Winchester, in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, is getting a lot of attention.
In January, 24/7 Wall Street named Winchester the best place to retire in Virginia. Forbes named it Number 11 in the country for Best Small Places for Business and Career. Vacationideas.com listed it as one of the “25 Best Places to Visit in Virginia.”
Whether you are a tourist, a retiree, or an entrepreneur, there is something in Winchester for you. Here is a short list of events and places coming this spring that might entice you to visit.
To many, just mentioning these two words conjures of images of pure joy. Starting February 3, the Winchester Beer Tour will be held every Sunday (at least through March 31) from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Food and beer are included in the $65 ticket price. Guides and hosts work together to explore Old Town Winchester—you will visit unique buildings, learn local history, and sample beer and cider from the newest breweries along the way. Ticket info and more details are found here.
Restaurant Week Feb. 18-23
Participating restaurants offer two people for the price of one at $25 (lunch only) or a three-course dinner menu for $30 each night they are open. Right now about eight restaurants are signed up. Restaurant Week provides the opportunity for you to try special menus prepared by local chefs at each location. Here’s the menu of just one participant we like–Violino Restaurante.
St. Paddy’s Celtic Festival March 9
Celebrate Winchester’s Irish and Scottish heritage at the annual Old Town St. Paddy’s Celtic Festival on Saturday, March 9 from noon to 9:00 pm. This festival is free and activities will take place inside Old Town businesses and along the Loudoun Street Mall (weather permitting). Celtic bands, Irish dance, bagpipers, kids activities and plenty more.
92nd Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival April 25 – May 5
With more than 40 events, many of them ideal for family fun, somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 people attend this annual celebration of spring. Blooming apple orchards provide a scenic backdrop for any and all of the following: live music competitions, dances, carnival, dinners, luncheons, wine festival, a 10K Race, craft shows, car shows, fireworks, the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah, two large parades, and celebrity appearances. Over 90+ years, it has earned a variety of awards from Fordor’s Travel, the American Bus Association, USA Today and many other outlets.
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
The multi-faceted Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is a regional culture center combining galleries, seven acres of gardens, and displaying changing exhibits, Shenandoah Valley decorative arts, 18th- and 19th-century European and American fine art, and other treasures. The gardens are closed for the season but include rose, statue, vegetable, Asian, and perennial gardens in spring.
One fascinating exhibit coming this month is “Our Strength Is Our People: The Humanist Photographs of Lewis Hine.” Opening February 9 and running until May 5, 2019, this exhibit displays a number of rare prints by a man considered to be the “father of American documentary photography.” Several themes of Hine’s long career are represented: the immigrant experience, child labor, and the American worker, culminating in studies of the construction of the Empire State Building.
The MSV has also embarked on an ambitious outdoor project. “The Trails at the MSV” will open 90 acres of the 214-acre MSV landscape to the public as a free-admission park with more than three miles of trails for walking, hiking, and biking. Traversing fields, woods, and wetlands, the trails will be accentuated with outdoor art installations. The project preserves more than 80 acres of the MSV landscape—the largest green space in the City of Winchester—as farm fields where cows will continue to graze.
Shenandoah Summer Music Theater
The Shenandoah Summer Music Theater gives Shenandoah Conservatory theatre students an opportunity to have professional experience before starting their own careers in the field. Broadway musicals are presented each season, with performances on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. The performance calendar for the 2019 season is as follows:
“Ragtime” June 27-July 7
“Young Frankenstein” July 11-21
“The Sound of Music” July 25-August 4
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 540-665-4569 or stop by the Box Office in the lobby of the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre on the campus of Shenandoah University, 1460 University Dr., Winchester, VA 22601.
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
Got the kids with you? Make a beeline for the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, which combines a variety of interactive exhibits, programs, and even summer camps to occupy and interest children. A few exhibits include: the Musical Garden, Health Works, Moccasin Trail, Apple Packing Shed and Pollinator Plaza. On several dates this year they will host “Sensory Friendly Night.” This event was formerly known as “Special Night for Special Needs.” Families of children with special needs are invited to enjoy an evening of play at the Museum free of charge. Special accommodations are designed to help children with physical and cognitive disabilities truly enjoy the museum experience with their families. Dates are March 22, May 2 and October 11.
If you’re looking for something less structured, you can stroll the walking mall in Historic Old Town and discover specialty retail shops of all kinds, and find almost any type of dining in the many outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Photo courtesy Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival