Logo   Waterfire in Providence RI
Waterfire is Providence's evening festival of fire, fantasy and fun, a gigantic happening that throngs the city center with up to 70,000 fans.




Waterfire, the brainchild of Providence RI installation artist Barnaby Evans, is a hundred blazing-log-filled braziers floating in the river right in the city center as dozens of huge loudspeakers play music to accompany the spectacle.

People throng the riverbanks to watch the blaze, the showers of sparks, the boats and gondolas cruising the river right by the blazes, and to listen to the music which ranges from classical to pop to rock to exotic foreign tunes.

Waterfire, Providence RI

Performance artists set up on street corners, in parks and on bridges to amuse the crowds. Snack stands set up shop on streets closed to traffic. Restaurants along the riverbanks fill to capacity as diners watch all the action right from their tables.

Most people think of waterfire as the blazing fires in the river, but the art installation, fascinating as it is, is really just a wonderful, captivating excuse for a gigantic street party.

Waterfire is a nonprofit artistic and social event supported by corporate and private sponsors and volunteers. The event takes place on designated nights throughout the year, beginning at sunset and lasting until 1 am. It is open to the public at no charge.

Street festival, Providence RI

Hundreds of volunteers help to run it, floating and anchoring the buoyed braziers in the river, loading them with firewood, lighting and refueling them from boats during the evening, and performing all the many tasks to keep such a mammoth undertaking running smoothly.

Providence is packed on Waterfire nights, its hotels heavily booked, its parking spaces filled well before sunset. Make plans and arrive early if you want your choice of these services.

Come to see the fires in the river but, more than that, come to enjoy the festival atmosphere, to people-watch, to see and be seen, to observe the street performers, to be part of something big and beautiful, to get in the spirit of yet one more thing that makes Providence such a wonderful city.

For more information and dates of the Waterfire events, see the Waterfire website.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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Waterfire Brazier, Providence RI

Above, one of the blazing braziers floating in the river during Waterfire.

Below, the performance artist named Spark plays with fire at Confluence Point.

Performance artist Spark at Waterfire, Providence RI


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