8 Summer Galas You Don’t Want to Miss

Ballard Park Fundraiser Newport RI

The lawns at Edgehill are lit by the golden hour sun during the Ballard Park Fundraiser. Photo by Jonathan Clancy.

Memorial Day marks not only the unofficial start of summer, it’s also the beginning of the summer gala season. So if you’re feeling generous – or just want to have a good time – here are a handful of fundraisers we love. Bright lights, big parties, good causes – what more could a fun-loving philanthropist ask for? Grab your checkbook, plan your outfits, and raise a glass to these excellent organizations at some of the best parties of the year.


1. Friends of Ballard Park Annual Fundraiser – June 4

Ballard Park Fundraiser Living Tree

A “living tree” at the Ballard Park annual fundraiser. Photo by Jonathan Clancy.

This lovely cocktail event always feels like the kickoff to the summer gala season. On June 4, join the Friends of Ballard Park to raise a glass and funds for Newport’s only nature preserve, a tranquil 13-acre former quarry near Ocean Drive. Held on the lawn at Edgehill, the party is hosted by estate owner Les Ballard, who personally picks the wonderful wines served from his own cellar. This cocktail-hour event includes hors d’oeuvres, a silent action, and beautiful views from this stunning private property.


2. Angela Moore Fashion Show and Champagne Brunch – July 7

Angela Moore Fashion Show and Champagne Brunch Newport RI

Bright colors and beachy styles dominate the runway at the Angela Moore fashion show. Photo by John Corbett.

Designer Angela Moore herself emcees this elegant fashion event held at Rosecliff on the morning of July 7. This year’s theme, Seaside Sensations, will deliver nautical and resort styles modeled by locals and other VIPs, and proceeds benefit the Preservation Society of Newport County. Have your photo taken on the red carpet, sip cocktails on the terrace, and enjoy sweeping ocean views before you head inside to nosh on brunch while watching models hit the catwalk. Your ticket also includes admission to a one-day-only exhibit of nautical and seaside fashions inspired by the current exhibition Splendor at Sea: The Golden Age of Yachting in America.” Bonus: All guests receive a $25 gift card to the Angela Moore boutique – a little extra motivation should something catch your eye on the runway.


3. Island Moving Co.’s Nuit Blanche: The Paris Jazz Age – July 8

Photo credit TK.

Photo credit Andrea Hansen.

Newport’s Island Moving Co. is no ordinary dance troupe. Where most performers are kept inside the black box of a theater, IMC’s dancers are rarely bound by that convention. Instead, they strut their stuff in the mansions of Bellevue Avenue, in community centers, on subways, and through the landscapes of Aquidneck Island. This year’s annual fundraising gala — Nuit Blanche: The Parisian Jazz Age – invites patrons to indulge in a swanky fantasy. With the grandeur of the Elms estate setting the stage, dancers will leap and twirl through the property’s romantic sunken garden and under a lavish tent. But the pros won’t be the only ones kicking up their heels – guests will want to groove to the swing band, too.


3. IYRS Summer Gala – July 9

IYRS Gala Newport RI

Photo by Jack Renner.

Better act fast if you want to hit the International Yacht Restoration School’s popular party – general admission and Benefactor level tickets have both already sold out for the July 9 event. Known for it’s rollicking crowd (these are sailors after all) and A-list entertainment (this year’s musical act is Jackson Browne), this is one spirited party that’s literally a hot ticket. The night includes cocktails, dinner, and dancing, with fundraising auctions held online leading up to the big day.


5. ALT’s Fiesta Verde: Old Havana Nights – July 23

ALT Fiesta Verde Newport RI

Photo by Tom Connors.

Aquidneck Land Trusts’s annual bash – being held on July 23 at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown – includes a cocktail reception followed by dinner, music, dancing, a raffle, and a killer silent auction. Live Cuban music, Latin dancers, Cuban food, and a mojito bar bring this year’s theme – Old Havana Nights – to life. Shout olé! as you salsa the night away.


6. Newport Polo Club’s Bal du Soleil – August 5

Newport Polo Club Bal du Soleil

Walk the red carpet at the 16th annual International Polo Charity Ball, Bal du Soleil. Photo courtesy of Newport Polo Club.

Bal du Soleil, the 16th annual International Polo Charity Ball, promises fancified fun for all on August 5. Expect to make a red carpet entrance in your black tie best, because the event’s 2016 theme is inspired by the French Riviera and the glamour it invokes. Each year, the Newport Polo Club chooses a beneficiary of the gala, and this year’s is newportFilm (no. 7 on this list). Guests can expect gourmet cuisine, dancing, and live music. Various levels of tickets allow you to join for cocktails or the whole shebang, but be forewarned that this exquisite event typically sells out. The pre-party starts at Forty 1º North, where you can meet this year’s honored guests from the French Polo team before heading to Rosecliff, where dinner will be served in the gilded ballroom. After bidding on your fave silent and live auction items, close the night out at the Sky Bar at the Clarke Cooke House, and – God Bless America – the party doesn’t end till your entourage sings.


7. newportFILM 7th Annual Summer Benefit – August 6

newportFILM Summer Benefit

Photo by Jonathan Clancy.

As the preeminent arbiter of documentary film on the island, newportFILM brings the best of established and emerging filmmakers and their work to our community year-round. So when it’s time to give back, nF’s most dedicated (and, we might add, most stylish) supporters convene at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Horseshoe Piazza to celebrate and bolster the non-profit organization. With tasty hors d’oeuvres, tantalizing cocktails, and a sizzling social scene, this is one soirée not to be missed. Our suggestion? Block out the August 6 Summer Benefit on your calendar now.


8. Norman Bird Sanctuary Bird Ball: Moonlight Over Paradise – August 20

Norman Bird Sanctuary Bird Ball Moonlight Over Paradise
“On the sand, under the stars, and lit by the glow of the full moon,” is how NBS describes the much anticipated 2016 Bird Ball, this year called Moonlight Over Paradise. The rustic-chic event “leaves the field and soars to the shore” on August 20 this year, heading from the sanctuary’s inland location to it’s seaside site. Delicious food, drinks, and dancing at this party are made all the more magical by their gorgeous, bucolic settings.

Meaghan O'Neill is a writer, editor, blogger wrangler, and the founder of Puddingstone Post. She was formerly editor-in-chief of TreeHugger, Discovery Channel online, and TLC's Parentables. Her writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, and her book, Ready, Set, Green: 8 Weeks to Modern Eco-Living (Villard/Random House) was published in 2008. She lives in Newport, RI with her family.


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