The crisp air, vibrant leaves, seasonal foods and beverages…there is something about a fall festival in Virginia that is irresistible. And while there are dozens happening during the upcoming autumn months, these thirteen festivals highlight the best of the season, combining the fall flavors, sounds, and activities that you look forward to each year.
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion—Bristol
Save the Date: September 15-17, 2017
Head to Bristol, known as the Birthplace of Country Music, for three days of Southwest Virginia music, culture, and history at the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. During the festival, State Street transforms from a roadway to a country music extravaganza, with 22 stages both indoors and outdoors playing continuous live music. This year’s lineup includes Judah & The Lion, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, The Infamous Stringdusters, Dwight Yoakam, Son Volt, and Rodney Crowell. Bring the kids along on Saturday for some family-friendly performances at the children’s stage. In addition to live music performances and cultural events, the festival has a chili cook-off contest, a 5k race, free guided yoga classes in Anderson Park, and a youth music competition. To get the full Appalachian experience, pitch your tents at Thunder Mountain Campground, where you can catch a shuttle to and from State Street each day. Purchase Your Tickets
Stratford Hall Wine & Oyster Festival—Stratford
Save the Dates: September 16-17, 2017
Two of the most “Virginia” products, wine and oysters, come together at the Stratford Hall Wine & Oyster Festival. Oysters from the Chesapeake Bay and Tidewater area are served in a variety of styles, along with many other popular seafood dishes. In addition to tasting the oysters, watermen will teach you everything you need to know about the shellfish, with live shucking demonstrations, cooking classes that show the best way to prepare oysters, and the environmental impact that they have on Virginia’s waterways. The festival also features live music, a car show, beverages from Virginia distilleries, arts and crafts booths, and living-history presentations. Smaller children will love hopping aboard the barrel train ride and meeting miniature farm animals at the festival. Purchase Your Tickets
Annual Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival—Moneta
Save the Dates: September 23-24, 2017
The Annual Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival in Moneta brings together 27 Virginia wineries and 85+ food and craft goods vendors on the stunning banks of Smith Mountain Lake. Three live bands perform over the two-day festival, and if you aren’t especially fond of wine, the beer garden will be pouring plenty of local Virginia beers. Purchase Your Tickets
Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend—Virginia Beach
Save the Dates: September 29-October 1, 2017
This year marks the 44th anniversary of the Neptune Festival, and while the entire festival goes from early in September to the beginning of October, the Boardwalk Weekend draws the biggest crowd. Hundreds of thousands of people come to the festival, which is spans over 32 blocks of Virginia Beach’s iconic Boardwalk. The long weekend is filled with endless entertainment, including live music and performances on multiple stages, outdoor shopping and dining experiences, a grand parade, 5k and 8k competitive running events, a beach volleyball tournament, and when the sun goes down, impressive fireworks lighting up the night sky over the ocean. Watch sailboats compete in the Atlantic Regatta, an exciting boat race that finishes at Rudee Inlet.
The Festy Experience—Arrington
Save the Dates: October 5-8, 2017
Photo Credit: Jody Carbone
The beauty of Nelson County is on full display at The Festy Experience, held on the 350+ acre Infinity Down Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains. More than just a music festival, the Festy Experience showcases the incredible craft beer and outdoor scenes found in Virginia. The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush Band, Joan Osborne, Drive-By Truckers, Ani DiFranco are just a few of the bands coming together for this fall festival. While you can get single-day or weekend festival tickets, we recommend going for the camping passes, which range from basic passes for a single campsite to the Show Sherpa package: A luxury glamping experience complete with cots, camping chairs, daily continental breakfast, free daily happy hours, and access to the festival shower. Purchase Your Tickets
Graves’ Mountain Apple Harvest Festival—Syria
Save the Dates: October 7-8, 14-15, and 21-22, 2017
The 48th annual Graves’ Mountain Apple Harvest Festival is the epitome of fall in Virginia, with everything from hayrides and hay mazes to kettles of fragrant apple butter cooking over an open fire. Hear the traditional sounds of the Virginia Mountains from local Bluegrass bands, and don’t miss out on a real Virginia classic: a steaming bowl of homemade Brunswick Stew. Browse the craft area to pick up locally made jewelry, clothing, artwork, and handcrafted woodwork, and bring the kids along for a visit with some adorable animals as you tour a working educational farm. They can even get a closer look with guided horseback rides. To finish off your fall festival experience, pick your own apples and pumpkins from the on-site orchards and fields. The festival is free for both admission and parking, and well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome.
Richmond Folk Festival—Richmond
Save the Dates: October 13-15, 2017
One of the most popular festivals throughout the entire year, the Richmond Folk Festival attracted over 125,000 people last year to the banks of the James River and is expected to surpass that number this year. This free three-day festival is designed to expand your cultural horizons, with live music, dance performances, and artistic displays from all over the world. Seven stages set up adjacent to Brown’s Island offer nonstop performances during the festival, with more than 30 different acts lined up over the weekend. Walk through the Virginia Folklife demonstration area, where you can learn about traditional Virginia culture and history. Sample authentic regional and ethnic foods from vendors to get a real taste of the cultures represented at the festival, and check out the folk arts marketplace if you’re interested in taking a piece of these unique cultures home with you.
