Your Hot Summer in Newport
New England's gilded beach town is known for its mansions and yachts, but it's also a stage for some of summer's hottest music festivals. Polo, tennis, and oysters are also in the plans, so pack your preppy best and head to the coast. Kim Fredericks rounds up ten must-do events
Newport Jazz Festival
America’s first jazz fest attracts thousands for performances by legendary and emerging jazz musicians. Icons such as Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald once graced this festival’s stage. This year, August 2-4, kicks off with Natalie Cole at the Tennis Hall of Fame followed by two days of music at scenic Fort Adams State Park where three stages showcase headliners Herbie Hancock and Esperanza Spaulding. The Saturday night gala at Rosecliff mansion, this year honoring tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, is a festival highlight.
Newport International Polo Series
Don your best Ralph Lauren and head to bucolic Glen Farm for an afternoon of tailgating, people watching, and divot stomping. Matches, held every Saturday at 5:00 pm, pair Newport’s team against an international field. The party starts when the gate opens at 1:00 pm. General admission seating is available on the lawn or bleachers but for a less-hurried afternoon go online to reserve a tailgating space or a table in the subscriber section, serviced by the Twisted Pony bar.
Sunset Music Series
An all-star line-up that includes the-B52s, B.B. King, and One Republic take the stage under the stars (and tent) at the Newport Yachting Center on various dates throughout the summer. The intimate venue sits on Newport Harbor, offering concertgoers the chance to wander the open-air courtyard and enjoy a drink dockside while taking in the harbor views.
Chowder and Oysters
Two festivals, one day. Grab your soupspoon and head to the Great Chowder Cook-off on June 1, where you’ll sample traditional and eclectic chowder creations from dozens of restaurants before casting your vote. Nearby, on America’s Cup Avenue, the Newport Oyster festival debuts with a farmer’s-market style line-up of fresh oysters paired with chilled libations and live music.
Newport Blues and BBQ Festival
The summer-centric fest, July 20, at the Newport Yachting Center, goes whole hog with 10 hours of non-stop blues from artists such as the James Cotton Blues Band and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Head to BBQ Alley for a spectacle of down-home cooking and tasty treats paired with cold brews.
Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
Watch the "Battle of the Sexes" match between Billie Jean King and Bobbie Riggs, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. King will be on hand to discuss key moments and memories of the match. Various clinics, an enshrinement ceremony of new members, including Martina Hingas, and tennis matches between hall of famers round out the celebration, July 8-14.
The Newport Flower Show
Held June 21-23 on the grounds of Rosecliff, one of Newport’s historic mansions, the flower show begins with an opening night cocktail soiree followed by a weekend of elaborate display gardens, horticultural luncheons and lectures, and competitions. This year’s theme, Jade: Eastern Obsessions intends to immerse visitors in Asian culture through displays that incorporate the colors of the iconic gem.
Newport Music Festival
In its 45th season, the festival is an ideal way to experience Newport’s mansions. More than 60 classical concerts are held July 12-28 in the halls and on the lawns of the famed Breakers, Elms, and Blithwold. Selected works are chosen from 19th-century chamber music, vocal repertoire, and Romantic-era piano literature. This season pays tribute to the bicentenary of Wagner and Verdi.
Newport Kite Festival
Newport is known for its wind, which makes it ideal for flying kites. The festival, July 13-14, is held on the grassy fields of Brenton Point State Park, a scenic stage surrounded by water with views that run from the Atlantic to Narragansett Bay. In the sky, a flurry of colorful kites entertains viewers and flyers in competition and demonstration.
Black Ships Festival
Celebrating the Treaty of Kanagawa, which initiated a trading relationship between Japan and the United States, the festival, July 18-21, honors the friendship between Newport and Japan through a variety of cultural events. Highlights include a sushi and sake sail aboard a 101-foot tall ship, a black-tie and kimono ball at the Marble House, tea ceremonies, and demonstrations of Taiko drums.
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