This Year's Special Events in Williamsburg, VA
From the arts to food to family fun, Greater Williamsburg’s can’t-miss moments offer more exciting reasons than ever to visit in 2017.
Williamsburg offers an array of activities and events to enjoy during any season of the year. From Jamestown Day in the spring to the celebration of Independence Day in the summer, Halloween celebrations at Howl-o-Scream in Busch Gardens to a colonial celebration of Christmas, there's always something to celebrate in Williamsburg.
Williamsburg Film Festival, March 8-11:
In 1997, a group of Western film fans decided to launch a film festival. Since then, the annual event has grown into three days of film, music, and meeting the stars. Guest stars will include Rosemary Forsyth, who has appeared in dozens of TV series, including Without a Trace, Boston Public and NYPD Blue; Anne Lockhart, who has appeared in Law and Order, Chicago Fire, and The Lying Game; Ron Masak, who played the sheriff in Murder, She Wrote and appeared in many films and TV shows; and Robert Fuller, known for his role in the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger, among others. This year marks the last for the festival.
Opening of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, March 23-April 4:
Celebrate the grand opening of this landmark museum with a patriotic salute to America’s 13 original states, a dedication ceremony on April 1, tours of expansive gallery exhibits, and military music and 18th century interpretative experiences in the newly expanded Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. Don’t miss the inaugural special exhibition, “AFTERWARD,” from June 1 to Nov. 27. Follow the compelling stories of four veterans of the Siege of Yorktown and how after the war they helped shape the America we know today.
Jamestown Day, May 13:
The LPGA Kingsmill Championship, May 15-22:
The best women golfers in the world descend on Kingsmill Resort to compete on the famed River Course, where the layout recently was tweaked by renowned golf architect Pete Dye. Past winners include Cristie Kerr, Annika Sorenstam, Lizette Salas, and Ariya Jutanugarn. A weekly clubhouse badge gets you access to the grounds, clubhouse, bar, restaurant, and more.
Spring Food Events
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food & Wine Festival, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, May 26-July 2:
A tasty adventure awaits culinary explorers, who can unleash their inner foodie with a variety of dishes and wines not normally served at the park. Enjoy authentic tastes from around the world while strolling through the world's most beautiful theme park.
Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival, Yorktown, May 6:
Is there a better combination than the unholy trinity of blues, brews, and BBQ? The headliners for this riverfront event are electronic musician Shadowjack, the acoustic Dikon Vallet Trio, and Lipbone Redding, a guitarist, singer and voicestrumentalist. The beer lineup is equally stellar including Smartmouth, Devil's Backbone, Alewerks, Starr Hill, and others. In addition to BBQ, there is a long list of other goodies and treats from kettle corn to carrot cake.
Funhouse Fest, Colonial Williamsburg, June 23-25:
A three-day celebration of music curated by Grammy-winner Bruce Hornsby in partnership with the Virginia Arts Festival is back for a second year after attracting more than 6,000 people. Hornsby is Williamsburg's favorite musical son and the festival's lineup reflects his eclectic tastes. Last year it featured bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs, superb songwriters Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin, up-and-coming folkie Aoife O'Donovan and blues legend Taj Mahal. The stage is set up on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
Fourth of July
You're sure to get red, white, and blue goosebumps celebrating Independence Day in Greater Williamsburg. In Colonial Williamsburg, don’t miss the Fife and Drum Corps salute behind the courthouse and the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the courthouse steps. Eat at one of the historic taverns, try the buffet at the Williamsburg Lodge, or grab sandwiches from one of the shops for a picnic.
In Yorktown, join the Liberty Celebration to salute the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Observe tactical and artillery drills, take part in military exercises, and learn about the challenges that faced our nation’s founders, including those who signed the historic document. End the day with “bombs” bursting in the air at several locations including Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Yorktown, and Busch Gardens.
Williamsburg Fall Arts, September to October:
Great concerts, a wine festival, a book festival, and captivating art everywhere from downtown Williamsburg to Jamestown and Yorktown are the centerpieces of this month-long celebration.
An Occasion for the Arts, Oct. 6-8:
This is the juried art show of the year, bringing together artists from around the country with performers on two stages and a variety of food vendors for a full weekend. Duke of Gloucester Street with dozens of vendors is the focus, but the celebration extends throughout downtown.
Yorktown Victory Celebration, Oct. 14-15:
Celebrate the 236th anniversary of Gen. George Washington's victory over the British at the Yorktown Battlefield, the last major conflict of the Revolutionary War. Enjoy ceremonies, demonstrations, and parades in Historic Yorktown and the Yorktown Battlefield.
Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 22-Oct. 29:
Fill fall nights with fright at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. At the stroke of 6 p.m. the theme park becomes home to a host of creepy creatures that lie in wait for unsuspecting victims. Fear abounds in the park’s collection of haunted houses, Terror-tories™ and darkly entertaining live shows.
Fall Food Events
Busch Gardens Bier Fest, Sept. 1, 2, 3, 4, 9-17:
Williamsburg Harvest Celebration, early November:
This is a foodie fantasy. Thirty events in Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown over a week feature Virginia chefs, farmers, foragers, brewers, winemakers and other spirits stars. Eat, drink and learn from the area's culinary best, whether at a craft beer university or a cooking demonstration at the farmer's market on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.
Dine like the colonists or like royalty at your choice of restaurants in Colonial Williamsburg. They serve everything from sage-rubbed roasted young turkey to seared Chesapeake rockfish and lump crab to a seafood bar featuring oysters.
Food & Feasts of Colonial Virginia at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Nov. 23-25:
Step back into kitchens of another century. Discover how food was preserved and prepared on land and on sea by the English colonists and Powhatan Indians. Learn about the importance of corn. Witness how scarce rations for soldiers were transformed into stews, pies and breads.
Black Friday shopping at Williamsburg Premium Outlets, Nov. 24:
Get a head start on designer deals at the 135 stores in this outlet mall, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, Aeropostale, Michael Kors, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, DKNY, L'Occitane, Movado, Oakley and The North Face.
A Colonial Christmas at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Dec. 1-31:
Get a look at 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions with programs that compare English traditions with how they may have been observed in the early years of America's first colony. Historical interpreters guide visitors through the living-history displays, adorned for the season. Enjoy period musical entertainment throughout the month.
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, select dates Nov. 24-Jan. 1:
Eight million lights illuminate the park, and the shows feature holiday themes during this seasonal extravaganza. Busch Gardens’ signature hot chocolate is the drink of December. Experience Christmas traditions from around the world, as well as the North Pole, Santa's workshop, and the red-nosed rotund one himself.
Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting and Lighted Boat Parade, Dec. 1 and 2:
The Christmas tree is lit amid festivities at Riverwalk Landing. The next day, festively decorated sail and powerboats fill the Yorktown waterfront in a dazzling display of holiday lights as they vie for best of show. There’s also caroling around a beach bonfire, musical performances and complimentary hot cider.
In the 18th century, illuminations celebrated major events with the firing of guns, candles in the windows, and the lighting of fireworks. Colonial Williamsburg elevates that tradition with decorations, music from multiple stages, and fireworks from three different locations set against the backdrop of the historic buildings. Go and be dazzled.
New Year’s Eve
First Night Williamsburg, Dec. 31:
There's something for everyone at this family-oriented event celebrated throughout the city and on the campus of the College of William & Mary. Children's games and storytellers. Jugglers and magicians. Folk, blues, Celtic, rock, jazz, swing music and more. The alcohol-free fun, featuring a few dozen venues and food vendors, starts in the afternoon and goes on until the clock strikes midnight, when there are fireworks, of course.