Things to Do - Signature Abingdon Events

performer at Main Street Busker Fest

Fire breathers, human statues, dancers, stunt artists, contortionists and musicians fill downtown Abingdon for Main Street Busker Fest.

With high-profile events scheduled all year long, it’s always play time in Abingdon.


Visitors and locals alike are drawn to Abingdon’s signature events.  Stroll through downtown Abingdon at one of the summer street festivals; catch nationally known music acts at Barter Theatre and the Market Pavilion; taste the unique flavors of Appalachian craft beer; or beat your personal best at one of our signature races. For a full calendar of events, click here. 

Main Street Busker Fest

Labor Day weekend.  The sidewalks of downtown Abingdon are filled with weird and wonderful performing artists during Busker Fest.  The Abingdon Main Street organization presents this family-friendly festival, including the Imagination Station, where kids can make crafts and practice their own busking skills. At Buskers After Dark, those 21 and up can mix and mingle with best of the buskers.

Location: Various locations, Abingdon’s Main Street

Website: Busker Fest Website

Dates: September 2, 2017

More like this:  N/A .  (Just kidding, but Busker Fest really is one of a kind! Find performing artists at The Virginia Highlands Festival (August) and Emory & Henry College Guest Artist Series in nearby Emory, VA (year round).

Kids enjoy free activities like face painting at Main Street Busker Fest.

The Virginia Highlands Festival

First week of August. 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.

Location: Various locations in and around Abingdon

Website: Highlands Festival Website

Dates: July 28 – August 6, 2017

More like this:  Other popular street festivals include Plumb Alley Day (May), Trail Days in nearby Damascus, VA (May), and the Independence Day Extravaganza (4th of July weekend).

The Virginia Highlands Festival in Abingdon, VA

Families enjoy walking the street during the Virginia Highlands Festival in Abingdon, VA

The Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights

New play readings and staged “mini-production” in mid-August.  With its unusual roots in Depression-era Appalachia (when hungry actors traded “Ham for Hamlet,” Barter Theatre has always been a uniquely Appalachian institution.  The professional Equity theatre celebrates all things Appalachian with its annual festival of plays and playwrights.  Watch new plays being developed before your eyes, with a series of professional readings and a “mini-production”, followed by talkbacks with the playwrights.

Location: Barter Theatre Stage II

Website: Barter Theatre Website

Dates: August 22 – 27, 2017

More like this:  Celebrate Appalachian writers at the Virginia Highlands Writer’s Day, Friday July 28, 2017.

Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA

Barter Theatre hosts the Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights each summer.


January Jams

Weekends in January. This series of music events on the Barter Theatre stage showcases nationally recognized artists. The Barter Theatre offers a uniquely intimate concert experience with legendary musicians. Now in its fourth year, January Jams has featured artists like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Ricky Scaggs, Mavis Staples, and Jason Isbell, to name a few.

Location: Barter Theatre, 127 West Main St., Abingdon, VA

WebsiteAbingdon Music Experience website

Dates: Fridays and Saturdays in January 2018. Music lineup typically announced in November.

More like this: Great music can be found at the Crooked Road Youth Music Festival (May) and the Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival (May).

Jarekus Singleton performs at January Jams in Abingdon, VA

A wide variety of national acts perform at Barter Theatre during January Jams.


Shamrock 4-Miler

St. Patrick’s Day Weekend.  Make sure to wear your lucky green for this popular night race and St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The 4-mile race follows a course through downtown Abingdon, beginning and ending at the Market Pavilion on Remsburg Drive.  For those who would prefer an easier course, the 1.3-mile Leprechaun Walk begins at the same time.  After the race, enjoy a live band and sip a green beer at the After Party.

Location: Abingdon Market Pavilion, 100 Remsburg Drive, Abingdon, VA

Website: Abingdon Music Experience Website

Date: March 2018

More like this:  The Virginia Creeper Marathon (March)

Shamrock run 2016 944x424

Runners celebrate after finishing the Shamrock 4-Miler in downtown Abingdon, VA.


Thursday Jams

Thursday nights, all summer long. Downtown Abingdon’s Market Pavilion is booked with free outdoor concerts every Thursday night from May to July.  The lawn is filled with lawn chairs and picnic blankets, while dancers claim the space in front of the stage. Abingdon’s Main Street organization runs a beer garden where you can find local craft beers on tap.  On stage you’ll find up-and-coming acts like Honey Honey or Liz Vice as well as roots and Americana stars like Langhorne Slim or the Wood Brothers.

Location: Abingdon Market Pavilion, 100 Remsburg Drive, Abingdon, VA

Website: Abingdon Music Experience Website

Date: Thursdays, mid-May through July. Music lineup is usually announced in February.

More like this:  Traditional mountain music takes center stage with the 10-day Mountains of Music Homecoming, in dozens of nearby communities (June).

Thursday Jams at the Market Pavilion in Abingdon, VA

Crowds enjoy free outdoor concerts in downtown Abingdon with Thursday Jams each summer.

 For more Abingdon, VA events, click here.