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End-of-Year Festivals in the Shenandoah Valley

Santa Train Virginia Scenic Railway

As the leaves change and the air gets cold, the Valley comes to life with a number of different seasonal festivals. Celebrating a range of occasions from the peak of fall foliage to traditional holiday fun, festivals offer a special and memorable experience. Whether you want to listen to music, shop unique gifts, taste delicious food and beverages, fill yourself with holiday spirit at a community gathering, or just admire the incredible scenery, the Shenandoah Valley has a festival for you. From art and live music to parade floats to Santa meet and greets, here are some of the Valley’s best end-of-year festivals to keep you busy during the cozy months.

Waynesboro’s Fall Foliage Art Show

October 14th & 15th 10 am – 4 pm in downtown Waynesboro

Get a jump on your holiday shopping and celebrate regional and national artistic talent against a beautiful backdrop of autumn colors at Waynesboro’s 51st annual Fall Foliage Art Show. Produced by the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, the juried show is consistently voted among Virginia Living’s Best of Virginia. The show is the Valley’s largest outdoor art festival, bringing more than 150 fine artists to town to showcase their talent along Wayne Avenue and Main Street, which are shut to vehicular traffic. Peruse paintings, photography, sculpture, woodworking, jewelry, mixed media, ceramics, and more as you meet the artists and learn about their processes and inspiration. Check out emerging artists at SVAC’s Emerge Gallery. Visitors can catch the beat and dance to live music, keep the kids busy with interactive projects, sample gourmet festival food and seasonal flavors, sip craft beer, and meet artists from all over at this lively annual event. The festival has free parking and admission.

There’s a lot more to explore in downtown Waynesboro, including a dozen local restaurants, and many locally-owned boutiques, museums, and galleries. You’ll also want to check out the Virginia Metalcrafters Marketplace, which houses Basic City Beer Co. and Showroom, Happ Coffee Roasters, The Foundry music venue, Patina Italian-inspired cuisine, and Common Wealth Crush wine collaborative and tasting room.

End Of Year Festivals In The Shenandoah Valley

Harrisonburg’s Winter Wonderfest & Cookie Tour

Saturday, December 2, 2023, noon 

Embrace the magic and wonder of the holiday season in downtown Harrisonburg at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance’s Winter Wonderfest! The entire family can admire the holiday lights and decorations, meet costumed characters, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and even explore “Whoville.” Get into the holiday spirit by taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, and trying to pick your favorite from the lineup of cool creations in the annual Gingerbread House Build-Off. The day ends with the lively Holidays Around the World-themed parade and a community tree lighting. Grab something to eat and drink from one of Harrisonburg’s fine downtown restaurants. Rather than be restricted to a beer garden, adults can purchase beer, wine, or a cocktail at participating breweries, restaurants, or cideries then sip and stroll as they shop in a variety of downtown stores. 

But the fun doesn’t stop there! You’ll also want to grab your tickets for the popular Cookie Tour. This self-guided tour adds an extra element of fun (and deliciousness) to holiday shopping at independently-owned retailers. Participants pick up a cookie box and then collect special individually wrapped treats from local bakers at each of a dozen stops. 

End Of Year Festivals In The Shenandoah Valley

Staunton’s Frontier Culture Lantern Tours and More

Lantern Tours: December 15th – December 17th, and December 20th – December 23rd

Tickets go on sale November 1

Step back in time as you explore the Valley’s largest open-air museum and get a fascinating glimpse into how our ancestors from Europe, Africa, and the Americas weathered the winter nights and celebrated the holidays. The Frontier Culture Museum’s immersive holiday lantern tours are led by costumed interpreters guiding the way with a lantern. Learn about the lives, customs, struggles, and joys of life in various regions and historical periods through skits and multicultural vignettes. The tours last two hours and require about a mile of walking outside. Wear weather-appropriate clothing and shoes!

The Santa Express Train with Virginia Scenic Railway offers another way to connect with the past and bring Christmas to life this holiday season. Hop aboard the festively decorated 1940s passenger train with your family for memories that will last a lifetime The 40-minute rides run between Thanksgiving and Christmas and include hot cocoa, cookies, and photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Finally, remember the true meaning of the holidays when you watch a production of A Christmas Carol at the American Shakespeare Center. Join a talented cast in bringing Ebeneezer Scrooge’s redemption story to life in the world’s only reproduction of Shakespeare’s indoor theater. (November 30 – December 30)

End Of Year Festivals In The Shenandoah Valley

More Valley Festivals

Here are some of the Valley’s other festivals that are coming.

End Of Year Festivals In The Shenandoah Valley
  • November 29 – December 25: Tour the Holiday Parking Meter Decorating Contest on Main Street in Berryville
  • December 1 & 2: A “Berry Merry Christmas” in downtown Berryville; Christmas tree lighting ceremony, caroling, hot chocolate, Christmas music, parade 
End Of Year Festivals In The Shenandoah Valley
End Of Year Festivals In The Shenandoah Valley

Enjoy the final months of 2023 as you embrace the spirit of the season at one (or several) of these Shenandoah Valley festivals and events. For more Shenandoah Valley events click here.

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