Festivals and family events in Virginia
No matter the season, Virginia offers plenty of family-friendly events. Read on for our top picks!
Each summer, the international fleet of tall ships arrives in Norfolk's harbor, and Harborfest officially commences in the neighboring Town Point Park. The three-day event kicks off with the Parade of Sails, during which the ships arrive and thousands of onlookers line the coast to watch the unique sight. With live concerts, food and shopping, and unique entertainment such as yo-yo performers, a dock dog competition, and children's pirate school, kids, teens, and adults are sure to find something they will enjoy. A highlight of the weekend takes place Saturday night with the annual fireworks show, one of the best on the East Coast. The event draws an especially large crowd, though, so if you're looking for a tamer scene maybe try out Harborfest on Sunday for the Family Fun Day featuring special child-friendly events.
Location: Town Point Park, Norfolk
Virginia Children's Festival
Virginia's youth and their parents flock to Norfolk's Town Point Park each October for the annual Children's Festival. This event is a child's paradise, with their favorite costumed characters in attendance, shows geared entirely to them and hundreds of hands-on experiences. Parents will appreciate that the event gives children creative and educational experiences in a fun setting -- they won't even realize how good it is for them! The Children's Festival is geared toward children under 10, and there is even a special section of the festival called Toddlertown that is specifically designed for tots to explore.
Location: Town Point Park, Norfolk
As the tourist season comes to a close in Virginia Beach, locals celebrate their city at the Neptune Festival. The signature event of the weekend festival is the North American sand-sculpting competition. Housed in a huge tent, the masterpieces are created by some of the most talented artists in the country. Another family-friendly event that draws a large crowd is the annual parade, complete with floats, music and a special appearance by King Neptune and his court, who are selected from Virginia Beach area residents.
Location: Boardwalk, Virginia Beach
Virginia Highlands Festival
Historic Abingdon celebrates the culture and history of the region with the Virginia Highlands Festival. While adults will enjoy the antiques show and celebration of fine arts, children will be excited to find plenty of events meant for them. With attractions such as a magic show, ventriloquist performance and an interactive clown show, children will delight in unique entertainment they are not likely to find elsewhere.
Location: 120 Court Street, Abingdon
Pony Swim and Auction
Made famous by the children's novel Misty of Chincoteague, the annual Pony Swim and Auction is an event that everyone should see once in their lifetime. The purpose of the event is to get the approximately 150 ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island so that they can be auctioned off to good homes and keep the herd from getting too large. For more 85 years, heavy crowds have gathered to watch the ponies make their swim between the islands. Spectators can view the swim from the beaches or on boats. Because the event is dependent on the tides, an exact time is not announced until a few days before.
Location: Chincoteague Pony Center, Chincoteague Island
Hampton Bay Days
Taking place in September of each year, this event is billed as one of the East Coast's largest family-friendly festivals. The theme of the festival is an appreciation for the Chesapeake Bay and as such, many of the attractions and children's activities are designed around environmentalism and conservationism. Aside from the fun-and-educational opportunities, Bay Days also features just fun: food and merchandise vendors, live entertainment and a top-notch fireworks show.
Location: Downtown Hampton
Richmond Folk Festival
Downtown Richmond's riverfront comes alive each October in a celebration of American culture at this event. The much-anticipated weekend is filled with music, dance, arts and crafts, storytelling and food, and attracts thousands. A special family area is set up with activities and shows specifically with little ones in mind.
Location: Downtown Richmond r