivals in the United States," RIIFF is a week-long exploration of the finest cinema for film lovers from all across the country. Festival goers revel in film premiers, gala celebrations, industry seminars and educational programs as they rub elbows with VIP guests and Q&As with the filmmakers who bring their stories to the big screen. The festival crescendos with an award ceremony that celebrates the best of the fest. This year's festival runs August 6-11.

Art, music and culture collide in The Creative Capital's PVD Fest, a two-day celebration of vibrant human expression. Taking place September 6-7 in downtown, explore artists and their creations in a display of various artistic forms such as performance, song, dance and so much more. The theme this year is "the intersection between art and tech including AI and digital media" for a soulful experience you can't find anywhere else.

Take your taste buds to new levels with the Rhode Island Seafood Festival, an annual affair that brings together the finest local purveyors of seafood for one delicious weekend. Held in India Point Park September 7-8, the two-day festival, perched on the waterfront, features savory foods, beer and wine, and live music. Relish in the Ocean State's freshest catch and bold flavors and bask in a friendly and inviting atmosphere everyone can enjoy.

Source: GoProvidence

Dining Destinations

There's no better way to capture the magic of a PVD summer night than riverfront dining at one of the city's top restaurants. Commiserate over a glass of wine at Bacaro's enoteca and nosh on Italian-style tapas as you watch streaks of golden-yellow rays paint the river. Then drift upstairs to the open kitchen, serving tasty Italian dishes and bask under a moonlit sky. Or stroll the RiverWalk and stop off at Gondola Landing for a delightfully elegant meal at Cafe Nuovo. It's no wonder the Providence Journal calls this dinner spot "RI's contribution to world class dining" with a menu of flavorful fusion dishes that spans the globe. Or for a little bit of this and a little bit of that, check out Restaurant Weeks (July 7-20) and choose from dozens of the region's top restaurants offering a mix of prix fixe menus, deals and specials.

You can't visit PVD without trying the world class seafood that makes it the leading east coast foodie destination. Go for a classic dining experience at Capital Grille, an old school steakhouse that offers dry-aged steaks and chops, and of course, fresh seafood and even North Atlantic lobster. Pro tip: Ask for the signature cocktail the "stoli doli" to go with your savory meal. If you're craving sushi, set a reservation at Jacky's Waterplace & Sushi Bar for a new contemporary Asian restaurant dining experience. And don't pass up Hemenway's, a beloved staple of New England seafood dining. Post up at the raw bar, sip on a craft cocktail and luxuriate in the finest seafood and chef-driven creations on the Eastern Seaboard.

La Gondola
Source: GoProvidence

Fun Favorites

If you're out on the RiverWalk, drop into La Gondola for the most romantic tour of the Providence waterways. Channel the classic Venetian experience with a ride on a gondola and discover the rich history of both Providence and Venice. Pro tip: Bring along a bottle of wine or champagne to enjoy on your romantic adventure. For a more fast-paced river excursion, grab your friends and book a 50 minute narrated tour with Providence River Boat Company. The tour company is often cited as one of the top spots for exploring the history and culture of the Providence waterways.

The fun doesn't stop with river tours. When you're back to your hotel, check out Reiners Bar and Game Room inside the Graduate Hotel. The vintage golf club decor, large TV screens and delicious cocktails make for a fun night. Or pop into Dean Bar inside the Dean Hotel and relish in the finely-appointed details – custom-made furniture, historical craftworks, and found objects from Europe. Speaking of Europe, transport yourself to a Parisian experience at Fleur Providence, an elegant bar and restaurant within the Omni Providence Hotel. Sip hand crafted cocktails and soak up the atmosphere steeped in style and sophistication.

Plan Your Visit

Discover the magic that awaits in Providence, a dreamy city that will make for a summer you won't soon forget. Visit GoProvidence to start planning your magical summer getaway today.

by Roger Porter

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