Top Festivals in Richmond, VA

“The Best Town Ever”—that’s how Outside Magazine describes the City of Richmond, where historic charm and modern culture blend into the vibrant atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind town. Brimming with parties, cultural events, and festivals of all sorts and manners, Richmond attracts over five million tourists and visitors each year. Here are some of Richmond’s festivals that continually bring the city to life in the hearts of locals and guests alike.

1. Richmond Folk Festival

69th National Folk Festival

Back then, the Richmond Folk Festival was a traveling, three-year festival that went to 28 different spots all throughout America to party. Perhaps the largest of all festivals in Virginia, the Richmond Folk Festival brings over 200,000 people from all over the globe for a lively weekend of music, art, and culture celebrating American heritage and tradition.

When: Every October, for three days

Where: Downtown Richmond’s Riverfront, RVA

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: www.richmondfolkfestival.org/‎

2. Publick Days

2 Publick Days

In 1611, Sir Thomas Dale along with a company of tradesmen, farmers, and soldiers established the Citie of Henricus in Virginia, the second successful English settlement in the New World. Henricus Historical Park commemorates this event every year by recreating and reviving colonial America. English settlements and Indian villages with costumed actors and period-dressed historical guides, displays of rare 17th century artifacts, storytelling and reenactments are only some of the many exhibitions and activities that await visiting guests.

When: Every September, for one weekend

Where: Henricus Historical Park, Henricus Park Rd., Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: http://www.henricus.org/events/400th.asp

3. Dominion Riverrock

3 Dominion Riverrock

With the ocean and mountain nearby and a river running across the city, Richmond is all for outdoor recreation. Dominion Riverrock celebrates the city’s passion for the outdoors by bringing in athletes, musicians, and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the country for a weekend of action and excitement. Guests will witness registered athletes participate in thrilling outdoor sports such as slacklining, rock climbing, mud running, BMX stunt riding, and even dog dock jumping, while local rock bands set the mood for this exciting summer event.

When: Every May, for three days

Where: Brown’s Island, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE for spectators; registration for athletes is available (check website for details)

Webiste: http://www.dominionriverrock.com

4. French Film Festival

4 French Film Festival

Established in 1993, the French Film Festival in Richmond, VA was an initiative to satisfy the American thirst for authentic French cinema. Every year, a number of French actors, directors, and producers flock to Richmond to interact with their passionate American audience. The festival also holds numerous film-associated courses, programs, and other academic exchanges throughout the whole weekend of the event.

When: Every March, for three days

Where: Byrd Theatre,  Carytown,  Richmond, VA

Admission:  Regular VIP Pass $115; Instructor VIP Pass $105; Student VIP Pass $65

Website: http://frenchfilmfestival.us/

5. Carytown Watermelon Festival

5 Carytown Watermelon Festival
Over 3000 watermelons are up for grabs in the biggest summer event in Carytown, where 115,000 people flock from all over the country for unique refreshments only in RVA. Shops selling snacks and sweet, cold watermelon treats are lined up to a mile-long stretch while musical artists on stage boost up the hype. Besides a hundred stalls and exhibitions set up in the main street, businesses downtown prep up for the fest by setting up watermelon-themed displays on their storefronts. Definitely a must-see for the summer backpacker!

When: Every August, for one day

Where: Carytown, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: http://www.carytownrva.org/watermelon.php

6. The 2nd Street Festival

6 2nd Street Festival

One of the most-loved festivals in Richmond, the 2nd Street Festival in the neighborhood of Jackson Ward celebrates the historical site that was occupied by the African-American community. Year by year, thousands upon thousands of people gather in Richmond to dance in the streets, enjoy live music, get lost in market stalls, and share delicious food. Second street for some is also a special time for reunions, meeting old friends, and perhaps rekindling childhood memories.

When: Every October, for one weekend

Where: 2nd Street, Jackson Ward, Richmond, VA           

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/2nd-Street-Festival-in-Jackson-Ward/126804439748

7. Arts in the Park

9 Arts in the Park

With more than 400 participating artists of mediums ranging from fine arts to ceramics to jewelry to weaving, Arts in the Park has become one of the top art events in the country. Arts in the Park is also one of the oldest festivals in RVA, with 40 years in the running. Artists and merchants set up hundreds of booths all over Byrd Park, displaying their crafts available for  sale to the 80, 000 visitors who turn out every year.

When: Every May, for one weekend

Where: Byrd Park at the Carillion, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: http://www.richmondartsinthepark.com

8. Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival

7 Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival

Paddlers go crazy in the James as they race 40-foot canoes to the beat of the drum in the annual Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival. A sports event and a cultural fair in one, the Dragon Boat Festival also features exhibitions and musical performances of Oriental heritage. This event usually takes place in summer, but this year it will be held on October.

