Rhode Islanders have never been so ready for summer.
More than a year after the pandemic shutdown, a return to “normal” life has largely, finally, arrived. Most COVID-related business and social restrictions have been lifted, and roughly two-thirds of Ocean State residents were at least partially vaccinated against the coronavirus heading into the Memorial Day weekend.
The brightening picture is a major boon to Rhode Island’s hard-hit tourism and hospitality industries, which can now more fully welcome back patrons. And perhaps most eagerly anticipated, after a year of social distancing and virtual interactions, will be the return of large-scale events and gatherings.
Here’s a quick roundup of just a handful of the events, activities and attractions – some ongoing, others on specific dates – that will highlight our state’s summer schedule in the weeks ahead.
Various dates, June and September
Pawtuxet Village, Warwick and Cranston
It’s a celebration of the nation’s “first blow for freedom” – and next year, it will mark its 250th anniversary.
Gaspee Days, a decades-long tradition in Pawtuxet Village, commemorates the 1772 burning of a British schooner at the hands of colonists. Traditionally held in May and June, its major events include an Arts & Crafts Festival, a 5K road race and, most of all, the Gaspee Days Parade.
In 2020, the onset of the pandemic just weeks ahead of Gaspee Days forced the cancellation of all the scheduled events. This year, the Gaspee Days Committee planned for a scaled-back parade, but the success of a fundraising campaign to support the effort has led to bigger plans.
A fireworks display is scheduled for Saturday, June 5, while the parade, 5K and ceremonial burning of the Gaspee will be held the next week, June 12. The Arts & Crafts Festival, typically held on Memorial Day weekend, is instead planned for September, as is the Gaspee Days Block Party.
For a full schedule of events and more information, visit gaspee.com.
St. Mary’s Feast
Wednesday, July 14 through Sunday, July 18
Steeped in history and community, the St. Mary’s Feast celebration in Cranston is due to return for its 116th year in July.
Last year’s feast was significantly scaled back from the usual festivities, which draw tens of thousands of visitors to the Knightsville neighborhood for carnival rides, music and, most of all, food. The 2020 edition put a renewed focus on the religious roots of the feast, which was brought to Rhode Island by immigrants from the area of Itri, Italy.
For more information, follow the St. Mary’s Feast Society on Facebook or visit stmarysfeast.com.
The Guild PVD Beer Garden
PVD Innovation District Park, Providence
Various dates, May through October
The new pedestrian bridge in Providence offers spectacular views of Rhode Island’s capital city. And this summer, visitors will have a chance to enjoy local brews, too.
Guild Brewing Co. will offer its beers as part of The Guild PVD Beer Garden, which will be held weekly through October along Dyer Street and the Providence River. The event will also include food trucks.
For a full schedule, visit The Guild PVD’s Facebook page or check out visitrhodeisland.com.
Asian Lantern Spectacular
Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence
Through July 4
There’s still time to catch the Asian Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo, which features more than 50 lantern displays along with Asian-inspired food and beverages. To learn more, visit rwpzoo.org.
Warwick Food Truck Night
Crowne Plaza, 801 Greenwich Ave., Warwick
Various dates, June through September
Held on the third Thursday of each month, Warwick Food Truck Night will feature a range of mobile culinary options thanks to PVD Food Truck Events. Visitors will also enjoy live music and drinks from Trinity Brewhouse. Admission is free. To learn more, visit foodtrucksin.com/food-truck-events or follow PVD Food Truck Events on Facebook.
Rain Harvest Arts Festival
Roger Williams Park, Providence
Saturday, June 12
Billed as a “unique event that combines water, science and art in a community celebration,” this festival hosted by the Providence Stormwater Innovation Center will offer a wide range of activities for local families.
“Artists, musicians, environmental scientists, local students and educators share their inspirations and encourage public participation with performances, music, chalk drawings, scavenger hunts, tours of stormwater projects hosted by the Stormwater Innovation Center, water testing demonstrations, and more,” a description reads.
To learn more, visit stormwaterinnovation.org/rainharvestartsfestival.
Music at Mulligan’s Island
1000 New London Ave., Cranston
Various dates, July and August
Looking to enjoy live music at a great outdoor venue? Check out the Summer Concert Series planned at Mulligan’s Island Golf & Entertainment in Cranston, from the Doobie Brothers tribute Takin’ It To The Streets on July 2 to Scarab: The Journey Experience on Aug. 27. For a full schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com and search for Mulligan’s Island.
Sip & Stroll
Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence
Thursday, July 15
This 21-plus event will offer adult visitors a chance to take an after-hours stroll through Roger William Park Zoo while enjoying beer, wine and zoo-themed cocktails. There will also be food, musical entertainment from Farm Dog Band, and RI Comic Con photo opportunities. To learn more, visit rwpzoo.org.