Newport’s annual Black Ships Festival celebrates America’s friendly relationship with Japan and commemorates Newport’s native son, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who was instrumental in the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa, which opened trade between Japan and the United States.
The Black Ships Festivals is held both in Newport and in her Japanese sister city of Shimoda. Only the 33rd annual return of the festival in Newport, this is the 77th for Shimoda – but the date also signifies the 58th anniversary of Newport’s sister city relationship with Shimoda, Japan.
Before Commodore Perry negotiated the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854, Japan was closed to the outside world. This first, historic treaty between the United States and Japan ended two hundred years of Japanese isolationism and brought our two countries together as trading partners.
The Black Ships Festival features an array of fun and educational events emphasizing Japanese art and culture. See demonstrations of Japanese martial arts, the stylized Japanese Tea Ceremony, and learn about Japanese arts and crafts, such as origami and ikebana.
Other attractions include sake and sushi samplings, sailings of Newport Harbor, special dinners, an opportunity to discover the elegant grounds of Newport’s fabled Marble House, and Taiko drumming!
2016 Black Ships Festival Event Schedule
Thursday, July 14 –
Gekkeikan Sake Tasting 5pm – 7pm
Bellevue Wine & Spirits, 181 Bellevue Ave
Discover Japanese rice wine with a wide selection of Gekkeikan Sake samples. Dry to sweet, filtered and unfiltered.
Friday, July 15 –
Festival Opening Ceremonies 10:30am
Touro Park, Bellevue Ave
Come kick off the festival with a wreath-laying at Commodore Perry’s statue, speeches by American and Japanese dignitaries, presentation by the Navy Color Guard, and the chiming of Channing Memorial Church’s bells.
Sushi Sake Sail I 3pm – 5pm
Goat Island Marina
Set sail aboard a tall ship – the 101′ Schooner Aurora – and enjoy views of Newport harbor as you enjoy sake and sushi. Space is limited to 68 people. This event sells out every year so, if you hope to attend, get your tickets NOW.
Newport Community Band 6:30pm
Long Wharf Brick Market area
Enjoy a wide variety of energetic music as presented by the Newport Community Band. (weather dependant)
Saturday, July 16 –
Arts & Crafts Fair 10am – 4pm
Touro Park, Bellevue Ave
Arts and crafts, martial arts demonstrations, workshops, and displays in the Japanese-American theme. Come see, learn, and buy unique gifts!
Taiko Drum Prelude 12pm, 1:30pm, and 3pm
Long Wharf Mall
An exciting preview of Sunday’s Taiko Drum Performance, come watch as a few of the Taiko drummers demonstrate the speed, power, and sound of their drumming. Not to be missed!
Black Ships Festival Gala 6:30pm
Marble House 596 Bellevue Ave
Enjoy a unique evening of Japanese and American culture that includes live music, dancing, an open bar, Oyster Bay Wines, and a martini bar to accompany a sit down dinner by Russell Morin Catering with Sushi by Haruki.
Sunday July 17th –
Memorial Ceremonies 9:30am
Island Cemetery, Farewell St
Witness the annual wreath ceremony at Perry’s tomb, conducted by American and Japanese dignitaries and including the Navy color guard, a North East Band Bugler, and a Navy Chaplain.
Taiko Drum Concert 12pm
Come hear the voice and spirit o the Japanese as expressed with Taiko drums by Odaiko New England and Shin Daiko, two premier Taiko groups. Taiko drumming is dramatic, energetic, mesmerizing, and commanding! If you’ve never experienced the power of Taiko drumming, you do NOT want to miss this!
Sushi Sake Sail II 1:30pm – 3pm
Goat Island Marina
Come aboard the 101′ schooner Aurora and enjoy a cruise of Newport Harbor as you enjoy sake and sushi.
Newport Black Ships Festival 2016
July 14-17 2016 – Newport, RI
For more information, directions, and tickets: www.newportevents.com/Blackships/
Black Ships Festival Lodging
You may feel like you’re in Japan at The Black Ships Festival but, when you stay at a Newport County Inn and Bed & Breakfast, you’ll feel like you’re in heaven! No matter what brings you to Newport, you’ll want to stay at one of the many locally owned and operated, Newport bed and breakfast inns for hospitality, service, and the kind of comfort you paid for. Let us help make your visit one you happily return to in your memories, time and again.