Fall’s cool temperatures are perfect for festivals – especially music festivals – where a quilt on the ground or a folding chair is just about all you need for an incredible day. Kick back and listen or get up and dance; the choice is yours!
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
1. Bristol is the Birthplace of Country Music. Come home every fall for the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, a three-day explosion of passionate, electric, soulful music that takes over State Street.
- September 20-22
- 150+ Entertainers
- 22 Stages
- $40 Weekend Pass - Buy Now
2. The Festy Experience, now in its fourth year, is held at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, nestled in the Rockfish Valley of Nelson County against the Blue Ridge Mountains. Camping is available. Be sure to purchase your 16 oz. Festy Klean Kanteen steel pint for beverage purchases and complimentary water.
- October 11-13
- 24 Entertainers
- 3 Stages
- $39/Day or $109 Weekend Pass; $10/Day Parking or $30 Weekend Parking Pass – Buy Now
3. If your grass is blue, you have to be at the Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival in Buena Vista later this month. Held at Glen Maury Park with a frontrow seat to the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can camp and make a weekend getaway of it. Namesake Nothin’ Fancy will be joined by Rhonda Vincent & The Rage – the Most Award Winning Band in Bluegrass History – and others.
- September 26-28
- 13 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $25-$30/Day or $70 Weekend Pass; $10/Day Rough Camping – Buy Now
4. If you’re looking to pair good music with equally amazing chili, perhaps Virginia Chili, Blues n’ Brews in Waynesboro is your ticket for a great Saturday in the Shenandoah Valley. Sample the chili and beer, including Virginia’s own Wildwolf Brewing craft beer, and let the lineup of blues artists do the rest. This festival was named the Best Food Festival in the Shenandoah Valley by Virginia Living Magazine earlier this year; a plus for those who go for the music!
- September 21
- 4 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $15 or VIP Experiences from $50-$125 Buy Now
Bluegrass, Barbecue and Brew Festival
5. Patrick Henry’s Red Hill in Brookneal plays host to the third annual Bluegrass, Barbecue, and Brews Festival, which is quite fitting as the folks at Red Hill tell us Mr. Henry was a “fiery fiddler!” Eat well and drink well, too, as four Virginia craft breweries and one cidery pours for you.
- November 2
- 3 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $10 for Music Only; $15 for Music & Beverages Buy Now
6. Settle in with a glass of Skyline White, the signature wine of Mountain Cove Vineyards, and enjoy the Mountain Cove Music Festival in Lovingston. A blend of roots, bluegrass, country, blues and soul, this festival is one to watch.
- September 28
- 7 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $20 at the Gate
Beautiful wineries, apple orchards, riverside vantage points … there are so many places to fall in love with Virginia’s fall foliage as you move east across the state. If you can’t travel as much as you’d like to this fall, you’ll certainly have plenty of items to mark off of next year’s list.
Centered around Charlottesville, this is 48 hours you’ll likely want to extend. On the docket around this esteemed university and law school town are the 30 wineries of the Monticello Wine Trail - Birthplace of American Wine. Here you will find some of the most renowned names in Virginia wine, including Gabriele Rausse, often called “The Father of the Modern Virginia Wine Industry.”
Clarksville is a quiet lake town in Southern Virginia with beautiful foliage, sunrises and sunsets. Here, tranquility reigns supreme. Center yourself in an accommodation that feels most comfortable. Is it a luxurious bed and breakfast like Cooper’s Landing Inn, or perhaps a cozy cabin at Occoneechee State Park?
These 48 hours are easily spent enjoying the beautiful outdoors on nature trails around Kerr Lake or on a boat from Clarksville Marina. Or you can venture out for some history, scenic views and great food.
Spend 48 hours hitting some of the best stops the Eastern Shore of Virginia has to offer, starting at the southern tip and Kiptopeke State Park – a premier stop for migratory birds traveling the Atlantic Flyway.
