Posted February 23, 2010 by Nicki Krawczyk
Providence may not get credit for being an arts mecca the way her sister cities in the Northeast do, but visitors, especially in the summer and fall, soon discover a unique venue for thrilling art appreciation. Stroll next to a famous and fiery waterside art installation, sate your thirst for self-expression with drinks alongside graffiti-covered walls, and end your evening tucked in tight in a former Masonic temple turned art-enthusiastic deluxe hotel.
WaterFire Providence: Burning bright and 100-bonfires strong, this annual art installation along Providence's three downtown rivers has grown into a full-fledged festival of fire. As the scores of small bonfires illuminate the night from May through October, expect to be treated to live music and all kinds of tempting treats. Food prices will vary of course, and WaterFire attendance is free, but a $5 donation is strongly recommended to help carry on this dazzling tradition.
Temple Downtown: When a former Masonic temple was abandoned, local graffiti artists made this locale their digs. Now a part of the Renaissance Providence Hotel (see below) and re-styled as the ultra-chic Temple Downtown, this restaurant and lounge retains nearly all of the original graffiti works along its walls and a offers refreshingly original menu. And what better way to get into the spirit than with the appropriate spirits? With a new, Mediterranean menu debuting March 8, this unique eatery remains fresh and hip.
Renaissance Providence Hotel: Just upstairs from the Temple Downtown, you can experience the former Masonic Temple in all of its Greek Revival glory. Now a luxurious Marriott-owned property, this hotel's imposing exterior columns give way to a chic art-themed interior with a dash of neoclassic style. If the temperature turns chilly and you haven't had enough fire for one night, you can end your evening lounging next to the hotel's period-appropriate common fireplace before retiring to your thoroughly modern room. Rooms start at $179 per night, and packages are available.
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(Photo: Marianne Groszko/Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau)
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