WaterFire Providence Festival

Put some spark into your vacation with a visit to Providence’s famous annual art event.


For a few months each year, Providence, R.I., turns into a magical glowing spectacle. What was supposed to be a one-time art installation by artist Barnaby Evans in 1994, WaterFire Providence has taken on a life of its own.

Today, 100 bonfires glow on the Providence, Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck rivers that converge in downtown Providence from the end of May to early October. Braziers filled with wood are lit at dusk on most Saturday nights, and an evening of mysterious fun begins. Somehow the fires—just like a campfire in the woods—bring about a camaraderie to everyone present. The city, along with thousands of visitors, come out in force to enjoy the scene, which includes music, food, entertainers and art.

The scope of WaterFire Providence is almost impossible to capture in words. One minute you can be walking down WaterPlace Park admiring the glow of the fires against the water, and the next moment, you can find yourself a block away in the middle of a wild dance party. There are fire eaters, mimes, salsa lessons, arts and crafts tables, and plenty of people-watching opportunities.

Full lightings (when all the fires are lit) for the rest of the season occur on Sept. 20, 27 and Oct. 11. Partial lightings (with less of the hoopla) occur on Sept. 17 and 19. For more details, visit,

Hot WaterFire Providence Hotel Deals

Since WaterFire runs late—usually well past midnight—you might want to stay overnight. Several hotels offer special WaterFire packages:

Marriott Renaissance Providence Hotel
This package includes overnight accommodations, breakfast for two (up to $15 per person) at the Temple Downtown Restaurant located at the hotel and a souvenir. Rates start at $229 and run through Oct. 11.

Providence Biltmore
The WaterFire Spectacular package includes room, breakfast for two in McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant, valet parking and a WaterFire goodie bag. Rates start at $245 and remaining valid dates include Sept. 27 and Oct. 11.

Hotel Providence
This package includes deluxe accommodations, valet parking and dinner for two in the hotel’s restaurant Aspire. Rates start at $294 and are valid through Oct. 15.

Destinations: Providence

Themes: Art and Museums

Activities: Arts and Entertainment

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