WaterFire is the award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans presented on the rivers of downtown Providence, RI. It was first created by Evans in 1994 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence, and has since become an annual public art phenomenon.
WaterFire is simultaneously a free public art installation, a performance work, an urban festival, a civic ritual, and a spiritual communal ceremony, well known nationally and internationally as a community arts event. WaterFire’s symbolism and interpretation is both inclusive and expansive - reflecting the recognition that individuals must act together to strengthen and preserve their community.
On WaterFire evenings, downtown Providence is transformed by one hundred fires that burn just above the surface of the rivers that flow through Waterplace Park (the Woonasquatucket river) and the middle of downtown Providence (the Moshassuck and Providence rivers). The public is invited to come and walk the riverfront and enjoy the beauty of the flickering firelight, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the changing silhouettes of the volunteer firetenders, and the music from around the world – each of which engages the senses and emotions of all who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park and the walkways along the banks of the rivers.
Average attendance is 40,000 a night, ranging from 10,000 to 100,000. WaterFire is presented for free, with only ten percent of the funds needed to host WaterFire acquired through governmental means and the remainder coming from private and corporate donations.