Feeling Festive

The only thing better than a summer festival is all of the summer festivals!


We deserve this summer. We really deserve it. Every time we shoveled the driveway, spun out during a squall, looked at those mountains of snow all around us – that was one more beautiful moment we earned where we can soak in the sun, take a deep breath and thaw out just a little bit more. So let’s stop talking about the worst winter ever, and focus on what really matters: sand, sun, ocean breezes... and summer fun.

Find Art in the Field

If you’re not in the habit of checking your calendar on the weekends, we can’t blame you... but you are going to be missing out on some of the fun. Luckily, Field of Artisans happens every weekend, at a different location in South Kingstown. The pop-up market showcases the wares of about 20 local artists – think photography, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, home decor and more – as well as yogis, musicians and entertainers of all stripes. The first market happens June 13-14 at Marina Park, and moves to a different location every weekend. Various locations, South Kingstown. www.fieldofartisans.com

Sample Island Flavors

While Taste of Block Island is technically a food event, it’s about so much more than eating. The three-day kickoff to summer on the island offers visitors a comprehensive taste of everything it has to offer, from wine tastings to night sky viewings to horseback riding. There are over 40 events to choose from May 29-31. Multiple locations. 466-2982, www.blockislandchamber.com

Request a Fly By

You’ve been on an airplane before. Heck, maybe you’ve even piloted one. But chances are you’ve never seen aerial feats like the ones flying over South County at the Rhode Island Air Show, featuring the US Navy Blue Angels, on May 30-31.

During their Diamond 360 Maneuver, fighter jets will fly within 18 inches of each other, and will fly at 700mph (just under Mach 1). 210 Airport Street, North Kingstown. www.riairshow.org

Get a Taste of Summer

New Englanders are a rare breed. We take pride in small pleasures, and have spirited (some might say fanatical) debates about whose favorite is better. We do it with clam cakes – one of these days there will be a story on the news about a brawl ignited by a debate over Aunt Carrie’s vs. Iggy’s – and we especially do it with chowder. This year, the Great Chowder Cook-Off on June 6 is relocating to its new home at Ft. Adams, but one thing stays the same: if you’re a New England chowder person, you’ll never be a Rhode Island chowder person. And if you like red chowder, well, you can just get in your car and go back to New York. Ft. Adams State Park, Newport. 888-900-8640, www.newportwaterfrontevents.com

Groove to Island Jams

As if you needed another good reason to head to Block Island, jump on the ferry for the Block Island Music Festival, June 9-14. Over forty local and regional bands will take the stage over five days at Captain Nick’s Rock n’ Roll Bar, the island’s go-to spot for live music. The best part? The whole festival is free, and kids are welcome in the afternoons. 34 Ocean Avenue, Block Island. www.blockislandmusic.com

Channel the Luck of the Scottish

Whether you’re a Scot by blood or you’ve just seen Braveheart a few too many times, don your finest tartan at the Rhode Island Scottish Highland Festival on June 13. The entertainment is tradition at its finest: music, dance and games of skill. Seeing the caber toss – where men throw entire tree trunks as far and high as they can toss them – is enough of a reason to go.

There are also hammer throws, stone throws, sheaf throws... you get the point. Watching all of those feats of strength will definitely work up your appetite. Whether you try the haggis is up to you. 78 Richmond Townhouse Road, Richmond. www.riscot.org

Take a Bite of Summer

If there’s one thing that truly tastes like summer, it’s fresh strawberries. Farms abound where you can pick your own, bring them home and whip them into delicious desserts. Or, save yourself the trouble and celebrate the season at Smith’s Castle Strawberry Festival on June 20. Enjoy Colonial entertainment, learn something about South County’s past and eat all of the strawberry shortcake you can stomach. True story: kids listen to history lessons better while they’re eating dessert. 55 Richard Smith Drive, North Kingstown. 294-3521, www.smithcastle.org

Dive Right In

Whether you’re a sailor at heart or you just love the vista of a boat on the glistening water, head to Block Island from June 21-26 for the 50th anniversary of Block Island Race Week. Over 200 boats are expected to participate in the maritime games, which include several daily races, on-shore family fun and a race around the island. Block Island Boat Basin. 466-2631, www.blockislandraceweek.com

Hone Your Artistic Eye

Forget the “art” at HomeGoods. Unless the decorations in your house have a good story behind them, or mean something personally to you, they aren’t worth having. On June 27-28, head to the 33rd annual Narragansett Art Festival to browse the works of over 100 artists. You can talk to them, get a sense of their artistic sensibilities and choose something new for your house that really means something to you. Getting to casually reference “oh, I bought that from the artist at the festival this summer” at your next soiree doesn’t hurt, either. 35 Ocean Road, Narragansett. www.wakefieldrotary.com

Channel Your Refined Side

According to the rest of the country, Newport has one music festival, and you practically have to have a beard and an NPR tote to get in. While the Folk Festival deserves its soaring popularity, it sold out months ago... but you can skip all of the hipsters and still experience great music at the Newport Music Festival. From July 10-26, the 47th season of this summer tradition will bring unique chamber music programs featuring world-class artists and events in those “summer cottages” – which were basically built to house parties with classical music. 850 Aquidneck Avenue, Newport. 846-1133, www.newportmusic.org

Take Part in a Beloved Tradition

You aren’t truly from South County unless you’ve been to the Wickford Art Festival, running July 11-12 this summer. This is the 53rd year of the beloved event, which lines downtown Wickford with hundreds of booths featuring locally made artwork and handicrafts.

Art not your thing? Then enjoy the live entertainment, family fun and delicious food vendors. Wickford Village, Brown Street, North Kingstown. www.wickfordart.org

Travel to the Far East

Experience Japanese art and culture at Newport’s Black Ships Festival, from July 17-19. This is the 32nd year of the Japan-America Society and Black Ships Festival of Rhode Island bringing Japanese culture to the City by the Sea. Expect arts and crafts including origami, martial arts and an authentic tea ceremony. 28 Pelham Street, Newport. 847-7666, www.blackshipsfestival.com

Soar Over South County

If you’re taking bets on the single most marriage proposals in one location in Rhode Island this summer, The South County Hot Air Balloon Festival is probably a safe one. From July 17-19, hundreds of colorful balloons will soar overhead, taking passengers up for rides. The event also hosts the RI State BBQ Championships, a Corvette show and fireworks. 500 Plains Road, Kingstown. www.southcountyballoonfest.com

Appreciate the Classics

Admit it, you could use a little culture in your life. Now that American Idol and The Voice are over, you just aren’t getting your fix of appreciating raw talent and the power of music. Change that – and the way you think about great music – at the Kingston Chamber Music Festival. From July 22-August 2, hear performances by classical musicians and singers who won’t be performing anything you hear on pop radio, but who will leave lasting, haunting impressions on you. University of Rhode Island, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston. 874-2106, www.kingstonchambermusic.org

Meet Some Common Folk

Unless you got your tickets the day they went on sale this winter, you aren’t going to the Newport Folk Fest. The three days of love and music happen July 24-26, and feature huge acts like The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens and Jose Gonzalez. Wait, let’s revise that statement: unless you got your tickets already, you aren’t going to the Folk Festival by land. One of the best viewing spots is from the water just off Ft. Adams. Now, just buy yourself a boat – or a yachting friend – and you’re good to go. Fort Adams State Park, 84 Fort Adams Drive, Newport. www.newportfolk.org

Feel Blessed

It’s one thing to decorate your home. It’s quite another to dress it up for a party. But decking out a boat with flair for the Blessing of the Fleet on July 25 is a thing completely unto itself.

