Posts Tagged ‘Festival’

In keeping with the ever-expanding holiday spirit, this Friday is Richmond’s 26th Annual Grand Illumination.  In the past I have stayed at a distance to avoid the traffic, but this year, with a shiny new parking space right in the thick of things, I am ready to join the countdown.  This is really the kick off to the holiday season in Richmond so holiday events will be non-stop from here on in.

At 5:59pm, Santa will begin the countdown to light up all the downtown office buildings, the James Center tree, and all the beautiful James Center reindeer at 6pm sharp.  They have been hard at work for weeks placing all the reindeer and decorating inside the James Center.  It will definitely be beautiful.  Richmond isn’t going to miss out on a chance to turn this into a street festival, so there will also be blocks of family entertainment including live music, the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Richmond Ballet, various characters from The Nutcracker, the Snow Queen, and the Virginia Piedmont and Central HO Model Railroad Club.  Radio Disney will also be there to keep the kids entertained (as if the twinkling lights aren’t enough).  Although the Grand Illumination itself will run from 6pm-7pm, much of downtown Richmond has gotten in on the act and there will be free and discounted activities until 9pm.

From 6-10pm (on Friday AND Saturday) there will be free horse and carriage rides around the historic River district (these are usually $10/person).  A 12-passenger holiday decorated carriage will carry families around Shockoe Slip & Shockoe Bottom.  All rides start and end at the fountain at 13th and E. Cary Streets and last approximately 20 minutes. 

Make sure you don’t miss out on the $2 canal rides while you are in the area (ages 4 and under are free).  Canal rides are being offered at this discounted rate from 6-9pm on Friday.  Rides last approximately 20 minutes and provide an awesome view of the lights and the city.  There will be a marching band in the area providing live music, and rumor has it Santa may even take a boat ride or two.  Boats leave from the Turning Basin at 14th st. and Dock St.

Main Street Station will also be offering holiday activities during Grand Illumination.  Their holiday open house, with a Polar Express (the children’s christmas movie) theme will be held from 5-9pm.  There will be a tree lighting, decorations, and free kiddie train rides, hot cider & cookies, and live music.  There will also be professional storytellers to read to the children (am I the only one that thinks this could be the best job ever??) by the fireplace.  The Richmond public library will even “gift” a free book to the first 300 children in attendance.   

Finally, if you didn’t finish all your holiday shopping on Black Friday, there will be a holiday market at the 17th Street Farmer’s market from 5-9pm featuring homemade crafts, gifts, music, snacks, cider, and Mr. & Mrs. Santa  Claus!

Main illumination festivities are held in front of James Center 2 (by the clock tower) and down into Shockoe Bottom.  Discounted parking is available after 4pm at the parking deck on the corner of 10th and Canal St. for $3.  There will also be $2 parking available at Main Street Station on the West Side using the Franklin St. entrance.  This promises to be a huge holiday event so if you aren’t lucky enough to attend, and you work downtown, count on escaping around 4pm on Friday if you want to make it home before 10pm.  Otherwise, stay and enjoy!



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If you have already had your fill of apple pie, homemade apple sauce, Brunswick stew, and October beer this Fall, (unlikely, I know, but stay with me here), this Saturday, October 16 from 12-6pm is the Richmond Oystoberfest in Ginter Park.  There will be plenty of oysters, brats (no, not “brats,” we’re talking sausages here), and beer (see, I told you to stay with me, you still get beer) to feast on. You can get your oysters fried, grilled, or raw, however you like them.  There will be other grilled foods and refreshments available as well (none of which are known aphrodisiacs, sorry).


There will also be live entertainment, of course, from 12:30 to about 5pm.  You can find the lineup posted here.  Children and pets are welcome at this festival.  There will be a children’s area with slides, moonbounces, and the usual festival activities to keep them occupied.  There will not be a pet fun area so be sure to keep them on a leash.  Prizes will be raffled off periodically all day, including a brand new iPad. 


