In Virginia the fall season isn’t confined to the mountains. When the leaves turn their vibrant fall colors you can be sure festivals and celebrations abound throughout the Commonwealth from Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic seashore.
On Virginia’s Peninsula, that neck of land between the James and York Rivers, autumn celebrations go back to Colonial times and beyond. It’s one of Virginia’s most historic areas and is the birthplace of English-speaking America. From those times Virginians have found reason to celebrate and be thankful for the fall harvest. The best of those traditions remain vibrantly alive today and can be enjoyed by everyone. All one has to do is some easy trip-planning.
The heart of Colonial Virginia lies at Williamsburg. The old Colonial Capital is at its brightest and best in the fall, with perfect weather beckoning all to come out and enjoy. The centerpiece of fall festivities there is the annual Williamsburg Harvest Celebration. The five-day event (November 11-15) takes place in Williamsburg-proper and neighboring locales, and is all about Virginia’s traditional fall harvest of good things to eat straight from nearby land and water to the table. Top Virginia chefs, winemakers, sommeliers and food purveyors bring together their talents and the results include tapas crawls, special chef’s dinners, wine and chocolate tastings, an oyster roast, chowder festival and cooking demonstrations.
Williamsburg Harvest Celebration
There’s much to be thankful for this fall on the Peninsula. The Virginia Thanksgiving Festival at Berkeley Plantation (November 1) celebrates the America’s first English-speaking Thanksgiving on the shore of the James River at what is now Berkeley Plantation. Descendants of Virginia Indians and English settlers of the early 1600s are among those gathering to enjoy a bounty of Virginia food, music, dancing, art and crafts.
Virginia Thanksgiving Festival at Berkeley Plantation
On the shores of the York River the Yorktown Wine Festival (October 25) offers a chance to sample wines from some of Virginia’s best and most popular wineries accented by live entertainment, food and crafts.
Yorktown Wine Festival
Adding to the glory of fall are some of Virginia’s most beautiful scenic drives. The Colonial Parkway connects Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown and winds its way from shoreline marshes through a gently rolling landscape bordered by little other than trees full of soothing autumn colors. Take your time on this drive, pull over for historic wayside exhibits and keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, deer and other wildlife.
For those who want to feel the breeze as they travel, bring or rent a bike and enjoy the brand-new Capital Bike Trail. This paved ribbon stretches some 52 miles between Williamsburg and Richmond and traverses 400 years of history along with memorable scenery.
Virginia Capital Trail
There’s a celebration waiting this fall on Virginia’s Peninsula. Come be a part of it and immerse yourself in the traditions that have given cause for celebration for centuries.