Turning up the Heat: Summer 2019 Activities and Events

History Camps, Food & Wine Festivals, A Pyrotechnics Show and More Will Make for an Unforgettable Season

As the days grow longer, Greater Williamsburg ramps up the fun with an abundance of activities, events and scintillating offerings that will take the guess work out of vacation planning this Summer. Whether it’s an archaeology dig, a re-creation of an epic American battle, an afternoon sampling global cuisines and cocktails or date night at the symphony, Greater Williamsburg has everyone’s interest in mind. Here's just a taste of what's taking place, but for additional details and to plan your stay, visit www.visitwilliamsburg.com.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Busch Gardens Williamsburg, typically known for heart-pounding rides and non-stop thrills, slows down the pace with some foodie fun, then amps things back up in the evening with show-stopping entertainment. 

  • Food & Wine Festival, May 17 – June 30: For a limited time on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and Memorial Day Monday, Busch Gardens Williamsburg will offer a culinary tour around the world with 19 themed food and beverage kiosks featuring specialty entrées and desserts and more than 100 craft beers, wines, specialty cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Summer Nights, June 28 – August 11: The Royal Palace Theatre will light up as Spark, a high-energy spectacle presented by Coca-Cola, takes center stage with a cast of party-starters, laser lights, pyrotechnics and a custom soundtrack created by award-winning musicians. In addition, America’s and Britain’s Got Talent Stars will take the stage during the Summer Nights series.

Williamsburg Live

Mark your calendars: On June 21 and 22, the Virginia Arts Festival will host its new Williamsburg summer music event Williamsburg Live on The Lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Headlining the weekend will be two singers who define American music: Grammy winner, singer, songwriter and pianist Norah Jones performs Friday, June 21, and Country Music Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris, who boasts 14 Grammy Awards, three CMA Awards, and four Americana Awards, will headline Saturday, June 22.

Jamestown Settlement & the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

This summer, families can join in the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, featuring year-long special exhibitions, events and public lectures at both Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, two dynamic living-history museums that offer a daily in-depth look at the people and historical events of early America that helped shape a nation.  Children and adults alike can play dress up and try on armor in Jamestown Settlement’s re-created fort or take a strategic role on an 18th-century artillery crew at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Special events include:

  • TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia, at Jamestown Settlement through January 5, 2020: This special yearlong exhibition explores little-known, captivating personal stories of real women in Jamestown and the early Virginia colony and their tenacious spirit and impact on a fledgling society.

Jamestown Settlement Museum

  • “Forgotten Soldier Special Exhibition”, at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown from June 29, 2019 – March 22, 2020: Personal stories of both enslaved and free African- Americans, who fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War, are revealed through interactive elements and compelling art displays. Related public programs feature a series of panel discussions, genealogy workshops and interpretive demonstrations with re-enactors from African-American military regiments. 
  • Origins of American Democracy, at Jamestown Settlement, July 1 – August 1: Throughout this month-long program, Jamestown Settlement interactive experiences and interpretive programs honor the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly in 1619. An exhibit showcasing the original minutes of the first assembly that convened on July 30, 1619, on loan for the first time in America from The National Archives of the United Kingdom, will be available for public viewing through September. 
  • Liberty Celebration, at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, July 4: The 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is remembered with music, military drills and artillery demonstrations. A rare July 1776 broadside surrounded by the signatures of those who proclaimed America’s independence will also be featured, as well as look at the challenges that faced the nation’s founders.

During Summer, visitors exploring the area can save with a combination ticket to Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which are included in a variety of Williamsburg area best-value ticket options, featuring unlimited admission for seven consecutive days, free admission for children under 6, and free parking.  Tickets are available at www.historyisfun.org/visit/admission-rates and can be packaged with lodging in the online booking engine www.historyisfun.org/visit/vacation-packages/.  

In addition, “broadside” summer camps immerse children in 17th-century colonial Virginia and the American Revolution through stories, games, craft activities and visits to museum galleries and outdoor living-history areas like the Powhatan Indian village at Jamestown Settlement and the Continental Army encampment and Revolution-Era farm at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.  For more information about summer history camps, visit www.historyisfun.org/learn/youth-and-family-programs/broadside-summer-history-camp/  or call 757-253-4732.