One of Virginia’s most beautiful seasons is upon us, and you must get out and enjoy the view. Take your scenic drive, but also incorporate one or two of these 10 free things to do this fall. Your weekends are going to be amazing!
1. What a destination Waterford, Virginia is. Founded in 1733, the entire village is a National Historic Landmark and a majority of the buildings predating 1840 are still in use today. October 4-6 is the 70th Annual Waterford Homes Tour & Craft Exhibit. This should be a bucket list item for those who enjoy a walk through history. There are plenty of fun activities for kids, traditional music and dance, Colonial militia encampments, a fife and drum corps, and much more. ** Note: We’ve learned that there IS a fee for this event: $16 in advance; $20 at the gate. In light of that, an additional freebie!
1B. The Callands Festival in Callands, Virginia was named a Local Legacy of American Folk Life and Culture by the Library of Congress in 2000. Join in the fun with reenactors representative of both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, musicians, artisans, and guided tours of the historic buildings. Traditional foods will be available, as will beautifully handcrafted items. It’s happening October 5!
2. The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy marks the birthplace, early life and emancipation of educator, esteemed orator and presidential advisor, Booker T. Washington. September 21 is a special event, Harvest Time of 1863, which will portray tobacco plantation life during the harvest. Interpretive programs, craft demonstrations, horse-drawn wagon rides and fun for the children are all included in this free event.
Fall Farm Fest on the Blue Ridge Parkway
3. Visit Westmoreland Berry Farm in Colonial Beach. Acres of Rappahannock River frontage are perfect for picnics and bird watching. The kids will enjoy a play area just for them, as well as the antics of the skywalking goats. Give the goats a nibble from the pulley feeder system; they love it! Westmoreland is a pick-your-own farm offering fall raspberries and pumpkins. Hitch a ride on the hay wagon to head to the fields. The only fee incurred at the farm is the rate for pick-your-own products or any cafe purchases you choose to make.
4. A beautiful drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway delivers you to the Fall Farm Fest at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Pioneer Farm on September 15. The fun begins at 10 a.m. with mountain crafts workshops and live music.
5. Day at the Point is a free fall festival now in its 16th year. Held October 5 in Lynchburg at Point of Honor, an 1815 Federal style mansion, the festivities include living history, kids games and activities, craft vendors, period music, candle making, beekeeping, blacksmithing, open hearth cooking, farm animals, and free tours of the 1815 historic home. Delicious food will be available for purchase, including Brunswick stew, barbecue, hot dogs, and homemade baked goods. Green thumbs may want to purchase special Point of Honor bulbs ready for fall planting.
Richmond Folk Festival
6. It’s rare to find a free three-day music festival, but Richmond has one. Check out the Richmond Folk FestivalOctober 11-13. Seven stages will host more than 30 music and dance groups – ballet, reggae, bluegrass, Vietnamese, Scissors Dance, polka, salsa, gospel, Cajun … the list goes on. And there’s a place for kids with make-and-take crafts and special performers.
7. How about a hayride? The 60-acre Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton offers the Bluebird Country Hayride once a month at noon. For fall, head that way on September 14, October 12 or November 9. It’s a leisurely ride around the farm, the pond, through the woods and back again. Before or after your hayride, find a picnic area to enjoy lunch, walk the nature trail or let the kids loose at the playground. 150 domestic and wild animals are on site; bring your quarters to feed farm animals. Hayride is weather dependent.
Bluebird Gap Farm
8. Burke’s Garden is often referred to as God’s Thumbprint thanks to its aerial appearance – a giant thumbprint on the landscape of southwest Virginia. Visit this beautiful mountaintop valley during the Burke’s Garden Fall Festival on September 28, an annual event dating to 1987. “Handmade, homegrown and hands-on” is the feel of this festival that reflects farm living in the Heart of Appalachia.
10. Check out the two-day Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour through Virginia’s beautiful Culpeper County on October 5 and 6. Take your time touring through 18 farms and farm related businesses to get involved with some hands-on activities and demonstrations, as well as mingle with llamas, horses, cattle, and buffalo. Expect to see both traditional and unique farm experiences during this free weekend that really does have something for everyone – even wine and moonshine!
