March 23, 2022

Providence’s signature arts festival to reignite Downtown after two years of scaled back festivities

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Council President John J. Igliozzi (Ward 7), the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, and founding partner FirstWorks today announced details for PVDFest, Providence’s signature arts festival, happening June 10-12, 2022. This year’s festival marks the first time since 2019 that artists from around the corner and across the globe will meet in Providence’s Downtown neighborhood, coming together once again to celebrate the City’s world-renowned artistic, cultural, and culinary communities.

“So much has changed since we last danced in the streets of Downtown,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “After two very difficult years, this year’s PVDFest is the opportunity we have all been waiting for. We will meet downtown for three days of unforgettable performances and installations, continuing our tradition of elevating local talent and supporting the exchange of creative ideas. Our creative community needs our support now more than ever, and I know Providence is ready to come together and celebrate.”

Since its creation in 2015, PVDFest has featured over 4,400 artists, performers, and curators, and has brought 481,000+ attendees during the festival weekend into the heart of Downtown. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PVDFest was reimagined as a decentralized festival in 2020 and 2021, offering smaller outdoor events to keep attendees safe while keeping the spirit of the festival alive. PVDFest has grown year after year, providing new and exciting ways to bring people together through creativity. PVDFest encourages participants to experience what Providence means to them—while exploring artistic activation around every corner.

“Providence is open! PVDFest is a great opportunity to welcome back old friends and make new ones,” said City Council President John J. Igliozzi. “Visit our historic and culturally diverse city, check out our eclectic arts community, and dine in our world-class restaurants. You will not be disappointed. The City Council has always financially helped support PVDFest, and this year is no exception.”

With Founding Partner and Providence-based non-profit FirstWorks at the helm, patrons of this year’s festival can expect astonishing spectacles, world-class music and dance performances that light up Downtown, and international stars performing side by side with local favorites.

“FirstWorks is delighted to transform downtown Providence into a multistage arts extravaganza for all ages,” said Kathleen Pletcher, Executive Artistic Director, FirstWorks. “Families can share the joy as they animate giant puppet hands as big as a house. Everyone can dance in the streets to an amazing array of musical wonders: from Friday evening’s New Orleans get-down bands to Latin Jazz legend Eddie Palmieri’s Salsa Orchestra. Artists and audiences are brimming with energy to create indelible memories together. This will be a festival of pure joy!”

The Grammy Award-winning Rebirth Brass Band is set to kick off the weekend in style, bringing with them pure vibrancy and fun for all. Their unique sound pays homage to the New Orleans brass band tradition, seamlessly mixing elements of jazz, funk, soul, and R&B. The band has collaborated with a venerable who’s who of the music industry, with everyone from the Grateful Dead to the Red Hot Chili Peppers singing their praise and will bring the French Quarter to Providence for an unforgettable night of music.

Joining the opening evening line-up is trumpeter/vocalist Kermit Ruffins, an ebullient entertainer who is often compared to his own hero, Louis Armstrong. The original co-founder of the Rebirth Brass Band, Ruffins personifies the laid-back vibe of New Orleans, and is laying it on this year’s PVDFest.

Headlining Saturday night will be one of the world’s best living pianists, eight-time Grammy Award-winner Eddie Palmieri. A legendary bandleader, arranger and composer of salsa and Latin jazz, Eddie will lead his 11-person salsa orchestra in a concert that will ignite joy on the dance floor of Downtown Providence.

PVDFest veterans Squonk return with their latest outdoor spectacle, “Hand to Hand,” a joyous, participatory event that brings audiences together for a humorous, uplifting visual extravaganza. Propelled by Squonk’s irresistible music, the show features two giant purple puppet hands, each the size of a house and rigged like a sailing ship. Squonk invites audience members on stage to power the giant fingers, creating a larger movement and web of connections through their individual dance. Inspired by a desire to bring people together in a time of isolation and divisiveness, “Hand to Hand” provides a thrilling moment of unity and community in a safe, public, outdoor space.

One of Peru’s most sought-after indie bands, Hit La Rosa, will close out PVDFest weekend with a bang, combining Cumbia and pop music, folklore, jazz, and dancehall, and bringing it to Providence for a magical night of music. Lead singer and lyricist Chaska Paucar aims to “bring healing to people” by deconstructing and embracing the darker sides of life, and inviting listeners along for the ride.

Today’s festival announcement featured a delicious taste of what’s to come in June, with Sidy Maiga and his son performing, kicking off the countdown to PVDFest in a way that festival-goers have come to expect and enjoy. In partnership with the City’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism, Sidy will bring the 10th Annual Afrika Nyaga Drum and Dance Festival back to PVDFest in collaboration the Providence Foundation on Sunday, June 12, with Vieux Farka Toure, Chachi Carvalho, Satta Jallah, Natural Element, and Haus of Glitter.

Just like in years past, the re-emergence of PVDFest, spearheaded by both our headliners and local talent, is sure to attract visitors from far and wide. And after a difficult two years, our tourism industry welcomes the inevitable early-summer boost.

“We’re thrilled here at Graduate Providence to invite the community to celebrate with us this June as we ring in the 100th birthday of the Biltmore property,” said Graduate Hotel General Manager Scott Williams. “We are honored each and every day to call this historic, local landmark home and can’t wait to team up with our partners at PVDFest to throw an unforgettable celebration.”

PVDFest is made possible in large part by the generous sponsors who continue to support Providence’s creative culture year-round, including the Providence City Council, the Providence Tourism Council, Waste Management, the Boston Globe Rhode Island, Tufts Health Plan, Neighborhood Health Plan of RI, ProvPort, Waterson Terminal Services, LLC, WPRI Media Group, iHeart Media, Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Delta Dental, and others. In addition to sponsors, PVDFest relies on the contributions of the hard-working volunteers to make the event a memorable experience for everyone. Be a part of the magic by volunteering for a few hours or a whole day this year by signing up today.

More information about PVDFest will be released in the coming weeks leading up to the downtown celebration. For more information about PVDFest, please visit PVDFest.com and follow the festival on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for many more exciting announcements in the weeks ahead.

And meet us outside for the comeback.

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