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Category: Events and Festivals

Summer Music and More at Staunton’s Heifetz Institute

Heifetz International Music Institute educates young musicians in their artistic growth and treats the community to a variety of world-class listening opportunities. Here’s some background on the program and a peek at what’s on stage this summer!

What is Heifetz?

Heifetz was originally founded in 1996 as a 6-week summer experience by concert violinist and teacher Daniel Heifetz. In 2012, Heifetz moved its location to Staunton and opened the doors to 62 students. Now, 26 years later, the program is much, much larger. Students receive instrumental as well as performance and communication training.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, 40 Heifetz faculty members virtually served 100 students across 9 time zones. They streamed concerts to over 500,000 viewers through YouTube, Facebook Live, and the Violin Channel. And this year, more than 150 students are studying in Staunton!

Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

Celebrate music with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts, which extends through August 6th and offers both chamber music and multi-genre selections! Performers include Heifetz faculty, special guests, and 127 string musicians from 9-27 years old. Choose from over 50 concerts. Concert offerings can be either free or ticketed, but since children under 12 are invited to attend all concerts for free, there’s no need to hire a sitter!

  • Stars of Tomorrow (Francis Auditorium, Tuesdays and Thursdays, ticketed): This series is packed with incredible performances by extraordinary Heifetz students, visiting alumni artists, and Heifetz piano faculty.

  • Market St. Musicale (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, Fridays, free): These afternoon shows include powerful performances and conversations with the musicians.
  • Junior Division Showcase (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, Saturdays, free): You’ll be amazed by the talents of Heifetz’s youngest students, aged 9-15.
  • Celebrity Series (Francis Auditorium, Friday evenings, ticketed): These 75-minute programs bring top performers to Staunton and will feature works by various artists. There’s a happy hour event before each concert that will feature regional wines and foods.

  • Heifetz Hootenanny (Page Terrace, Saturdays, ticketed): This informal series allows students, staff, and special guests to create “one-of-a-kind, multi-genre mash-ups.”You might hear bluegrass picking, Broadway belting, folk fiddling, or rollicking rhythm and blues!”

  • Chamber Music Sunday Matinees (Francis Auditorium, Sunday afternoons, ticketed): Enjoy chamber music masterworks and spotlight performances by students in the Heifetz Chamber Music Seminar
  • Heifetz Grand Finale (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, August 6): The season’s final concert is a passionate “rousing concert brimming with fire, passion, and virtuosity.” Performances by Heifetz students and faculty are followed by a farewell toast.

Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence Program (HEIR)

As an alternative to normally scheduled Heifetz on Tour programming, Heifetz provided music during the pandemic with its HEIR (Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence) Program. Heifetz alumni returned for intensive coaching sessions, public concerts, chances to record music together, and opportunities to provide lessons and partner with area schools. The successful program will conduct two sessions in the fall of 2022. 

Another part of the HEIR program is Heifetz’s Heartstrings program, which connects performers with frontline workers and patients at Augusta Health. This program connects musicians and patients for intimate virtual or in-person bedside performances. Additional ensemble performances cater to larger audiences and bring music and joy to the wider hospital community. 

Crescendo: A College Preparatory & Music Mastery Program

Stuart Hall School and Heifetz International Music Institute have partnered to build Crescendo, a program for students in grades 5-12 that provides academics to prepare students for “engaged lives of curiosity, creativity, and contribution.” The program also provides “intensive music study for violinists, violists, and cellists in an environment that is developmentally appropriate.” Apply now for fall enrollment!

Multimedia Offerings

Check out Heifetz’s multimedia page for videos and sophisticated recorded performances like the Rubato Virtual Concert Hall recordings and the Chock Full O’Bach series.

Looking for a Special Gift?

The Heifetz Gift Shop (107 E. Beverley Street) is your answer to finding music-themed gifts. From wearables and cards to Heifetz chocolate bars and sheet music printed umbrellas, you’ll find a unique gift sure to make someone smile. 

Want to rent an instrument for a budding musician? Heifetz has a large selection of instruments to rent or buy.

And if you’d like to take an unusual route to support Heifetz,  donate your unwanted household items and clothing. They’ll sell them on eBay and use the profits to support the Institute.

Staunton’s Happy Birthday America

For the past two years, Staunton has been quiet over the Fourth of July holiday. But this year, all the fun returns with the annual Happy Birthday America celebration in Gypsy Hill Park. Get ready for live music, a parade, fireworks, games, concessions, and more. Grab your lawn chairs and your sunscreen and dress in your sharpest red, white, and blue for a fun, patriotic day celebrating America’s independence!

History

Starting in 1970, the Statler Brothers brought free summer concerts to their native Staunton each July 4th for Happy Birthday U.S.A. Regularly drawing well over 50,000 guests (and sometimes as many as 100,000), the concerts were massive hits. Some Staunton residents remember years that it rained and the crowds still packed onto the outfield at John Moxie Stadium, unwilling to miss the music. The concerts continued for 25 years and brought in guest stars like Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Reba McIntyre, Charley Pride and Neal McCoy, Conway Twitty, and many more.

After the Statler Brothers stopped performing, Staunton continued to host yearly celebrations at the bandstand. In recent years, cousins (and sons of two Statler Brothers) Wil Reid and Langdon Reid have headed up a relaunched celebration intended to emulate those hosted by their fathers. The event emphasizes patriotic family fun and live music, headlined by their group, Wilson Fairchild.

2022 Schedule

This year’s schedule includes two days of fun. Along with events, there are vendors selling food and merchandise, a carnival area, games for kids, and more. Here’s the 2022 schedule:

Sunday, July 3

6:30 p.m.: Entertainment and Vester Service at John Moxie Stadium. This event will feature keynote speaker Chaplain Col. Joel P. Jenkins, scripture readings, and music by Allison Fitzgerald, Greg Culpen, Amy & Sam Lessley, and Heaven’s Mountain Band.

