Five Can't-Miss Events of the Week: June 11–17

PVDFest, Gaspee Days, Hi Neighbor Block Party and more.
Providence International Arts Festival

The arts take to the streets of Providence with dance, music and a variety of performances. Get your samba shoes on for Bixiga 70, an Afrobeat band from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and gape in awe at the Earth Harp, a musical spectacle featuring the world’s largest string instrument. And since Providence is home to a whole lotta brain power, get your own brainwaves going with Aurea’s performance of “Melville and the Great White Whale.” Music and word combine to tell the story of Herman Melville and his masterpiece, weaving philosophical theories and sea shanties together for a tale you won’t forget. Top off your experience at Dean Avenue, a pop-up skate and art park at the Dean Hotel where deejays spin sleek mixes, vendors ply their wares and skaters carve concrete trails. (Click here for Rhode Island Monthly's top five attractions for PVDFest.)

The Details: Main festival June 13. 4 p.m. Extended events June 11–14. Free. Venues in downtown Providence,


Gaspee Days Weekend

Ah, Gaspee days: an action-packed weekend celebrating lil’ Rhody’s role in the start of the American Revolution. The events kick off when the Gaspee Days Colonial Encampment sets up camp from June 12 to 14. Authentic Colonial military life will be on display with colorful uniforms and scene recreations by the Pawtuxet Rangers. (Read a recent Rhode Island Monthly story about the Rangers here.) To catch even more history, be sure to attend the fiftieth annual Gaspee Days Parade on June 13, complete with a display of parade music and Colonial spirit. The Gaspee Project at WaterFire in Providence on June 13 reenacts a raucous Colonial debate and the longboats row out at 10 p.m. to confront the H.M.S. Gaspee in a fiery showdown. Last but not least is the grand finale of Gaspee Days: the Burning of the Gaspee. The Pawtuxet Rangers will set fire to a tradition that began burning in 1772 and has remained an integral part of Rhode Island’s history ever since.

The Details: June 12–14. Daylong. Free. Pawtuxet Village, Narragansett Boulevard, Warwick,


Festival of Historic Houses

Have you ever had one foot in the past and the other in the present? The Festival of Historic Houses, hosted by the Providence Preservation Society, provides you with the opportunity. Tours will guide you through more than a dozen historic residences and gardens in Fox Point, teaching you about their origins and past and present inhabitants. See the merging of time through architecture and how the past has been preserved but also fitted for the present generation of owners. The tour will be held rain or shine. There is also a special opportunity to support the Providence Preservation Society at a fundraiser held in the historic home of Eliza Ward, daughter of Joseph Brown. The party will take place on Friday night and tickets must be purchased in advance.

The Details: June 12–13. Fri. 6–8 p.m., Sat. 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Fundraiser $125. Tour $25–$45. Register for tours at 357 Benefit St., Providence,


 Sun and Moon

Your mom may have warned you not to look directly at the sun, but the Meridian Project event, Sun and Moon, says just the opposite. Gaze at the sun (safely!) through solar telescopes and as darkness shrouds the view, turn your telescope to other celestial bodies that come alive at night. Musicians on hand will provide the perfect ambiance for your stargazing. Be sure to bring a blanket or chair, and if you want to join the music performance instead of fiddling with a telescope, pack your own instrument. There will also be a kid-friendly chime building workshop at 6 p.m. In the event of rain, performances will take place indoors.

The Details: June 12–13. Sun-gazing 6 p.m., musical performance 8 p.m. $5 suggested donation. Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory, 61 Park Ln., Charlestown,


 Hi Neighbor Block Party

See how many faces you can recognize at the Hi Neighbor Statewide Block Party event, sponsored by Leadership RI. This celebration of community is brimming with things to do and drink: For the adults, try sangria by Julians and frothy brews by Narragansett Beer. For the kids or kids-at-heart, sidle up to some Yacht Club Soda or the ultimate summer treat: Del’s. While the drinks are poured, watch the Steel Yard pour a decidedly different liquid as they show how metal is cast. You can also get your daily caffeine fix with a big iced coffee bar by Bolt Coffee Company and use your newfound energy to play a game of human-sized foosball. Snacks will be available for purchase, but attendees are encouraged to pack a picnic and camp out for live music by Tigerman WOAH.

The Details: June 17. 5–8 p.m. Free admission. The Steel Yard, 27 Sims Ave., Providence, 401-273-1574 x105,