The kids are back in school and already longing for a break. What to do? Head to one of these golden opportunities we call fall festivals, of course!
In no particular order, here are 15 of Virginia’s best fall festivals for families. Get out your calendar and let’s go.
Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon
1. October 26-27 – Don’t miss the Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon for wagon rides, a straw bale maze, corn husk doll demonstrations, apple roasting, and plenty more 18th century shenanigans. Festival is included with Mount Vernon admission: Adults $15; children 6 to 11 $7 and children 5 and under are free. Buy Now
If you think you’d like a riverboat ride with that, the Potomac River sightseeing cruises are half price during this time, too! Purchase your tickets through the Potomac Riverboat Company and admission to Mount Vernon (and the festival) is included!
2. October 5 – The AT&T Virginia Children’s Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Norfolk, and you should be part of the fun! Geared completely toward kids ages 10 and younger, this festival includes more than 100 activities, storytelling, lots of hands-on fun, costumed characters, and fun shows. Food vendors are on hand. $3 per person.
Belvedere Plantation Harvest Festival
3. Sundays September 21 – November 3 – Head to Fredericksburg for the Belvedere Plantation Harvest Festival, featuring acres of pick-your-own pumpkins, hay rides, a maize maze, zip lines for little ones, a jumping pillow, pig races, barnyard animals and more. Fresh cider, pies, local honey and other wares are available, too. Children under two are free. Friday nights: $12/person. Weekends: $17/person. All-You-Can-Carry Pumpkins: $29.99 Buy Now
4. September 21 – If you love apples, you’re going to love the Apple Butter Celebration in Shenandoah National Park. From hot pots of boiling apples and apple foods to apple crafts, this is your place to be. Both you and the kids will enjoy live music, cloggers, face painting (yes, even you!), crafts and pony rides (okay, maybe not you). The event is free, but Skyline Drive access fee is $15 per vehicle.
New Town Art Festival
5. September 21 – The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville is hosting the Reptile Day Family Festival that will include more than 200 snakes and other reptiles. It’s the perfect place for kids who like to see and learn about cobras, rattlesnakes, alligators and other cool critters. $5/adult and $3/child.
6. September 28 – Have a budding artist in your midst? Head to the New Town Art Festival in Williamsburg. $10 will get you the 4×4 creative space and sidewalk chalk, too! Prizes will be awarded for the theme “Take Flight.” It’s a great place to browse accomplished artists’ creations as well as create your own as an individual or family.
7. October 10-13 – The Suffolk Peanut Festival is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. Check out the demolition derby and tractor pulls in addition to the amusement rides, fireworks and, of course, peanuts. Free admission; $10 parking.
Harrisonburg International Festival
8. September 28 – Give your kids a sense of appreciation for diversity when you attend the Harrisonburg International Festival together. Harrisonburg is comprised of many ethnic groups, bringing their traditions to you through dance, culinary arts, language and hand-crafted treasures. Taste foods from Ethiopia, Mexico, India, Thailand, Europe, Puerto Rico, and Central America, while performing arts are representative of the Aztec, Filipino, Indian, Irish, Chinese, and Kurdish communities. Free admission; plenty of food and crafts available for purchase.
9. October 11-13 – The Richmond Folk Festival brings more than 30 diverse performing groups to seven stages over the course of three days. Check out the family area that boasts special characters and performers of its own, not to mention unique pirate-themed craft stations. Make-and-take an eye patch, a pirate hat, a telescope, a pirate flag, and maps. Free admission.
Bland County Festival of Leaves
10. October 11-13 – Have a knight or princess in your house rather than a pirate? If so, go to Newport News for the Harvest Faire. Medieval-themed family fun awaits! Visit the 15th century encampment, witness combat between knights, watch archers master their mark, and participate in pumpkin tossing and other period games. Feel free to come in costume! $15/adult Saturday, $10/adult Sunday or $20/adult for the whole weekend. Kids 6 to 12 are $10 for the weekend or $5/day. Buy Now to save on admission. Camping available.
