A Night in Newport: Summer’s Got the Jazz (and Folk) Festivals

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Newport, Rhode Island has long been a summer destination in the Northeast for all walks of society, from surfers to socialites. The Vanderbilts vacationed at the decadent Breakers mansion on the Cliff Walk in Newport. The Boho Village denizens made the trek up to the Ocean State to see Bob Dylan and his electric guitars at the Newport Folk Festival. Needless to say, the Jazz and Folk Festivals have been highly esteemed on the festival circuit for generations. Duke Ellington’s “Ellington at Newport 1956” album will forever have a place in the canon of jazz.

Jazz Festival
New Yorkers need not lament the annual JVC Jazz Fest in NYC, which was canceled this year due to lack of funding. Four hours north of Manhattan you can experience a powerhouse line-up that incorporates a wide range of artists who show the roots of jazz and the influence this genre has had on more contemporary styles. Legends like Dave Brubeck, Etta James, and Tony Bennett share the bill with the likes of Mos Def, Joshua Redman, Roy Haynes, and so many more on the weekend of August 7-9. The kick-off party is hosted at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and is followed by two full days of music on the waterfront at Fort Adams State Park. Times, locations, and tickets can be found at jazzfestival55.com

Folk Festival
The Newport Folk Festival may be the most esteemed of them all. Even the Pixies cooked up a one-time-only acoustic set for this esteemed event. Like the Jazz Festival, this year’s line-up strays outside the traditional definitions of folk music to include an awesome array of artists like Pete Seeger, Neko Case, Billy Bragg, Gillian Welch, Fleet Foxes, Arlo Guthrie, The Decemberists, Joan Baez, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and many more. Two days chock full of quality and variety also finds its home at the beautiful Fort Adams State Park. Further information can be found at folkfestival50.com.

Other Cultural Attractions
The Newport Waterfront Events make their home in the heart of Fisherman’s Warf on America’s Cup Avenue. The venue, Newport Yachting Center, will host a bevy of big talents, including comedians Louis C.K., Martin Short, Norm MacDonald, musicians Michael McDonald, Chris Isaak, Guster, and Collective Soul. Cultural events like the Irish Festival, art festival, and the International Boat Show are also big draws to the area. Check out specific dates at newportwaterfrontevents.com

Where to Stay
Between the stellar music lineup and lure of a quintessential New England coast town, you’ll want to spend more than just a day in Newport. Whether you’re more inclined to pitch a tent or have morning coffee on your private balcony overlooking the beach, Newport has a variety of accommodations to suit every budget and taste. The Newport International Hostel boasts a prime location just off Thames Street, and is within walking distance of the Yachting Center—and three miles from Fort Adams State Park. A pricier option, the Castle Hill Inn is a Victorian charmer situated on 40 acres of land at the tip of Narragansett Bay, and if you stay three nights, the fourth is free.

How to get there: If you have a boat, sail to Newport. Otherwise, you can take the Bonanza bus to Providence from Port Authority or an Amtrak train from Penn Station. Once in Providence, you can hop bus number 60 run by RIPTA from Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. Get off after about 1h10m ride at the last stop at Newport Gateway Center at 23 America’s Cup Avenue. If the Providence-Newport Water Taxi is running, by sea is a more enjoyable way to go. For more details on Newport, visit gonewport.com.