It’s Memorial Day Weekend in Rhode Island, which means summer is here, beaches are open and there’s loads of fun to be had across the state.  Here’s a quick round-up of activities you won’t want to miss, including Memorial Day parades honoring the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in the service of our nation.

Blackstone Valley

There’s plenty to do this weekend in Blackstone Valley.  On Saturday, the Pawtucket Red Sox are hosting the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs for a double header and the day will include a PawSox Hall of Fame induction ceremony featuring former Pawtucket Red Sox and Boston Red Sox star, Fred Lynn.  Start time for the double-header is 4:05PM, with the second game set to start at 6:15PM, followed by a patriotic fireworks display.

On Sunday, the Blackstone Valley Riverboat Explorer is offering leisurely and informative 50-minute cruises down the Blackstone River through Central Falls, Cumberland and Lincoln offering beautiful views, history of the Blackstone Valley and glimpses of local wildlife.

On Monday, both Lincoln and Glocester will be commemorating Memorial Day with parades in their communities.

Block Island

Although summer is officially kicking off, the beautiful beaches of Block Island are open all year long.  But there's even more going on just off the mainland this weekend.  The Block Island Maritime Institute is hosting Chowda’ Fest, a competition and celebration of chowder in all it’s glorious and varied forms.  Amateurs and pros alike throw their clams in the ring with creamy, red and clear concoctions that they hope will take the prize – but the real winners are the attendees who get to taste each delicious entry.

Bristol

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum hosts a fantastic weekly guided tour of the grounds called Saturday Strolls.  Learn about the original owners of this magnificent seaside estate as you explore the gardens, learn about the various trees, flora and fauna that contribute to the home’s beauty and horticultural prominence, all with breathtaking Narragansett Bay as a backdrop. 

For more of Bristol’s history this weekend, check out the Bombed & Burned Walking Tour, also on Saturday.  Hosted by Captain Simeon Potter (aka Rei Battcher, Bristol Historical & Preservation Society historian), the tour follows the Bristol waterfront as Captain Potter recounts the bombing of Bristol by the British in 1778.

Newport

There will be fun in the sun on Newport’s gorgeous beaches this weekend and the City by the Sea is a wonderful spot to welcome summer.  On the other end of Aquidneck Island, there’s going to be some horsing around in Portsmouth this Saturday, as the Newport International Polo Series kicks off the season with the Newport Rotary Club’s Charity Polo Match at the polo grounds of Glen Farm.  Hosted by the Newport Polo Club, proceeds from the classic six chukker dual between home team Newport and a regional rival will support the Rotary Club’s scholarships as well as local and international charitable giving programs.

Providence

The capital city will be celebrating Memorial Day Weekend with a full lighting of WaterFire on Saturday night.  The award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence is a delight for the senses and has drawn more than ten million visitors since its inception.  If you haven’t experienced this one-of-a-kind event yet, head to Providence as the sun goes down to enjoy the more than eighty sparkling, crackling bonfires, the smell of fragrant wood in the air, and the atmospheric music that plays as you stroll the paths of Waterplace Park.  And if you’ve been to WaterFire before, consider taking in the event from a new and exciting perspective!  WaterFire Boat Rides puts you right in the middle of the action as you are guided along the river and amongst the fires of Waterplace Park, Riverwalk and the Providence River. 

Providence is also host this weekend to the dramatic and acclaimed Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial, which opens to the public at 9am on Friday.  The moving display features nearly 7,000 military boots, each affixed with an American flag and bearing the name of an American service member killed in action in the Global War on Terror.  On Sunday, PVD Food Truck events will host a Food Truck Night to coincide with a patriotic concert and light show at the site of the memorial.

South County

There is a lot going on in South County this weekend, with Memorial Day parades in Charlestown, South Kingstown, North Kingstown and East Greenwich, as well as Westerly, which hosts one of the oldest Memorial Day parade celebrations in the country. 

Westerly is also the site of the 22nd Annual VirtuArt Festival.  Held in Wilcox Park, the event is free and features more than 150 artists working in various mediums.  There’s a free creation station for the kids, food, entertainment and original artwork for sale.

While you’re in Westerly, stop by the Weekapaug Inn for their 2nd Annual Kite Fly-Inn.  There will be a parade of colorful kites, a kite decorating workshop as well as a cookout, music and lawn games.

Warwick & West Bay

Gaspee Days are here again! The Gaspee Days Arts & Crafts Festival takes place Saturday through Monday this weekend and features three days of outdoor shopping, eating and music at Pawtuxet Park.  This fun, family-friendly event is free and showcases more than 100 artisans, community groups and non-profits selling their creations.  There’s a food court, a slate of bands performing throughout the weekend as well as games and amusements for the kids.

On Sunday, the Warwick Symphony Orchestra, a wonderful regional touring orchestra of volunteer musicians, will be performing “Awakening the American Spirit” at the Goddard State Park Carousel.  The concert will feature well-loved works by American composers, including Copeland, Del Borgo, Rodgers, Gould, Ellington and Sousa.  Tickets are $10 and children 12 and under are free.

Happy Memorial Day from Visit Rhode Island!