Dave Rosenberg, Direct of Newport Winter Festival. Contributed photo.

The Newport Winter Festival celebrated its 35th annual event from February 17 to 26, 2023, and Dave Rosenberg, Director of the Newport Winter Festival, was thrilled with the outcome.

Fresh off the end of the festival, What’sUpNewp caught up with Rosenberg today for our “4Qs with” series. In the interview, Rosenberg reflected on this year’s event, which was returning after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Rosenberg, the festival had a significant economic and psychological impact on the community, and it was wonderful to see so many locals and visitors enjoying the events and activities offered.

The 150+ events were well attended, with several individual events being sold out or entirely full. The festival brought people from across New England, New York, and New Jersey to Newport County to enjoy the activities, and hotels were sold out on both weekends. Rosenberg believes this year’s success is partly attributed to people’s happiness to get out after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Rosenberg’s small but resourceful team, consisting of his wife Nancy, daughter Brittany, daughter Kayla, and son Tyler, has been instrumental in pulling off the festival for 34 years. They are also grateful to their sponsors and partners, including DiscoverNewport, BankNewport, Dunkin’, Newport Hospital, Boston Beer, Newport This Week, What’s Up Newp, Newport Harbor Island Resort, the Marriott, Hotel Viking, the Wyndham in Middletown, Newport Harbor Hotel, and OceanCliff.

When asked about planning for the 2024 festival, Rosenberg revealed that they were already discussing ideas for next year. They are always looking for new bands, comedians, and entertainers, and some acts will be brought back while others will be rotated out. He also mentioned that they would like to bring back the Mac and Cheese Cook-Off and grow the ice carving demonstration while adding a couple more family events during the week.

Overall, the Newport Winter Festival was a great success, and the organizers and their team, sponsors, and partners deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. The festival has become a staple event in Newport County, and it provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to showcase their offerings to visitors and locals alike. The 2024 festival promises to be just as exciting, and we cannot wait to see what new and exciting events they will have in store for us.

4Qs with Dave Rosenberg, Director of Newport Winter Festival

Dave Rosenberg, Newport Winter Festival. Contributed photo.

Fresh off wrapping up the 35th Annual Newport Winter Festival, what are your initial thoughts and reaction to this year’s event?

“We are so pleased that every event was so well attended. Several individual events were actually sold out or entirely full. Hotels were sold out on both weekends, particularly the first weekend. People came from throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey to enjoy The Newport Winter Festival. It was also great to see so many locals coming out to enjoy all that the Festival had to offer. Also excited to see waits at many of the restaurants and retailers seemed to be quite busy. I truly hope the Festival had an economic impact on the business community. Along with the economic impact was the phycological impact of getting people out and having so many things to do during the “dead” of winter in Newport County”. 

How do you gauge success with the events and the entire festival? How does this stack up to previous festivals?

“Success is based on attendance at events as well as the general response from businesses and the general public. I loved hearing from total strangers how great it is that the Festival and the community offered so much to do during these past ten days. We offered events and activities for every age. Attendance was up over past years. I believe some of that might be attributed to the fact that people were just so happy to get out after a two-year hiatus. Success is also gauged by seeing how generally busy the town is, the restaurants, the shops, the bars – people walking down Thames Street, or the Wharf like its the middle of summer”. 

It must take an army to pull off 150+ events over 10 days, who are you thankful for and who should we be sharing our appreciation to in the days, weeks, and months to come?

“My army is small but resourceful. My wife Nancy has managed this Festival with me for all 34 years. My daughter Brittany has been working with us for over ten years now and handles many aspects of the Festival on her own; she’s been an integral part of putting this all together, her husband Dominick Costa jumped in this year and helped out too with onsite logistics. My daughter Kayla also came back from College to assist wherever she could. My son Tyler helped me with some of the heavy lifting for setting up that I, unfortunately, can’t do anymore. It’s really been a team effort.  Of course, a Festival like this cannot be made possible without the support of our sponsors. Their support helped to enable us to put on so many events and keep prices as affordable as possible. DiscoverNewport was our title sponsor and also supported the Festival with some great media buys. BankNewport, Dunkin’, Newport Hospital, and Boston Beer also join us to offer huge support of the Festival. Media sponsors include Newport This Week and What’sUpNewp. Media is very important to let the community know what is happening! Also, the support of all the hotels is essential in order to have locations for the major events. Newport Harbor Island Resort, the Marriott, Hotel Viking, the Wyndham in Middletown, Newport Harbor Hotel, and OceanCliff were all essential partners in hosting Festival events”. 

When does planning for the 2024 festival begin? Is there anything new or exciting that we can already look forward to?

“Believe it or not, we are already discussing ideas for next year. We are always looking for new bands to feature as well as comedians and entertainers. Some acts we bring back because people love to see them again and others we rotate out. Live music is such a big part of the festival, offering people of all ages to come out and listen and even dance up a storm if they desire. 

Next year we would like to bring back the Mac and Cheese Cook-Off. This year the Chili Cook-Off was a huge success with so many wonderful competitors. We also enjoy getting as many businesses as possible involved so they can share in the excitement of the 10 days. We want to grow the ice carving demonstration. Also, add a couple more family events during the week.  Of course, next year, we hope for much better weather for Polo on the Beach. Having the Burger Bender as part of the Festival also gives people the opportunity to see all that our great restaurants have to offer”.