The theme of this year’s festival is “The Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” reflecting the festival’s long history of showcasing the rich tradition and culture of the region.
“We are celebrating our 65th anniversary in a big way,” said festival President Julie Donovan. “New this year will be daily craft demonstrations by Heartwood artisans, live morning radio broadcasts from the Pavilion with Rusty Cury of WABN, and our partnership with the William King Museum to exhibit the photography competition. We hope everyone enjoys our ‘jewel of the Blue Ridge’ and its many treasures.”
Founded in 1948, the Virginia Highlands Festival is an annual, week-long event devoted to the celebration of Southwest Virginian heritage and rich Appalachian tradition. Held in historic Abingdon, Va., the festival attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year.
The festival is anchored by a nationally-recognized antiques market and an award-winning juried arts and crafts show. The Antiques Market will be held Aug. 3-11 at Virginia Highlands Community College. More than 200 booths with dealers from 15 states will stock treasures from around the globe — from vintage typewriters and unique folk art to Victorian jewelry and fine country furniture.
Serious antique lovers can take advantage of Early Bird Shopping on Aug. 3 or purchase a festival pass to watch for new items as dealers restock throughout the nine-day show.
Attendees can experience for themselves why the festival was named “Best Art Event” for the second year in a row by readers of Virginia Living Magazine. The Arts and Crafts Show will host more than 100 artisans from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Aug. 2-11, on Remsburg Drive. Handmade jewelry, pottery, woodworking, iron work, home products and even artisan foods can be purchased for as little as $1.
Fine art and photography enthusiasts can visit the Juried Fine Art exhibit at the Arts Depot and the Photography Competition exhibit at the William King Museum to view competition winners and shop for new pieces.
The festival’s live music venues will feature Beatles and Eagles tribute bands, Celtic rock and folk songs, country, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and classical favorites.
The 13th Annual Celtic Weekend will feature four groups playing in rotation throughout the weekend of Aug. 3-4. The Friday Tribute Series will be held on Aug. 2 and Aug. 9. The Summer Concert Showcase will feature popular local artists Aug. 8, 10 and 11. The annual free concert and Street Party with local favorite Phantom will take place on Aug. 10.
Free activities for kids — including a magic show, balloons, face painting, parades and various hands-on arts and crafts workshops — will be available in the youth tent on Remsburg Drive. For more family-friendly fun, the festival offers its Youth Art Show, the Abingdon’s Got Talent competition and a special new concert with Radio Disney artist Tyler Layne.
Additional programs in the festival include guided hikes and river floats, a Colonial Trade Faire, creative writing workshops, kitchen tours and a wine tasting. Some events require tickets, which can be purchased at the gate or in advance on the festival website.
For a full schedule of festival events, pick up a Highlander magazine at various locations throughout the Tri-Cities or request a mailed copy by emailing email@example.com or by calling (276) 623-5266. For more information and tickets available for purchase, visit www.vahighlandsfestival.org.