PVDFest to return to downtown location this September

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Following backlash from vendors and festivalgoers last year, Mayor Brett Smiley’s office announced Providence’s annual outdoor arts festival will return to downtown Providence this fall.

Smiley’s office announced Tuesday the free arts festival will move from 195 District Park back to Kennedy Plaza, where it had been since its inception in 2015. But it will be one day shorter.

“We welcome everyone, from near and far, to join us in the heart of Providence this September for a showcase of creativity, culture, and community,” Smiley said. “Whether you’re a longtime resident or a first-time visitor, PVDFest promises an unforgettable experience that highlights Providence as a vibrant, diverse, and truly unique destination.” 

The festival will take place Sep. 6 and 7.

Last year, the mayor received criticism for moving the festival from June to September and relocating it closer to the Providence River in an effort to promote and better accommodate WaterFire.

Smiley said previously that the September weekend was chosen to help out the hospitality industry. He said conversations with hotels and restaurants indicated they are in somewhat of a lull the weekend after Labor Day, so the date change was an effort to boost business.

Stormy weather dampened the event that weekend, delaying more than an hour of programming on Saturday and canceling the last three hours of the event on Sunday.

The city is only planning to host the event on Friday and Saturday this year, but city officials say Sunday will be a rain date, “given the impacts of climate change globally, particularly in coastal communities.”

“While no festival programming is scheduled for Sunday at this time, partners are encouraged to produce indoor or low-impact events that can be promoted by the festival rain or shine,” according to a news release.

The city is planning to announce a lineup of artists and performers in the coming months.

Festival programming is currently underway for the event of the year. Artists, performers, and vendors are encouraged to apply online.

The city also recently put out a call for PVDFest public art for two new and original works to be installed downtown beginning in August.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Alexandra Leslie (aleslie@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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