The Virginia Highlands Festival

For 10 days every summer, Abingdon is completely transformed, playing host to one of the biggest and best arts festivals in the southeast. The celebration extends beyond the downtown street festival, though, with opportunities to play outdoors in nature, attend classes and workshops, time travel to Abingdon’s colonial past with living historians, or even ride in a vintage biplane.

Named “Best Art Event” in the region by readers of Virginia Living magazine, the Virginia Highlands Festival offers activities and entertainment for the whole family.

The 10 day festival runs July 29 to August 7, 2016. For a full listing of events, visit

Anchored by an antiques market and an award-winning juried arts and crafts show, the Festival includes live music, historical re-enactments, fine art and photography competitions, performances, creative writing workshops, guided nature hikes, and numerous activities for kids.




porterfield-antiques-optimizedRobert Porterfield, founder of both the Virginia Highlands Festival and the famed Barter Theatre, held the first Festival in 1949 at the Martha Washington Inn. His purpose was to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of this area. The Festival, over the past six decades, has grown in scope to represent all of Southwest Virginia. Now it not only preserves the arts, crafts and skills that developed in this region, but also imports talented artists and performers from all over the USA and the world for the enjoyment of area residents and visitors.




Headliner: Grammy Award Winner John Berry


John Berry VA Highlands FestivalJohn Berry rose to stardom on the country music charts of the 1990s with mega hits Your Love Amazes Me, Standing on the Edge of Goodbye, and She’s Taken a Shine. John’s enduringly powerful performances draw on a lifetime of making music. “By the time I was 17, I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life,” and he’s done it well ever since. Bring your mom, bring your kids, and bring your sweetheart for a night of unforgettable music.

July 30th, 7:30-9:30pm – Abingdon Market Pavilion

Tickets $15-30

For more festival events, visit


More ways to enjoy the Virginia Highlands Festival

Here are just a few ways to celebrate summer at this year’s Festival:

  • Browse through hundreds of vendors at the Festival’s hugely popular Antiques Market opening on July 30.  Get inspired for your next craft project at the Pinterest-worthy Juried Arts and Crafts Show opening Friday July 29.
  • Get the adrenaline rush you crave on a Vintage Biplane ride with Dewey Davenport every day of the Festival from 9am-8pm at the Virginia Highlands Airport. For 15 minutes you can escape the mundane with this once-in-a-lifetime flight. Rides $75 per person for 15 minutes.
  • Spark your creativity and get tips from the pros on how to publish that short story you’ve always wanted to write at the Writers’ Day workshops on July 29 beginning at 8am.
  • Let your hair down and join the biggest outdoor dance party in the area at one of the Festival’s many live concerts!
  • Get off the grid and into the river! Take a lazy float down the Holston River with Clinch River Adventures July 30 at 10:00am. Need a little more action than that? Try an action-packed Kayaking trip with Adventure Mendota on July 30 or Aug. 6 at 9:30am.
  • Throw on your kilt and don’t miss a full day of heart-pounding Celtic music at the Celtic Ceilidh kicking off at 11:30am on July 31!
  • Soak up some culture at a performance by The Highlands Ballet Company Aug. 2 at 7:30pm or laugh till you cry at the Barter Late Nite Cabaret July 30 and 31 at 11:15pm.
  • Get a peek into the real housewives of historic Abingdon on the Historic Homes Tour Saturday, Aug. 6 from 10am- 4pm. Visit 15 of Abingdon’s most historic houses in the quaint (and walkable!) historic district on this self-guided tour.


Visitor  Information


Held in Historic Abingdon and the surrounding area, the annual Virginia Highlands Festival offers juried fine art and crafts, antiques, performing and literary arts, music, local history, the great outdoors, and fun for kids of all ages!

Sponsor1-1024x678The juried fine art show and many of the concerts take place in downtown Abingdon along Remsburg Drive. However, there are plenty of other Festival events taking place in and around Abingdon, from antiques, to classes, to hikes, to photography shows.

Visit for more details, or or pick up a copy of The Highlander at the Abingdon Visitor Center, 335 Cummings Street, Abingdon VA 24210. For more pick up locations click here >

Festival Entry and Information

Festival welcome tents will be set up at the east and west ends of Remsburg Drive. These tents will have general Festival information and volunteers available to answer your questions. While Festival admission is free, we do ask for a $1 donation per person over the age of 12 to help support the many activities of the festival.

Parking and Transportation

Ample parking is available in the Festival lots off I-81 at exits 14 (Antiques Market and Heartwood) and exit 19 (Roses/Wolf Hills Shopping Center). Free shuttles run to Festival sites and to Abingdon’s Historic District from these lots from 9:30am – 6pm.


Most Festival venues are accessible. If you are uncertain or need to make special arrangements, please call the Festival office at (276) 623-5266.