While Williamsburg today continues to offer a crystalline view into its storied past, it also plays host to a vibrant array of events rooted firmly in the present, with an eye on an exciting future. The fall arts season in Williamsburg, celebrated from Labor Day weekend through late October, will feature a dazzling slate of functions to suit every enthusiast.
The sixth annual Fall Arts Season opens with a rare opportunity to see art inspired by America’s waterways, oceans, rivers, marshes, ships, boats, nautical history and sea life. Meet America’s greatest painters of water life, the juried members and Founding Fellows of the American Society of Marine Artists, as their 2016 National Tour opens at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary. The show runs from September 10 through December 2, 2016. Williamsburg is the opening exhibition city for this national art tour, and so the National Marine Art Conference will be held here to open the exhibition. The board of the American Society of Marine Artists have made conference tickets available to the Williamsburg community, so you can join them for lectures, painting demonstrations and opportunities to meet the artists. Conference tickets can be purchased by visiting TACL-VA.org/Events/Cultivate/Lectures.
During an opening week that celebrates America’s nautical wonder, you will have two waterfront opportunities to enjoy the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as they present water-inspired programs at Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing and the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater at W&M. Start your fall arts experience at Celebrate Yorktown Committee’s Annual Opening Night art show which will celebrate Art of the Water against the backdrop of the scenic York River at the Yorktown Freight Shed. Sail on over to the Yorktown Victory Center on September 11 to hear a free lecture by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Admiral Papp (Ret.), as he shares his Adventures of the Arctic.
Nothing conveys the American music scene quite like blues music and beach music. Book your room and tickets now for the two-day “Big Bluesy” Culturefix blues festival that takes place September 17 and 18 at the Jamestown Beach Event Park. Hosted by bluesman Bobby “BlackHat” Walters, the festival features non-stop music for 12 hours both days. Just four miles down the road at Lake Matoaka, Parrot Heads will be dancing under the stars at the 6th annual Jimmy Buffet tribute concert that benefits Housing Partnership – and yes, they will be selling “cheeseburgers in paradise.” If more elegant fare is what you crave, you’ll be treated like family as you pull up a chair for a farm-style meal at the Trellis Farm to Table dinner in Merchants Square. Mark your calendar for 7 p.m. this same weekend, and head over to the Kimball Theater where you will be mesmerized by the acclaimed Irish storyteller, Clair Murphy, at the 7th annual Tucker-Arnold Storytelling Concert.
The 50th Anniversary of W&M Family Weekend brings with it Saturday’s Williamsburg Celebrates Art Contemporary Artisans Show and Plein Air Festival on Duke of Gloucester Street. Artisans at this event demonstrate how fine American craft is made. On Sunday, the shops, galleries and restaurants in Historic Yorktown Village host Virginia artists and artisans for the 6th annual Yorktown Art Stroll at Riverwalk Landing – a perfect chance for a seafood lunch on the waterfront.
For nearly 50 years Williamsburg has welcomed visitors from across the country to join us in the fall for An Occasion for the Arts. This national top-20 art show, which takes place during the first weekend of October, is refreshed with more music, a juried list of America’s top visual artists, An Occasion for Taste culinary art event and the Williamsburg Book Festival. Also enjoy an exhibition of art by the W&M faculty. During the weekend, admire fall foliage and James River views along the Colonial Parkway to Jamestown Settlement for a rare opportunity to attend a two-day American Indian Tribal Powwow — a celebration of Native American music and handmade crafts. Stay on the parkway as you travel along the York River to the annual Yorktown Wine Festival, Oct. 1, where you can sample the best Virginia wines, oysters and barbecue. After a day on the waterfront, you’ll be ready to enjoy the closing night’s performance of Jekyll & Hyde by the Williamsburg Players.
In celebration of American Craft Week, regional galleries; craft beer, mead and spirits makers; restaurants and festivals will present Art Escape Weekend, October 7, 8 and 9. Nothing celebrates America’s culinary art culture quite like a bowl of chili, and every restaurant in town thinks its recipe is the best. You be the judge at New Town’s Chili ‘n Tunes on Saturday, October 8. Complete your Art Escape Weekend at the shops and restaurants around Prince George Street at 2nd Sundays Art and Music festival. Three stages of live music and more than 100 artists are present for this free monthly event. Janna Hymes, Conductor of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, invites you to extend your weekend for the Soprano Sensation concerts featuring Julia Bullock at the Kimball Theater on October 10 and 11.
The American Revolution was won at Yorktown 235 years ago. Celebrate your freedom and be among the first to view the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which opens October 15 and 16. The Williamsburg Opera is presenting Rigoletto this week, and a visit to its website will provide information about opportunities to meet and dine with the performers. Colonial Folk Art is presenting a Ghoulish Art in the Burg art show in the Williamsburg Arts District. While you are in the Arts District, enjoy a takeout lunch at the Outdoor Sculpture Garden at the 900 block of Richmond Road; the benches are made possible by a generous gift of the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
Start your day early on Sunday, October 23. Bring your running shoes and dancing shoes to Riverwalk Landing for the TACL-VA.org RUNforARTS 10K that benefits regional Sculpture Art Playgrounds. The event includes live music by the Smith Wade Band, beer and libations. The race is professionally timed and managed by Mettle Events and is a 10K walk or run, plus there is a short loop for kids. Kids will also enjoy working with professional chalk artist, Holly Winslow, as she helps them chalk pictures to the theme, “Imagine Your Playground.” Area plein air artists will be capturing on canvas the racers and fun of the festival. It will be a great day on the York River to support the arts and will happen rain or shine.
Save some energy from the run, because on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 23, you’ll return to Lake Matoaka to close the Fall Arts Season with a family-friendly benefit concert by country music star Canaan Smith. Smith grew up in Williamsburg and is taking some time away from his tour to visit friends and family. He will be playing his hits including Hole in the Bottle and Love You Like That, which was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Chart and sold more than a million copies. The Canaan Smith concert funds the Williamsburg Christian Academy’s mission work through the Nathaniel Smith Memorial Mission Fund.
These highlighted events are just a sampling of the more than 100 arts and culinary opportunities that will fill your fall days with beauty and your nights with music and performance. Join us as Williamsburg celebrates Fall Arts! Visit www.VisitWilliamsburg.com to learn more.
About the author: Terry Buntrock is the Arts Coordinator for the Historic Triangle, and is the Founder and Executive Director of Triangle Arts & Culture League, Inc. The mission of TACL is to support, develop and promote Public Art in all its forms. Learn more at TACL-VA.org.