11. October 19 – The Harvest Festival in the Village of Aldie was Loudoun County’s Tourism Event of the Year in 2010 and it’s a great event for families. Historic Aldie Mill is the gorgeous backdrop for face painting, moon bounces, pony rides, blacksmith demonstrations, and the highly anticipated Firequacker Duck Race. Civil War reenactors from the 17th Mississippi Regiment will be on hand, and you can also look forward to grinding demonstrations inside the mill. This is a free event with an optional $5 parking donation recommended.
12. October 12-13 – The Bland County Festival of Leaves is a free event that spreads across the fairgrounds and Court House lawn in Bland. It’s everything you’d expect a fall festival to be – great food, beautiful crafts, hayrides, entertainment, and many opportunities for kids to have a great time.
13. October 12-13 – Arborfest is the annual fall festival of the State Arboretum of Virginia in Boyce. The grounds will be absolutely stunning (photo op!), but a cool draw or two for the kids? Make their own scarecrow ($5) and enjoy hay rides. For you? Nearly 40 vendors will be on hand with native plants for sale, as well as home and garden decor. Free guided tours. Admission is $10/vehicle.
14. October 19 – Head to another beautiful arboretum – the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at James Madison University – for the Children’s Harvest Festival in Harrisonburg. Built for kids, the entertainment includes dance exhibitions and lessons, crafts, singers, instrument performances and lessons, story time, trail tours, seed collection activities, free horse-drawn wagon rides and more!
Ashland Train Day
15. November 2 – Ashland Train Day is a railroad destination event for the whole family. Expect railroad music and songs, a miniature children’s train ride, games, tons of model trails from LEGO to wooden and electric, model train racing, a moon bounce, and a whole lot more. Feel free to wear your engineer bibs and a bandana! This is a free event.
Ready to hit the road for a fun fall weekend? Actually, your 48 hours can be any day of the week you choose. In fact, I’d recommend you try for a mid-week jaunt, as mid-week rates are typically cheaper than weekend. Why not give it a go?
Explore Natural Tunnel State Park
Natural Tunnel State Park
Deep in the Heart of Appalachia is a state park that boasts a chair lift that’s perfect for foliage peeping – Natural Tunnel State Park. The park’s 10 mountain ridge cabins are welcoming, comfortable, and offer an amazing vantage point for those who love fall’s colors. All you need to bring is your food, condiments, toiletries and clothes; the rest is provided. Plenty of availability! $113-$390 depending on cabin size. Book Now
The 10-story natural tunnel is the main attraction here, with the aforementioned chair lift being a great highlight. The eight walking trails are easy; the longest is just over a mile. Two trails are open to cyclists. Of interest is Tunnel Trail to Log Cabin Trail where an original Carter Family Log Cabin sits.
It’s a winding road dotted with musical gems and talented artisans. Make Floyd your starting point as it’s the home of the famed Floyd Country Store and its Friday Night Jamboree. If you pick, bring your instrument to join in (it doesn’t have to be a Friday night for a pickin’ session)!
If you’re feeling like getting some easy exercise, head to Damascus, the midway point of the Virginia Creeper Trail. You’ll want to go west toward Abingdon and coast down hill. You’re welcome.
In Abingdon, make Heartwood one of your main destinations. It’s a fantastic place that offers a really great meal and many pretty handmade pieces, including jewelry, quilts, soaps, and more. Maybe they’ll ship some treasures home for you? Then it’s back to Damascus where a well-deserved, Southern Living-praised slice of chocolate cake awaits you at Creeper Trail Cafe.
Southwest Virginia will be quilted in the colors of fall before you know it. Don’t miss it and don’t miss more of our 48 Hour Fall Getaways in Virginia series. Read PART ONE and watch for part three coming soon!