Cassandra Wilson and her band on the main stage at the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival by Lee Wright via Flickr Creative Commons

Rhode Island doesn’t exactly have an action-packed festival calendar, but there are plenty of quality events that are worth planning a trip around. Newport is the star of the state, hosting most of the big events, including two legendary festivals: Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Fest. Yachting also plays a big role in Rhode Island festivals, and there’s even a fun Irish event every fall.

Newport Folk Fest

For the past 50 years, the Newport Folk Fest has been giving musical talents like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez a venue to shine. This amazing music festival is as strong, diverse, and engaging as ever, hosting a wonderful line up every July in Newport’s scenic Fort Adams State Park. Visitors can enjoy great food and buy crafts to support the musicians.

Newport Jazz Festival

Newport hosts a lot of well-known summer festivals, but few are as popular as its jazz event. Every August, the Fort Adams State Park is transformed into an oasis of jazz as some of the best names in the business come to Rhode Island to perform outdoors. With more than 50 years of experience behind it, you can always expect a top-flight line up from the Newport Jazz Festival.

Newport International Boat Show

One of September’s highlights in Newport is its annual boat show. The Rhode Island town has a long tradition of yachting, and the boating industry puts a lot of effort into creating a really impressive show. See the latest sailing and motorized boats on the market, as well as loads of products from all the big names in the industry. The huge event spreads out all along the waterfront area, with special water taxis providing quick transport from wharf to wharf.

Newport Waterfront Irish Festival

No town is complete without its very own Irish festival, and Newport goes all out to create a fun-filled three-day event every September at the Newport Yachting Center. This lovely waterfront spot hosts five stages with national and international talent of all kinds. This festival is great for both families with kids and adults looking for a weekend party.

FirstWorks Festival

One of the big events of the year in the Rhode Island capital brings all forms of art and theater to the city for a two-week stream of performances. Each night alternates between dance and theater, with a distinctive leaning towards alternative, cutting-edge performances that span the genres. This event typically takes place at the end of September and into early October.

First Night Newport

First Night Newport provides a great reason to visit this town for the New Year celebrations. The full New Year’s Eve day, from sunrise to midnight, is filled with wonderful events, such as museum tours, family activities, and live cultural performances. The festival culminates with a massive fireworks show over the Newport Harbor.

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