In 1994, Barnaby Evans realized a unique artistic vision – to light bonfires on the three rivers of downtown Providence, creating a powerful work of art and a symbol of Providence’s Renaissance.
Twenty-one years on, and the “crown jewel of the Providence renaissance” is still burning bright. So brightly, in fact, there are now over 80 braziers and the lighting occurs about twenty times a year – sometimes as full and sometimes as partial displays – with help of hundreds of dedicated volunteers and donations from visitors. Saturday, May 26th is the first full lighting of 2018, which occurs at exactly 8:09 PM and fires remain lit until half past midnight; there’s another full lighting June 10th -- see complete schedule at www.waterfire.org)
All full WaterFire evenings can be seen along the water from Waterplace Park to Memorial/South Main Street Park. The best way to see the display is on foot – there’s really no room for folding chairs – so wear comfortable shoes. WaterFire nights can be very crowded -- they feel like giant community celebrations, with music and restaurants and hotels getting into the act. Bonfires are lit approximately 15 minutes after sunset. Arrive early to claim your preferred spot along the river or in the parks. Check out an interactive map of WaterFire locations at www.waterfire.org.
If you’re looking to get a preview, you may want to book a gondola ride before the braziers are lit. LaGondola offers 40-minute cruises for $89 for two ($20 per additional person to maximum of 6); $139 if you bring one of their musicians along for the ride. Either way, you get all the accouterments necessary to enjoy your own bottle of champagne as you cruise. See https://www.gondolari.com/
The WaterFire experience is free, but donations are welcome (it’s a non-profit grass roots effort!)