Monday, July 4

7:30 a.m.: Firecracker 5K Run/Walk around the Gypsy Hill Park loop. Wear your patriotic gear and register here.

10 a.m.: Set up your lawn chair and watch community groups, businesses, athletic teams, and more show their patriotic spirit and decorating skills as they loop through Gypsy Hill Park for the 4th of July parade. After the parade ends, head down to the baseball fields to participate in the parent-child games. Kids should be between 8 and 12 and come with a willing parent.

2 p.m.: Stonewall Brigade Band performance at the Gypsy Hill Park Bandstand. Staunton’s historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band is the oldest continuous community band in the U.S. and has been playing in Gypsy Hill Park since 1889. Expect to hear lots of marching music!

2 p.m.: Jack and Davis Reid at John Moxie Stadium (Sons of Wilson Fairchild and the Grandsons of the Statler Brothers!)

3:30 p.m.: Prime at John Moxie Stadium

4 p.m.: Opening Ceremony and Posting of Colors

5:15 p.m.: Spencer Hatcher & the Ol’ Son Gang at John Moxie Stadium

7:30 p.m.: Feature performance by Wilson Fairchild (country, bluegrass and gospel) with special guests, Grammy-winning Rhonda Vincent and the Rage playing bluegrass

9:30 p.m.: Veteran’s Salute / Retiring of Colors / Taps

10 p.m. Fireworks in Gypsy Hill Park

2022 Must See Summer Music Events in Staunton

Picture dancing in the street to some of the best local and regional music and falling in love all over again with Staunton’s wonderful community. Imagine kicking back on a blanket under the stars and enjoying a picnic and incredible jazz. Or imagine relishing the sounds of antique classical instruments while the light shines through the stained glass at Trinity Church. Or how about celebrating the 4th of July with live music and fireworks for the first time in years? Here’s a guide to your Staunton summer soundtrack!

Staunton Jams

After a 4-year hiatus, Staunton Jams is back, bigger and better than ever, hosted by The Judy Chops and supported by a number of Staunton businesses. This free, all-day music and art event will take over downtown Staunton on May 28. Look for 20 acts representing a variety of musical styles to appear at the Sunspots Pavilion, the Staunton Patio, along Beverley Street, in the Wharf, and more.  You’ll see Mojo Parker, Sun-Dried Opossum, The Queen City Porch Swingers, Matt Palmieri, the Beverley Street String Band, The Judy Chops, and more. There’s even an afterparty scheduled at Tempest Bar & Lounge. The event will also showcase artists, vendors, food, street performers, and more. Check Staunton Jams Facebook page for a schedule.

Redbeard’s Summer Concert Series

Want to enjoy delicious craft beer while you listen to music? From now thru September, relax at Redbeard Brewing Company on select Saturday nights for their Live Summer Concert Series. Favorite groups like The Judy Chops, Six Shot Rebellion, The Findells, and Drägön Wägön will headline. Check out the full schedule.

SummerStage at the Blackburn

Spread out your blanket for a night of music under the stars at the Blackburn Inn’s Friday night SummerStage concert series. The concerts will extend through Labor Day and they will showcase talents like David Wax Museum, Danielle Nicole, Chatham Rabbits, Scott Miller, The Judy Chops, and more playing in a wide range of genres. Along with the music, you can enjoy beverages from local vineyards, breweries, and cideries as well as food from the 2nd Draft Bistro. The grounds and bar open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m. See the full schedule and buy tickets.

Red Wing Roots Music Festival

Everyone in the family will get up and dance as the biggest names in folk music appear at Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Natural Chimney’s Park the weekend of June 24 – 26. Get ready to experience to The Steel Wheels, The Jayhawks, Langhorne Slim, Aoife O’Donovan, and many more on stage against the background of stunning limestone towers. Besides the music, festival attendees can expect a beer garden, food and craft vendors, bike rides, yoga, and lawn games for adults and kids alike. Here’s the full 2022 lineup.

Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

You’re in for a treat with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts! Choose from over 50 different concerts extending from June 28 to August 6 that range from chamber music, Fourth of July music, and multi-genre selections. See world-renowned celebrity guests in the Celebrity Series and Chamber Music Sunday Matinees. Heifetz students perform in the Stars of Tomorrow Series as well as the intimate Market St. Musicale series that pairs performances and conversations with the musicians. Anything goes in the Heifetz Hootenanny Series, which will occur on Page Terrace. Admission is free for all events for kids 12 and under.

Happy Birthday America

Bring the family to Gypsy Hill Park this Independence Day for the free, family-friendly Happy Birthday America celebration. Have a blast with a 5K race, a lively parade, a parent/child baseball game, vesper’s service, a beauty pageant, and concessions. Rock out to live music from local acts, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, and headliner Wilson Fairchild. Fireworks will follow the concert. This event is free.

Staunton Music Festival

Musicians will love The Staunton Music Festival’s classical concerts spanning over 600 years. Dozens of musicians will perform in both large and small ensembles in a variety of Staunton venues like Trinity Episcopal Church and Blackfriars Playhouse from August 12-21. Festival highlights include “Handel Extravaganza: from the Rhine to Rio,” which features Handel’s orchestral and vocal music, “Love Stories,” and “Early Keyboard Extravaganza.” While some events are ticketed, many are free.

Music in the Park at Gypsy Hill Bandstand

Monday Nights: Stonewall Brigade Band 

Staunton’s historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band is bringing big sounds to your Monday nights all summer. The oldest-continuous community band in the U.S. was originally a marching band, but with the addition of woodwinds after the Civil War, it became a concert band. It first played in what is now Gypsy Hill Park in 1889. Concerts featuring marches and big band classics begin at 8 p.m. Watch for the full schedule here.

