After a damp beginning, the sun and warmth have finally arrived, and it's high time you got outside and enjoyed the great outdoors. Luckily, you don't have to travel very far for al fresco entertainment, because there are exciting evening events happening almost every night of the week. Whether you're looking for live music, a movie, or just some peaceful stargazing, Providence has something for you. And, as an added bonus, almost all of the events are free.
Here's a roundup of some exciting events happening in the city this summer:
Tuesday evenings, Brown University hosts one of the city's best-kept secrets: public viewings at the Ladd Observatory. From 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the public can view the stars through the observatory's 12" refracting telescope. The progress of planets can be tracked weekly, and astronomers from Brown's Physics Department are on hand to guide you through what you're seeing. Located at the corner of Hope St. and Doyle Ave., the observatory has been in operation since October 1891. After closing for maintenance earlier this summer, the observatory will reopen on July 20, with the first public telescope viewing the following day.
If you've never been to the Ladd Observatory, this would be the perfect time to start: 2009 marks the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the astronomical telescope. Observatories the world over, including the Ladd, will be celebrating with special events, so keep an eye out for more excitement.
Thursdays, make your way downtown for Movies On The Block. Located at the Grants' Block (at the intersection of Westminster and Union Streets), about 300 people make it out weekly to watch classic films projected on the side of a Westminster Street building. Titles being screened this year include the classic Hitchcock thriller North By Northwest (July 23), Mel Brooks' historical farce History of the World Part 1 (August 6), and the campy horror movie Jaws 3-D (August 13). The series runs through September, concluding as fall approaches with the iconic 80s high school comedy Sixteen Candles. None of the films are rated higher than PG-13, so the movies are fine for older children.
Friday nights are doubly busy, with evening concerts taking place both downtown and on the East Side.
Concerts at Waterplace Park are hosted by the City's Department of Art, Culture and Tourism and the Providence Parks Department, and kick off on July 17 with Santa Mamba, the genre-spanning band that recently won the first SoundSession Sound Search. The group mixes rock, salsa, funk, and Latin styles. Also performing in the series are Celtic ensemble Pendragon (July 24), eight-piece country-rock act Route .44 (July 31), and Cajun band Magnolia (August 7). The season concludes with Cape Verdean legend Zérui De Pina, who performs on August 14. The concerts begin at 7:30, and are free and open to the public.
Over on the East Side, the Rhode Island Historical Society has been hosting Concerts under the Elms of the John Brown House (52 Power St.) for over a decade. These Friday night events draw crowds of several hundred to hear music starting at 6:30. Food is provided by Eastside Marketplace, and participants are encouraged to bring their own bottle of wine.
According to Mary Lou Upham, who organizes the events, the concerts are an added bonus for the Society's members, but also an incentive for non-members to join the Society.
"Members from all over the state come to the concerts," she says, naming jazz musician Duke Robillard as a particularly large draw. "But we also have a lot of curious non-members, too."
This year's lineup includes the cajun sounds of Magnolia (July 23), the Carlos De Leon Latin Jazz Band (July 30), and the swinging Greg Abate Jazz Quartet (August 6). Events are $8 but free to members, so it's worth joining the society if you plan to attend several concerts.