May is a visually splendid month to visit the Shenandoah Valley–but expect the serenity of the landscape to be interrupted by the gaiety of a festival almost anywhere you go. Moving from north to south, here’s a short roundup of locales offering food, drink, music, arts, crafts and more in the Valley’s festival-filled month of May.
Martinsburg (WV)— Heritage Festival, May 11 – 13. Emphasizing tours of the town’s historic sites and museums, the Heritage Festival is the ideal opportunity to visit the northern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. The area is especially rich in Civil War and railroad history.
Winchester— Amuse Art and Craft Fair, May 26-27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To be held at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Woodworking, printmaking, painting, ceramics and more! The Amuse Art & Craft Festival is Winchester’s only festival dedicated to the arts. Watch artists at work, shop for original art and handcrafted gifts, and of course sample local food and drink.
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival — In Winchester, April 27 – May 6. Ten days of parades, concerts, receptions, pageants, carnivals, races, wine, food, arts, performances, fireworks and more, now in its 91st year.
Middletown— Of Ale and History Beer Festival, May 12, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Now in its 23rd year, this event is claimed to be “the longest running beer festival in Virginia.” Featuring live music and more than 60 beer, local food and merchandise vendors. A rain or shine event but you can bring your own chairs and pop-up tents. No pets, coolers, outside food or drink. And don’t forget your ID! To be held at historic Belle Grove Plantation.
Farm to Fork Fondo— May 19-20. Also at Belle Grove Plantation. Combine spectacular cycling with feasting stops at local farms along your route, plus tours of Belle Grove Plantation, live music, cycling vendors, etc. Choose ride distances from 10, 35, 50 or 80 miles through classic Valley countryside. Held in eight locations in the Northeast, this is Farm to Fork’s first venture into Virginia.
Front Royal— Virginia Wine and Craft Festival, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live music all day and tastings from 20 wineries. Plenty of food plus fine handmade jewelry, hand painted wine glasses, hand crafted musical instruments, pottery and ceramics, clothing, original paintings and artwork, antiques, etc. More than 100 vendors, artists, craftsmen in all. Front Royal is the northern entrance to Skyline Drive —plan some extra time for a beautiful spring car trip.
Luray— Festival of Spring, May 5, from noon to 6:00 pm, on Main Street in Downtown Luray.
Food, wine, arts and crafts, local gifts, live entertainment, and family fun—especially the annual Maypole Ceremony. Plan some extra time to visit Luray Caverns, float the Shenandoah River, or go for a horseback ride.
Massanutten — Valley Fest Beer and Wine Festival, May 26, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Now in its 18th year and drawing 4,000 people who appreciate beer and wine, this landmark of Valley revelry combines music, dancing, food and all the lagers, merlots, chardonnays you could want.
Orkney Springs — The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival presents eight to 10 concerts during the summer months, featuring the best artists in country, bluegrass, pop/rock, folk, Americana and classical music. The summer’s calendar includes The Piedmont Symphony Orchestra playing the music of Pink Floyd, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kenny G., a Bluegrass Minifest, and much more. Concerts take place mid-July through Labor Day weekend at Shrine Mont, a beautiful, historic retreat and conference center in the quaint village of Orkney Springs, Va.
Staunton— World Fair Trade Day. Fair Trade is a global movement advocating that workers and artisans in developing countries receive a fair wage for their work as well as safe working conditions. Staunton’s fair trade retailers will be offering samples of fair trade foods and beverages, discounts off select fair trade products, educational materials about fair trade, and drawings for fair trade prizes.
Staunton, Virginia Hot Glass Festival, May 26 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and 27 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Watch as glass artists demonstrate various hot glass techniques, including traditional glassblowing, flame working, and bead making. See exhibits of the region’s finest blown glass, art glass marbles, beads, and jewelry. At Sunspots Studios in historic downtown Staunton.
Clifton Forge — Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day and Railway Festival, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Featuring 100 events, demonstrations, and vendors, this festival celebrates the rich historical heritage of the beautiful Alleghany Highlands. Live entertainment, food, historical displays, storytelling, quilt-bed turning, plus ceremonies to honor veterans.
Lynchburg— Annual Antique Rose Festival. Held at the Old City Cemetery, a public garden and park, the 23rd Annual Antique Rose festival began April 14 and blossoms through May 20th. Antique rose sales and guided rose tours (by appointment), with some varieties dating back to the 1500s. Could this be the perfect Mother’s Day surprise?
As you consider which festivals to visit, plan to stay at least overnight and experience the myriad of other pleasures to be found in the Valley this time of year. Scout out the best lodging options here. And keep an eye on our Events Calendar for more festivals coming up during the year.
Photo: Massanutten Valley Fest courtesy Massanutten Resort