Here’s Why You Should Dance Your Way Over to Newport in July

Festival-goers enjoy a concert in the historic Breakers mansion at the Newport Music Festival, now in its 53rd season
Festival-goers enjoy a concert in the historic Breakers mansion at the Newport Music Festival, now in its 53rd season | Courtesy of Newport Music Festival
Nick Dauk

Spend the night swaying with the ocean breeze on the grounds of the Gilded Age mansions of Rhode Island during the Newport Music Festival’s 53rd season this July.

What’s happening?

This year, the Newport Music Festival will take the party outside, with all 17 concerts of Rhode Island’s multi-week music festival taking place outdoors. Now in its 53rd season, the event will see Grammy-winning acts play alongside old favorites from July 4 to July 20, 2021, creating the perfect excuse to make a weekend of it, by booking one of Culture Trip’s curated collection of hotels and experiences.

What’s more, this season ushers in two substantial additions to the festival: a renewed focus on contemporary classical music and a series of exclusive commissioned pieces written by BIPOC artists (Black, Indigenous and people of color).

Aaron Diehl performs on July 11

Not sure which performance will get your toes tapping? We recommend attending one of the Newport Music Festival’s many free concerts. Music lovers and newcomers to the fest should head out to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, a 325-acre (132ha) wildlife sanctuary laced with diverse habitats and hiking trails, or the basketball courts at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center for admission-free Community Concerts.

Who’s performing?

Since the Newport Music Festival’s inception, thousands of emerging US artists and international acts have made their mark on Newport’s annual summer concert series. Bella Davidovich, Alain Jacquon, Andrei Gavrilov and Valery Afanassiev are among the talented pianists and violinists who have helped establish this festival as a can’t-miss event.

Left: Festival-goers enjoy a concert at the Breakers

This year’s line-up will continue the festival’s long legacy of bringing the best classical music to Rhode Island’s shores. The Boston-based chamber orchestra A Far Cry will kick off the summer with back-to-back performances followed by New York’s Harlem Quartet and Chicago’s Grammy-winning Third Coast Percussion. Sergey Antonov, Lara Downes and Ester Ning Yau will share their talents throughout the week, before Anthony McGill closes yet another remarkable year.

Each show will take center stage at a number of historic venues around Newport. These storied outdoor spaces include Gilded Age mansion the Breakers, manse-turned-guesthouse Bellevue House, cliff-poised stay the Chanler at Cliff Walk and fine-arts museum Rough Point.

The Chanler at Cliff Walk is one of several historic places to stay

Though in-the-know classical-music lovers will relish the opportunity to surround themselves with some of the greatest musicians of the day, you’ll still enjoy an exceptional night out even if your playlist is limited to Beethoven and Bach. This year’s special outdoor setting is sure to up the elegance along Newport’s yacht-studded harbor. If you’ve ever dreamed of attending a grand party at a Gilded Age mansion, the festival is as close to a 19th-century shindig as you could hope for.

Don’t miss

Since you’ll likely be attending concerts at the many marvelous mansions along the Easton Bay, we encourage you to swap out the Cliff Walk with a leisurely stroll through Fort Adams State Park where swimming, fishing and boating opportunities present themselves during the heady heights of Rhode Island’s summer.

With the sea breeze brushing across your cheeks and salty air on your tongue, you’ll definitely want to park yourself along the waterfront and chow down on the city’s celebrated seafood. The Blount Clam Shack on the Waterfront serves up fresh lobster rolls, and a refreshing pint, while the Reef dishes out panoramic ocean views with New England clam chowder, scallops and more.

Left: Enjoy a lobster roll along the waterfront

Want a side serving of history and art to pair with your music? Check out one of Newport’s many museums. Both the Museum of Newport History and the Newport Museum of Irish History are on Thames Street with the Newport Art Museum and the Audrain Auto Museum splitting the distance between the two on Bellevue Avenue – both set in beautiful, quintessentially Newport buildings. That said, the hole-in-the-wall Wharf Pub is also a welcome midpoint and offers a little history and culture all its own, with a menu of New England favorites and whiskey-based cocktails to help you see out your weekend in style.

Keen to make a trip of it? Browse our curated collection of hotels and experiences available during the Newport Music Festival – bookable here on Culture Trip.

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