Admiral Fitzroy Inn, lower Thames St., Newport, R.I.
Newport Harbor Lighthouse on Goat Island, Newport, R.I.
The Elms, view from back gardens, Bellevue Ave., Newport, R.I.
Save The Bay Exploration Center, Easton's Beach Rotunda, Newport, R.I.

Warm Up by the Sea at the Newport Winter Festival in February

Cozy dining, firepits, fireplaces and heated igloos warm you up at the 32nd Annual Newport Winter Festival starting on Valentines Day and going until February 23rd (Feb. 14-23, 2020). In mid-Februrary Newporters continue the holiday season with the Winter Festival, ten days of special events, discounts and fun activities. Ice sculptures adorn Bowens and Bannister Wharves. Shops offer demonstrations and hands on activities like Make Your Own Perfume at Newport Aromatherapy, and Make Your Own Soap at Newport Sea Foam Trading Co. Many events are planned throughout the festival, including walking tours, wine tastings, seal tours, (More)

Ice Skating rink at Gurney's Resort, Goat Island, Newport, R.I.

nacho and taco tastings, dessert and wine pairings, beach polo and much more. Samples of family focused events are Save the Bay Touch Tank Aquarium, Ice Sculpting Demo, Ft. Adams guided tours and a magic show, Mysterious Deceptions with Illusionist David Garrity. Also for kids, there are Kids Cook with Chef Marlon at The Reef (pre-register for this event), movie nights at the Viking Hotel, and a Make your own Pinecone Bird Feeder activity.


Over fifty local businesses participate in the Winter Festival discount Bracelet Program. Purchasing a festival bracelet for $10 per person gives you discounts to the activities, shops, restaurants and lodging. Some events are repeated and others are one or two times only. Some require pre-registration and a ticket, while others do not. There are live music performances, mixed drink competitions, food competitions and comedy shows. In other words, there's A LOT going on for everyone all at specific times and days. Click here for the festival website day by day schedule. You can purchase the festival bracelet at these Newport locations.


There is an ice skating rink open to the public at Gurney's Resort on Goat Island. Skating ($10 adults, $5 kids 12 and under) and skate rentals ($7 or clothing donation) are open weather permitting through the winter months. Their rink is perched on the northern part of Goat Island with an awesome view of Narragansett Bay, the Newport Harbor Lighthouse and the Newport Bridge. Gurney's is currently offering a Stay & Skate package through March 1 which includes unlimited skating and a resort credit, plus several other winter getaway packages. They also have outdoor gas fire pits, warming igloos and seating off their lobby where a cafe sells hot chocolate along with a toppings table during the festival. The hotel has great bay views, an indoor pool and spa, onsite restaurant, shuttle to downtown, parking, and friendly staff to help you take part in the festival activities.


Gurney's Resort hosts several scheduled featured events of the festival, including Toe Jam Puppet Band, Rainforest Reptile Show, Boston Magician & Juggler Robert Clarke, and Mad Science Show for kids. Evening performances include Rodney Laney Comedy Show, Chelley Knight Duo, Brian Scott Duo, and Melissa Chapman. There is also a ticketed event on February 15th featuring Changes in Latitudes, a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band. Polar Pineapples is a festival event on February 14th and 15th when the poolside Polar Club serves cocktails from their ice bar while you visit the firepits and take in the water views. Bracelet holders receive free hot cider. The 25th Annual Chili Cook-Off will be at Gurney's on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 11:00 am to 3:45 pm. There will be a free shuttle from downtown to the resort on Goat Island for the Chili Cook-Off.


The Newport Marriott hosts an Eagles Tribute Band, The Eagles Experience on Valentine's Day, and on Saturday, February 15th Illusionist David Garrity will put on a his show, Mysterious Deceptions (reduced ticket price for bracelet holders or advance purchase). The Bubblemania show will be held at the Marriott on February 21st. The Marriott is hosting the Mac & Cheese Smackdown on February 22nd. This is a ticketed event from 11 to 3:30 with 2 time slots. And who doesn't need some mac & cheese during these cold days! On February 22nd, Ben O'Connor and his band will put on a country music concert, including original songs. Maribeth McNair, the Happy Medium will do psychic tarot readings at the hotel both weekends plus Presidents Day during the festival.


There are also activities and packages available at the Viking Hotel. They are hosting 2 movie nights on the Saturday's of the festival. They will show Toy Story 4 movie night on Saturday, Feb. 15, and Maleficent on Saturday, Feb. 22 with guest appearances. On February 17th, Bwana the Iguana, the Reptile Guy will have a morning show. The Viking hosts Fire and Ice, an outdoor ice bar on their patio on the final weekend nights (Thursday-Sunday) of the festival.