When: Every October, for one day

Where: Old Osborne Turnpike, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE for spectators; check website for registration fees

Website: http://www.sportsbackers.org/events/richmond-international-dragon-boat-festival

9. Broad Appetit Food Festival

8 Broad Appetit

One of the best food festivals in RVA, Broad Appetit brings the offerings of all the best local restaurants in one street, for only $3 a plate. In-season produce are up for grabs, and the city’s best tasting wine and brews will tantalize your senses in this weekend of food, art, and music only in RVA.

When: Every June,

Where:  West Broad Street between Henry and Adams, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: $3/ sample plate; $5/ combo plate

Website: http://www.broadappetit.com/

10. Craft + Design Show

10 Craft + Design Show

Nationally celebrated as the finest in contemporary crafts, the Craft + Design Show of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond hosts over 60 of America’s best craft artists. From ceramics to glass to wearable jewelry, decorative or functional, this is the best marketplace for art collectors all across the country.

When: Open to the public November 23 – 24.

Where: Science Museum of Virginia, W. Broad Street, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: $8 for general public and $6 for VisArts members and students with a valid ID. 

Website: http://visarts.org/special-events-facilities/craft-design-show/

11. Richmond Greek Festival

11 Richmond Greek Festival

Every year at Richmond’s Greek Festival, a myriad of vendors come together to set up a marketplace or “agora” selling goods Greek-themed or straight from Greece itself.  Folk dance groups set the stage and the Cathedral is open for guided tours. Greek cuisine overwhelms Richmond from the kitchens of Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral members who are dedicated to promote their rich heritage.

When: On a weekend of late May to June

Where: Sts Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Malvern Ave., Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: http://www.greekfestival.com/index.html

12. The Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont

12 Jazz Festival at Maymont

Smooth and sensual sounds will fill Richmond in this three-day jazz fest at Maymont. Featuring over 20 great performances from local, national, and international jazz artists, the Richmond Jazz Festival is flocked with thousand of guests mostly from out of town. At the background, there will be food exhibitions such as wine tastings and chef demonstrations featuring international cuisine as well as a wide variety of shops selling assorted themed merchandise.

When: Every August, for one weekend

Where: Maymont Estate, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: Early Bird Registration: Friday $20; Saturday $60; Sunday $60; Weekend $115

Website: http://www.jazzatmaymont.com/index.html

13. RVA First Friday Art Walk

13 RVA First Friday Art Walk

Richmond’s signature arts event, First Fridays features dozens of art galleries, studios, boutiques, restaurants and other artistic venues warmed up for a stunning exhibition of Richmond’s own cultural talent. The art walk begins at UR Downtown and is strewn with establishments serving refreshments and entertainment. Restaurants and cafés downtown also prepare special dining opportunities in lieu of the occasion.

When: Every first Friday of the month

Where: Downtown, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: http://rvafirstfridays.com/

14. Diggity Fest

14 Diggity Fest

DiggityFest is Central Virginia’s first and only all-kids-music festival, mainly focused on 3-11 year olds. The Diggity stage features musical performances by various nationally-recognized kids’ bands led by Richmond’s own Diggity Dudes. One of Richmond’s top family events of the year, DiggityFest also features hands-on activities and roving family entertainment, such as bounce playgrounds, obstacle courses, mascots and characters, face painting, and more.

When: Every Fall, for one day

Where: Westchester Commons, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: Adults (13 yrs up) – $17 in advance / $20 at the door; Kids (12 yrs and under) – $10 in advance/$13 at the door; Kids under 3 – FREE

Website: www.diggityfest.com

15. The Richmond Vegetarian Festival

15 Richmond Vegetarian Festival

Packed with shows, activities, and exhibitions of various kinds, the Richmond Vegetarian Festival aims to educate and celebrate what being vegetarian is all about. Guests will feast on delectable meatless dishes from the city’s best vegetarian restaurants, witness extraordinary performances from string musicians, magicians, or even belly dancers, meet and greet animal advocates for vegetarianism, listen to passionate speakers share advice about health and wellness, or just hang out in the refreshing green of Bryan Park. With so much to offer, this festival attracts more and more people every year, reaching 12,000 attendees just last year.

When: Every June, for one day

Where: Azalea Gardens at Bryan Park, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: FREE

Website: http://www.veggiefest.org/

16. Dominion GardenFest of Lights

16 Dominion GardenFest of Lights (1)

Approximately half a million light bulbs and 40 million light strands are used in Richmond’s biggest holiday event, the Dominion GardenFest of Lights. With over 50,000 people from Richmond and out of town visiting the show each year, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s popular holiday light show has become a signature holiday event in the region. Guests are dazzled by light displays of many forms, colors, and motions, including a 20-foot tall Christmas tree, train track dioramas, and enchanted fairy scenes. Holiday dinners are also held in the venue with sumptuous meals to tame the holiday tum. The GardenFest is open to public for the entire holiday season every year.

When: Every Holiday Season

Where: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Lakeside Avenue, Richmond, VA

Admission Cost: $11 adult; $10 senior; $7 child

Website: http://www.lewisginter.org/events/event_detail.php?event_id=75

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