Who says the East Side gets quiet during summertime? The month of July shifts into high gear with music and food festivals at India Point Park, evening concerts on Blackstone Boulevard, and, of course, the Providence Flea on Sunday afternoons. WaterFire turns 25 and special lightings are planned, including one on July 20 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.
“Providence’s compact size and dense artist networks make it a festival city where collaborations happen serendipitously and often,” says Stephanie Fortunato, director of the Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism.
Practically every weekend is packed with events, including newer stars like FringePVD, a big menu full of foodie events, an international film festival, and celebrations honoring ethnic pride. Here is a sampling by date of events to fill your July calendar!
“Paws” for a good cause at Roger Williams Park Zoo’s annual Zoobilee bash, which last year raised more than $250,000 through ticket sales and an online auction. The adults-only Feast with the Beasts includes food tastings, wine and beer bottle bazaar, music and dancing to the sounds of the World Premier Band, and socializing with some of the zoo’s animal inhabitants.
Rhode Island’s prominent Cape Verdean population celebrates the culture of the “Fortunate Islands” and independence from Portugal at India Point Park with a full day of traditional music, food, and dance. Now in its 44th year, the festival is the largest Cape Verdean independence celebration in the US.
Each year we say a silent prayer that Siena will put their Bolognese Tagliatelle on their Restaurant Week menu; this two-week culinary celebration is a great opportunity to revisit some old favorites at discount prices, or give new dishes and restaurants a try. In addition to perennial favorites like Capital Grille and Gracie’s, the new Skyline restaurant is among more than 100 eateries offering fixed-price, three-course lunches for $16.95 and three-course dinners for $29.95 or $34.95.
AS220 is taking a break from staging its annual, all-day Foo Fest in 2019, and instead will bring 20 of its best Foo Fest bands to its Main Stage and Black Box Theater for a sonic fundraiser.
Seems appropriate that the 2019 FringePVD festival – a celebration of edgy performance art and local culture – will be held on the fringes of downtown Providence. Most performances will be held in the Olneyville neighborhood, including onstage at The Wilbury Theatre Group, at Sprout CoWorking space at Rising Sun Mills, Riffraff Bookstore and Bar, WaterFire Arts Center, and Donigian Park, which will host the main festival tent and beer
A raising of the Puerto Rican flag at the State House kicks off a host of fiestas celebrating the US territory’s culture at various locations.
The Woodman Family Community and Performance Center at Moses Brown School and RISD’s Metcalf Auditorium are among the 10 venues that will host events and screenings of more than 300 movies as part of the 2019 Rhode Island International Film Festival, now in its 37th year.
Providence, a.k.a. “the birthplace of weird” and also of macabre author H.P. Lovecraft, will host a conference devoted to Lovecraftian fiction featuring a goulash of festivities, art, and academic presentations from scholars, artists, and historians. The three-day NecronomiCon – named for Lovecraft’s book of magic – is sponsored by Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council, a Providence-based nonprofit.
Third Thursdays at the RISD Museum (Thursdays)
Held in conjunction with Providence Gallery Night, Third Thursdays offer an opportunity to interact with RISD students, view and discuss their work, watch art demonstrations, and learn about the museum’s exhibits and programs.
A special salute to the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20 highlights the 2019 Waterfire schedule, which includes a total of eight full lightings on the downtown Providence rivers between June and November. Other summer dates: August 3 and August 17.
Kids Story Time at Books on the Square (Mondays, Saturdays)
Children ages six months to six years are invited to story time at Books on the Square every Saturday morning from 11-11:30am, and toddlers are welcome to the Mondays for Babies readings each week at 10:30am.
Music at Burnside Park (Thursdays)
The Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy sponsors the free Burnside Music Series + Beer Garden on Thursday evenings through July and August, with a diverse lineup of rock, electronic, jazz, and salsa artists, and the lunchtime concert series Noon Tunes in September.
RI Historical Society Benefit Street Walking Tours (Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday)
Learn all about Providence’s “Mile of History” by joining a historian-led walking tour of Benefit Street’s 18th- and 19th-century homes and grand public buildings. Held Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 10am, through the end of October.
RI Historical Society’s Concert Under the Elms (Thursdays)
Held on the grounds of the John Brown House Museum, these Thursday night summer concerts are far from stodgy affairs, featuring bands like Steve Smith and the Nakeds, Becky Chace, and Neil and the Vipers. Food and dessert trucks also make an appearance.
Blackstone Parks Conservancy Summer Concert Series (Weekdays)
The historic trolley shelter on Blackstone Boulevard is the venue for an annual summer concert series, mostly on weekday evenings.
Hope Street Farmers Market (Wednesdays, Saturdays)
Farmers and growers from across Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts – Barden Family Orchard, Pat’s Pastured, and The Local Catch, to name just a few – bring their goods to market at Lippitt Park (where Hope Street meets Blackstone Blvd.) every Saturday morning from 9am-1pm and Wednesdays from 3-6pm. The Saturday market runs through the end of October; Wednesday’s through September 11.
Providence Artisans Market (Saturdays)
Rhode Island's only artist-run weekly arts market shares Lippitt Park on weekends, featuring dozens of artists showcasing handmade, local arts and crafts. There's even booths dedicated to out-of-state artisans so they can see the best of the Providence arts scene. A perfect compliment to wandering the adjacent farmers market. Psst...also catch this art market at full lightings of WaterFire!