This water parade of hundreds of festive, fun boats in Galilee is a sight to behold, and stems from a tradition meant to keep the fishermen of Point Judith safe while doing their dangerous jobs. The weekend also includes a road race and a family festival. Port of Galilee, Narragansett. www.narragansettlionsclub.com

Channel Your New Orleans Side

For being on the opposite end of the country, Cresent City has a strong enough influence on Rhode Island, as evidenced by the fact that it’s pretty easy to get a decent Sazerac and Shrimp Po’Boy around here. But one thing we will never do as well as them is jazz: the body swaying, on-your-feet kind of music that permeates every corner of NOLA. From July 31-August 2, New Orleans loans us some of their finest musicians for the Newport Jazz Festival, Jon Batiste, Dr. John and the legendary jazz club owner Irvin Mayfield among them. Of course, there are scores of other great musicians performing too, like Cécile McLorin Salvant and a special tribute to Billie Holiday by Cassandra Wilson. Fort Adams State Park, 84 Fort Adams Drive, Newport. 848-5055, www.newportjazzfest.org

Be an Oscars Judge

Well, not really. But the Rhode Island International Film Festival is a qualifying event for the Academy Awards. So when you see movies here in Little Rhody this summer from August 4-9, you can feel secure in your silver screen savvy when you see them raking in accolades next year. Screenings take place in Providence and Newport, and various locations throughout the state. In addition to movies, there are screenwriter talks and special events where you can rub elbows with celebrities. www.film-festival.org

Smell Something Fishy

In a good way, of course. The Ocean State is blessed with an unusually high quality of fresh, local, affordable, incredibly delicious seafood. (If you need more proof, just take a minute to reflect on the way you turned your nose up when you saw Pt. Judith Calamari on the menu last time you were on vacation... it didn’t come off the boat that morning, did it?) Get the ocean’s bounty all in one place at the 31st annual Charlestown Seafood Festival, from August 7-9 in Ninigret Park. It will give “stuffed to the gills” a whole new meaning. Ninigret Park, Charlestown. 364-3878, www.charlestownrichamber.com

Get in an Island Groove

When we heard that the Newport Yachting Center was closing, we all wondered what would happen to our beloved events, like Oktoberfest and the Newport Comedy Series. While we’re hearing one at a time whether these events will live on this year, one has a confirmed happy ending: the Waterfront Reggae Festival is relocating to India Point Park in Providence. The August 8 festival features six bands, Jamaican food and beer and an island marketplace. India Point Park, Providence. 888-900-8640, www.newportwaterfrontevents.com

Celebrate on the Farm

One of Rhode Island’s largest agricultural events returns with the 49th Annual Washington County Fair, from August 12-16. This five-day long event includes livestock competitions as well as daily concerts, special acts and events, tractor and horse pulls and much more. Keep your eyes peeled for new traditions, including New England’s largest traveling roller coaster. 78 Richmond Townhouse Road, Richmond. www.washingtoncountyfair-ri.com

Unleash Your Inner Art Critic

Listen, we get it. There’s no good reason to go to Newport, ever. No good restaurants, no water views, nothing fun to do, ever. But if you can drag yourself over the bridge just this once, from August 29-30, you might just be entertained this once. The Newport Art Festival brings together the works of over 100 local and regional artists, as well as food and live music. There must be worse ways to spend an afternoon, but we sure can’t think of any. Outside of The Landing Restaurant, 30 Bowen’s Wharf, Newport. 207-9729, www.festivalfete.com

Return to Your Roots

You might not think of Charlestown as a hub of Southern music, but that’s just because you haven’t been listening hard enough. The annual Rhythm and Roots Festival brings together creole, cajun and zydeco musicians from all over the country to perform 92 sets on five different stages in Ninigret Park from September 4-6. Is there a better way to spend Labor Day weekend? Well, yes, you could fly to your own private island. But this is a pretty close second. Ninigret Park, Charlestown. www.rhythmandroots.com

Stroll and Shop

East Greenwich is already a pleasant destination for an afternoon, to stroll among the boutiques, get lunch, stop for coffee. But from September 5-6, you’d better protect your wallet, because the East Greenwich Art Festival has even more reasons to shop – about 150 of them, actually. On Labor Day Weekend, artists fill the New England Tech campus with booths filled with paintings, sculpture, jewelry, crafts, clever gifts and more. This enormous gathering also features live entertainment like the roving alien performance group Big Nazo. New England Tech, 1408 Division Road, East Greenwich. 207-9729, www.festivalfete.com