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Admiral Fitzroy Inn, Lower Thames St., Newport, R.I.
Newport Harbor Lighthouse on Goat Island, Newport, R.I.
Tennis Hall of Fame, Bellevue Ave., Newport, R.I.
Newport Mansions Store, Bannisters Wharf, Newport, R.I.


Warm Up by the Sea at the Newport Winter Festival in February (2024) (contd.)

(Back) Newport Sea Foam Trading Co. on Thames Street, and Pour Your Heart out Candle Making at Little Lady Baby on Spring Street. Many events are planned throughout the festival, including historic walking tours, wine tastings, seal watching trips, dessert and wine pairings, horse back riding on the beach and much more. There are activities and shows for children as well as adult focused events. Samples of family focused ones are Storytime in The Breakers Stable & Carriage House, and two magic shows at the Marriot featuring Robert Clarke, magician and juggler on Saturday, Feb. 17 and "Magic by George" on Sunday, Feb. 18. Another magic show will feature Matt Roberts at the Wyndham Newport Hotel in Middletown on Feb. 22.

 

Also for kids, there are many special events including Toe Jam Puppet Band, the Rainforest Reptile Show, Fire and Mad Science Show, Teddy Bear Musical Celebration and Story Time, and the Princess Party at OceanCliff featuring Elsa, Anna and Mirabel this year. The BubbleMania show entertains with the juggling of bubbles, comedy and big band music at the Viking Hotel on Feb. 24. The whole family can enjoy Fort Adams guided tours and firepits, historic walking tours, mansion tours and the Newport Art Museum art project and scavenger hunt.

 

Over fifty local businesses take part in the Winter Festival discount Bracelet Program. Purchasing a festival bracelet for $10 per person gives you discounts to participating activities, shops and restaurants. Some events are repeated and others are one or two times only. Some require pre-registration and a ticket, while others do not. Most activities are in downtown Newport or a short drive away to Bellevue Ave., and the towns of Middletown and Portsmouth, R.I. There are live music performances, comedy shows, and food competitions.

 

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.

 

During the Winter Festival, many retail stores, such as Frazzleberries, Willa's Sweet Shack, Beau Tyler, Newport Seafoam Trading Co. (also the location for the "Make Your Own Soap" activity), and the Newport Mansions Store on Bannisters Wharf offer discounts to bracelet holders. Museums like the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Newport Mansions (The Breakers and Marble House) and more offer bracelet holders discounts toward admission and in their gift shops.

 

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 (pay at meters) where you will find 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 Street is home to more boutiques, souvenir shops and eateries. The Lower Thames area is more compact with limited parking on the street and in side pay lots. The Gateway Visitors Center Parking Lot to the right of the Marriott Hotel is another pay lot on America's Cup Ave. There are more shopping districts a short drive or long walk away on Bellevue Ave., Spring St. and Broadway. A handful of events take place in nearby Middletown and Portsmouth, a 10-20 minute drive away. See Scenic Shopping Newport for more details on the shopping in Newport.

 

Foodies also love the Newport Winter Festival. This year the Annual Chili Cook-Off will be held on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Newport Marriott Hotel from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Mac & Cheese Smackdown will be Saturday, Feb. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Newport Marriott. Tickets needed for these events as well as your discriminating taste buds and big appetite so you can vote for your favorite.

 

A popular nightlife activity during the Newport Winter Festival is the ticketed shows by tribute bands. This year, Bennie and the Jets, a Premier Elton John Tribute Band will perform at the Newport Marriott on Feb. 24. The Eagles Experience tribute band will be at the Wyndham Newport Hotel in Middletown on Friday night, Feb. 16, and The Jimmy Buffett Band, Changes in Latitude performs at the Wyndham Newport Hotel in Middletown the next night on Saturday, Feb. 17. There are comedy and improv shows as well as events with cocktails, wine and beer. The Viking Hotel will host the ticketed adult comedy show by Steve Sweeney and Will Noonan on Friday, Feb. 23.

 

The Burger Bender contest goes on at participating restaurants throughout the festival and you can vote for your favorite burger. At The Reef restaurant on the waterfront, you can rent warming igloos, hear live music and consider their burger for the Burger Bender contest. They will also have Naton the Magician who will put on a show on Thursday, Feb. 23rd from 6-7 p.m. performing tableside during dinner. Other Burger Bender contestants include Wharf Southern Kitchen, the Mooring, 22 Bowen's, Diego's, CRU Cafe, The Grill at 31 North and many more. There are non-beef burgers also. Last year's beef burger winner was The Mooring Restaurant's "The Feast" burger, and the non-beef winner was The Boat House with their "Salmon Banh Mi Burger." Vote for your favorite during the festival, one vote per person this year.

 

During Winter Festival, hotels and inns are offering special winter rates and packages, such as the Admiral Fitzroy Inn, Newport Marriott, Hotel Viking, Hilltop Inn, Hampton Inn and Suites (Middletown), Holiday Inn Express (Middletown), Homewood Suites (Middletown), Sonesta Hotel (Middletown), Newport Harbor Hotel, Vacation Newport properties (Newport and Middletown), and the Residence Inn (Middletown). The Viking Hotel regularly has 15% off for Rhode Islanders and residents of other New England states, and a discount for government and military members.

