A crack rings out from the jousting arena as armored knights clash in the pursuit of honor, while sword-swallowers thrill crowds with their death-defying art, jesters spin windy jokes, and townspeople in 15th-century garb roam the grounds tearing into turkey legs with their teeth. The Connecticut Renaissance Faire hosts these medieval-theme blowouts every year, including the Robin Hood Spring Festival and King Arthur’s Fall Harvest Faire. Under the themed umbrella of each gathering, actors caper about a constructed medieval village, engaging in Old English–flavored conversation and clapping games with fair-goers. In a tented marketplace, vendors sell beaded crafts, art, and tyrannical-king repellent alongside stands serving mead, beer, and other satisfying sundries. Although the shows and events vary at each fair, past spectacles have included archery displays, pub sing-alongs, and costume parades.
The Preservation Society of Newport County protects and showcases Newport's one-of-a-kind architectural heritage. During tours of Newport's museum-houses, visitors get a glimpse into three centuries of American history, from the French Baroque styling of Rosecliff, high-Victorian splendor and fancy French name of Chateau-sur-mer. Tourists can trace the steps of some of America's most wealthy families as they explore latter-day castles such as Cornelius Vanderbilt II's The Breakers or the Isaac Bell House. Special events give guests a hands-on insight to the everyday people that worked in New England's most famous mansions, while annual occasions such as the Newport Flower show celebrate the treasured traditions and landscapes of Newport each year.
Now in its 16th season riding the rails, the Newport Dinner Train whisks up to 200 passengers through the lush lands and rich history of Aquidneck Island. A 44-ton diesel engine powers the locomotive, which pulls vintage 1940s dining cars, similar to the ones grandparents had to haul barefoot through the snow on their way to school each morning.
There's no such thing as bad beer-tasting weather. That's why Rhode Island Brew Fest hosts two annual festivals?one in summer, the other in winter. Both draw more than 30 area breweries, such as Grey Sail, Trinity Brew House, and Proclamation Ale. Together, they ply revelers with samples of more than 100 unique brews, all of which can be enjoyed in a complimentary branded pint glass instead of drinking out of cupped hands. Strains of live music add to the festive atmosphere, and local food trucks and vendors serve up gourmet eats to complement the beer.
It started in 1981 as "The Newport Film Society," and by 1983, it had become the area's very first international film festival. Today, the tradition continues under the moniker of Flickers: Rhode Island International Film Festival. Despite the change in name and audiences' evolving tastes in popcorn, the event's mission remains constant: to showcase features, documentaries, and shorts by independent filmmakers from across the globe. Ranked as one of the top 10 short film festivals and top 10 international film festivals in Chris Gore's The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide, RIIFF is also among the few such events recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to qualify short films for Oscar gold.
The Coastal Wine Trail draws together a variety of coastal producers, whose vines speckle hillsides along the southern coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut: Truro Vineyards, Travessia Winery, Coastal Vineyards, Running Brook Winery, Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery, Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard, Greenvale Vineyards, Newport Vineyards, Langworthy Farm Winery, and Stonington Vineyards. A passport grants visitors passage for 2 to 10 wineries, where they may learn about and perhaps purchase each producer's favored libations?mostly whites and sparkling wines but a few reds?which are characterized by their growing proximity to the coastline and the dual-climatic influences of Gulf Stream waters and the screams of passing water-skiers.