Tuesday Nights: Praise in the Park

Head to Gypsy Hill Park on Tuesday nights in July and August to hear Linden Heights Baptist Church’s annual Praise in the Park concert series. You’ll hear contemporary and southern gospel as well as gospel bluegrass. Better yet, there will be activities to keep the kiddos busy while you listen to favorites like Faithful Men, Ed Pettersen & Streets of Gold Quartet, Brian Buchanan & New Life Gospel Band, and Heaven’s Mountain Band & Blue Mountain Sunrise. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Wednesday Nights: Bluegrass 

Local and regional bluegrass entertainers will visit Staunton on Wednesday nights between July 6 and August 24. Most concerts include sets by two different groups. Get ready for some energetic tunes and banjo picking! Concerts begin at 7 p.m. Watch for the full schedule here.

Thursday Nights: Jazz in the Park

Celebrate hot summer nights with the Jazz in the Park summer concert series. You’ll hear classic jazz standards performed by S.P.L.A.A.A.T. Quintet, Afro Cuban jazz with rumba, salsa, and cha cha music by Jstop Latin Soul, and zydeco, cajun, street parade, and Louisiana funk by The Dixie Power Trio. See the full lineup here.

Nearby Music

You might also check out Waynesboro Parks and Rec’s Thursday night Groovin’ at the Greenway series. This lineup of showcases a variety of styles and lets Waynesboro visitors get comfy outdoors while listening to live music.

Other Festivals and Fun

May 21-22: Staunton’s newest outdoor art festival Art On The Town comes to life at the Sunspots Pavilion in the Wharf. Another great event by the Staunton Augusta Art Center happens September 3-4, where you can join the fun at the 55th annual Art in the Park festival in Gypsy Hill Park. You’ll find amazing art, community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids. The park boasts lots of parking, shade, and playgrounds to keep everyone happy. (Free)

September 24-25: Join thousands of seriously excited fans in downtown Staunton for themed shopping, dining, performances, and hands-on activities for all ages at the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival. This home-grown fan festival celebrates J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series as well as all things magical and mystical. (Many activities are free, some are ticketed)

Wool Week 2022 at the Frontier Culture Museum

Have you ever wondered what people from the past did when they wanted to update their wardrobes? Today, we go to the store or even order our outfits online, but the process was much more involved for our ancestors and the early settlers of the Shenandoah Valley. Not only did they have to obtain the raw materials, but they also had to clean them, and transform them into cloth. Finally, they had to turn the fabric into wearable clothing or other textiles. Each year during Wool Week, the Frontier Culture Museum invites visitors to celebrate spring as well as the process of creating useful products from raw materials.

How can I visit?

Wool Week 2022 is April 25 – May 1

There is no extra cost beyond regular admission to the museum.

Museum visitors will see:

  • Demonstrations focusing on wool and flax processing
  • Sheep shearing
  • New baby lambs
  • Regular museum exhibits

How long will the lambs be little?

Lambs are born in the spring when there’s plenty of grass to eat and the weather has lost its winter chill. Ewes give birth to one to three lambs at a time, but twins are most common. Lambs usually weigh about the same as human babies. They can walk within a few hours of being born!

What is wool, anyway? How did people on the frontier harvest it?

Wool is the heavy winter coat of the sheep that’s harvested each year in the spring. While we typically use mechanical clippers now, people from the frontier would use sharpened blades like scissors with the pivot point at the end. Skilled shearers can remove the wool quickly and keep it in one piece.

Do sheep like getting shorn?

Sheep shearing is very much like getting a haircut, but nervous sheep may struggle during the shearing process. It takes a lot of strength to hold them still and clip the wool at the same time. Sheep shearers should take their time to prevent injuries. Shorn sheep feel cooler for the upcoming hot weather and are probably relieved to be rid of their heavy, dirty coats. 

How do they clean the wool?

Contrary to what we see in picture books, sheep are pretty dirty. Museum interpreters use their hands to pull and tease the wool fibers apart to get rid of dirt and parasites. Next, they wash and card the wool. Carding untangles the fibers and stretches them out so that they can be spun. The museum staff will teach you how to perform each of these steps.

How did settlers color the wool?

We didn’t have the synthetic dyes we use now until the middle of the 19th century. Before that, people colored their fabrics with plants, lichens, and even insects. They used fixatives like salt and vinegar to help the dyes stay in place. Professional dyers were very protective about their recipes since some worked better than others. Many colors weren’t readily available, especially in the materials for the dyes that came from far away. Wool can be dyed before or after spinning.

How did they turn that pile of wool into my favorite sweater?

Spinners wind stretched-out wool fibers into yarn. Next, the yarn is formed into a fabric by knitting or by weaving on a loom. Both the German and the Irish farms have looms and visitors can watch the intricate, time-consuming process of working one.

What else can I see at the museum?

The Frontier Culture Museum is a living history museum that will connect present-day people with the lives and histories of those who lived in the past. The walkable museum offers a chance to explore the homesteads of the various people who settled in the region from other places. They include farms from West AfricaEnglandIreland, and Germany. The museum also offers a Native American village and American farms from various time periods.

Have more questions? Head to Wool Week to get answers!

Check out more events on Staunton on Tap.

Experience BaroqueFest in Staunton, VA

The Staunton Music Festival’s 10-day summer concert series brings over 80 world-class chamber musicians to town every August to showcase 600 years of music. But did you know that SMF brings almost 40 concerts to town each year, including “intimate” concerts in the spring and fall that are “often focusing on specific repertoire, from Baroque to Modern.” 