 

Many hotels and inns are located within walking distance of the festival activites, but some are a 10 minute drive in nearby Middletown, R.I. Some hotels and inns have minimum stays. Many are looking forward to offering their winter rates and welcoming you during the Winter Festival. Note that the Newport Harbor Island Resort (formerly Gurney's Resort and Marina) and its ice skating rink on Goat Island are closed for renovations this winter (2024). See our Newport page for links to these and more Newport and Middletown accommodations.

 

Since the Winter Festival is held during school vacation week, there are many children's events. These include the Princess Party at OceanCliff Castle on Wednesday, February 21 from 1-3 p.m. (advance tickets for children and parents, costumes encouraged, strollers not permitted in ballroom). The Teddy Bear Musical Celebration and Story Time will be held at the Newport Harbor Hotel, located along the waterfront on America's Cup Ave. on Tuesday, Feb. 20. (bring your teddy bear, $6 admission, $3 with bracelet).

 

The Breakers Mansion is hosting Winterfest Storytime in The Breakers Stable and Carriage House from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon on the weekdays during the festival for kids age 4 and up (free but space limited, pre-registration required, adult must accompany child) from February 19 to February 23. There is also a Kids Tennis Clinic at the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Bellevue Avenue for ages 6-15 from 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Tues., Feb 20 and again on Thursday, Feb. 22 (registration required, $10 with bracelet, $15 regular cost).

 

Kids also enjoy lots of options to create during Winter Festival this year. There is a Make your own family Burgee(flag) at the Sailing Museum, Make Your Own Tiki Mask at the Wharf Fish House, Make your own Pinata at Diegos Newport on Bowens Wharf, Make your own Guacamole at Diego's Barrio Cantina in Middletown, Build a Bird Feeder Workshop at Potter League for Animals in Middletown, and another bird feeder activity, Make Your Own Bird Feeder at Wharf Southern Kitchen. Cutie Curls, a gift boutique and art studio with art and craft classes for kids and adults is having seven special ticketed events for kids during the festival week, plus open studio hours for a variety of projects, especially seashell artwork. For example, they have Squishmallow and Pokemon Canvas Painting, Bath Bomb/Lip Scrub making, Make a Character Terrarium and more, plus a scavenger hunt after the activity. Dates and times for kids activities vary so check the Newport Winter Festival schedule for details.

 

For a cozy lunch or dinner, there is a list of restaurants that participate in offering discounts to bracelet holders during the week. For example, the Brick Alley Pub is giving a free soup and salad buffet add on to your entree of $16.95 or more from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20 to Thursday, Feb 22 with bracelet. You can show your bracelet and receive a buy one get one afternoon tea from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for $35 during Winter Festival at Stoneacre Brasserie on Washington Square. The Admiral Fitzroy Inn is holding 2 special afternoon tea events on Monday, Feb. 19 and Tuesday, Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. They will host a chocolate and wine pairing, and a chocolate and tea pairing by Vivilicious Chocolates. Advance reservations and payment required ($56 with bracelet). Get a casual meal at Wally's Wieners where there is a 20% discount, excluding alcohol, tax and tip. If the restaurant is not listed, you can ask for a festival discount and they may offer it. A few other downtown restaurants to consider are Wharf Southern Kitchen (15% off dine in), Diego's Newport (Bowen's Wharf and Middletown locations, 15% off dine in), and the Grill at 41 North (half off of a bottle of wine and 20% dining discount). Ben & Jerry's ice cream has a buy one, get one free special. For more information about many other Newport's places to eat, see Scenic Shopping Newport.

 

The Chanler, a historic mansion and inn located on the Cliff Walk holds a hot chocolate bar daily from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, weather permitting. They will have an outdoor fire pit and chairs. The cliff walk is steps away. During the festival, bracelet holders get a free cookie to go with their hot chocolate. There will be best drink contests at the Red Parrot, Gas Lamp Grille and the Bar & Board. On Long Wharf you can find Yagi Noodles having a Dumpling Eating Contest from 11 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, Feb. 24 (deadline to enter is Feb. 22).

 

On the final day of the Winter Festival there will be a Barbie Brunch Party at The Reef Restaurant from 12:00 noon to 2 p.m. This event will include a Barbie meet and greet, games, and more. Your bracelet gets you a 15% discount on your bill. In addition to the regular full day of events, the Annual Newport Wedding Show is happening from 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Rosecliff Mansion and the Newport Craft Brewery with a trolley ride between these two locations so couples can meet wedding professionals, sample foods, and see fashion shows. With all that is happening, you can find something to please everyone during these 10 days of winter celebration.

 

Another bonus is that Newport has a slower pace compared to the busy summer months. Parking is easier and the town is less crowded. You can bundle up and enjoy shopping, dining and special seasonal events, while still taking in 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.

 

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. This year's festival is a great chance to experience "Winter Days That Truly Amaze!" in Newport, Rhode Island.

 

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.

 

See Discover Newport seasonal tourism office open Feb. 16-25, 2024 during the festival at 21 Long Wharf Mall for more visitor information about Newport and surrounding towns

 

-M.A. Barrett (February, 2020, updated February, 2024)

 

Newport Sea Foam Trading Co, Winter Festival sign, Lower Thames St., Newport, R.I.

Newport Sea Foam Trading soaps and bath products, Lower Thames St., Newport, R.I.

Wally's Wieners, Lower Thames St., Newport, R.I.

Frazzleberries, Lower Thames St., Newport, R.I.

Shoppers on Upper Thames St., downtown Newport, R.I.
Yagi Noodles, Long Wharf outdoor mall, location of Dumpling Eating Contest, Newport Winter Festival 2024, Newport, R.I.