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Fun things to do in Virginia

Illustration by James Gulliver Hancock

A curated list of the best upcoming events in Tidewater Virginia.

We Shall Overcome: A Williamsburg Black History Experience

Ongoing Explore the bravery and resilience of African Americans in 18th-century Williamsburg while touring important locations like the Mary Stith House, Williamsburg Bray School, and Historic First Baptist Church. During this 2-hour walking tour, guides will share inspirational stories of the escaped slaves and influential leaders who helped create a better future for Virginia and the nation. Tickets, $25. Williamsburg

“Dawoud Bey: Elegy”

Through February 25 Dawoud Bey’s photographs and film installations reflect on the harrowing journeys of African Americans from the Richmond slave trail and Louisiana plantations to Ohio’s Underground Railroad sites. Adults, $12. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm”

FREE! Through April 7 Take a peek into The Beatles’ rise to stardom through the lens of Paul McCartney’s Pentax camera. This exhibit features more than 250 photographs taken between November 1963 and February 1964, when the band became international superstars. McCartney’s images include intimate scenes of the band’s trips to New York, Miami, and Paris, as well as its appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Also see the original lyrics to “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” pages from McCartney’s diary, and video footage. Chrysler Museum, Norfolk.

Rainforest Adventure

Through April 28 Learn about one of the most diverse and endangered ecosystems on our planet through an interactive maze, puzzles, and a 10-foot zip line. Swing like a spider monkey, leap like a frog, and climb on a giant spiderweb as you journey through the layers of the tropical rainforest by correctly answering questions that determine the course. Adult aquarium admission, $29.95. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Museum, Virginia Beach.

“Willie Anne Wright: Artist and Alchemist”

FREE! Through April 28 Take in a large sampling of Richmond native Willie Anne Wright’s experimental paintings and photographs from her 60-year-career, including playful scenes of everyday life and works that examine pop culture, feminine identity, and the cultural landscape of the South. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

Antique Show

February 24–25 Browse and shop antiques, collectibles, and vintage items from more than 35 dealers from the mid-Atlantic region at the Suffolk Art League’s annual show and sale. Items include silver, jewelry, artwork, linen, porcelain, furniture, art glass, and more. Food and refreshments will also be available. Tickets, $7. King’s Fork Middle School, Suffolk.

“Blow Up II: Inflatable Contemporary Art”

February 24–May 4 Discover how air is used with everyday materials and imagery to craft larger-than-life works of art. These whimsical artworks are made from nylon or vinyl fabric and supported by internal electric fans. The large-scale sculptures inspire conversation about pop culture and social norms. Admission, $3. Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, Portsmouth.

Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

February 29–March 3 Admire more than 500 quilts, wearables, textile works, and special exhibits at this show for quilting fanatics, needle crafters, and home sewers. A Merchants Mall will feature items for textile artists, and fiber art exhibitions include quilting and wearable art competitions. Workshops and lectures will be offered by leading instructors teaching all skill levels. General admission, $18. Hampton Roads Convention Center, Hampton.

One City Marathon

March 2–3 Run on a scenic route that spans the entire length of Newport News. Views include parks, waterways, historical neighborhoods, and the downtown area that’s home to Newport News Shipbuilding. Choose from a 5K on Saturday or a half or full marathon on Sunday. After the race, let loose at the One City Celebration (at Tradition Brewing Company on Saturday and at The Yard District on Sunday). Registration fees apply. Newport News.

Madama Butterfly

March 8–10 Virginia Opera presents the tragic tale of a young Japanese maiden who falls in love with an American naval officer and is left to face an unspeakable aftermath. Puccini’s haunting score makes this one of opera’s most beloved stories of unrequited love. Tickets start at $22.73. Harrison Opera House, Norfolk.

Search for the Shamrocks

FREE! March 15–16 Hunt for shamrocks around Chincoteague at this annual St. Paddy’s–themed adventure. The event takes participants around the island, including historic Main Street businesses, to find various clues and compete for prizes. Costumes are encouraged. Main Street, Chincoteague Island.