Other special events include the Princess Party (with the sisters from Frozen of course) at OceanCliff Castle on Tuesday, February 18th (advance tickets, wear a costume, strollers not permitted in ballroom), and the Teddy Bear Tea (stories and songs) at Newport Harbor Hotel on Wednesday, Feb. 19th (bring your teddy bear, $5 or free with bracelet).


The Breakers Mansion is hosting Winterfest Storytime in The Breakers Stable and Carriage House at 10:30 a.m. daily weekdays during festival for kids age 4 and up (free but space limited, pre-registration required, adult must accompany child) from February 17th to February 21st. There will be an ice carving demonstration in the afternoon at The Reef on February 16th, and they participate the Burger Bender contest (you can vote for your favorite burger at participating restaurants during the festival). They also have special kids eat free offers during weekdays for a limited time for bracelet holders with the purchase of an adult entree or lunch item. The Discover Newport Visitor Center at 23 America's Cup Avenue offers free popcorn from the Popcorn Lady and a bounce house at scheduled times throughout the festival.


For a cozy lunch or dinner, there is a list of restaurants who participate in offering discounts to bracelet holders during the winter festival. For example, Lucia Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria is a small cozy Italian restaurant on Thames St. serving delicious entrees and specials with 15% off food only, excluding Valentine's Day and Saturday nights. If the restaurant is not listed, you can ask for a festival discount and they may offer it. A few downtown restaurants to consider are Wharf Pub, Diego's Newport, Forty 1 North, La Forge Casino Restaurant at the Tennis Hall of Fame, The Reef (kids special), Harry's Bar & Burger (half off burgers), Speakeasy Bar & Grill, Wharf Pub and Perro Salado. Ben & Jerry's has a buy one, get one free special. For more information about Newport's places to eat, see Scenic Shopping Newport.


While not all shops are open during the winter since summer is the peak time for downtown Newport businesses, many do open their doors for the Winter Festival. Thames St. runs parallel to Newport Harbor and is lined with boutiques, an arcade, ice cream shops, several chain stores, plus restaurants. Upper Thames St. has a cobblestone road and some on street parking where you will find an army navy store, an Irish imports shop, gourmet jerky shop, apparel stores, gift shops and restaurants. Shopping enclaves are located on Long Wharf, Brick Market Place, Bowens Wharf and Bannisters Wharf. Lower Thames St is home to more boutiques, souvenir shops and eateries. Lower Thames St. is more compact with limited parking on the street and in side lots. There are more shopping districts on Bellevue Ave., Spring St. and Broadway. See Scenic Shopping Newport for more details on the shopping in Newport.


During the Winter Festival, many retail stores, such as Newport Scrimshanders, Newport Seafoam Trading Co., the Spice & Tea Exchange and the Newport Mansions Store on Bannisters Wharf offer discounts to bracelet holders. Museums like the Audrain Automobile Museum, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Museum of Newport History, the Newport Mansions and more also offer bracelet holders discounts toward admission and in their gift shops.


The Winter Festival Newport has a slower pace than during the summer. Parking is easier and the town is less crowded. You can bundle up and enjoy shopping, dining and special seasonal events, while still soaking up the expansive ocean and bridge views from downtown streets. The weather can affect some outdoor activities and how long you can venture outside without turning into a popsicle. But hot chocolate is more effective after you've been chilled to your bones. And there's lots to do indoors too. You can purchase the festival bracelet at these Newport locations, which includes hotels. Many of these accommodations are offering special winter rates and packages, such as the Admiral Fitzroy Inn, Gurney's Resort, Newport Marriott, Hotel Viking, Hilltop Inn, The Firehouse and the Newport Harbor Hotel.


Whether you take a day trip, weekend or week long vacation to the Winter Festival, you will have lots of fun activities to choose from. Enjoy this celebration of Newport and let the festival help you warm up to winter by the sea.


See the Newport Winter Festival website for more information and the schedule of events.


See Scenic Shopping Newport for more information about shops, restaurants, places to stay and activities to do.


-M.A. Barrett (February, 2020)



Newport Sea Foam Trading Co., Thames St., Newport, R.I.

Regent Lounge and Firepit, Gurney's Resort, Goat Island, Newport, R.I.
William and Cornelius, resident goats at Gurney's Newport, Goat Island, Newport, R.I.
Newport Sea Foam Trading soaps and bath products, Lower Thames St., Newport, R.I.
Shoppers on Upper Thames St., downtown Newport, R.I.
Perry Mill Market at corner of Thames St. and America's Cup Ave., Newport, R.I.
Heated igloo at Gurney's Resort, Winter Festival 2018, Goat Island, Newport, R.I.
View of Newport Bridge at sunset from Goat Island, Newport, R.I.
Newport Sea Foam Trading Co., Winter Festival Make Your Own Soap sign, Thames St., downtown Newport, R.I.