pvd fest

Mayor Smiley, FirstWorks, ACT Announce Early PVDFest Programming Details

More artists, stages, and programming announcements to be made throughout the Summer

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Brett P. Smiley today joined FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director Kathleen Pletcher, Department of Art, Culture and Tourism Director Joe Wilson Jr., PVDFest panelists, partners and Providence community members to share several early programming highlights for Providence’s signature arts and culture festival. PVDFest returns Downtown this September with an exciting lineup of main stage performers and an array of highlights that promise to captivate attendees. This year’s festival, set to take place on September 6 and 7, with a rain date of September 8, will transform Downtown Providence into a dynamic hub of creativity, community and celebration.


“I am excited to welcome PVDFest back to Downtown this year,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “This year, in response to the increase in extreme weather events, we are proactively incorporating a rain date on Sunday, September 8 to help ensure everyone gets a chance to enjoy the fun. Please join us in celebrating our Creative Capital this September and be sure to stop by a few of our restaurants and establishments Downtown and throughout the City to get the most out of your PVDFest experience.”


PVDFest 2024 is set to captivate attendees with a diverse array of cultural and artistic highlights. Joining this year’s event are the Italian aerialists eVenti Verticali, returning with their mesmerizing performance “SPHERE,” which features five dancers suspended from a crane, delivering a breathtaking spectacle high above the ground.


New to the festival are PVDFest IDEAS: Art + Technology, presenting innovative works by artists exploring virtual reality, AI, and more; Cultural Heritage activations, showcasing the rich cultural landscape of Providence; and Maker Spaces, where local artisans will offer interactive demonstrations.


On Friday, September 6, New York’s all-women salsa group, Lulada Club, will electrify the Main Stage with vibrant rhythms following a public salsa dance lesson led by Rodney Eric Lopez. The festival will also host Chip Douglas and Friends on Friday, with a dynamic show blending hip-hop, R&B, and dance, accompanied by live painting from muralist Agonza.


On Saturday, September 7, the Afrika Nyaga Drum & Dance Festival, led by Sidy Maiga, will return to the PVDFest Main Stage, celebrating West African music and dance, and fostering artistic exchange across cultures. Additional stages and acts, curated by PVDFest panelists, will be announced soon.


“FirstWorks is delighted to bring back awe-inspiring spectacles to the heart of downtown,” said Kathleen Pletcher, Executive Artistic Director of FirstWorks. “Ten years of festivals in Kennedy Plaza have created indelible moments when all eyes look up as artists astonish us. We’re thrilled to continue our relationship with Italy’s eVenti Verticali and introduce our audiences to their latest artistry. Spectacles, as FirstWorks calls the visceral, pulse-racing works that we are known for curating, invite PVDFest audiences to come together, united through the arts. This year’s multi-stage extravaganza promises something for all ages, from dancing in the streets to wonder in the sky.”


Also returning to PVDFest this year is the much-loved People’s Parade, which invites everyone to participate, on Saturday, September 7. Food trucks and artisan markets are also returning, bringing delicious cuisine and handmade art and gifts to the festival footprint.


“We are thrilled to partner once again with FirstWorks to produce PVDFest. This signature event is truly the ‘people’s festival’, celebrating all that makes Providence the dynamic cultural destination that it is,” said Joe Wilson Jr., Director of Art, Culture and Tourism. “More importantly, this festival provides all an opportunity to come together to reaffirm the power of celebration as liberation from all that divides us, and as a confirmation of the power of community, gathering in public space recognizing the beauty that is reflected in every corner of this extraordinary city. I look forward to seeing you all, with Downtown serving as the backdrop for our beloved cultural arts festival.”


Featured events:


·       eVenti Verticali Italy’s Aerial Dancers; FirstWorks Spectacle, Friday & Saturday

After spellbinding performances at PVDFest 2019, the gravity-defying Italian aerialists return with SPHERE, a thrilling new 30-minute spectacle delivered by five aerial dancers suspended from a crane some 60 feet above the ground. The performance begins with the “stage,” a transparent sphere, deflated and shapeless with one aerialist suspended inside. The sphere is raised high overhead by the crane, becoming a gigantic, fully inflated and stunning globe, transforming into a place where everything comes alive. Five aerialists take the audience on a journey reflecting on our miraculous lives here, on our planet earth.


