Category: Arts & Culture

Shakespeare Weekends

Develop a truer understanding of Shakespeare by attending one of the American Shakespeare Center’s Shakespeare Weekends. Brainchild of ASC’s new executive director, Ethan McSweeney, the weekends mark the opening and closing of the Winter Season and offer additional chances to learn about the Bard’s world. Plan to attend a weekend and take advantage of packed schedules of performances, lectures, workshops, and a benefit concert.

The Winter Season: The Actors’ Renaissance has “become a hallmark of ASC’s unique blend of scholarship and practice.” In only 10 days or fewer, 12-15 ASC actors rehearse four plays without guidance by a director. The company takes full control of all creative decisions. This includes delivery, blocking, setting, music, props, and costumes. The actors then perform the four plays in rotation. The Actor’s Renaissance attempts to bring to life the conditions Shakespeare’s original players would have experienced. The intention is that scholars, players, and audience will make new discoveries about Shakespeare’s art and world.

The 2019 Winter Season lineup includes Shakespeare classics Henry IV, Part 1 and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Also showing is Arden of Faversham, written by an unknown author. This play is an Elizabethan true-crime drama about ordinary people that is sure to captivate you. Finally, Amy E. Witting’s Anne Page Hates Fun, is a new, modern companion piece to The Merry Wives of Windsor, part of the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries program. The program intends produce 38 new plays, inspired by Shakespeare, by playwrights of all backgrounds and perspectives.

Opening Weekend | February 15-17

Experience opening night energy as the Actor’s Renaissance Season opens this weekend. Enjoy performances as well as special programming including a lecture by Dr. Ralph Cohen, and the announcement of the Summer Festival and Fall Season.

Renaissance Weekend | April 12-14

The Winter Season closes on Renaissance Weekend. You’ll be able to see the final performances of all four productions and a staged reading of The Belle’s Stratagem. Other weekend events will include workshops, lectures, and the Band Candy Benefit Concert to raise money for ASC music.

If you can’t attend a Shakespeare Weekend, don’t worry: ASC’s talented company performs all year with five seasons of plays in repertory, so you’ll still be able to get your Shakespeare fix. Click here for the calendar.

Staunton Pride Festival

Celebrate Staunton Pride October 5-7

October is LGBTQ history month, and local nonprofit LGBTQ Tech is producing the first annual Staunton Pride Festival celebrating the LGBTQIA2+ community and its allies. Staunton Pride’s goal is to “support all members of our community in order to increase acceptance and inclusivity in the Shenandoah Valley.”

Friday Night Kickoff

All are welcome at the fun event, which will be held rain or shine on Beverley Street in downtown Staunton. A kickoff party with Shagwüf and The Judy Chops to benefit the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center on October 5th.

Saturday Dancing in the Streets

Get ready to party on Saturday, October 6th at the street festival on Beverley Street from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm. Highlights will include food, vendors, a local beer & cider garden (opening at 11:00 am,) a music stage, and a show headlined by Virginia native and indie-pop sensation, Catey Shaw, known for her songs “Brooklyn Girls” and “The Ransom.” Plan to dance in the street:  The Johnny Clark Set, The Sugar Jackets, The Crowles, Drägön Wägön, and DJ Jason round out the lineup. 

A Service for Everyone

Staunton Pride will have a special Pride Eucharist worship service led by Reverend Marion Kanour on Saturday, October 6th from 7-8:30 PM. All are welcome as Emmanuel Episcopal Church hosts the service in collaboration with clergy from Grace Episcopal Church, Massie’s Mill, Trinity Episcopal Church, Staunton Virginia, and Stuart Hall School.

Get Wild at the Drag Show

Save some energy for the can’t-miss drag show at the Clocktower on Saturday night. Alexa V. ShontelleGabrielle DupreeKatrina Colby, Chris Smith Kristina Kelly,  Alexea Breeden Kelly, and at least five other performers will strut their stuff and wow you with their amazing routines and eye-popping costumes. Buy your tickets here or in person at Mill Street Body & Soul Day Spa and Salon.


Before You Go

  • Organizations offering support to the LGBTQ community will be on site
  • Make sure to visit the PRIDE LOVEworks, which will be on display in downtown Staunton October 5-10
  • Show your pride and support the organization by purchasing shirts, stickers, and magnets
  • The festival is family friendly, but the locations of some of the events require attendees to be over 21

Plan Your Visit to Staunton

While Staunton always offers a positive atmosphere and a welcoming community, the following businesses designate themselves as LGBT-friendly on Virginia.org:

Where to Stay

Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast

The Blackburn Inn

Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center

Hampton Inn – Staunton

Inn at Old Virginia

Staunton /  Walnut Hills KOA Campground

The Bunkhouse at North Mountain

Where to Eat and Drink

Emilio’s Italian Restaurant

Baja Bean Company

Mill Street Grill

The Store

Second Draft Bar & Bistro

The Coffee Cave

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.

