October in Virginia brings changing leaves, crisp autumn air, and of course, lots of memorable festivals and events. We’ve compiled a few of the best things to do in Virginia this month to help you plan accordingly; use this guide to mark your calendars with the most noteworthy events happening around the Commonwealth in October.
When: October 18 – 20, 2019
A free festival held each fall, Roanoke’s GO Outside Festival, shortened to GoFest, encourages active outdoor recreational sports and promotes healthy living. Presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the festival combines outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and competitive races with outfitter gear demos, allowing you to try your hand at new physical pursuits such as kayaking, biking, or rock climbing. Throughout the festival, you’ll find live music performances and over 15 local food trucks serving up tasty fare,which you can pair with craft beverages available on draft from Virginia breweries and cideries.
Women’s Achieve Summit—Richmond
When: October 14 – 15, 2019
Held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and hosted by Queen Latifah, the Women’s Achieve Summit celebrates influential women in both Virginia and American history, recognizing their achievements and exploring current issues that women face in the 21st century. In addition to representing women, the event will honor African, English, and indigenous cultures that were a part of early colonial life in Virginia. This interactive summit includes interviews with pioneering women, panel discussions, and a thought-provoking session from Keynote Speaker Mika Brzezinski.
Night Skies in Shenandoah National Park—Luray
Get a rare glimpse of completely clear night skies when you visit Shenandoah National Park this October for their Night Skies event. Join amateur astronomers in the Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park for a night of stargazing presentations and sightings through telescopes. With little civilization nearby, you’ll enjoy an uninterrupted view of the stars above. Be sure to pack a blanket and chairs, as the event is held in an open field, and a flashlight to navigate in the dark.
Oktoberfest at Blue Mountain Brewery—Afton
Celebrate Oktoberfest at Blue Mountain Brewery with German food specials, games and prizes, beer classes, and of course, award-winning Virginia craft beer. Blue Mountain will host live music on Fridays, brewery tours on Saturdays, and brunch paired with music performances on Sundays during this autumn festival. Check the Blue Mountain Brewery Website for more details, to be announced closer to the event.
Spring House Farm Harvest Dinner—Leesburg
When: October 27, 2019
Join Farmer Andrew Crush for a root to table dining experience on a mountain ridge overlooking the historic village of Waterford just outside of Washington D.C. His Spring House Farm Harvest Dinner invites guests to start the evening with raw oysters, libations, and yard games by the pond. Then move up the hill where dinner will be served followed by a beautiful sunset. Get Tickets
Fiddlin’ Premiere at the Byrd Theatre—Richmond
When: October 15, 2019
Learn about the rich musical history of Virginia’s Appalachian region when you attend the Fiddlin’ movie premiere at Richmond’s historic Byrd Theatre. The film examines the history of old-time and bluegrass and is set at the world’ oldest Fiddler’s Convention, held each year in Galax, Virginia.
Suffolk Peanut Festival—Suffolk
Peanuts have been a staple crop in Virginia for nearly 200 years, and the city of Suffolk has been marking their importance to the community with the annual Suffolk Peanut Festival for the past 42 years. This family-friendly event honors the agricultural heritage of these locally-grown legumes with four days of festival rides, live music, a peanut-themed parade, a petting zoo featuring all sorts of farm animals, and much more. Plus, you’ll find every type of peanut food imaginable, from peanut butter treats to freshly roasted nuts. Get Tickets
Richmond Folk Festival—Richmond
Now in its 15th year, the Richmond Folk Festival is one of the Commonwealth’s largest annual events, bringing over 200,000 visitors from all over the country to downtown Richmond’s Brown’s Island and the surrounding historic riverfront region. Absolutely free to enter, the festival features performances that represent unique cultural traditions on the seven stages spread throughout the grounds during the weekend. Celebrate the richness of American culture this fall at the Folk Festival, where music, traditional dance, arts & crafts, food, and storytelling are combined for a memorable and dynamic festival. While the festival charges no admittance fee, a $10 donation is recommended, which is used to hire acts and promote the festival in the following year.
The Festy Experience—Charlottesville
When: October 11 – 13, 2019
View this post on Instagram
The Festy Experience has been an incredible Central Virginia festival for the past ten years, but this year the festival moves from the rural lands of Nelson County to IX Art Park in downtown Charlottesville. This year’s festival lineup has expanded to include a wider array of music genres, featuring artists like Della Mae, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Dawes, and Samantha Fish. Additionally, Festy includes local craft beer and wine, food trucks, and guided classes like meditation and yoga. The family-friendly event is free for children 12 and under. Get Tickets
Annual Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival—Chincoteague Island
Sample seafood straight from the coastal waters of the Commonwealth at the Annual Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival, which marks the arrival of prime oyster season in Virginia. You’ll find oysters served every way possible, including raw, steamed, fried, and baked, as well as fresh-caught fish, clam, and shrimp dishes. For those that shy away from delicacies of the sea, there is an array of standard festival fare to satisfy your hunger. While the oyster festival focuses on seafood, there is also live entertainment, local crafts, contests, and raffles happening during the event. Tickets sell out early, so be sure to claim yours well in advance! Get Tickets
Blue Ridge Folklife Festival—Ferrum
The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival is the perfect place to learn all about Virginia’s deep roots in Appalachia culture and cuisine. Taste dozens of flavors that originated in this rich region of the Commonwealth, see folk, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and old-time string bands performance on the three music stages, and peruse the wares of more than 50 local craftspeople at this annual festival, currently in its 44th year. Don’t miss the festival’s storytelling stage, where retired bootleggers and revenuers swap tales of their historic escapades. Tickets can be ordered in advance over the phone or purchased at the gate.
First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway—Ridgeway
NASCAR comes to Martinsville Speedway for the First Data 500 this October, showcasing an exciting short-track race in the 2019 Playoffs. Witness your favorite race car drivers conquer the notoriously difficult track, as they battle to win the famed Grandfather Clock Trophy. Get Tickets
More Things to Do Around Virginia in October:
State Fair of Virginia—Doswell
When: September 27 – October 6, 2019
When: September 21 – October 27, 2019
Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens—Williamsburg
When: Weekends September 14 – October 27, 2019
When: October 19 – 20, 2019
When: October 5, 2019
Bacon, Bourbon, & Music Festival—Smithfield
When: October 5, 2019
Mountain Day Festival—Buena Vista
When: October 12, 2019
Founding Frenemies: Hamilton and the Virginians Exhibit at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture—Richmond
When: October 19, 2019 – February 2, 2020