This spring’s offering is BaroqueFest a “three-day immersion in the very best music from the 17th and 18th centuries.” Baroque is known for the birth of the orchestra and common-practice tonality, in which a piece of music is composed in a specific key. BaroqueFest will include programs for voices, orchestra, and chamber ensembles. Performers will play period-appropriate instruments like historic keyboards, winds and brass, and strings. 

Photo by Leslie Kipp

How Do I Purchase Tickets?

Purchase individual tickets for individual concerts or buy a BaroqueFest or annual pass.

Photo by Leslie Kipp

BaroqueFest Itinerary

Here’s how to enjoy all the BaroqueFest programming as well as find food, lodging, and fun in Staunton in your downtime. 

Friday, April 8

12 p.m. Concert: Organ Recital with David Schrader

Master organist David Schrader performs a solo recital on the historic Taylor & Boody instrument at Christ Lutheran Church. Christ Lutheran Church | Free admission

Find Your Lodging 

Check into a tastefully updated room with historic details at the Blackburn Inn, a venue for some of the music. Other elegant and historic lodgings like Hotel 24 South or Frederick House provide access to Staunton’s shopping, dining, and walkable downtown. Browse all of our lodging options here.

Dine on Staunton’s Finest

Sit down to a fresh seafood dinner at Blu Point Seafood or casual drinks and light fare at The Green Room. If the weather is warm, try dining al fresco at one of several restaurants participating in Staunton’s Shop and Dine Out Downtown program. You’ll find fare ranging from gourmet pizza and burgers, Mexican, elevated Southern comfort food, gelato, and much more.

7 p.m. Concert: Concerto Italiano

Mark the start of spring–and the SMF BaroqueFest–with a ravishing program of Italian music, from Renaissance madrigals to concertos by Vivaldi, Marcello, and others. Central United Methodist Church | $26

Saturday, April 9

Fuel Up and Explore Staunton

Prepare for a big day with coffee and a pastry or breakfast sandwich at Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery. This new cafe is located in the Wharf District near the historic train station. Make sure you check out the nearby Sears Hill Bridge. The view you get of downtown is worth climbing the steep steps to the top. Nearby, the Staunton Farmers’ Market is open for the 2022 season. Look for fresh treats, live music, and a chance to shop and chat with producers. If you have time, catch a ride on Staunton’s historic trolley, a fun way to get around downtown. Stops on the line also include Gypsy Hill Park and the park-like Thornrose Cemetery.

12 p.m. Concert: Kaffeehaus Zimmermann

Leipzig’s cafes were prime music venues in the Baroque era. Enjoy orchestral, chamber and vocal music by Handel, Zelenka, Pisendel, Telemann, and Pachelbel. First Presbyterian Church | free admission

Fill Your Afternoon with Art and Craft Beverages

Satisfy your curiosity at Sunspots Studio, where you’ll watch artisans making creations out of molten glass. You’ll get a chance to ask questions and observe every step of the process. After that, browse the gallery for unique art glass home and garden decor, barware, and jewelry. Next, visit Redbeard Brewing or nearby Ciders from Mars for a taste of what’s new on the craft beer and cider scene. Take advantage of the warmer weather by sitting outside. Enjoy dinner at Table 44 or Byers Street Bistro, both of which serve Southern food with a twist and boast tasty cocktail menus.

7 p.m. Concert: The Old-Bachian Archive 

Orchestral, chamber, vocal, and choral works by lesser-known members of the Bachian clan, closing with Johann Sebastian’s Cantata 207. First Presbyterian Church | $26

Sunday, April 10

Enjoy Another Staunton Meal

Celebrate your weekend with a big breakfast at veteran-owned Vic’s Eats, which opens bright and early at 8 a.m. Enjoy hearty sandwiches like fried eggs, cheese, and your choice of meat served on pancake buns or fresh-made biscuits. Next, burn off those calories with a self-guided walking tour of downtown Staunton, named by Architectural Digest as one of the 30 Most Beautiful Main Streets Across America. Stroll through six historic districts and admire Staunton’s notable Victorian architecture. Look, especially, for the work of TJ Collins, who designed or remodeled over 200 buildings at the turn of the century. 

11 a.m. Concert: Purcell & Co. at the Blackburn

Enjoy music by Purcell and English contemporaries in the historic and newly-renovated Great Hall at Blackburn Inn. The Blackburn Inn | $20

12:30 p.m.: Lunch & Lecture: The French Baroque

Guest speaker Dr. Jon Gibson introduces the afternoon concert over catered lunch at the Blackburn Inn. The Blackburn Inn | $40

4 p.m. Concert: April in Paris: Versailles

The glittering French capital provides a sonic backdrop for works by Charpentier, Lully, Couperin, and many others. First Presbyterian Church | $26

Fill Up Before Heading Home

If you’re heading back home and not spending another night in Staunton, grab a quick bite to eat before you hit the road. Wright’s Dairy Rite is a retro 1950s diner that serves burgers, shakes, sundaes, and more with classic curbside service. It’s time to start planning your next trip to Staunton!

Staunton is a Southern Living Best Mountain Town

Did you know that Southern Living Magazine recently showcased Staunton as a top mountain town in its The South’s Best 2022? The list of the best southern destinations celebrates “the people, places, and communities that make [the South] more vibrant than ever.” Mountain towns were chosen for their local shops and restaurants, cozy lodging, and welcoming downtowns as well as their beauty and access to the mountains. Southern Living praises Staunton’s charming downtown, varied dining scene, notable lodging selection, and proximity to Shenandoah National Park. Read on for more reasons why Staunton is such a hot travel destination.

Ogle Staunton’s Beauty

Find a high spot in Staunton and kick back to admire the views. Try Cannon Hill at Mary Baldwin University or cross the historic footbridge to Woodrow Park on Sears Hill. You’ll even find something postcard-worthy when you pause on the Wal-Mart parking lot! From walks through historic downtown, country bike rides, or drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll never be far from a million-dollar view.

