Years ago, artist Barnaby Evans transformed the ancient elements of fire and water into WaterFire, today, one of Providence’s signature events.  WaterFire has had an extraordinary effect on the city.  Many Saturday evenings, starting at sundown, thousands of people stream into downtown Providence to watch the “urban campfires”, as one spectator called them, in the Providence River, listen to the eclectic music selections piped in specially for each lighting, and enjoy the community that has grown up around it.  This coming Saturday will be the first 2024 lighting, so we thought it fitting to provide some information about it.


$4,000,000+ annual budget to support the WaterFire Season and all of the programming and operating costs at the WaterFire Arts Center

30 full-time and 15 seasonal employees

1,000,000 number of people who come to downtown Providence yearly to see WaterFire lightings

1994 first installation of WaterFire, called First Fire (created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of First Night Providence)

474 lightings of WaterFire have taken place in Providence since 1994

75* number of bonfires in braziers in the river

6 number of full lightings (so far**) in 2024

2 number of partial lightings (so far**) in 2024

14 cords of reclaimed pine are burnt during an average length full lighting, cedar kindling, soy wax, and recycled cardboard are used to ignite the fires

150 volunteers needed for each full WaterFire lighting

6 boats necessary to re-stock braziers

5 miles of audio cable laid

20 pop-up tents for vendors/sponsors erected

11 box trucks to transport equipment to the event site

80 Average number of pieces of music in each lighting

9000 individual donors making WaterFire possible


$150,000,000 in economic impact per year

$10,000,000+ in tax revenue for the State of RI via hotel taxes and other taxes

1,300+ jobs in local businesses directly supported by visitors to WaterFire

2017 WaterFire’s first permanent home and multi-use arts center opened, the WaterFire Arts Center

35 exhibitions showcasing the works of 275 contributing artists (since opening)


*More braziers can be added as additional funding is secured.
**Additional lightings may be added to the schedule as funding becomes available.

For more information, see: