Music Lover’s Williamsburg: The Best Festivals and Concerts
From Sheryl Crow and LeAnn Rimes to blues bands and string quartets, don’t miss these fun music events.
Start counting the long list of Virginia musicians from Patsy Cline to Bruce Hornsby to Dave Matthews to Pharrell Williams and it's no surprise that the state and the Greater Williamsburg area are home to an equally eclectic array of music events.
Among this year’s highlights are Bruce Hornsby’s Funhouse Fest in Williamsburg that finds him reconnecting with old friend, Sheryl Crow, who headlines the first night of the three-day festival in June. Together, they have won a dozen Grammy Awards so they’re sure to make sweet music. Plus, LeAnn Rimes is the featured artist at Go Uncorked and Unplugged at The Williamsburg Winery, also in June.
Here are the rest of festivals and concert series in Greater Williamsburg to put on your calendar for the first half of 2017. Make your plans early. Some of these will sell out far in advance.
Sing Along in the Woodshed
The free Cabin Fever Concert Series runs on Feb. 2 and March 2 in the Freight Shed at Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown featuring local talent like the Rockin' Vets and the Hot House Band. Let the tunes take you away to warmer times starting at 7 p.m.
Second Sundays of Song
Second Sundays, Williamsburg's Art and Music Festival, kicks off with the first event on March 12 and runs through Dec. 10 in Colonial Williamsburg. The festival showcases numerous local and regional acts on several stages while as many as 100 artists offer their creations for sale in downtown Williamsburg. The music starts at 11 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. That's more seconds of song than you can count.
Listen Along with the Symphonic Masters
The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra offers Masterworks Concerts in the Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square. The performances on March 29 and 30 feature pianist Alessio Bax and the symphony playing Ravel, Clementi and Beethoven. On April 25 and 26, the symphony turns to hidden gems playing Verdi, Mozart and Neilson. The fireworks finale at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall at the College of William & Mary on May 20 features violinist Elena Urioste and the symphony playing Falla, Korngold and Tchaikovsky.
A Triple Shot of Vitamin B
How better to get a shot of springtime energy than Yorktown's fourth annual Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival May 6 from noon to 6 p.m. on Riverwalk Landing. Hear the best local blues bands. Quaff craft brews. And, of course, pick up extra napkins as you devour barbecue and other local favorites. Get your tickets early.
Sunset Songs on the Water
The Watermen’s Museum Yorktown Music Jamboree concert series starts Friday, May 5, and continues every Friday through August showcasing local musicians. What could be better than to watch the sunset and listen to songs echoing across the York River?
One Classy Coffee Concert
The Virginia Arts Festival has a sprawling calendar of events in southeastern Virginia throughout April and May. It brings the American String Quartet with pianist Andre-Michel Schub to the always-classy Williamsburg Winery in an intimate show where fans will be able to mingle with the artists following the performance. Make your escape from work for the 10:30 a.m. show on May 11.
Have Fun, Fun, Fun on the Big Lawn
Funhouse Fest, 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. This year’s lineup means those crowds will be even bigger. Sheryl Crow and Hornsby, with his band The Noisemakers, open the fun on June 23, promising one hit after another. The following night, Hornsby returns to play the music of The Grateful Dead after sets by guests including Lake Street Dive, jazz man Kenny Garret and The Staves, a British folk trio. On the final day, critically acclaimed singer Rhiannon Giddens, once part of Carolina Chocolate Drops and now a recurring character on the show, Nashville, steps on stage, but — you guessed it — Hornsby is not finished. He will play a duo show with drummer Sonny Emory. It all takes place on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg from June 23 to June 25.
Summer Breeze, Makes Me Feel Fine
Hot Time, Hot Summer Songs
Cool evenings at Busch Gardens during July and August get a shot of hot songs with Summer Nights, featuring rock, pop, country and contemporary Christian performers under the stars at the Royal Palace Theatre. The schedule is evolving, but mark July 15 for a show with country mega-star Josh Turner.
Unplugged in True Williamsburg Style
Go Uncorked and Unplugged at Greater Williamsburg’s classy update of that MTV Unplugged phenomenon at The Williamsburg Winery on June 10. LeAnn Rimes is headlining this year’s event, which is a magic merger of wine and song featuring intimate acoustic sets from major-league acts and world-class Virginia wines.