WaterFire just might be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to Providence, Rhode Island. In the 23 years since the first bonfires were lit on the rivers in Providence, the brilliant and moving art installation has helped to transform the city into a vibrant, family-friendly destination.
Part community festival and part art exhibition—complete with bonfires juxtaposed with water, music, arts and crafts vendors, boat rides, and live performances—WaterFire is held on various evenings from late April through early November. And spectators will tell you: It's an event not to be missed. But just like other wonderful, very popular events such as First Night Boston, getting the inside scoop on WaterFire can mean the difference between having a magical evening with the family and a really long night. Here are 25 things to look for and to know before you go—with wisdom learned (sometimes the hard way) from my family’s experience and from the very knowledgeable team at WaterFire.