13 Wicked Fun Things to Do at the Newport Winter Festival

The ten-day Newport Winter Festival involves everything from ice bars and kids activities to beer and cheese pairings.

The winter view from Gurney’s.

Ever been in a helicopter? Seen under the hood of an antique car? Been to a spinning bee? Well, now you can. Newport Winter Festival is just about ready to kick off, this Friday, February 15 and will last for ten days. Make sure to get your festival bracelets ahead of time for some great discounts on these events. There’s something for absolutely everyone to do. What’s even better is that Newport was also just voted as the number one “Most Welcoming City in the United States” by Booking.com, based on Booking.com user reviews and feedback. Go find out for yourself just how friendly and fun Newport is over the next ten days by participating in one of these activities.


1. Helicopter Tour and Vineyard Packages

Rhode Island is beautiful from a bird’s eye view, and now you can see it firsthand. With packages ranging in price from $170 to $320 per couple, those with bracelets will be granted a $10 discount. Along with your helicopter ride, there will be a wine tasting and a wine glass for each of you to take home. The tours are available every day of the festival from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. To book a reservation, call 401-843-8687 or visit newporthelicoptertours.com.

2. Newport Craft Beer and Cheese Pairing

Yes, you read that right. Beer and Cheese. Ever wonder which craft beer would go best with your cheddar? Which local brew could you possibly drink with your Narrragansett Creamery Atwell’s Gold? Wonder no more. Stop by Newport Craft Brewing and Distilling on Friday, February 22 from 6 to 8 p.m., and on Saturday, February 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. for the answers. Five locally brewed beers will be paired with five locally made cheeses. Tickets are $20 a piece, or $17 with a WinterFest bracelet. If you have a WinterFest bracelet, please call 401-849-5232 to process your ticket purchases.

3. Fire and Ice Bar

The Fire and Ice bar, located on the patio at the Hotel Viking, will be serving cocktails every night of the festival from 4 to 8 p.m. With craft beers on tap and expert mixologists pouring Keel Vodka cocktails, there are also fire pits to warm up. From 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, kids can also enjoy the ice cream bar in the Hotel Viking ballroom for $5 without a bracelet and just $2 with one.

4. Newport Vineyards Frose Pops and Fudge

Enjoy Frose (Frozen Rose) Pops, made from Newport Vineyards’ rose from 4 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, February 23. Warm up by the Brix fireplace, then cool down with your choice of house-made Newport Vineyards frozen rose pops or Newport Winter Festival specialty cocktails and indulgent house-made fudge. Show your Newport Winter Festival bracelet and your fudge is free! *Up to one complimentary piece per person.

5. The Second Annual Mac and Cheese Smackdown

Gurney’s Newport Resort on Goat Island is hosting the second annual Mac and Cheese Smackdown on Saturday, February 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with participating area restaurants and caterers competing to see who has the best in town. Guests will vote for their favorites. Admission is $13 per person in advance online or $15 at the door. Tickets for children ages four to seventeen are $8 each. Get $3 off with a Winter Festival bracelet. Children younger than three are free.

6. Ben O’Connor Concert

Country music artist Ben O’Connor will keep you dancing all night long on Saturday, February 23 from 9 to 11 p.m., with popular country hits and original music. O’Connor has built a reputation in both New York City and his home state of Rhode Island. Tickets $12 in advance or with bracelet and $15 at the door. VIP tickets are $30 in advance or with bracelet, and $35 at the door (VIP tickets include a drink ticket and upfront seating at a table.)

7. Nacho Tasting

Could this festival get any better?! The thirty-first annual Nacho Tasting will be taking place at Brick Alley Pub – famous for its mouth-watering nachos – located at 140 Thames Street from 2 to 4 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19 through Friday, Feb. 22, and admission is free with a bracelet and the purchase of a drink. For more info, call 401-849-6334.

8. Live Jazz for Kids

Jazz is complicated enough for adults to understand and appreciate, never mind kids. Thankfully, this event is made just for the little ones (and parents too). Free and open to the public and taking place at Greenevale Vineyards in Portsmouth On Thursday, Feb. 21 from 1–4 p.m., Tish Adams, Dick Lupino and Yvonne Monnett will delight the audience with songs kids will be able to identify, just a little jazzier. Complimentary refreshments will be available for the kids and a wine tasting is available for purchase by adults. For more info, call 401-847-3777.

9. Annual Hot Drink Contest

Amateur mixologist? Experienced bartender? Somewhere in between? All are welcome to enter the Annual Best Hot Drink Contest, taking place at the Red Parrot on Thames St. on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. The crowd will sample each concoction as contestants vie for the Festival Plaque. Don’t forget to bring along your liquor, glassware and garnishes! To enter the contest, or for more info, call the Red Parrot at 401-847-3140.

10. Mad Science Fire and Ice Show

Well, I guess that’s one way to get the kids interested in science! The Mad Science Fire and Ice show promises to dazzle kids and adults alike, as the audience learns about air pressure, states of matter and the scientific method. The show takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Newport Marriott on Friday, Feb. 22, and tickets are $6 ($3 with a bracelet).

11. Beach Polo

Polo in Newport isn’t uncommon – matches take place at Newport Polo throughout the summer, every weekend. But polo on the beach? In the winter? From 3–4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 and Sunday, Feb. 24, matches will take place at Second Beach in Newport. The match is free and open to the public, but there is no alcohol allowed on the beach.

Beach polo at Easton’s Beach.

12. Newport Winter Comedy Festival Featuring Nick Griffin

Who couldn’t use a good laugh? Head to Gurney’s at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22 and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Griffin will be joined on stage by Ray Harrington and, considering their late-night circuit, there’s a good chance you’ll leave with a smile. Ticket prices vary and are discounted with a bracelet.

13. La Forge Seafood Festival

Come with an empty stomach, leave happy and satisfied. The La Forge Seafood Festival will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 4–6 p.m. at La Forge Casino and Restaurant, and will feature all the seafood that anybody could ever want! Tickets are $68, but a bracelet gets you a cool $10 discount. For more information, call 401-847-0418.


Go On a Burger Bender at 30 Newport Restaurants

Attend WINEterfest at Newport Vineyards

Have the Coziest Winter Experience inside the Ocean House’s Ski Gondola

Leave a reply