What started in 2020 as a creative way to keep small businesses afloat during the pandemic, has turned into a full-fledged city celebration that takes over downtown Providence every month this summer. Open Air Saturdays are back in Providence starting next month, and it is shaping up to be bigger than ever.

The History Behind Downcity

The phrase “Downcity” was first coined in the early 1900s as a marker for where to meet up

At the turn of the century, Providence experienced a resurgence of residential, office, and retail storefronts thanks to the historic preservation and redevelopment of commercial buildings in the city. The term Downcity became popular again amongst the excited new businesses.

Cornish Associates operated as a traditional neighborhood merchants’ association, consistently working alongside these new businesses, and soon after, the InDowncity group was born.

“Our mission is to provide support to the wonderful small businesses in our community and help bridge the gap between the business owners and the public,” said the group’s website.

In simpler terms, they devote their time to making sure business in downtown Providence is thriving.

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The Conception of Open Air Saturdays

“We started Open Air Saturdays in the summer of 2020 as a response to COVID,” said Joanna Levitt, Director of Commercial Leasing and Marketing for Cornish Associates. “There was an ask, particularly from the Governor’s office, to encourage businesses to stay open safely, and take it outside.”

For that first year, there were many rules to be followed, such as pre-check-in and standing on markers six feet apart from others as you waited to check out retailers. This year promises to be much different.

What to Expect for 2022

“Open Air Saturdays has evolved into something a bit different this year,” said Levitt. “We have decreased the frequency but increased the number of partners and vendors. We have four locations throughout downtown, and it could grow to more.”

The streets will be closed off, allowing friends and family to overtake the streets of Providence and immerse themselves in the culture of dining, retail, and exciting entertainment. And yes, you can bring your dogs.

Dates and Times

The first Saturday of every month, spanning May to October, from 12 pm to 6 pm


Grant’s Block, Aborn Street, Union Street, Biltmore Park, and the BankNewport City Center. Each destination will have its own vibe, its own live entertainment, and plenty of options for shopping and dining.

Transport yourself to a Piazza on Aborn Street with Peronis and bocce games or go rollerblading at BankNewport City Center. There will be something for everyone.

How to Get Around

Download the map from the InDowncity website, or use their immersive map that will help navigate you to each location.

Open Air Saturdays begin Saturday, May 7th.

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