Newport has played host to travelers for over 375 years, earning its nickname of “America’s First Resort.” The city began as a haven for people escaping religious persecution, transformed into a trading hub, and then became a magnet for America's rich and famous during the late 19th Century. Newport is currently the epicenter of culture and art on the Rhode Island Coast, where visitors will encounter Gilded Age Mansions, art galleries, restaurants, and world class events.
The Newport Winter Festival has been the go-to winter event in Rhode Island for nearly three decades. It will feature 150 separate activities for an anticipated 20,000 attendees, a major reason for its nickname “New England’s Largest Winter Extravaganza". It’s an all-ages celebration that will take place on February 17-26, throughout Newport County. Attendees will encounter a variety of activities that range from tours of local historical mansions to a Chicken Wing Cook-Off. Kids can participate in the Children’s Fair, a two-day event filled with games, live entertainment, arts, crafts, and more. The festival offers the perfect chance for travelers to experience the community, visit local business, and have a memorable winter getaway. ResortsandLodges.com got the opportunity to interview Brittany Rosenberg, a representative for the event, to learn more about this unique winter celebration.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
BR: The festival has been running for 29 years.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
BR: We typically draw around 20,000 people over the course of the ten-day event.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract?
BR: The great thing about our festival is we have events to attract everyone! We have many family events like Illusion Quest, a Family Magician and Juggler, our Chili Cook-Off and our Chicken Wing Cook-Off, a two-day Children's Fair, Teddy Bear Tea, and Princess Party. We have adult events that attract couples, like our concerts, comedy show, and drink competitions!
RAL: What makes this event unique?
BR: Not only are we the only event of our kind in New England this time of year, but we have so much going on that we really appeal to everyone. It’s always over the kid's winter break, and we draw families from all over New England. The festival features over 150 events, offering a unique winter experience combining food, festivities, music, and fun for all ages. We also sell a Winter Festival Bracelet for only $10 that gives you significant discounts or even free admission to all of the events happening throughout the festival. Many of the restaurants and local retailers get involved as well, offering discounts or free items such as chowder or a salad with your lunch if you have a Winter Festival Bracelet.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
BR: With over 150 events taking place throughout the festival, you could spend the whole week in Newport and find lots of activities for the whole family. From chocolate making classes to a pinata making activity for kids, the only question will be what you want to do first. You can check out a full day-to-day schedule of our events online to plan your stay.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
BR: We have two great food events: our Annual Chili Cook-off on Saturday (2/18) and our Annual Chicken Wing Cook-off, the following Saturday (2/25), where local restaurants and caterers compete to see who has the best chili or wings in town! Attendees can sample each restaurant's wings or chili and vote on their favorite! If you are still hungry, many restaurants in town are doing specials associated with our Winter Festival bracelet. Depending on the restaurant, you can receive a discount on your whole meal, or some free items with your meal like nachos, a cup of chowder, or even dessert.
RAL: What is the overall environment like?
BR: Newport comes to life during our Winter Festival! It may be chilly, but everyone gets into the spirit, with the lively streets, busy restaurants and hotels. You would think it's summer!
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?
BR: Many Inns and B&B's around town do offer a lodging special during Winter Festival. If they have notified us of their special, it will be on our website.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
BR: We do have an enormous economic impact on the city. Newport is a tourist driven town in the summer, so winter is an offseason for us. Some stores and restaurants close for a couple of months, but then reopen for the 10 days of the festival, like Ben and Jerry’s for instance.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
BR: There are so many reasons to come the Newport Winter Festival. We have events that appeal to people of all ages: activities just for children, events for the whole family, or even a night out for adults and couples. Eat, drink, dance, and explore everything the festival and Newport has to offer. You won't be disappointed by New England’s Largest Winter Extravaganza!
For more information about the Newport Winter Festival, please visit the event website.