James River Film Festival

April 11–14 Learn about the history and contributions of independently produced films at this 30th annual festival as nationally and internationally known filmmakers screen and discuss their works. Tickets: $5 for Virginia Museum of Fine Arts members, $8 for non-members. Various venues, Richmond.

Flying Pirate Half Marathon

April 19–21 Race on a mostly flat, scenic course through historic Kitty Hawk—the birthplace of aviation—before passing the Wright Brothers Memorial and continuing through the lush Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve. Dress in your best pirate garb and compete in the costume contest; a fun run and 5K are also scheduled. Registration costs vary. Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

Hampton Mosaic Festival

FREE! April 20 Celebrate Earth Day a little early with a world cultural celebration that includes dance, music, visual art, storytelling, crafts, and unique vendors. Enjoy more than 20 family-friendly activities like themed games and craft stations, along with live entertainment, artist demos, and cultural displays. Mill Point Park and downtown, Hampton.

Artrageous

April 27 Hailing from New Mexico, this troupe combines singing, dancing, and painting with intricate choreography and audience interaction, resulting in a gallery of artwork created before spectators’ eyes. The group has performed worldwide, and their creations hang in private and public collections around the globe. Adults, $30. Suffolk Center’s Birdsong Theater, Suffolk.

OBX Rod and Custom Festival

FREE! May 3–4 Automotive enthusiasts can see a range of exciting vehicles, including pro street cars, hot rods, rat rods, muscle cars, and classic cars. The festival also includes cruise-ins, demos, food trucks, vendors, and a kids’ area with crafts and games. Registration for exhibitors, $50. Soundside Event Site, Nags Head, North Carolina.

Drummer’s Call

FREE! May 17–19 Music corps from around the country join Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes & Drums for performances throughout the historic area to celebrate the tradition of military music. You’ll hear period music from the latter half of the 18th century and will learn about the important roles played by military field musicians. Colonial Williamsburg.

Monsters on the Beach

May 17–19 Watch these custom-built powerhouses go over sand dunes and junk cars while competing for “King of the Beach.” Sign up for a driver meet-and-greet, watch the amateur Tough 4x4 competitions, and walk the boardwalk for a truck show. Tickets start at $20. Oceanfront, Virginia Beach.

The Hit Men of Country

May 18 Enjoy a country music concert featuring 5 Nashville musicians who have toured and recorded with some of the genre’s biggest stars, like Wynonna Judd, Keith Urban, Trace Adkins, and Jason Aldean. You’ll hear hits including “Big Green Tractor,” “I Swear,” and “Somebody Like You,” as well as behind-the-scenes stories about their time on the road. Tickets start at $35. Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, Suffolk.

Patriotic Festival Country Weekend

May 23–26 Downtown Norfolk transforms into a country music festival for 4 nights of concerts featuring the Zac Brown Band, Hardy, Bailey Zimmerman, and Warren Zeiders. The Scope Arena Plaza and Concourse will feature pre-show activities and military exhibits. Ticket prices vary. Various venues, Norfolk.

Blackbeard Pirate Festival

FREE! June 1–2 Hampton’s waterfront takes a step back in time to re-live the history and legends of 1718 with historic vessels, swashbuckling reenactments, pirate skirmishes, and interactive encampments. Children’s activities, live music, period vendors, arts and crafts, and dozens of roaming pirates round out the event. On Saturday, don’t miss the fireworks over the Hampton River. Mill Point Park, Hampton.

Family Days: Celebrate African and African American Art

FREE! June 8 Explore African and African American art and culture through hands-on art activities, artist demonstrations, performances, music, and the museum’s galleries. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo

June 13–16 Insects work, play, and look for love in this funny, colorful, and riotous show. Crickets bounce off trampolines and a hypnotic spider contorts inside her web, giving the audience a look into a diverse ecosystem that teems with life and emotion. Tickets start at $59. Scope Arena, Norfolk.

Under the Oaks Art Fest

FREE! June 18–19 Stroll the scenic waterfront at Whalehead to see creations by more than 50 artists, including pottery, paintings, jewelry, woodwork, mixed media, glass, metal, photography, and fiber art. There will also be local food vendors and a silent art auction. Historic Corolla Park, Currituck, North Carolina.

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