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Whether considering the history of country music, the evolution of blues, or current musical influences like the internationally renowned Dave Matthews Band, Virginia has contributed to changing the American music scene in a big way. Fill the year with live music and entertainment, discovering dozens of upcoming Virginia artists and sounds that may quickly turn into your new favorite bands.
LAVA Music Festival – Suffolk
This independently and locally owned music festival is only in its second year, but it is already becoming one of the most popular music events in Virginia. The festival showcases 14 bands on 2 stages, and with no overlapping sets, you don’t have to miss out on a single band. Bands like Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Minus the Bear, The Front Bottoms, Jr. Jr., Blitzen Trapper, Catch Foxing, and Natalie Prass are in the 2016 lineup. Don’t want to battle for stage space with the rest of the crowds? Put on headphones and enjoy the music in the Silent Disco area. Festivalgoers can also find entertainment in the Arcade & Interactive outdoor games area. Food will be available from some of the best food trucks in the Hampton Roads area, as well as beverages brought by Virginia craft beer, wine, and cider vendors. A two-day pass with a camping permit for LAVA Music Festival is only $75. Get Tickets
Banjo pickers, fiddler players, and vocal harmonies as bluegrass fans from around the country and even the world come together for the Graves Mountain Festival of Music in Syria, Virginia. The impressive lineup features over 15 bluegrass bands, including Balsam range, Lonesome River Band, and Flatt Lonesome. The gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains are the perfect backdrop for this bluegrass festival, and you quickly began to see how the Mountain Music genre became influential in the Commonwealth. Camping on the festival grounds is free (with the purchase of a 3-day festival pass) on a first come, first serve basis, so make sure you get there early and make backup plans for accommodations. Get Tickets
Galax’s Houstonfest is a music festival in honor of a local talented musician, Houston Caldwell, who passed away in 2010. With 45 regional and national bands that range in style from Bluegrass to Old Time playing on only three stages, Houstonfest packs a lot of entertainment into a weekend. Artisans from Galax and the surrounding area demonstrate and sell their crafts, while food vendors serve up local dishes. The festival raises money for scholarships that go to musical training and education for youths, and Camp Houston, the youth section of the festival, features music and activities for kids. Overnight festival attendees can stay overnight in the camping area of Felt Park. Get Tickets
Mountains of Music Homecoming—Abingdon
Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming is a 9 day, region-wide celebration of the Southwest Virginia communities and their incredible contributions to music. Tradition, culture, and nation are all emphasized in this music festival. There are over 200 cultural experiences, 70 music concerts and jam sessions during these nine days, and Bluegrass, Folk, Gospel, and Old Time music are the main genres. Communal meals, wine tastings, film festivals, instrument-making demonstrations, dancing, guided hikes, river floats, cave hikes, and storytelling are just a few of the activities you will get to experience in the more than 20 communities from in and around Abingdon that participate in this festival. Get Tickets
Hampton Jazz Festival—Hampton
For 49 years, the Hampton Jazz Festivals has been attracting the nation’s biggest fans and performers for live blues, soul, and jazz music. The festival began as a one-time celebration of Hampton University’s centennial, but the audience loved it so much that they pushed to make it an annual event. Today, the Jazz Festival draws tens of thousands of people from all over the world. This year’s show is predicted to be the biggest yet, featuring Gladys Knight, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, and Charlie Wilson. Get Tickets
Red Wing Roots Festival—Mt. Solon
Bring the whole family to the Red Wing Roots Festival in Mt. Solon this summer for dozens of regional and national bands on multiple stages that everyone can enjoy and plenty of unique events and activities just for the kids. Live music fills the air each day from 11am until after midnight, and fishing, bike riding, and hiking in the scenic Shenandoah Valley are all conveniently available for those visitors looking to stay active. If adventure happens to be your middle name, explore the nearby Grand Caverns to see awe-inspiring natural formations and set up your tent on the festival grounds for some much-needed camp time in the great outdoors. This year’s lineup includes Dawes, Shovels & Rope, the Lone Bellow, and the Steel Wheels. Get Tickets
Shenandoah Valley Music Festival—Orkney Springs
July 22-23, 29-30; August 12-13; September 3-4
The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs is the longest running outdoor music festival in the mid-Atlantic and is held at the Shrinemont Conference Center. With such a prestigious and solid history, the festival annually draws some big names in music. This year’s acts include big names like LeAnn Rimes and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, as well as the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra and other local and national bands. While the festival draws some huge headliners, it doesn’t equate to a huge price tag for visitors. Even the front row seats at the biggest concerts run only $59 per person, making this an affordable festival option. Plus, parking is free and guests are encouraged to pack and bring their own picnics. Get Tickets