Eat Like a King

For a small city, Staunton has a wealth of independent restaurants. You’ll find everything from sophisticated Southern gourmet meals at Zynodoa and Table 44 to French pastry at Réunion. Get your fill of steak and seafood at Mill Street Grill and Blu Point Seafood, or opt for global fare at Gloria’s Pupuseria and Gonzo’s Pollo.

Find a Festival

Staunton is a wonderful home base for festivals throughout the year. 

  • Join us for the initial BaroqueFest, a three-day immersion in the very best music from the 17th and early 18th centuries. This festival takes place April 8-10.
  • Friday nights from Memorial Day to Labor Day come enjoy an outdoor concert series on the grounds of the Blackburn Inn and Conference Center. SummerStage kicks off May 27 with Hootenanny.
  • Jam out to The Steel Wheels, The Jayhawks, Langhorne Slim, and other notable names in roots music at the Red Wing Roots Festival at nearby Natural Chimneys State Park. June 24-26.
  • Enjoy selections from hundreds of years of classical music at the 10-day Staunton Music Festival. This festival welcomes over 70 acclaimed professionals from around the world to perform in 30 events and opens on August 12.
  • Browse the juried work of local and regional artists at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s annual Art in the Park. The 54th annual event will occur in Gypsy Hill Park on September 4-5. 
  • The Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival will return in person this year on the weekend of September 24-25. Head downtown for lots of magical fun as businesses and citizens 

Learn Something New

Learn the history of the presidency and early 20th-century life at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. Get a hands-on education at the Frontier Culture Museum, where costumed interpreters work historically accurate farms. Make time to view the exhibits at the Beverley Street Studio School Gallery and the Staunton Augusta Art Center.

Access the Outdoors

We dare you to visit the Shenandoah Valley and not take one of the best hikes of your life. Staunton is close to the Appalachian Trail and dozens of beautiful hikes in Shenandoah National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Venture west into George Washington and Jefferson National Forest for more exciting hiking opportunities. Hikers can also stretch their legs on miles of trails in Montgomery Hall Park and Betsy Bell & Mary Gray Wilderness.

Visit Southern Living to see more parks, businesses, and towns that made this years list. Look forward to casting your vote for the South’s Best 2023.

Springtime in Staunton

Are you team spring or team fall? Do you like flowers or leaves? We could argue all day about which season is Staunton’s prettiest, but we’re sure you want to get outside and enjoy this magnificent fresh air and balmy weather. From garden tours to festivals, to downtown dining, here are our picks to make the most of Staunton’s rebirth this spring.

Farmers’ Market

Dust off the cookbooks and fire up the grill. The Staunton Farmers’ Market will open on April 2nd this year. Make sure you visit from 7 a.m. – noon for the freshest local homegrown and homemade goods and produce. This family-friendly market has been a Staunton staple since 1993. Stroll the stalls to meet the producers, listen to live music, and enjoy the Staunton community.

Get Some Garden Inspiration

Historic Garden Tour takes place in Staunton’s north end this year. Secure your spot now for the April 23 walking tour, which visits two landscaped gardens in Williamsburg-inspired Baldwin Place as well as the grounds of Waverley Hill, a Staunton gem built in the Georgian Revival style in 1929. Visitors can watch gardening talks and floral demonstrations, and listen to Staunton Music Festival musicians along the tour.

If you can’t make it to the garden tour, make sure to take a stroll through Gypsy Hill Park to see the dogwoods and tulips in bloom.

Take a Hike

Celebrate April 16, the first day of National Park Week with a fee-free day in Shenandoah National Park. Hike your favorite trail and see the trees and wildflowers coming to life, or drive along the Skyline Drive and scope out the view.

If you’d rather hike or bike or shoot a round of disc golf closer to home, explore the miles of trails winding through Montgomery Hall Park. Got littles? They’ll love exploring the natural play elements at Nature Ridge Natural Playground.

Themed Adventure

“Take your brain for a walk with Traipse,” a free app that leads you on scavenger hunt-like tours of Staunton. Not only will you learn interesting history and trivia, you’ll also be able to crack riddles and earn discounts and samples from featured businesses. You can even compete with friends for high scores. Traipse offers several tours in Staunton, including ones that explore Gypsy Hill Park, Beverley Street, and the local pub scene.

You won’t be solving riddles, but if you like exploring new places and earning prizes, sign up for Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail’s Passport Program. The Beerwerks Trail maps 19 breweries within a 45-minute drive of Staunton. Many of them boast tasty food and outdoor spaces with views for miles. Visit them, sample the craft beer, get your passport stamped at eight, and earn an awesome t-shirt.

Make Earth Day Plans

It’s not too soon to start thinking about how you can positively impact the earth this year. Along with reducing your carbon footprint, you can visit Earth Day Staunton 2022 on April 23. The new location on Bells Lane combines the fun of the information-rich, family-friendly event with incredible views of Augusta County’s farmland. You’ll meet animals, including educational ambassadors from the Wildlife Center of Virginia, learn to fly a kite, learn to preserve our waterways, and much more.

Get Ready to Shop and Eat Al Fresco

Staunton’s popular Shop and Dine Out Downtown initiative is getting ready to open up for the 2022 season (April 1 – October 30.) Each weekend, the city closes several blocks of Beverley Street so that businesses and restaurants can set up outdoor spaces on the sidewalk and street. Tables, chairs, tents, and enthusiastic shoppers and diners fill the street. Those outdoor dining spaces are filled, in turn, with groups chatting, laughing, and loving the al fresco dining experience. 

Wool Week at the Frontier Culture Museum

One of the most interesting events at the Frontier Culture Museum is the annual Wool Week (April 25 – May 1), when interpreters sheer the winter fleeces from the sheep and process them into usable products. Visitors can watch every step of this fascinating and arduous process as well as learn about the lives of the Valley’s early settlers.

Art in the Park

Memorial Day weekend seems a long way away, but it will be here in no time. Plan to improve your decor by purchasing a unique work of art created by a regional artist at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s 55th annual Art in the Park festival in Gypsy Hill Park. Join the fun at this Staunton tradition where you’ll find amazing art, community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids.

Experience Mardi Gras (Staunton-Style)

You might not find yourself in the Big Easy this Mardi Gras, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate right here in Staunton. Decorate your covid mask, grab your beads and a cocktail, and have fun. Here’s our guide to feasting, frolicking, and Fat Tuesday fun.

The Clocktower Eats and Sweets

The Clocktower is celebrating Mardi Gras with a Fat Tuesday live music performance by Boxcar Speakeasy, a 5-piece New Orleans-style jazz group. The band will play from 7 – 10 p.m. on March 1. You’re also going to want to take advantage of the drink specials, a lineup of Bourbon Street-inspired goodness like the king cake martini (vanilla vodka, Bailey’s, fireball whiskey, and creme) and the Bourbon Street smash (bourbon, banana liqueur, bitters, vanilla syrup, and lemon). Order dinner, too. They’re serving cajun shrimp and grits, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and more.

Mill Street Grill

Celebrate Mardi Gras at Mill Street Grill from now through March 1 with lots of delicious Cajun and Creole specials. Nosh on oysters Rockefeller, steak and crawfish creole, paella, blackened catfish, crawfish etouffee, pan-fried frog legs, and more. On March 1, the music of Staunton’s own Rhythm Road will start at 6:30. No reservations are necessary and the music is free. Come early and start your evening with a cocktail or a selection from the extensive beer and wine list.  You’ll also be able to order from the rest of Mill Street’s menu, which offers steaks, seafood, chicken, salads, sandwiches, and pasta, including a vegetarian Cajun vegetable pasta.

Barren Ridge Vineyard

Don’t miss the Mardi Gras celebration at Barren Ridge Vineyard on Saturday, February 26. You’ll have the best time ever eating traditional Mardi Gras food, drinking Barren Ridge wine, and two-stepping to live music from The Virginia Central Blues Society and Boxcar Speakeasy. There’s also a silent auction, and attendees should wear their masks, beads, and best Carnival-season costumes! Proceeds from the event will support Blues in the School, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students to learn the blues. Bringing the blues into the classroom helps students learn “while breaking down racial barriers and opening dialogue about cultural diversity.”

Byers Street Bistro 

You might have missed National Margarita Day, but there’s still time to head down to the Byers Street Bistro for a round of cocktails featuring one of their specialty drinks. Pucker up with the Pretty in Peach margarita, a mix of tequila, peach schnapps, pomegranate liqueur, lime juice, sour mix, and a salt or sugar rim. Another tasty bet is the Buttah-Scotchaha-Rita, a tangy concoction of tequila, Buttershots, orange juice, sour mix, and ginger ale with a salty rim. Compliment your cocktails with a menu full of shareable appetizers, salads, gourmet pizzas, handheld burgers, sandwiches, and treats like shrimp tacos.

Vic’s Eats

Head over to Vic’s Eats and grab your favorite Mardi Gras dishes from gumbo to jambalaya to even little tiny king cakes.

The Well Balanced Paw

Your pups can even celebrate this year at The Well Balanced Paw. Stop in with your four-legged friend to grab tiny king cakes all weekend long. While shopping listen to the sounds of Mardi Gras and if you allow your doggie to be adventurous; try dog jambalaya!

Want to watch Mardi Gras live in New Orleans? Here’s how.

Want to host a party and bake a prize into your own purple, green, and gold cake? This king cake recipe has 4.5 stars.

For more events, check out Staunton on Tap!

Don’t Make A Resolution; Make A Plan

Rich in history, dining, and culture; Staunton is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year. From festivals and concerts to romantic getaways and holiday entertainment, here are some ideas to get you thinking about how you can enjoy our town each month.

January – Outdoor Winter Adventures

What to Do: Staunton is the perfect location for accessing winter fun. Massanutten Resort and Wintergreen Ski Resort are both 40 minutes. In slightly over an hour, you can reach Bryce Mountain Resort and The Omni Homestead Resort for downhill fun in the snow. Get a workout on the slopes and come home to Staunton to warm up. Check out our blog It’s All Downhill from Staunton for more ideas.

Where to Stay: Tru by Hilton has a great location convenient to downtown Staunton as well as I-81 and I-64.

Where to Eat: Fill up with gourmet pizza at Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House or dine curbside at Wright’s Dairy-Rite.

February – Romantic Getaways

What to Do:

  • If you met your person during quarantine or managed to stay in love while working from home, supervising Zoom school, and staying 6 feet away from your friends, you must be doing something right. You and your significant other have exercised patience and kindness toward each other, and you deserve a romantic getaway to celebrate your love. Spend a memorable evening listening to romantic love songs from the American Songbook by Broadway’s Nancy Anderson in the Great Hall at the Blackburn Inn.
  • Catch a show at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Romeo and Juliet will open on February 25th, 2022.

Where to Stay: The historic Blackburn Inn’s rooms are the perfect blend of historical charm and modern sophistication. 

Where to Eat: BLU Point Seafood prepares the freshest seafood as well as burgers, salads, and sandwiches. Another delicious choice is the four or five-course tasting menu at The Shack.

March – Explore Staunton’s Historic Architecture

What to Do: Take a walking tour of Staunton’s historic districts to exercise your body and your brain. Try one of our self-guided tours:

Where to Stay: Book a luxurious room in one of Staunton’s finest historic buildings, Hotel 24 South.

