In 1994, dozens of wood-filled braziers in the river were set alight for the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration in a massive art installation. That one-time display has now become a tradition (401/272-3111, www.waterfire.org ), carried on during weekends throughout the summer. Starting at sunset, music is piped in on giant speakers, street performers and food stalls are set up on the river banks, and the city becomes one big open-air carnival, made romantic by the smell of smoke and the sight and sounds of crackling flames.
Summertime each year sees Roger Williams Park’s Hear in Rhode Island Festival (401/949-0757, http://users.ids.net/~hearinri )—a mishmash of live music, crafts, food, and performance art.
One of the most impressive festivals all year is September’s Convergence (WaterPlace Park and India Point, 401/621-1992). The weeks-long event pulls a dizzying number of artists, dancers, filmmakers, and musicians from all over Rhode Island .
Boat fanatics shouldn’t miss the Providence Boat Show (Rhode Island Convention Center, 401/458-6000, www.providenceboatshow.com ) in January, every winter.