Off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Floydfest is five days of music, arts, and Blue Ridge culture all combined into one festival in Southwest Virginia. The festival takes place on 80 acres of mountain plateau land and features a “Global Village” area of progressive workshops and demonstrations, including a healing arts area, over 100 artisans, and a wide array of food options from sushi to barbecue. If this isn’t enough to convince you to come to Floydfest, there is also a huge emphasis on outdoor sports. Festival-goers can get their workouts in with disc golf, kayaking, hiking, and even mountain biking. For families, there is a children’s area with stage performances geared toward kids, puppetry, and youth workshops to teach crafts, playground equipment. There are even babysitting services available if you are in need of a little help. Get Tickets
Since Galax is the international Capital of Old time Mountain Music, it makes sense that the world’s largest and oldest fiddlers’ convention, the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, is held here. The annual show has been bringing musicians and fans from around the world together to perform and hear the music that defines the sound of the Blue Ridge Mountains since 1935. If you are searching for an affordable, family friendly festival in Virginia, add the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention to your itinerary. Tickets Sold at the Door
Richmond Jazz Festival—Richmond
Experience the roots of American musical culture at the 6th annual Richmond Jazz Festival, a four day event that brings smooth, soulful sounds to the city of Richmond. Held at Maymont Park, over 10,000 music lovers gather to hear 20 local and national jazz bands perform on two stages. Local food and beverage vendors provide delicious snacks and drinks to attendees, and if you are interested in trying a variety of Virginia’s wines, there are tastings available each day. Although smooth jazz is the focus, genres like R&B and Neo-Soul add diversity and flavor to this annual festival. Stay Tuned for Announcements and Tickets
Staunton Music Festival—Staunton
Sixty of the world’s most acclaimed vocal, instrumental, and chorus musicians will perform at the Staunton Music Festival. Come listen to classics like Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and dozens of other composers, along with modern composers like Zach Wadsworth, Eric Guinivan, and German composer Stefan Heucke. There are free concerts held at noon each day, but the evening concerts require tickets that range from $8 to $28, making this an affordable way to get a little extra culture this summer. Get Tickets
Lockn’ Music Festival—Arrington
Lockn’ Music Festival is about a lot more than great live music. This festival combines stellar music, camping, outdoor lifestyle activities, regional food, beverages, and artisans, creating one of the most popular festivals in Virginia. Oak Ridge Farm, the Lockn’ venue, sits at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Go hiking on one of the many trails that wind through the mountains, bring your mountain bike and ride along bike-friendly roads, or get in some relaxing yoga with group classes available daily. Lockn’ is a festival geared towards a laidback, music-loving crowd, and past headliners include Tom Petty, Robert Plant, Carlos Santana, Phil Lesh, and Willie Nelson. This year’s lineup has big names like Phish, My Morning Jacket, and Ween. Get Tickets
American Music Festival—Virginia Beach
The American Music Festival blends rock, jazz, country, blues, R&B, and many more genres into three days of live music and beach-front fun. This Labor Day weekend festival is the largest outdoor music event on the East Coast, with talent ranging from local bands to national acts playing on the four main concert stages along with side stages off the boardwalk for local performances. Although the 2016 lineup has not yet been announced, some of the big names in last year’s festival were Sheryl Crow, Rebelution, the Steve Miller Band, and Reel Big Fish. Stay Tuned for Band Announcements & Tickets
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion—Bristol
The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is all about creativity and passion in music and life. Downtown Bristol offers up 22 stages of live music, both indoor and outdoor, for the celebration of Bristol’s heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music. No bands have been announced yet, but the lineup announcement is scheduled for April 21 and the sooner you purchase tickets, the less they cost. Last year had big name artists like Dr. Dog, Rusted Root, Steve Earl & the Dukes, and the Whiskey Gentry. Camping passes will go on sale in June and range from primitive tent camping to RV sites with access to an exclusive shower and bathroom area. Get Tickets
Richmond Folk Festival—Richmond
The Richmond Folk Festival celebrates the roots, richness, and variety in American culture through music, dancing, traditional crafts, and food. Featuring more than 30 performing groups on 7 different stages, the festival keeps you jamming to eclectic music nonstop during this October weekend. Virginia Arts are encouraged, and there are booths set up for children’s activities and an area for Virginia Folklife demonstrations within the festival grounds, as well as a folk arts marketplace where you can purchase goods made locally. Regional and ethnic foods, craft beers, and wines are available for purchase, but the festival itself is free.
These are just a few of the many live music performances that are happening around Virginia this year. Check out our new music site to learn about Virginia artists and stream their hits on our live radio. Virginia is the perfect destination for music lovers, uniting the heritage of the past with sensational festivals, live concerts, and music events of the future.
© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |