When winter starts, the frozen landscape has a certain magic to it. But in New England, that magic starts to wear off as the long stretches of gray days and below-freezing temperatures wear on. By February, our enthusiasm is flagging and we're collectively fighting the urge to hibernate under a blanket and order in takeout until April comes. That's why the Newport Winter Festival is so special. It reminds us of all of the good reasons we have to love winter, and invents some new ones, too.
From February 15-24, the seaside summer playground becomes a winter wonderland, with 150 events ranging from concerts and kids performances to live ice sculpture demonstrations, ice skating and outdoor ice bars. This is the 31st year of the festival, which draws thousands of people to the City By The Sea, normally a popular warm weather destination that becomes much quieter in the winter months.
A festival bracelet gets you reduced admission to events throughout Newport and the rest of Aquidneck Island, like wine tasting (and frozé ice pops) at Newport Vineyards, which is hosting a Speakeasy Soirée on February 15. The Newport Historical Society hosts A Revolutionary Spinning Bee on February 16, where their "living historians" recreate the Daughters of Liberty's wool spinning protests, which were a Revolutionary War era act of political rebellion. While that's happening, sculptors will be carving massive bricks of ice into works of art at the Long Wharf Mall. For kids, there's a Winter Festival Children's Fair at Gurney's Newport, a Princess Party at OceanCliff, Jazz for Kids at Greenvale Vineyards and a Teddy Bear Tea at the Newport Harbor Hotel.
During the festival, there's also a Newport Burger Bender. Thirty restaurants devise their most creative sandwiches, and diners vote on their favorites. Diego's Bodega Cantina is serving a Chili Relleno Burger with a stuffed, fried pepper and guascaca sauce. Jo's American Bistro is serving a Jamaican twist with Jo's Jerk Burger, with house-made jerk sauce. 22 Bowen's Wharf has a Surf and Turf burger: butter-sauteed lobster atop Wagyu beef with truffle aioli. The Cafe at the Chanler, in the most inventive use of a name, is offering the Chanler Bing burger, with bacon in the patty and a little flag with the Friends character on it. There are also a Macaroni and Cheese cook-off, and a Chili competition, happening at Gurney's.
See full story by Julie Tremaine on Forbes.com.