Where to Shop

Medieval Fantasies Company Gyfte Shoppe

Latitudes Fair Trade Store

Staunton Books Popup

Pufferbellies Toys & Books

Harmony Moon

Redwood and Co.

Cherish Every Moment

Your Staunton Summer Bucket List

Summer’s here and it finally feels like you have time to do all those things you’ve been yearning to do. But we know those long days are fleeting, so we’ve built a Staunton bucket list to help you maximize the moments and pack the most of Staunton’s unique experiences into your season.

chase ghosts

Discover the Queen City after dark. Led by a lantern, this two-hour walking tour is where history and hauntings meet. Hear the stories of Staunton’s most notable residents like Mary Baldwin, James Vames, Myrtle Knox and Jimmy Atkins who are responsible for shaping the historical and haunted landscape of Staunton. Come prepared with flashlights, audio recorders and cameras to capture any paranormal activity and other oddities you might see or hear.  Book your Ghost Tour now.

spend the night locked in a room

Spend an evening finding clues and cracking real-life codes at Crack the Code Escape Room. Groups of up to eight people have an hour to solve the puzzle in this interactive strategy game, so round up your gang, put down your phones, and bond over your shared brain power. Current themed rooms include: Da Vinci’s Office, Back to the Eighties, and Steampunk City.

Hike the Appalachian Trail

Bring your hiking poles and your camera and get ready to clear your head and luxuriate in natural beauty! Staunton is only minutes away from a spectacular section of Appalachian Trail that runs along the Blue Ridge and offers steep climbs and scenic vistas. Hike along the trail or access a short spur like Bear Den Mountain or Humpback Rocks. Planning your first hike with young children? Click here for a good resource.

Stay at Virginia’s Newest Luxury Hotel

Thomas Blackburn, a protege of Thomas Jefferson, originally designed the building that is now the Blackburn Inn in 1828 as part of Western State Hospital. The institution has a busy and controversial history, but the building and grounds were designed to be beautiful and peaceful to aid in the healing process. Now, the recently renovated and reopened 49-room boutique hotel retains historic fixtures of antebellum architecture like enormous windows, original floors, and high ceilings but also embraces state-of-the-art modern convenience. And it’s not haunted, we promise.

Watch a movie under the stars at a classic drive-in

No summer experience is more iconic than a double feature at a good, old-fashioned drive-in movie theater. Hull’s Drive-In, located south of Staunton, has been lighting up the night since 1950. Bring the family and enjoy summer blockbusters and a full menu at the snack bar. A Staunton bucket list won’t feel complete without this ultimate retro family destination!

attend a Music Festival

Whether it’s a major festival like Redwing Roots or Chili. Blues n’ Brews, a free concert in Gypsy Hill Park, or live music at a local brewery or vineyard, music pairs wonderfully with the outdoors. Spread your blanket, watch the little ones chase fireflies, and enjoy the summer sounds with your family and friends.

explore a cave 

Finally learn the difference between a stalagmite and stalactite. Open for nearly 200 years, Grand Caverns is now a National Natural Landmark where “history runs deep.” Both Union and Confederate soldiers visited it during the Civil War, and 200 verified signatures mark its walls. The show cave boasts shield formations and “Cathedral Hall,” one of the largest cavern rooms in the eastern U.S. Best of all, the cave stays 54 degrees year round. What a great way to learn some history and geology while keeping the entire family cool!

Root for the Staunton Braves

Put on your jersey and catch Staunton Braves fever as you spend an exciting summer evening lounging in your camp chair, gobbling ballpark food, and rooting for the home team at Moxie Stadium. The Braves are part of the Valley Baseball League, a collegiate NCAA league that has been playing ball in the Valley since 1897 and regularly sends players to the majors.

Visit the Augusta County Fair

Nothing says summer like midway rides, cotton candy, sideshow acts and blue-ribbon vegetables. Venture out to Augusta Expo for the 2018 Augusta County Fair, July 31-August 4. Make sure you catch a magic show, a prize-winning livestock competition or a tractor pull. You might even see blacksmiths compete in feats of strength and dexterity. This is down-home-on-the-farm fun for the entire family.

Attend a small-town Independence Day Celebration

Staunton goes all out for the 4th of July. The loaded schedule of Happy Birthday America events features musical entertainment, a vesper service, fireworks, a parade, a 5K race, a pageant for children under 12, and concessions. It will also include a feature performance by Wilson Fairchild, a country group comprised of Wil and Landon Reid, sons of the Statler Brothers’ Harold and Don Reid  

And If there’s a tattoo on your Staunton Bucket List…

If this is the summer you’re finally going to take the plunge (or add to your existing gallery of body art), Staunton offers two tattoo parlors. Both will give consultations and create custom designs (and cover ups). Check out Lion’s Den Tattoo or Acme Tattoo for some really cool art and great customer experiences.



