2017 has just started, but we’re already excited for all of the stellar festivals happening in Virginia this year! Mark your calendars and save the dates for these 10 festivals, filled with live music, local food, arts, and outdoor recreation, occurring in every corner of the Commonwealth, from the Chesapeake Bay coastline to the charming mountain towns of Southwest Virginia.
HIGHLAND MAPLE FESTIVAL—MONTEREY
March 11-12, 18-19, 2017
Since 1958, the Highland Maple Festival has been bringing everything maple to residents and visitors of Monterey. This year, the town hosts the 59th annual festival, featuring delicious maple-infused treats from local vendors, live entertainment, and craft tutorials in a variety of subjects. Attend the Sugar Tour to learn about the long and storied history of maple syrup in Highland County, then head to a few of the demonstrations to discover the maple syrup production process. This tasty town festival is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth and a love of Virginia history.
VIRGINIA ARTS FESTIVAL—9 COASTAL VIRGINIA CITIES
January 14th through May, with Virginia International Tattoo on April 27-30, 2017
The Virginia Arts Festival begins January 14 and runs through May, with nine of Virginia’s coastal cities taking part. A variety of artists and performers come together to display the best of Virginia’s culture and talent during this five-month festival. Individual events occur in separate cities over the span of several months, but the flagship event is the Virginia International Tattoo, a celebration held in Norfolk that showcases American patriotism at its finest. The performances includes acts from dancers, drill teams, choirs, marching bands, and other groups from all over Virginia, and in 2016, the event was chosen as the Number One Event in the U.S. by the American Bus Association.
TOM TOM FOUNDERS FESTIVAL—CHARLOTTESVILLE
April 10-16, 2017
For an entire week in spring, the Tom Tom Founders Festival takes over downtown Charlottesville with live music, block parties, food and drinks from local vendors, public art displays, workshops, and talks from innovators in a myriad of startup industries. With the festival’s goal of inspiring community leadership, business development, and creative thinking, every event besides the Founders Summit is absolutely free to attend. Last year, the Tom Tom Founders Festival drew over 38,000 people, and they expect an even more impressive turnout for this year’s events.
SHENANDOAH APPLE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL—WINCHESTER
Although apples dominate the fall festival scene, none of the autumn fests can compare to the size and splendor of Winchester’s Shenandoah Apple Blossom festival, now in its 90th year. Apple events like the apple pie baking contest are a given, but the festival has tons of other activities as well. Sample Virginia wines with friends or bring the kids along to the carnival, which features classic fair food and midway rides. There is a golf tournament, a fun run and 10k marathon, live music, the world’s largest firefighter’s parade, and even a Queen’s Ball, which is presided over by the year’s Queen Shenandoah, crowned earlier in the festival. Order individual event tickets by mail, or stay tuned to the website as additional event tickets become available.
CHINCOTEAGUE SEAFOOD FESTIVAL—CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND
May 6, 2017
If you’re a seafood lover, you need to attend the Chincoteague Seafood Festival, held on the Eastern Shore’s Chincoteague Island. The main eating attraction are the Little Neck clams cooked in a bevy of ways, but you’ll find everything from locally harvested oysters to various fried fish delights straight out of the Atlantic. Live beach music fills the air at the festival, and your $45 ticket covers it all, including nonalcoholic beverages (beer is available for purchase). Children 5 and under get free admission to the Chincoteague Seafood Festival. GET TICKETS
SPRING TOWN POINT VIRGINIA WINE FESTIVAL—NORFOLK
May 6-7, 2017
The 11th annual Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival invites visitors to sample over 200 wines from more than 30 state-wide wineries, allowing you to get the full Virginia wine experience without weeks of travel. Dine on gourmet food samples, shop specialty merchants, and enjoy live performances in downtown Norfolk during this two-day festival. Pick your favorites and take home a few wines by the bottle or the case to enjoy throughout the year. Tickets not yet available.
May 19-21, 2017
The biggest outdoor sports and music festival in the U.S., Dominion Riverrock brings thousands of participants and spectators (even the four-legged kinds!) together on Richmond’s riverside Brown’s Island for three days of unforgettable fun. Outdoor sports of every kind are demonstrated at the free event, including kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, paddleboarding, and slacklining. Live music performances occur throughout, and last year’s festival showcased impressive acts like Keller Williams, the Futurebirds, and G. Love & Special Sauce. There are also outdoor races for those looking to get active during the festival, and if you’re not worried about the mess, the 5K Mud Run is incredibly popular for even beginner-level runners. Music lineup to be announced in late January.
CLINCH RIVER DAYS FEST—ST. PAUL
June 1-3, 2017
In its 19th year, the Clinch River Days Fest in St. Paul celebrates the river and mountain heritage of Southwest Virginia. The festival includes a bus tour of Breaks Interstate Park, caving, live music, a farmers market, car show, parade with floats, and of course, kayak and canoe trips down the river. Start off the festival by participating in Friday night’s “Duck Race” (plastic, not real!), then continue with a full weekend of outdoor activities. In addition to these events, classic car shows, a Civil War reenactment, and carnival rides round out this monumental festival. Entry is free, but several of the participating events charge admission. Stay tuned to the official website for more information as the festival approaches.
MOUNTAINS OF MUSIC FESTIVAL—VARIOUS VENUES ALONG THE CROOKED ROAD
June 9-17, 2017
For nine days in June, the mountains of Southwest Virginia come alive with musical experiences in more than 20 communities along the famous Crooked Road. The Mountains of Music Homecoming festival pays tribute to the important traditions, culture, and music of the region, with over 200 cultural experiences and 70 folk, bluegrass, gospel, and old time musical concerts. Attend a few of the instrument-making demonstrations to get an even deeper appreciation of the Crooked Road’s historical contributions, then dine on some of the finest locally sourced cuisine available in Virginia. Round out your festival experience with some outdoor activities, like a leisurely river float or a wondrous hike through some of the region’s caves. Purchase Your Tickets
SHENANDOAH MUSIC FESTIVAL—ORKNEY SPRINGS
July-September 4, 2017
The official dates and lineup have not yet been finalized, but the Shenandoah Music Festival runs from approximately mid-July through Labor Day weekend. As the longest running outdoor music festival in the mid-Atlantic region, the events draw some big performance names. Previous acts include LeAnn Rimes and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, and the varied genres of musicians draw guests from all over the East Coast. While the festival hosts some pretty big headliners, the inexpensive ticket prices make the live concerts accessible to all, with front row seats at the best concerts totaling only $59 a person. Another cost-saver? Guests are encouraged to bring their own picnic-style spread to events. Tickets go on sale for individual events starting in early April.
When it comes to exciting entertainment for this year, this isn’t all! Stay tuned for part 2 of the can’t-miss festivals, which span the second half of 2017.