The festival will be held, rain or shine, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 3602 Hawthorne Ave.  You can find a map and directions here.  This is smack in the middle of historic Ginter Park, which is beautiful if you have never been there. This neighborhood was Richmond’s first suburb, connected to downtown by the electric trolley line.  Planned and developed by Lewis W. Ginter, Ginter Park was supposed to be a way that men could return to the “country” after work every day.  Today, Ginter Park features a variety of architectural styles ranging from smaller bungalows to large Colonial Revival mansions. Many of those can be found in the heart of Ginter Park on the historic Seminary Avenue.   

Admission to the festival is free, although there are additional fees for food and drinks.  Because all proceeds go to benefit St. Thomas Church, a $2 donation is suggested, but not required. 

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Fall is definitely in the air.  The weather has turned chilly, announcers at high school football games can be heard for miles on Friday nights, and the baseball playoffs are on TV.  All of this can only mean one thing.  Its time for the Richmond Folk Festival!  The Folk Festival is a beloved Richmond tradition and, at approximately 200,000 visitors every year, Central Virginia’s largest festival.  Surprisingly, this is only the third year for our Richmond Festival.  Prior to that the International Folk Festival was here.  Despite its short tenure, the Folk Festival has become a favorite in this region and has quickly made itself into a Richmond tradition.  This year the Festival starts Friday, October 8 and runs through Sunday, October 10.

The main focus of the Folk Festival is, of course, the music.  This year the Festival promises 20+ new performers.  There are seven stages and performances do overlap so be sure to map out your favorites ahead of time to avoid missing anyone. You can get information on the different performers and sample their music here.  A full schedule of events is available here.  Types of music will vary from Salsa & Chicago Blues to Andean, Haitian, and Gospel.  With all that music, you’d be crazy to not get out there and dance, at least a little.  Be sure to visit the dance pavilion and let loose.

The Folk Festival is definitely family friendly so don’t leave the kids at home.  Genworth is sponsoring a children’s area where the kids can do arts & crafts, make a sculpture, and see exotic birds.  There will also be vintage games and demonstrations.  Most of these activities are run/organized by the Children’s Museum so they will be top-notch.  There will also be music in this area and the best part of all, a harmonica giveaway (they only have 200 to give, so get there early).

During the festival, don’t miss the Documentary Film Series that will be showing at the Civil War Visitors Center.  Click here for a schedule of films slated to play.

Of course this is a Richmond festival so there will be plenty of food.  If you are all sugared out from the State Fair, be sure to check out some of the more unique dishes offered like alligator bites.  There will also be beer and this year you will be able to drink everywhere at the festival, so enjoy (responsibly of course)!

The marketplace is where you will find all the authentic crafts and artisan demonstrations.  Remember, crafts cost extra so bring your wallet.  It’s never too early for holiday shopping.

The Festival is large so be sure to study a map and bring it with you for your visit.  It is located downtown between 7th street, 2nd street, Byrd street, and the American Civil War Center at Tredegar (they are offering free admission on Saturday and Sunday) with spillover onto Brown’s Island.  You can see a full map here.  There is also a pocket map available and if technology is your thing, they even have an iPhone app this year.

There are multiple ways to coordinate travel to the event. There will be parking available in the surrounding parking garages (for around a $5 fee).  However, if you wish to avoid the traffic crowds, you can take advantage of  free parking and shuttle service leaving from The Diamond and Spring Rock Green on Midlothian Turnpike..

The Festival will go on rain or shine.  The bad weather kept the attendance down to approximately 160,000 last year so most people will not be deterred by the weather.  There are four tented stages so if it does rain (and come on, how likely is that these days) head over to the tented areas to continue enjoying the music.  Hours for the festival are:  Friday, Oct. 8:  6-10:30pm; Saturday Oct. 9: 12-10:30pm; and Sunday, October 10: 12-6pm.  No pets are allowed.

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Well, we finally got rain after one of the worst water shortages in recent history so that can only mean one thing.  Its time for the Virginia State Fair.  The Fair is a guarantee every year for a good rain storm.  This year the fair runs until October 3rd so there is still time to enjoy it.  This is the second year the Fair is being held at Meadow Event Park next to Kings Dominion. You can find directions and maps here.