Historic Jamestowne

For two decades, Jamestown Rediscovery’s archaeology has brought to life the stories of early James Fort. As early as 1837, eyewitness accounts claimed that the fort built in 1607 by Captain John Smith and the first English settlers was submerged in the James River. Erosion on the western shore was so bad that a concrete seawall was built in 1900, and that fed the “lost fort” story. This summer, history buffs can dig a little deeper into Jamestown history and go behind-the-scenes of a world-class archaeological site with brand new specialty programs, including Tales of the Silver Shovel, an exclusive tour of the James Fort site, and Forensic Fridays, a behind-the-scenes look at how 400-year-old cold cases are solved. All programs are available on select dates from June through August.

Other special events include:

  • 1619: Democracy, Diversity, and Discovery, July 29 – August 4: Special programs will be held to mark the 400th anniversary of the meeting of the First Assembly and the arrival of the first Africans. This week-long commemoration will feature new exhibits, tours, lectures, and living history programs. 
  • Richmond Symphony Orchestra, July 30: The Richmond Symphony Orchestra's first concert on Jamestown Island will take place during this special evening program.
  • Commemoration of the Arrival of the First Africans, August 17: A series of programs are scheduled throughout the day, sharing the hidden stories of the first Africans who were captured, enslaved, and brought to English North America in the summer of 1619. 
  • Second Annual Democracy Dash, August 24: This 10K race will have runners following the Colonial Parkway from Billsburg Brewery through Jamestown Island's scenic loop road and back.

New exhibits also include In the Footsteps of Democracy in Jamestown Rediscovery which will mark the exact spot where democracy began in English North America with the first General Assembly in 1619. At the Voorhees Archaearium Archaeology Museum, galleries will be transformed, including exhibitions like “Fort to Port: Legacies of 1619,” exploring how Jamestown evolved from a small triangular fort into a major port within the Atlantic Seaboard within 12 years, and “A Foundation for Success,” which builds on decades of excavation in and around James Fort and details the architectural chronology from the first structures to substantial brick.

More information about Jamestown Rediscovery’s new programs, including dates, times, and ticket prices, can be found by visiting the Special Events Calendar at www.historicjamestown.org/visit/calendar.

July 4th

What better way to spend Independence Day than in the birthplace of our Nation.  Both Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown are hosting a number of events paying homage to the red, white and blue.

  • Colonial Williamsburg​

Colonial Williamsburg 4th of July Fireworks

Visitors can enjoy a full day of all things Americana, beginning with a public reading of the Declaration of Independence on the courthouse steps as the Fifes and Drums proudly salute.  Next, head downtown to experience an array of star-spangled events at the Independence Day Festival, where a stunning hot air balloon will stand at the center of attention. Both locals and newcomers can delight in a picnic lunch or sample some neighborhood specialties while listening to musical performances playing throughout the day. Little ones and grown-ups alike can also partake in the Championship Egg Toss Contest and snack on festival favorites such as popcorn, lemonade and soda pop – all available for the old-fashioned price of a nickel.  Everyone is invited to cool down at the Ice Cream Social taking place on the Wren Lawn between 4 and 8 p.m. before arriving at the day’s much-awaited, epic fireworks finale.  Set to the uplifting sounds of a patriotic score, the dazzling display of color and light will launch from behind the Governor’s Palace at 9 p.m. and visitors are encouraged to arrive early to find seating on the Palace Green.

  • Yorktown

Yorktown 4th of July

Independence Day in Yorktown is a free family-friendly celebration featuring a full lineup of events leading up to the big fireworks finale. The morning begins with an 8K Run and 5K Walk followed by a patriotic parade along Water and Main Streets. Throughout the day visitors can lounge on the beach, stop by local shops and explore museums.  That evening, they can jam to live music at the Sounds of Summer Concert Series, taking place 7-9:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Landing or attend a bell-ringing ceremony before the night concludes with a breathtaking fireworks display over the York River. 

The Liberty Celebration at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown's Continental Army Encampment is also one not to be missed. Celebrating the 243rd Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, guests can enjoy music, observe artillery drills, partake in military exercises and learn about the challenges that faced our Nation's founders, including those that signed the historic document. The museum will also offer a special lineup of July 4th activities, including a performance on the lawn at 11 a.m. by the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown, a reading of the Declaration of Independence at 12 p.m., and 30-minute presentations in the education center classrooms, shedding light on key events, battles and leaders of the American Revolution.

