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Archive for November, 2011

Seasonal Sounds Ring Out in Northern Virginia

by Casey | Posted on November 29th, 2011

Tune in to the sounds of the season when you plan an overnight stay in Northern Virginia. From carols to classics, the evenings are magical. All that’s missing is you!

Dailey & Vincent

Dailey & Vincent. Photo Credit Jim McGuire

This Saturday, December 3,¬†Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent take to the stage at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax. Not familiar with Dailey & Vincent? The New York Times calls them, “the most celebrated new bluegrass act of the past few years,” and they’ve had two albums debut at #1 on the Billboard charts. The performance is from 8 to 10 p.m. and tickets are $24-$48. Family-friendly. Youth through high school are half price when accompanied by an adult.

Also this Saturday is A Convergence Christmas in Alexandria featuring the 7 Sopranos and Harpist Mark Martin. In addition to the performance is a dramatic reading of “The Gift of the Magi,” and a carol sing-a-long. Tickets are $15 and the event begins at 4 p.m.

The Master Singers of Virginia are traveling to spread their “Festival of Lessons and Carols” production. Hear these talented voices at Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn on December 10 from 8 to 9 p.m., Church of the Epiphany in Herndon on December 11 from 7 to 8 p.m., or Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville on December 17 from 7 to 8 p.m. All performances are $18/adult and $15/student or senior. If purchasing at the door, add $2 to the price.

Grammy nominee Natalie MacMaster will be performing traditional and contemporary Celtic melodies and Christmas carols at George Mason University on December 17 from 8 to 10 p.m. The Los Angeles Times hails, “MacMaster’s a ball of fire, performing jigs and reels with unstoppable, foot-tapping energy and ballads with irresistible, keening passion.” Tickets are $25-$50.¬†Family-friendly. Youth through high school are half price when accompanied by an adult.

Nearby Lodging:

-  Hampton Inn Fairfax City
-  The Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel
-  Courtyard Marriott Fair Oaks

-  Hilton Garden Inn Arlington/Shirlington
-  Best Western Pentagon - 25% Off Deal!

-  Hilton Garden Inn Dulles North

-  Staybridge Suites Chantilly Dulles Airport
-  Courtyard Dulles Airport Chantilly

-  Blackthorne Inn & Restaurant
-  The Ashby Inn & Restaurant


For more great upcoming musical performances or to extend your stay, visit  LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.

Arts, Events, The Holidays, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

Give Artsy this Season

by Casey | Posted on November 28th, 2011

Stroll through Virginia’s galleries to find the perfect piece for the aficionado or hard-to-buy-for on your list. You’ll be amazed at the handiwork the Commonwealth’s artisans conjure up. From ironworks to canvases and hot glass, the gift opportunities are spectacular.

Torpedo Factory

Torpedo Factory

Thursday, December 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. the artisans of the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria will host an Open House. The event is Hawaiian themed, so please dress accordingly while you shop the studio for affordable, original artwork. Live music and refreshments cheer up the atmosphere, and the Center would be most grateful if you’d bring ¬†a non-perishable food donation for the Carpenter’s Shelter – Northern Virginia’s largest homeless shelter.

First Friday is an event you’ll find (sometimes only during the warmer months) across Virginia. Take advantage of this monthly gathering and get some of your shopping out of the way. This Friday’s First Friday and other special Friday night events include:

- Olde Towne Portsmouth, 5-8 p.m.
- Old Town Winchester, 6-9 p.m.
- Uptown Martinsville, 5-11 p.m.
- The Artisan Center in Martinsville, 4-8 p.m.
- Crafter’s Village Arts & Crafts Show in Rocky Mount, 2-8 p.m.

This weekend, December 2-4, visit The Art League in Alexandria for their special Ceramic and Pottery Show and Sale.

The Del Ray Artisans Gallery, also in Alexandria, is hosting their 16th Annual Holiday Market this weekend, too. Twenty artists offer pottery/ceramics, photography, jewelry, cloth, paper crafts, and glass products for your shopping pleasure.

Appalachian Arts Center

Appalachian Arts Center

In Waynesboro you’ll find the P. Buckley Moss Museum. Pat Buckley Moss will be at her nearby home, The Barn, this weekend signing prints and meeting her collectors. If you’d like to purchase a gift and have it personalized as a Christmas gift, this is your only chance! Hours for meeting Pat are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Shop the Museum from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Saturday.

The Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd is hosting its 17th Annual Winterfest Arts and Crafts Festival this Friday and Saturday. Feel free to bring the kids – there are activities for them!

Visit the studio of potter Nan Rothwell this Saturday and Sunday as she hosts an Open House. A portion of the proceeds from the weekend will benefit Las Vidas Mejoradas, public health projects in the Peruvian Andes.

Other Notables:

- Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, Abingdon
- Appalachian Arts Center, Cedar Bluff
- Sun’s Traces Gallery, Barboursville
- Nancy Thomas Gallery, Williamsburg
- Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts
- Sunspots Studios & Glass Blowing, Staunton

For more arts and crafts shopping opportunities, visit

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The Magic of the Season

by Casey | Posted on November 22nd, 2011

Gordonsville Tree Lighting

Gordonsville Tree Lighting

How fleeting those moments are. You know the ones. A child’s eyes tell all – wonder, amazement, joy, and a speechless love. See that sparkle appear when you take your child or grandchild to a parade or tree lighting this holiday season.