The Fair is huge and there is a Map and Daily Guide with show times  provided.  Make sure you take one so you can get around to see everything.  Each area also has a different “theme” of food provided — another great reason to make sure you visit every area!

In the “Livestock Loop” you can see farm animals, tractors, farm equipment and even lumberjacks.  Here you can also  fill up on fried catfish, barbecue, kettle corn, and sno cones.

Next you can head over to the “Media General Trail” where in addition to some shopping, you can watch magic shows and musicians on the theater stage.  If you are still hungry this is where you are going to find pizza and dippin dots (what the heck are those things anyway?).

You can see the racing pigs and high-flying K-9s at the “South Festival Loop.”  Make sure you leave some room for funnel cakes, fried ice cream, gourmet soups, chinese food, and more.

The “North Festival Loop” has the best food in my opinion.  Here you will find burgers, crab cakes, shrimp creole, cinnamon buns, and hot apple dumplings.  While you are stuffing your face (or at least I was) you can see the firefighter training show and check out the quilt show and some of the craft vendors.

What would a fair be without scary looking rides that your kids cry and scream for?  You’ll find the rides at the “Kidway and Midway.”  All the classic rides are there including the Himalaya (definitely do this ride BEFORE you eat), Scrambler, Tea cups, Ferris wheel, and the Carousel. You will also find a circus show and millions of ways to spend money and hopefully win stuffed animals to please those crying kids.

The main shows are held at the Horse Complex and Festival Stage.  In addition to nightly concerts, you will also find bull riding, rodeos, horse shows, and other animal shows. You can find the daily concert schedule here.  Concerts are included in your general admission.  There are no seats so make sure to bring blankets or chairs to sit on or you can rent a folding chair for $5.

Other activities you can see daily at the Fair include cow milking, soap making, violin making, masters of the chainsaw, and pumpkin carving.

The fair is open daily at 10am, although most of the shows, events, and activities don’t open until 11am.  Tonight the fair is open to 1am, Saturday until midnight, and Sunday until 10pm.  Admission is usually the most confusing part of the Fair, so I’ll do my best to explain.  General admission fees range from $10-$15 per person.  Rides are not included with general admission.  Each ride requires a specific number of tickets (a few cost money at the ride).  Tickets needed for rides range from 3-6 tickets per ride.  You can find the list of tickets needed here.  Tickets cost $1 each or $20 for 25.  There are supposedly coupons floating around out there at McDonalds that will give you 30 tickets for $20.  You can also purchase a combo ticket which will give you admission and 40 ride tickets for $30.  This is probably your best bet if you plan on riding a lot of rides.  In case I did a terrible job explaining that, you can get ticket information and prices here.

Don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this is the last weekend.  There is still plenty of time to enjoy the State Fair.

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It may be Fall, but the festivals continue.  In fact, Richmond has their own Fall Festival season, much like we have our Spring Festival Season.  It really started last week (I’m so sorry I missed it!) with the Armenian Food Festival and others.  Hopefully you got out to enjoy some of them.  It continues this weekend with several more festivals and it is going to continue throughout October so keep an open stomach!!  Tomorrow, Saturday, from 10am-5pm is the 19th annual 43rd Street Festival of the Arts.  This Festival is going to take you South of the River to the beautiful and historical Forest Hill neighborhood.  The intersection of 43rd Street and Forest Hill Avenue to be exact.

The focus of this Festival is art — it features about 65 of the Richmond region’s finest artisans and their crafts. Don’t worry, there will also be local musicians, including Susan Greenbaum, Blue Line Hwy, OminOtagO, Bluz Catz and Rachel Leyco,  and of course, plenty of festival food.  The festival is also for a good cause of course, with funds going to help the  Freedom House, a local homeless shelter.

Admission to the festival is free, but food and any arts and crafts purchases will cost money so, as I always say, don’t leave your wallet at home.  The weather this weekend (unlike the past couple of days) is supposed to be beautiful and autumn-like so this is a great time to get out and explore some of Richmond’s Fall Festivals.  Make sure to put this one your list.