Weddings in Greater Williamsburg

With wedding season upon us, brides and grooms-to-be can have their pick of stunning venues across Greater Williamsburg.  A harmonious blend of colonial history and modern-day culture creates one of the most charming and romantic areas in the country for destination weddings and honeymoons. From locales with sweeping water views to iconic properties or traditional resorts, whatever the choice, couples will not be disappointed. 

William & Mary offers a multitude of nuptial settings on their campus and no affiliation with the school is necessary. The Alumni House provides resplendent lawns that can be tented, period decorated rooms and a furnished, catering kitchen. The Wren Chapel, inside the oldest standing building in the US, is also a favorite wedding site on the campus, while the Sunken Gardens allow for gorgeous photo opportunities, along with the Crim Dell Bridge, where popular legend says that sweethearts who have shared their first kiss there are destined to be married. 

The Wren Chapel

For those looking to add an historical touch their special day, museums such as the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown or the Virginia Living Museum can fulfill these requests by renting out al fresco spaces or designated rooms.  Providence Hall and the Williamsburg Lodge are also noteworthy, landmark properties that have hosted former royalty and heads of state and evoke a bygone era for a wedding reception. If an outdoor experience that is also steeped in rich history is on the agenda, like the home of the first Thanksgiving, Charles City boasts a number of exquisite plantations whose surroundings let wedding-goers step back in time.

Sea lovers have an abundance of wedding sites to choose from, including Jamestown Beach Park, overlooking the James River, or the Schooner Alliance in Yorktown, where wedding guests can climb aboard a chartered sailboat for a sunset adventure.  For a unique, rustic location, The Williamsburg Winery offers brides and grooms the chance to exchange vows overlooking 300 acres of beautiful vineyards, while the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens presents a more intimate, outdoor setting.

Williamsburg Winery

One of the many popular Colonial Williamsburg Resorts and Inns can also double as both the perfect matrimonial and honeymoon location. Whether it be a fairytale celebration or history-enriched ceremony, the perfect fit can be found in Colonial Williamsburg.  Couples can begin their happily-ever-after amid the classic elegance of the Regency Room at the majestic Williamsburg Inn, or say “I do” surrounded by nature at the sparkling Fountain Garden of the Rockefeller Complex. Unmatched for atmosphere, Colonial Williamsburg delivers a complete resort experience where guests are just minutes from decadent dining options, welcoming accommodations, rejuvenating spa escapes, championship golf, and so much more.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg Inn

Boasting over forty sites and trades, four historic taverns and two-world-class art museums, Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum. Within a few hours of stepping inside its walls, this remarkable 18th-century city thrusts its visitors back to a bygone era.

This summer, Colonial Williamsburg will be offering two packages to help make getting away even easier and more affordable.

  • Summer Getaway Package: The package includes accommodations at an official Colonial Williamsburg Hotel, daily breakfast, a 3-day ticket to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA, up to $350 in resort outlet saving coupons.   Hotel guests also receive 25% off a purchase of Colonial Williamsburg Admission (Single Day, Multi Day, Annual Pass), courtesy shuttle to and from Busch Gardens, Water Country, and Colonial Williamsburg, complimentary 30-minute tennis or golf clinic and use of driving ranges and practice facilities, including $1 premium PING club rentals, and discount on Colonial Williamsburg evening programs, ghost tours, and carriage rides. The Summer Getaway is valid between May 26 and September 3 with a 3-night minimum stay and must be booked by August 31.
  • Colonial Williamsburg Package: This offer includes two-night accommodations, 3-day admission to Colonial Williamsburg exhibits and museums, one refillable tavern mug for each registered adult guest to use at the four historical Colonial Williamsburg Taverns (non-alcoholic beverages) and daily breakfast credit. Also exclusive to hotels guest is the courtesy shuttle to and from Busch Gardens, Water Country, and Colonial Williamsburg, complimentary 30-minute tennis or golf clinic and use of driving ranges and practice facilities, including $1 premium PING club rentals, and discount on Colonial Williamsburg evening programs, ghost tours, and carriage rides. The package is valid between October 2 through December 31 and must be booked by December 28.

For more ideas about adventures in Greater Williamsburg, explore the 10 most popular attractions, find some family fun and plan your next visit now.



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