Mother’s Day: Staunton Treats for Mom

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Mother’s Day: Staunton Treats for Mom

Still looking for the best way to tell Mom “I love you” this Mother’s Day? Make the day special with this sampling of all the great finds and fun things to do in downtown Staunton. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind bonding experience, Mother’s Day gift, or brunch, we’ve got you covered.

If You’d Like to Share an Experience with Mom

A guided walking tour of historic Staunton (Saturday mornings only) will appeal to history buffs as it winds through several historic districts and covers history from Staunton’s earliest days to the present. Follow your tour with a traditional Victorian tea or a light lunch at the Anne Hathaway Cottage.

Do you and Mom bond over the silver screen? How about taking her to a movie at the Visulite Cinema? Sip beer or wine while you watch, and then head over to Yelping Dog Wine to discuss the film over wine and cheese.

And if you’re really into cheese, you have to try a mozzarella-making workshop at Creambrook Farm. Even absolute beginners will leave this three-hour, hands-on class with the ability to turn a gallon of milk into a delicious ball of mozzarella!

If you and Mom share a passion for finding treasures, consider taking her to Staunton Antique Center and Artisan Loft. This unique store has three levels of goodies, including original art from local artists. Compare your finds over coffee and French pastries at Réunion Bakery & Espresso.

Take Mom shopping in downtown Staunton on World Fair Trade Day (Saturday, May 12) to help “empower artisans and farmers in marginalized communities around the world.” Latitudes, Harmony Moon, and Cranberry’s will each have a special activity to celebrate the day.

If You’d Like to Buy Mom a Gift

Have your personal message engraved on any piece of jewelry from H.L. Lang Jewelers. Or buy Mom a Staunton charm of a Queen City landmark. Crown Jewelers carries a selection of both new and estate jewelry.

Spoil Mom with luxurious soaps, lotions and all things that smell good from Redwood & Co.

Give her the gift of experience with a felting class or pick out a hand-felted scarf, hat or jewelry from Artful Gifts. Also check out Ltd 7, and Cherish Every Moment for unique gifts.

Inspire your favorite cook with an infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Staunton Olive Oil Company

Buy Mom something as beautiful as she is from Sunspots Studio. Browse the gallery for hand-blown art glass or Alex and Ani jewelry.

Give Mom the gift of relaxation by surprising her with a massage at Mill Street Body & Soul Day Spa and Salon or an OPI Powder Perfection manicure at Le Papillon Nails.

Check out Little Made; Market (Saturday, May 12), a curated indie arts & craft festival featuring 20 specially selected artists showcasing their handmade works.

If You’d Like to Take Mom out for Brunch

Try one of these Mother’s Day Brunch and specials on Sunday, May 13.

The Mother’s Day buffet at Stonewall Jackson Hotel includes something for everyone. Choose from over five stations with everything from salad to smoked salmon, spinach and goat cheese lasagna to garlic and rosemary sirloin. There’s dessert, too! See the full menu. Brunch will be served from 11 – 2.

Kathy’s Restaurant‘s special Mother’s Day menu includes surf & turf and fresh fried oysters. See the menu. Meal served from 11 – 8.

Other Sunday Brunch Spots:

Zynodoa: Brunch served from 10 – 2.

The Shack: Brunch served from  10:30  – 2.

The Depot Grille: Brunch served from 11 – 2.

Byers Street Bistro: Brunch served from 11 – 2.

Mill Street Grill: Brunch served from 11 – 3.

See our post on Staunton brunch spots for more details.

Staunton’s Plein Air Art Festival


The Queen City is getting ready to play host to artists from Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New York for the Second Annual Plein Air Festival. You might be asking yourself “what is plein air?” The expression is actually French meaning “en plein air,” or “open air,” allowing the artist to go beyond the four walls of a studio and experience drawing or painting in the landscape. In its truest form, a plein air painting is completed from beginning to end on site with the subject matter right in front of the artist.

During the Queen City Plein Air Festival, invited artists will spend three days painting the unique architecture of downtown Staunton, the beautiful gardens on the Historic Garden Week Tour, and the rolling landscapes of Augusta County. Featured locations include internationally known Polyface Farm, the living history museum the Frontier Culture Museum, the newly renovated Blackburn Inn, and Gaie Lea Farm and Venue—just to name a few.  The public can view (and even purchase) the newly completed works of Staunton and Augusta County at the Fresh Paint Gallery Sale on Saturday, April 21 from 6:00-8:30 pm.

Both professional and inspiring artists can get in on the action with Paint Staunton Day, a family-friendly art competition and pop-up show. Artists of all ages and skill levels are invited to compete within three categories: Professional, Amateur, and 16 and Under for a total of $1000 in cash prizes and the opportunity to capture the timeless beauty of historic downtown Staunton. The event culminates with a judging and Pop-Up Show and Sale.

Other festival events include artist demonstrations, lectures, and a workshop by event juror and nationally acclaimed plein air painter, Nancy Tankersley. For more information on the Queen City Plein Air Festival (April 17-22) and a complete calendar of events visit: Visit Beverley Street Studio School.