Gather ’round the community tree and sing carols with candles in hand. The warmth of togetherness is unmatched when you take time out, join hands, and celebrate a season of abundant love. Take part in one of these annual tree lightings this year:

Enjoy one of these upcoming parades!

Family, The Holidays | 3 Comments

Parades and Boats Light Up Hampton

by Casey | Posted on November 21st, 2011

So far in the 100 Miles of Lights journey we’ve shared tidbits about Richmond, Williamsburg and Newport News. Today, the show goes to Hampton!

Downtown Hampton Lighted Boat Parade

Downtown Hampton Lighted Boat Parade

To kick off the festivities, Hampton offers First Light Celebration on December 2. First Light is an event commemorating the first recorded English Christmas, which just so happened to occur in Hampton, Virginia. Bring the whole family for old English caroling, ginger cakes, wassail, a reenactment of a “Kecoughtan Christmas,” and finally, a blue star lighting atop the Hampton History Museum. This is a free event.


“In December of 1608,¬†Captain John Smith¬†recorded the events leading up to, during, and following their Christmas with the Native Americans. It was a hard second winter for the English settlers, and¬†Smith¬†sought trade with¬†Chief Powhatan¬†so that his people could survive …

With forty-six men at his command,¬†Smith¬†began sailing down the¬†James River, and made formidable progress on the first day. However, when they woke the next morning, a snowy nor‚Äôeaster was brewing, and their progress was severely cut, forcing them to seek shelter at¬†Kecoughtan Village.¬†Chief Pochins¬†and his people welcomed them with great hospitality as the settlers ‚Äėkept Christmas‚Äô during the English days of Twelfth Night. For a week, until the storm passed, there was merriment, delicious food and comfortable lodging. His journey led him to today‚Äôs¬†Yorktown, ¬†Gloucester, and beyond. During this time, Smith actually described their Christmas in his journal, thus leading to evidence for celebrating the 403rd anniversary of the event this year.”
-Hampton History Museum

Make a weekend of your Hampton stay, as the following day, December 3, is the 23rd Annual Lighted Boat Parade. Twenty-plus boats are expected to glide down the Hampton River as a narration is read at the Hampton Maritime Center. If the sight is more important than the sound, grab some hot cocoa and perch any place along the river.

Hampton Holly Days Parade

Hampton Holly Days Parade. Photo courtesy of The City of Hampton

Should the following weekend work better with your schedule,¬†the Hampton Holly Days Parade gets the merriment rolling on December 10. Themed “Candy Cane Lane,” you can expect a special appearance by Willy Wonka – the ultimate candy man. The Holly Days Parade is the area’s largest and will definitely have everything you hope to find in such an event. The route is from Eaton Street and Settlers Landing Road to Darling Stadium.

Regardless of when you travel to Hampton this season, you’ll want to add the ice rink at the Virginia Air & Space Center to your to-do list. The rink opened November 18 and will remain open through March 4, 2012. Admission is $6 for two hours. Skate rental is $2.

Eager for more 100 Miles of Lights events? See

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Newport News Puts the Celebration in Lights

by Casey | Posted on November 19th, 2011

Virginia’s 100 Miles of Lights begins in Richmond, moves on to Williamsburg, and then lands in Newport News, where the light show is a two-mile drive-through and then some.



Celebration in Lights¬†takes place in Newport News Regional Park beginning November 24. The park encompasses 8,000 acres, with two beautiful reservoirs that reflect the more than 750,000 bulbs you’ll see. Kids and adults alike will delight in the whimsical figures – 70 animated – with themes that include “Battle of the Ironclads” and “Santa’s Enchanted Kingdom.”

Perhaps a little-known fact, Celebration in Lights is Virginia’s first and longest-running drive-through light show. See the beauty through January 1 for $10/car or $60/bus.

On December 2 a dazzling event aptly dubbed Hollydazzle will take place at City Center at Oyster Point. It’s one of the most unique holiday displays you’ll find, with special effects, fireworks, and music. This is a free event.

For families seeking an original Christmas, see Star of Wonder: Mystery of the Christmas Star at Virginia Living Museum between November 23 and December 31, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It’s a planetarium event that follows the Star of Bethlehem, just as the Magi did.¬†$21/adult and $17/child (museum admission + $4) Show times very; please check theVLM.orgfor exact times.

Star of Wonder at Virginia Living Museum

Star of Wonder at Virginia Living Museum

“Since 1965, the museum has journeyed in the footsteps of the Magi seeking the identity of a mysterious star which foretold the coming of a king… Over the years, the scientific thinking has changed, archeology has revealed new clues, and our understanding of who the Magi might actually have been has grown. Our best theory for what the sign of the wise men might have been has changed, too. Now, it is time for us once again to update our understanding. The show was completely revised in 2008 to offer a truly immersive look at the journey of the Magi while examining the latest clues and seeking once more to understand the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem.”
- Virginia Living Museum

¬†Perhaps packaging some of this fun into a weekend travel package will make the planning easier. If so …

Point Plaza Suites and Conference Hotel is offering admission to Celebration in Lights along with a snack bag of tasty treats and breakfast for two  from $89/room.

Eager for more 100 Miles of Lights info? See


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