Anthem Go Outside Festival—Roanoke
Save the Dates: October 13-15, 2017
Photo Credit: Roanoke Go Outside Festival
The Go Outside Festival, presented by Anthem, is a free annual event that promotes outdoor recreation and healthy living in one of the most scenic mountain areas of Virginia. Many outdoor enthusiasts feel limited in their hobbies due to expensive equipment, but the Go Outside Festival encourages people to come test out a range of outdoor gear absolutely free of charge. Try out paddle boards, fishing gear, kayaks, bicycles, and athletic shoes…the list of available trial equipment goes on and on. Want to learn more about an outdoor hobby? There are over 175 workshops and clinics spanning a wide range of interests at the festival, and pro athletes show off their skills with BMX stunts, bike trials, slacklining, lumberjack sports, and more. For those attendees already skilled at their sport, sign up for the 5k race, half marathon, or bike races to compete against other active festivalgoers. Pitch a tent and stay overnight during the festival to experience the Virginia outdoors firsthand.
Annual Fall Town Point Virginia Wine Festival—Norfolk
Save the Dates: October 21-22, 2017
Wine lovers flock to the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront for the Annual Fall Town Point Virginia Wine Festival. The event showcases over 200 wines from 35 Virginia wineries, highlighting the best varietals from each region. Sample and learn about the wines while you enjoy live music, taste gourmet foods from Virginia chefs, and peruse a selection of locally made wares. At the end of the day, bring home a few (or a lot) of your favorite Virginia wines, which are available to purchase by the bottle or by the case. Purchase Your Tickets
Blue Ridge Folklife Festival—Ferrum
Save the Date: October 28, 2017
Get a taste of mountain living at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, which celebrates the folk ways and rural heritage of Virginia’s mountains. Now in its 44th year, the festival gives visitors a glimpse at the real roots of the Virginia region, with three music stages featuring traditional mountain music genres, from bluegrass and blues to gospel and old-time string tunes. Watch local craftspeople demonstrate Blue Ridge rural hand skills that have been passed down from generation to generation, including retired bootleggers that share their stories of distilling moonshine as they evaded local law enforcement. Kids are welcome, and will particularly enjoy the vintage farm tractors on display, custom car showcase, mule jumping contest, and sheep herding demonstrations. Tickets can be purchased at the event or by calling 540-365-4412.
Urbanna Oyster Festival—Urbanna
Save the Dates: November 3-4, 2017
The Urbanna Oyster Festival, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is the “Official Oyster Festival of the Commonwealth”, and for good reason. Everything oyster is represented here, with more than 50 vendors serving up every type of oyster you can imagine: raw, steamed, fried, roasted, Rockefeller, stewed, oyster pot pie, oyster chowder…even oyster tacos! The streets of Urbanna close down to host this expansive festival, and local watermen and oyster industry experts gather to share their knowledge on the oyster, recounting the history and conservation efforts behind the product and the more recent resurgence of the Chesapeake Bay oyster. The festival’s oyster shucking contest is extremely competitive, with the audience given the chore of eating all the oysters as they are opened by the contestants. Pair your oyster dishes with local Virginia wine tastings, or head to the micro-brewery garden for some local craft beers. While the festival is free to attend, be sure to bring plenty of cash for the delicious food and drink tastings.
Virginia Thanksgiving Festival at Berkeley Plantation—Charles City
Save the Date: November 5, 2017
The Virginia Thanksgiving Festival at Berkeley Plantation is a full day dedicated to history, food, and fun. This festival commemorates the arrival of 35 settlers at Berkeley Hundred in 1619, where they would soon celebrate the first official Thanksgiving in English North America. Take tours of the 1726 Berkeley manor house, witness historical reenactments of the early Colonists, and shop a selection of locally made art, crafts, and jewelry during this annual fall festival. This year, the Itinerant Band will be playing tunes from 17th century America and the Chickahominy Tribal Dancers will perform authentic dances of Virginia’s Indigenous peoples. And of course, don’t miss out on eating a traditional Virginia Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by local caterers.
The Virginia Thanksgiving Festival is a signature event of American Evolution™ – Virginia to American 1619-2019. To learn more, visit www.americanevolution2019.com
Williamsburg Taste Festival—Williamsburg
Williamsburg is known for many historic achievements, but the one that makes for the tastiest festival is its role as the Birthplace of the American Food Revolution. Formerly known as the Williamsburg Harvest Festival, the Williamsburg Taste Festival acknowledges Williamsburg’s many culinary contributions, including brewing the first Colonial beers in America, starting the vinicultural movement with the first vineyard, and even having the first free-range garden-to-table food scene. Try mouthwatering dishes made by Virginia chefs, craft beers brewed in the Commonwealth, and an array of exceptional local wines, then meet the chefs, brewmasters, and vintners behind it all. Cooking demonstrations highlight the skills of Virginia’s chefs, farmers, and food industry professionals that attend the event.
More Noteworthy Festivals for Your Fall:
- State Fair of Virginia—Doswell
- Hoopla at Devils Backbone Brewing Company Basecamp—Roseland
- Busch Gardens Bier Fest—Williamsburg
- Highlanders Festival—Radford
- Suffolk Peanut Festival—Suffolk
- Big Buggs Island Blues Bash—Clarksville
- South Boston Harvest Festival—South Boston
- Burkes Garden Fall Festival—Tazewell
- Annual Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival—Chincoteague Island
- Tides Inn Harvest Festival—Irvington
- Fall Festival of Folklife—Newport News
- Festival of Leaves—Front Royal