Where to Eat: Plan to dine in another historic building: The Clocktower Eats & Sweets is housed in what was once a YMCA building built in the 1890s. The Mill Street Grill was once the operating White Star Mill, also built in the 1890s.

April – Dine Out Downtown

What to Do:

  • Staunton’s Shop and Dine Out Downtown program came about because of pandemic necessity, but the city has adopted it because it is so popular, the helps restaurants and businesses expand into space on Beverley Street when it closes for vehicular traffic each weekend. Tables, chairs, tents, and enthusiastic shoppers and dinner fill the street, and those outdoor dining spaces are filled, in turn, with groups chatting, laughing, and loving the al fresco dining experience. 
  • The Spring season at the Blackfriars Playhouse will feature Romeo and Juliet and Comedy of Errors.

Where to Stay: Staunton Stays are fully-equipped luxury suites and apartments that are located downtown and playfully decorated by theme.

Where to Eat: You’ll be eating dinner downtown, but start your day with coffee and a healthy and delicious breakfast at Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery, The By & By, or Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery.

May – Art In The Park

What to Do: How about upping your decorating game by purchasing a unique work of art created by a regional artist? This Memorial Day weekend marks the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s 55th Annual Art in the Park festival at Gypsy Hill Park. Join the fun at this Staunton tradition where you’ll find amazing art, community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids.

Where to Stay: Located in a beautiful, historic house, Montclair Bed and Breakfast provides privacy, a gourmet breakfast, and convenience to the park and downtown.

Where to Eat: Dine on Salvadoran pupusas at Gloria’s Pupusaria or grab some Peruvian charbroiled chicken at Gonzo’s Pollo. Both are convenient to the park.

June – Summer Music

What to Do: 

  • The summer music scene in Staunton is on fire! More than 40 of the biggest names in folk music will appear early July at Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Natural Chimney’s Park. Besides the music, festival attendees can expect a beer garden, food and craft vendors, bike rides, yoga, and lawn games for adults and kids alike.
  • Head to Gypsy Hill Park for free, live concerts most days of the week including sounds the historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band, Praise in the Park’s contemporary and southern gospel, local and regional bluegrass, and jazz.
  • You’ll also want to watch the schedule at Redbeard Brewing Company for the Summer Concert Series Lineup and upcoming summer concerts at the Blackburn Inn.

Where to Stay: With easy access to interstate try the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Staunton.

Where to Eat: Fuel up with big servings of Mexican and a wide selection of craft beer at the Baja Bean. Chicano Boy Taco is another place to get delicious Mexican food.

July – Heifetz and Happy Birthday America

What to Do: 

  • The annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts brings you over 50 different concerts ranging from chamber music, Fourth of July music, and multi-genre selections. You’ll see world-renowned celebrity guests in the Celebrity Series and Sunday Matinee Series. Heifetz students perform in the Stars of Tomorrow Series as well as the intimate Fridays in the Gallery series. Anything goes in the Heifetz Hootenanny Series.
  • Bring the family to Gypsy Hill Park this Independence Day for the free, family-friendly Happy Birthday America celebration. Enjoy a vesper service, a 5K race, a lively parade, concessions, and live music from local acts and homegrown country group Wilson Fairchild. 

Where to Stay: Howard Johnson’s offers comfortable rooms easily walked to and convenient to downtown.

Where to Eat: Dine on Thai favorites at Ubon Thai or head to nearby Aioli for Mediterranean cuisine and tapas.

August – Staunton Music Festival

What to Do: Get ready for a classical music thrill this August as The Staunton Music Festival brings you concerts spanning over 600 years. Dozens of musicians will perform in both large and small ensembles in a variety of Staunton venues like Trinity Episcopal Church and Blackfriars Playhouse. 

Where to Stay: The Storefront Hotel is a small, cool, private hotel with a private bar located downtown.

Where to Eat: Dine on authentic Indian favorites at Taste of India.

September – Queen City Mischief and Magic

What to Do: Raise your wands for Staunton’s Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, a home-grown fan festival celebrating J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series as well as all things magical and mystical. Next September, join thousands of seriously excited fans in downtown Staunton for themed shopping, dining, performances, and hands-on activities for all ages.

Where to Stay: Plan to stay at the Frederick House, and be right in the center of all the witches and wizards!

Where to Eat: Take the family to the Depot Grille for a wide selection of American food and a cool location by the historic train station. Fuel up with morning coffee at Crucible Coffee Roasters.

October – Virginia Wine Month and Ghost Tours

What to Do: 

  • According to VAWine.org, Virginia’s winemakers “embody the grace, grit, and experimental spirit of Virginia.” They also make some fine wine! October is Virginia Wine Month, so plan to celebrate wines made in the Shenandoah Valley. Read Raise a Glass to Virginia Wine Month for our favorite local places to drink it, buy it, and other ways to enjoy it.
  • Make plans to shiver this October when you take a Staunton Ghost Tour. You’ll learn about the Queen City’s unique architecture and its history as a thriving Victorian commercial center in the 1850s. You’ll also learn about the ghosts that just might come with buildings that old.

Where to Stay: Stay in Gibson’s Warehouse, a sleek, modern space in a historic building in one of Staunton’s (possibly) most haunted areas.

Where to Eat: Choose from cheese plates, gourmet grilled cheeses, and an enormous selection of wines produced locally and around the world at Yelping Dog Wine. The Green Room is a second destination for wine and light fare.

