June is flying by which means that July 4th is approaching quickly. Do you have your Independence Day planned?
Yorktown Independence Day Celebration
Nearly every small town and city in Virginia has a fireworks display, parade, or festival in celebration of our freedom, but here are a few interesting (and FREE) events that you might check out.
You know the Revolutionary War was won in Yorktown, yes? Why not celebrate our independence there? At 9 AM on the 4th you’ll be treated to a parade. Spend the day at the beach and then get ready for the bell-ringing at 7 PM, patriotic entertainment at 8 PM and fabulous fireworks at 9:15 PM.
If you love a picnic, you’ll especially love the 30th Annual AT&T Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks in Norfolk. The picnic is free and you don’t have to make the potato salad! Pick a spot at Town Point Park for your family to spread a blanket and then kick back for a great fireworks display. 5 to 10 PM on July 4.
Patriotism will surely bubble up in you as you hear the 1812 Overture performed by the City of Fairfax Band with the fireworks to follow. Spend the evening relaxing on blankets or in chairs; vendors will have food and drinks, and kids’ activities will be plentiful. 7-10 PM on July 4.
Carnival rides attract the kids, but it’s the stars on stage that will attract their parents at the Martinsville Speedway Celebration for the 4th. Country music stars Darryl Worley, Bo Bice and David Lee Murphy will deliver an awesome show prior to the area’s largest fireworks display. And it’s all free!
Balloon Rally & 4th of July Celebration in Lexington
Balloon glows are somehow very romantic. Lounge on the VMI parade ground while the giant hot air balloons glow over the course of two nights in Lexington during the 16th Annual Balloon Rally and 4th of July Celebration. Book a morning or evening ride or take a tethered ride, too. The fireworks will captivate around 9 PM on the 4th.
As you get back to work after a long holiday weekend, let us help you brainstorm other ways to spend your days off this summer. You know you’re ready to walk away and enjoy life outside the workplace again. Or is it just me?
Music events are huge during the summer months with various genres and venues. Most assuredly, there’s a summer music festival just for you. Like a jazz sax over a mandolin? I’ve got one for you. Let’s dig in.
Stuart Beach Music Festival
Stuart’s 31st Annual Hot Fun in the Summertime Beach Music Festival is June 7-9. Now you might be thinking, “beach music in the Blue Ridge Highlands?” Well, yes. The sand is trucked in and the bands are annual favorites at any beach music event you encounter. Come camp out, kick back and listen or shag to Band of Oz, The Tams, Jim Quick & Coastline, The Holiday Band, Big Daddy Love, and The Mark Roberts Band.
The Band of Oz gets around, I tell ya. See them again at the StellarOne Beach Music Festival in Buena Vista on July 28 at Glen Maury Park. They’re headlining along with Magnificents Band.
Bluegrass and Old Time
Old time fiddlin’ is hot in the summer. So hot that competitions are held with prize money, ribbons, and trophies going to the favorite musicians and bands. If “pickin’ and grinnin’” is your slice of life, pull up a camp chair, but make sure your flat footin’ shoes are at the ready.
The Virginia Blues & Jazz Festival is held at Garth Newel in Hot Springs June 15-17. The performers are quite acclaimed – Grammy Award winners Grupo Fantasma and The Robert Cray Band promise an amazing weekend in the mountains.
Winchester Blues House Festival
In Hampton, the namesake Hampton Jazz Festival gets underway June 22 and is a three day event. Going strong for 45 years, the nation’s top blues, jazz, soul, and pop performers know they can count on a great crowd when they perform this event. Which top performers? How about Kenny G, Charlie Wilson, Natalie Cole, Monica, Jill Scott, Dave Koz, and BeBe Winans? They’ll be there with a few others.
The Winchester Blues House Festival is unique in that 100% of the festival net proceeds benefit local Habitat for Humanity efforts. Enjoy great musicians including headliner The Pat Travers Band on July 14.
This summer marks the 30th year for the Norfolk Jazz Festival and it promises to be better than ever with Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, Marcus Anderson, Peter Wright, Rick Braun, Gerald Albright, and more. July 20-21.
In a League of Its Own
FloydFest. Now there’s one of Virginia’s key summer music events. Camp around the Blue Cow Pavilion for four days (July 26-29) of “Lovers Rock” – seven stages hosting more than 50 musical performances spanning generations, more than 100 artisans, demonstrations, workshops, a Children’s Universe, babysitting service, and plenty of amazing food.
The list of FloydFest performers is outstanding. To mention but a few …
Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
Drive By Truckers
Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers
Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
Variety at the Beach
Virginia Beach is a given summer destination, but here’re a few more reasons why the call of the oceanfront is a little louder for music lovers.
Hardee’s Latin Fest is big on flavor – both in food and in music. Shake what you got as Salsa, Merengue, and Jazz are key to this event. June 8 and 9 on the beach at 24th Street. Free!
Sandstock – A Blast from the Past is just that. Cover bands for 60s, 70s, and 80s music take over the 17th, 24th, and 31st Street parks June 22-24. If you love The Who, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones, Pat Benatar, Elvis, and other key figures from those music periods, you’ll love this festival. Bring your tie dye and lots of hairspray! Free.
The big hits of summer at the beach come in the form of The Verizon Wireless American Music Festival. One giant stage sits on the sand and all of the other stages along the boardwalk are utilized as well for this three day multi-genre event. This year’s headliners are O.A.R., Cheap Trick, and Train. You’ve gotta be there – August 31-September 2.
It might come as a surprise, but even classical music draws a festival crowd. See what I mean …
The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival is held June 10-17 in Harrisonburg. Lawn chairs and cut-offs are discouraged, since this festival is held in a concert hall. Expect to see Grammy Award winner Eugene Friesen.
Wintergreen Resort hosts the Wintergreen Performing Arts Festival the weekends of July 6-8, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, and August 4-5. Enjoy pieces by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Corelli, and Bach.
Just a little way down the road, classical junkies can experience a variety of venues to take in the sounds of the Staunton Music FestivalAugust 17-25.
If this is still not enough for you to choose from, never fear. It’s not a comprehensive list and you can find more music and festivals at Virginia.org.