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.
Woolwine in Patrick County is the site of the official Virginia Covered Bridge Festival that occurs every year at the Bob White and Jack’s Creek covered bridges. The festival is this Saturday, June 16, and includes horse and wagon rides, antique car show, a duck race on the river, arts, crafts, great music at both bridge locations, a petting zoo, bounce houses, and delicious food vendors. It’s a free day of family fun that kicks off at 8 AM with the Covered Bridge 5K Run/Walk.
A great day for family.
The 5K benefits a variety of local charities including the Patrick County Food Bank, Patrick County Adult Developmental Center, and the Caring Hearts Free Clinic. The route begins near the Bob White Covered Bridge in Woolwine and ends near the Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge. Entrance fee is $25. Register.
If you get into town early and are looking for a cool way to relax, the Reynolds Homestead at Fairy Stone State Park (just a little over 9 miles away from Woolwine) is hosting “Free Range Possums,” a Blacksburg band that has been described as a “musical conundrum” playing everything from Bach on banjo to swing. Friday night at 7:30 PM. $4 park admission.
After the festival winds down and before you depart for home, Chateau Morrisette Winery is hosting a Father’s Day Luncheon on Sunday at 11 AM. Chateau Morrisette is located in Floyd, about 9 miles from Woolwine. Reservations are recommended, but regular tours and tastings will be available at noon, 2 and 4 PM if the luncheon is already booked.
This is the time to get up close and personal with gigantic ships. Truly, you can’t appreciate their enormity until you’re standing next to them.
The USS Wisconsin
Norfolk Harborfest® is a long-loved festival in Virginia and this year is especially impressive as it’s the cornerstone event for the grand OpSail 2012 Virginia™ celebration that began June 1 and contines through June 12.
Harborfest® kicks off this Friday, June 8, and is packed with waterfront activities for the whole family. The Parade of Sail (all the tall ships sailing through with their flags flying), a tremendous fireworks show (the largest on the East Coast), tall ship tours, pirates, Virginia wine sampling, and so much more make this four-day festival worth the drive and long weekend stay. The events are free and you can expect more than 130 hours of live entertainment on several stages, including some national musical acts!
Gavin DeGraw – Friday at 6PM
Colbie Caillat – Friday at 8:30 PM
Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers – Saturday at 8:30 PM
Edwin McCain – Sunday at 3:45 PM
~ These performers will be on the Budweiser Main Stage at Town Point Park.
Welcome Centers are positioned at key points and can offer visitor assistance, as well as comfort stations for infant diaper changing: West Ghent Piers at MHI, Plum Point and Front Street Park at Fort Norfolk, Freemason Green, Harbor Park, Town Point Park & NOAA.
Shaded seating is available in the Boathouse and the Tavern within Town Point Park, Freemason Green, Front Street Stage at Front Street Park and MHI Stage at West Ghent Piers. You’ll find bistro tables, chairs, and umbrellas spread throughout the festival area.
PROHIBITED: bikes, skateboards, roller skates, scooters, any and all motorized vehicles, glass bottles, and pets that are not for disability assistance.
For guests with disabilities, parking is available at all City of Norfolk parking garages and wheelchair accessible portolets are stationed in Town Point Park, West Ghent Piers at MHI, and Front Street Park at Fort Norfolk. Special seating arrangements can be made for stage performances, just inquire with event security or a uniformed staff member.
Download the official program for more information regarding parking, free shuttles, the event schedule, and maps of the festival: 1 of 2 * 2 of 2
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.
Festival season is officially underway in Virginia and this handy list will give you some ideas of how to spend your upcoming weekends.
Virginia Lake Festival
1. May 19-20: Monacan Indian Nation Pow Wow in Madison Heights. $7 for adults, $5 for kids. If you’ve never experienced an authentic pow wow before, go to this one. Full regalia, drums, dancing, crafts, American Buffalo, Eagles, great food, and age-old stories make this a memorable event.
2. May 25-28: 43rd Annual Roanoke Festival in the Park in Roanoke. Free with the exception of evening concerts. This festival has taken a turn towards the arts, making it a great day or more for families to see a variety of creations. Expect to see sand sculptures, fine arts and crafts, cloggers, BMXers, animal acts, and even big names in concert – Gin Blossoms, Lee Brice, and Craig Morgan.
3. May 31-June 3: 32nd Annual Herndon Festival in Herndon. Centered on families, this festival includes carnival rides, games, kids’ hands-on activity area, a model railway exhibit, and fireworks!
4. June 1-3: Blackbeard Pirate Festival in Hampton. Arrgh! The pirate ships sail in to Hampton’s waterfront and hand-to-hand battles are waged just off the dock. Immerse yourselves as garbed scallywags meander the grounds singing sea chanties and telling tales. The photo ops are priceless! Fireworks, encampments, character entertainment for little ones at Little Swashbuckler Stage, and even cutlass-swinging lessons.
5. June 1-3: Patriotic Festival: A Celebration of Our Military in Virginia Beach. Little boys and big boys alike will especially enjoy the power-packed punch this festival delivers. The line-up for this year includes the Discovery Channel’s American Chopper with Paul Junior unveiling his custom military themed chopper, the Washington Redskins, great Monster Energy giveaways, Corvette Museum Racing Tour, Air National Guard simulators, the Blue Angels Oceanfront Air Show, and so, so much more.
Virginia Covered Bridge Festival
6. June 8-11: Norfolk Harborfest® in Norfolk. Days of free entertainment including more pirates, tall ships, Battleship Wisconsin tours, fireworks, live music, Virginia wine sampling for mom and dad, face painting, make-and-take crafts, and appearances by Nick Jr’s Yo! Gabba! Gabba! characters.
7. June 16: Virginia Covered Bridge Festival in Woolwine. This festival is a little bit of nostalgia for you and a little glimpse of something that isn’t as common as it used to be for the kids. Hop aboard a wagon and take a ride between two of Virginia’s treasured covered bridges – Jack’s Creek and Bob White, browse the antique cars on display, let the kids cheer on the duck race, pet the animals, and bounce around in the inflatables to wear down their energy.
8. July 19-21: Virginia Lake Festival in Clarksville. Tethered hot air balloon rides, sand sculptors, lots of food and more than 200 vendors to browse, helicopter rides, antique cars, live music, and so much more await your family at this must-attend event at Virginia’s only lakeside town.
9. July 21-22: Renaissance Festival in Gloucester. Knights and ladies, do attend this medieval-style festival and learn to juggle, be knighted yourself, dance the maypole, and find other fun shennanigans to partake in. Free!
10. August 11: 5th Annual Smith River Fest in Axton. The outdoorsy family will thrive at this festival that’s all about the river! Enter the river race, learn to tie flies and cast a line, take a guided paddle trip, enjoy the live music, or go for a float. The kids will be entertained in a number of ways, including the Kids Village with inflatables, climbing wall, and more.
If your interest in festivals is piqued, go on to Virginia.org and see more! There are beer, wine, and quite a variety of food festivals that you’re sure to enjoy.