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It’s another busy weekend in Richmond this weekend so if you are one of the few that aren’t leaving town, there will be plenty to enjoy.  I’m not just talking about tax fee school shopping (I mean come on, are we really supposed to get excited about that?  How about tax-free flat screen tv weekend?) I’m talking about street festivals.  That’s right.  If you haven’t had your fill yet, or you are just joining the living and haven’t been to a Richmond street festival yet, then this weekend is for you.  The biggest is sure to be the Carytown Watermelon Festival, a now 27-yr old Richmond tradition.  This festival has become one of the largest on the East Coast and if the weather holds out, I’m sure this one won’t disappoint.  This festival regularly brings in over 100,000 visitors so be prepared for the crowds.  It is scheduled for Sunday, August 8 from 10-6pm (in Carytown of course).   

I swear I should just cut and paste this, but of course there will be live music with approximately 80 performers stationed around Carytown.  There will also be hundreds of vendors selling various wares, arts & crafts, food, and drinks.  There is no alcohol sold at the festival, but local restaurants will still be serving so you aren’t totally out of luck.  Be sure to try a watermelon cocktail if you can find one!  There will also be plenty of watermelon (of course).  Watermelon stands are scattered around the festival with 2500 watermelons donated by Martin’s Grocery Stores.  Proceeds from the watermelon sales go to benefit the Shriner’s Hospital so don’t forget to buy!

Kids are welcome, but if they are little you will probably want to bring a stroller (crowds+heat+walking = miserable kids & parents).  This festival has one of the largest kids’ zones of any festival around.  Furry kids are welcome as well (that would be dogs of course) but don’t forget leashes.  This year AAA will be raffling off a trip to Disney World which will include airfare, lodging, and park tickets.  With Disney’s recent rate increases (have they not heard about the recession?) you could buy like 600 raffle tickets and still save money on the trip if you win.  

Admission to the festival is free of course, but don’t leave the wallet home if you want food, drink, or anything else you didn’t bring with you.  Parking promises to be a major pain.  You can park on the street or in the side street decks, but I’m sure those will fill up very quickly.  Some of the local stores will let you park as will the University of Richmond stadium, but be prepared to walk.  Be sure to wear your walking shoes, sunscreen, and bring plenty of water to drink.  Baby wipes for all that sticky watermelon juice would probably help out too.   As you are walking, don’t forget to check out all the watermelon-themed window displays.  You can vote for your favorite on the Carytown website.  For a map of the entire festival (and to find the quickest way to the closest watermelon stand) click here.  If this all sounds too overwhelming, drop by early or late to get your fill and get out, but you can’t miss this awesome Richmond tradition.

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So this is a street festival that I actually hadn’t heard of (this is its 3rd year).  It has some unique activities and sounds really interesting so it’s probably a good one to visit today.  The Jonny Z Festival is held on the 200 block of N. Shields (in the Fan) in front of Joe’s Inn. The festival is a celebration of arts, music and community named after Jonny Z,  a young local artist and musician who died in 2007. Proceeds from the day benefit Art 180.   

The festival is free and kid-friendly.  Richmond artists and Bizarre Market vendors will showcase arts and crafts and commemorative t-shirts for sale. There will of course be live music from local musicians including 

Josh Small
The Catnip Dreams
Ghostdog & Cinnamon
Photosynthesizers and The Girtles

There will also be DJ’s from WRIR 97.3 playing music between the live performances.  Other activities include raffle drawings throughout the day for restaurant gift certificates and other great prizes–including a set of wheels from Bunny Hop Bicycle Shop!

Families will enjoy all the children’s activities including screenprinting by Studio 23, squiggle drawings by Squiggle Champion of the World Matt Lively, and a Spider-Man moonbounce.

Local business owners from Joe’s Inn and Shields Market will have food available (including pizza by the slice).  Lamplighter Roasting Company will be serving up iced coffee (apparently pizza and coffee were Jonny’s favorites).  

The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend with no heat advisories or near tornadoes so get out and enjoy the day!

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