·       Salsa Night with Lulada Club • New York’s All-Women Salsa Orchestra; Friday Night – Main Stage

Experience the captivating rhythms of Lulada Club, the electrifying all-women salsa band setting the New York City music scene ablaze. These accomplished and brilliant musicians are infused with an irresistible blend of vibrancy and skill. Bring your dancing shoes and join in with a lesson from Providence’s own instructor Rodney Eric Lopez, featured in the hit documentary Red Hot Ballroom, as these remarkable women command the stage, welcoming salsa fans of all levels and ages.


·       New for 2024: Cultural Heritage Festivals

A cornerstone of city life, cultural heritage festivals activate and engage public spaces throughout Providence year-round. PVDFest will platform them this year, highlighting their important work and celebrating the communities they bring together. These organizations will be on the footprint of the festival curating participatory activities, market spaces, and are available for everyone to learn about their annual activations.


·       New for 2024: Maker Spaces

Makers are at the heart of Providence’s economy and identity. Historically, shipbuilders, jewelry makers, and the textile industry were the cornerstones of our economic foundation. Today, these makers and designers not only produce goods, but also lead the way in workforce development. This year, PVDFest will showcase this work with interactive demonstrations and opportunities for the public to create something exciting together.


·       New for 2024: PVDFest IDEAS Art + Technology; Grace Church Pavilion and Courtyard, additional locations TBA

Immerse yourself in an exhibition, outdoor installation, and conversation with artists working on the forefront of technology. Invited and local artists present new, technology and AI-informed works spanning virtual reality, sound, photography, music, ceramics, literature and more. PVDFest IDEAS will feature works by Clement Valla, Griffin Smith, Matt Flathers, Andrew Buccellato, Tyanna Buie, Sigrid Yu, Ursula Wang, Carina Zhang, and Karlie Zhao.


·       Chip Douglas presents: “Stargazing at PVDFest”; Friday, Main Stage (5:30-7 PM)

Chip Douglas brings an explosion of raw talent grown in Divine Providence. Get ready to witness a soulful blend of hip-hop, R&B and dance. Anchored by Providence’s own DJ Nyce Hitz along with Derrick Jones and band, the show will highlight various genres of music. Once the first beat starts, the audience will be on a captivating ride through sound, movement and verse. Renowned muralist Agonza will also be doing a live painting on stage while all the magic is happening. Pull up to City Hall Stage at 5:30pm and stargaze with us.


·       12th Annual Afrika Nyaga Drum & Dance Festival;  Saturday, Main Stage

Sidy Maiga returns to PVDFest with the 12th annual Afrika Nyaga Drum & Dance Festival, a ground-shaking celebration of West African music and dance and its influence on the African diaspora.

Maiga envisions Afrika Nyaga as a sonic synthesis of African traditions and Rhode Island’s diverse communities. The festival nurtures artistic exchange through the universal language of music across cultures, ages, and nationalities. Local acts brew their beats alongside world-class contemporary artists, resulting in a fête that celebrates the vibrant variation of African rhythms.



PVDFest is made possible in large part by generous sponsors who continue to support Providence’s creative culture year-round, including Providence Tourism Council, WPRI Media Group, North American Crane & Rigging LLC, Rhode Island Energy, Dimeo Contruction Company, COX, Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast, First Bristol Corporation/Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, Floor & Decor, Johnson & Wales University, SURV, Withum, Half Street Group, Matunuck Oyster Bar, Santander, The Public’s Radio, Hey Rhody Media Co., and Rhode Island Monthly. Sponsorship opportunities are available at pvdfest.com/sponsors.


Today’s announcement offers a sneak peak of all that is planned for PVDFest, with more artists and programs to be announced throughout the Summer. Visit pvdfest.com in the coming weeks and months for more updates and ways to get involved.