Spring is on its way! Celebrate the impending thaw with one of the upcoming spring festivals in Virginia. Although there are dozens of festivals to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere, tastes and vibe, we have picked 17 festivals that have a storied history, are rising stars in their genre, and were popular with visitors in 2015. Plan a weekend around one of these festivals to get the most out of your 2016 spring in Virginia.
Want to see all upcoming Virginia festivals? Check out our complete list to plan a season full of fun!
— HIGHLAND MAPLE FESTIVAL — MARCH 12-13, 19-20
The 58th annual Highland Maple Festival includes delicious treats from local vendors, arts and crafts tutorials, live entertainment throughout the festival, and plenty of maple-infused goodies! Learn about the rich history of maple syrup in Highland County during the Sugar Tour and attend demonstrations that teach visitors about the process of making maple syrup. Attend this popular festival to get a true taste of how sweet Virginia can be!
— FRANKLIN COUNTY MOONSHINE FESTIVAL — APRIL 22-23
The Franklin County Moonshine Festival in downtown Rocky Mount teaches visitors about the history of moonshining in Franklin County. Enjoy live music, tastings of locally-distilled moonshine paired with foods made by local chefs, moonshine folk history, a car show, and vendor displays during this “spirited” festival weekend.
— TOM TOM FOUNDERS FESTIVAL — APRIL 11-17
Held in Charlottesville, the 5th annual Tom Tom Founders Festival includes block parties, live concerts, workshops, local food, public art, competitions, and talks from startup innovators. Community built and led, this event focuses on bringing together the residents of Virginia to celebrate creative ideas and inspire community leadership.
— VIRGINIA BEER FESTIVAL — MAY 21-22
At Virginia Beer Festival in Norfolk, visitors can sample over 125 beers served by more than 80 breweries from around the world. Participating breweries teach lessons on home brewing, give presentations about their craft, and serve up their best tasty beverages. Local vendors provide small food bites and goods available for purchase. Stay tuned to the website, as live musical acts will be announced closer to the event. TICKETS
— DAFFODIL FESTIVAL — APRIL 2-3
A true harbinger of spring, Gloucester’s Daffodil Festival is an annual floral extravaganza held in early April, just as the beautiful yellow blooms make their appearance. Kick off the festival on Friday evening with a tour aboard the 105-foot tall ship named “The Alliance” and take a historic sail on the North River. The river tour guide explains the history of how Gloucester became a daffodil hotspot in Virginia.
On Saturday morning, come out to watch the Daffodil Festival Parade, with giant floats gliding through the main streets and the crowning of the Daffodil Queen.
If you have a four-legged friend, bring them along as a spectator, or get them involved with the “Pawsatively Cool Canine Show.” Your participating pup can show off their unique talents and photogenic qualities, or dress them up in costume to represent the spirit of the Daffodil Festival!
The remainder of the festival is what you’d expect – magicians, face painting, artisans, live music, and tons of food. Saturday only, you’re invited to take a tour of Brent & Becky’s Bulbs to take place your order for genuine Gloucester Daffodil bulbs!
— THE VIRGINIA ARTS FESTIVAL — FEBRUARY 9-MAY 30 (Select Dates)
For 20 years, The Virginia Arts Festival has been bringing together a variety of artists to showcase the best of Virginia’s talent and culture. While this festival takes place in nine Virginia cities throughout April and May, the biggest event is the Virginia International Tattoo. This all-American show of patriotism and pride includes acts from Virginia marching bands, drill teams, dancers, choirs, and other large-scale performances. In 2016, the Virginia International Tattoo has the honor of being award the Number One Event in the United States by the American Bus Association.
— SPRING TOWN POINT VIRGINIA WINE FESTIVAL — MAY 7-8
The 10th annual Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival takes place in early May in Norfolk. With more than 200 wine samples from over 20 of the best wineries in Virginia and educational “Somm-inars” where you can learn about Virginia wines, this event brings together the best aspects of wine during one spring weekend. While sampling wines, you can also feast on gourmet foods from local chefs and enjoy live entertainment. TICKETS
— DOMINION RIVERROCK — MAY 20-22
Held annually in May, Dominion Riverrock is a three-day festival of outdoor sports, live music, and plenty of local craft beers and food from Virginia vendors that is held at Brown’s Island in Richmond. The event brings together athletes, spectators, performers, and even dogs together to experience a multitude of outdoor activities. Kayaking, rock climbing, bouldering, trail running, cycling, slacklining, and stand up paddleboarding are all on the agenda for these three days of fun. Want to let your pet participate in the fun, too? Sign your dog up for the dog jumping contest!
