An offshoot of the popular Witch Dance, Rhode Islanders dress in costume and paddle around the harbor.
Walpurgis Night, April 30, is a Christian holiday celebrating the canonization of Saint Walpurga and the movement of her relics to Eichstätt, Germany, both of which happened on May 1, 870 CE. St. Walpurga was an 8th century nun who was famous for fighting against disease and witchcraft.
In 2016 the women of the performing arts group Wolfshäger Hexenbrut (Wolfhunter’s Coven), interrupted the Walpurgis Night celebration with a flash mob performance. This was undoubtedly in direct response to St. Walpurga’s opposition to witchcraft.
Since then, Witch Dances have proliferated all over the world as a fun way for women (and some men) to celebrate.
Witches of Wickford Paddle
Every year around Halloween, the town of Wickford, RI hosts a Horribles Parade. The Dancing Witches of Wickford join the march with their own choreographed moves.
It’s a fun event, but for my money, the Witches of Wickford Paddle is quite the unique experience.
Folks dress as witches (and warlocks) and bring their kayaks and paddleboards to Wickford Harbor for a paddle. Judges on shore rate the best costumes and prizes are awarded.
But, really, this isn’t about who gets an award. It’s about the spectacle of seeing folks dressed as sorceresses (and sorcerers) paddling around the harbor. I’m so happy I accidently stumbled on this fun procession.
About the Author
Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including an in-depth eating and drinking guide to Rhode Island. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.