November – Art for Gifts, Christmas Parade, Celebration of Holiday Lights

What to Do:

  • Get in the holiday spirit by attending the Staunton Holiday Parade, which marches annually on the Monday after Thanksgiving and features marching bands, floats, and more by community and business organizations.
  • Find something for everyone on your list at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s Art for Gifts holiday market, which features unique, handmade art from over 70 Virginia artists and artisans. 
  • Don’t miss a trip around Gypsy Hill Park for the Celebration of Holiday Lights during the month of December as it is transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of lights and decorations.

Where to Stay: The updated rooms at the Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast retain their Victorian charm and are steps from downtown dining and entertainment.

Where to Eat: Grab coffee and pastries at Réunion Bakery & Espresso or treats at Magdelena Bake. Visit Zynodoa for fine dining and a seasonal farm-to-table menu.

December-Holiday Happenings and Cheer

What to Do:

  • Stay tuned for the Staunton Downtown Development Association’s holiday events like Saturdays in December, which offer chances to shop and play downtown during the holidays. Shop, dine, and enjoy holiday characters, decorations, musicians, performers, activities, and more.
  • Take an Old World Holiday Tour at the Frontier Culture Museum to enjoy lantern-light visits to English, Irish, and German farmstead. Costumed interpreters perform holiday skits and music.
  • Enjoy ghostly season’s greetings with a Blackfriar’s production of A Christmas Carol. The show is filled with memorable music, cheer, and contemporary twists on the classic tale of Scrooge, Marley, the Christmas ghosts, the Cratchits, and Tiny Tim.  

Where to Stay: Orlesa Farms in Staunton is the perfect balance of seclusion and convenience for the ultimate in relaxation.

Where to Eat: You’ll love the selection of seasonal savory and sweet pies at Firkin Pie Company or Southern cuisine with a twist at Table 44.

Staunton Ghost Tours

Staunton grew from a sleepy town to a bustling center of commerce when the railroad came to town in the 1850s. It’s now known for its beautiful Victorian architecture spread across a number of historic districts. Visitors love to take historical and garden walking tours, but buildings that old come steeped in history…and possibly ghosts. Are you hoping for a helping of goosebumps this October? Read on to get your haunt on this Halloween.

The American Hotel

Ghosts of Staunton Tours

If you’d like to learn about Staunton’s spooks and apparitions, the logical place to start is with a professional ghost tour by Black Raven Paranormal. Ghosts of Staunton Tours has been educating the community for 14 years.  Not only will you learn the best places for sightings in this “hub for paranormal activity,” you’ll get a healthy dose of history as well. This should please even skeptical audience members! If you’d like to see Black Raven Paranormal in action, check out their Amazon Prime series: The Black Raven Chronicles. Episodes include investigations of the Clocktower and Montgomery Hall.

Tour Dates

Tours run through the end of October and include several different options:

  • Fridays at 7:30: Staunton’s Haunted History Ghost Tour
    • 90-minute tour by lantern light. Learn about notable Staunton natives and why they might spend their afterlives in the Queen City. This tour “strive[s] to educate, enlighten, and entertain you with our own unique blend of the paranormal, science, history, and local legend.”
  • Fridays at 8: Dark Tales and Haunts Ghost Tour
    • 90-minute exploration of the darker side of Staunton: “legends, lore, history, mystery, ghosts, and murder are all rolled into one.”
  • Saturdays at 7 and 8: Haunted American Hotel Tour
    • Used as a home base for travelers and a hospital during the Civil War, the American Hotel has had plenty of opportunities to acquire spectral presences. Learn the history and the results of Black Raven Paranormal’s investigations. You’ll even get to participate in a live audio session as investigators attempt to contact the departed. Make sure to stop in at the onsite Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery for a special, spooky menu.
  • Sundays at 6 and 7:30: Civil War Hospital Tour
  • Friday/Saturday, October 22, 23, 29, 30 at 7:30, Sunday October 31 at 7: Haunted Depot Spirit Box Tour
  • You can also schedule a private ghost tour for a party of five or more.

Historic Cemeteries

There are probably a few spirits on the loose in Thornrose Cemetery. This large, park-like resting ground has been Staunton’s biggest burial ground since the 1840s. One of the highest points is marked by a 22-foot marble Confederate infantryman. This is the mass grave of 1,700 fallen Civil War soldiers killed on area battlefields. Wander the winding drives and rest on one of the many benches to admire the cemetery architecture, which includes an arching footbridge and a tower. For more background and highlights, check out our walking tour.

Where Else Might I See a Staunton Ghost or Two?

Check out the train station in the Wharf. In 1890, brakes failed on a runaway train, which flew off the tracks destroying part of the train station, killing a promising young singer, and injuring many more. The rebuilt version of the station was destroyed by fire (as was a large portion of the historic district). Have any ghosts survived this gruesome history?

The Blackburn Inn, now a boutique hotel, was once the main administration building for Western State Hospital. Built in the 1820s, it specialized in the “moral treatment” and emotional wellbeing of psychiatric patients. Later, the structure was a medium-security prison before being renovated into luxury accommodations. Plan a weekend stay or enjoy drinks or dinner at the Second Draft Bistro and imagine history coming to life.

Cemetery enthusiasts will also enjoy the quiet burial ground surrounding downtown’s Trinity Episcopal Church. This was Staunton’s original graveyard, used until Thornrose Cemetery opened to provide more space. The lovely church contains a number of Tiffany windows, and the historic graves and monuments provide interesting viewing. 

 

 

Is the most haunted space in Staunton across the street from Lowes? Look to your right as you drive down the driveway to the  Frontier Culture Museum. Looming high above brush and overgrown grounds, the decaying former DeJarnette Sanitarium certainly looks like it could be haunted. Built in 1932, the building has a troubling past and is currently unsafe for visitors. Snap some photos from the road and continue on to the museum where you can take a tour and learn about the Halloween traditions of early Valley settlers.

Former DeJarnette Sanitarium