— ROCKTOWN BEER & MUSIC FESTIVAL — APRIL 30
A fairly new festival is the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival in Harrisonburg. Now in its fourth year, this festival celebrates craft beer from Virginia and beyond. Each brewery (30 so far) will have a representative on site serving their flagship beer as well as a rare or seasonal craft brew. Expect great food from the burgeoning restaurant scene of Harrisonburg, as well as fantastic live music to round out this spring day in late April. TICKETS
— CHINCOTEAGUE SEAFOOD FESTIVAL — MAY 7
Salivating for fresh seafood? Wipe your mouth and head to the Chincoteague Seafood Festival in early May! Signature seafood dishes will be prepared for your consumption, including the famous Little Neck Clams that the festival is known for. Drinks are included with admission; beer is additional. Stay all day and graze while live beach music sets the vibe. TICKETS
— SHENANDOAH APPLE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL — APRIL 22-MAY 1
One of Virginia’s largest and oldest festivals is the annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, held over 10 days at the end of April and into early May. Entering its 89th year, the festival has grown to include a wine festival, a carnival with midway rides, a golf tournament, apple pie baking contest, a fun run and 10K, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah, the Queen’s Ball, fireworks, the world’s largest firefighters’ parade, and the official Grand Feature Parade, among many other events with live music and food involved. TICKETS
— THE VIRGINIA HOT GLASS FESTIVAL — APRIL 23-24
The Virginia Hot Glass Festival is held annually in Staunton and hosted by SunSpots Studio. Not afraid to share their spotlight, SunSpots invites other glass blowers from around the region to demonstrate and show off their talents for these two late April dates. Take home a piece of jewelry, art glass marbles, or other hand blown glass item just after the artist has put the finishing touches on it. For the kids, a fire-breathing dragon and ray gun demonstration will be key highlights, along with the challenge the kids can present to the artists: create a blown glass rendition of a kids’ drawing. The Virginia Hot Glass Festival is the only festival of its kind in Virginia.
— SPRING WINE FESTIVAL & SUNSET TOUR — MAY 13-15
The middle of May is the perfect time to treat yourself (or mom for Mother’s Day!) to a day overlooking the Potomac River with a glass of wine at the Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Sixteen Virginia wineries will be on hand for your tasting pleasure while the rarely opened wine storage of George Washington will be open for your viewing pleasure. This festival is very popular and often sells out in advance. Tickets available beginning March 28th.
— FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN FESTIVAL — MAY 21
Southerners love their fried chicken and no community knows that better than Gordonsville! Dubbed the “Chicken Leg Center of the Universe,” Gordonsville offers to you its annual Famous Fried Chicken Festival. The story of their fried chicken goes way back to the 19th century women who would greet passengers on the train as it stopped in Gordonsville, all while carrying platters of chicken on their heads. The hospitality of serving great fried chicken has never stopped and you can enjoy the flavors prepared by participants or offer your own at the cook-off. Wineries and artisans will be on hand to complete the festival environment.
— ROOSTER WALK MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL — MAY 26-29
If you love multi-day music festivals, don’t wait until summer to get your groove on. Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival is four days of live music over Memorial Day Weekend. There are currently 16 bands that have been announced, including Lettuce, the Sam Bush Band, and Perpetual Groove, but many more with be added as the festival date approaches. Held at Pop’s Farm in Axton, this festival will include delicious food, children’s activities, and arts and crafts. Camping is available. TICKETS
— ANNUAL UMOJA FESTIVAL — MAY 27-29
Portsmouth invites you to the Annual UMOJA Festival in late May. It’s the 25th year for this three day festival promoting cultural diversity and unity, and will open with a traditional African drum call and ceremonial processional. Great ethnic foods and artisans’ wares are a highlight along with a famed musical act. This year the UMOJA Festival welcomes nationally-acclaimed R&B artists Peabo Bryson and Jazmine Sullivan.
— CLINCH RIVER DAYS FESTIVAL — JUNE 2-4
The three day Clinch River Days Festival is held annually in St. Paul and celebrates the river life, heritage and culture of Southwest Virginia. Whatever your outdoor pleasure, you can likely enjoy it during this weekend of fun. Taste the food and wine flavors of the region as you learn about the railroad and river influence on this area.
Looking for more activities to occupy your upcoming spring weekends? Find more fun festivals and events.