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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

WinterFest on the Wisconsin

Through December 31 Walk through a winter wonderland filled with more than 2 million twinkling lights on the USS Wisconsin. Highlights include a tree-lighting ceremony, exploring the interior spaces of the ship, and live entertainment including Jeffrey the Talking Christmas Tree. Adults, $18.50. Nauticus, Norfolk.

Athena LaTocha: The Past Never Sleeps

FREE! Through January 14 Explore the relationship between landscapes and human histories through Athena LaTocha’s 3 monumental works on paper that reference Louisiana and New York landscapes using materials from each site. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

Teetotalers and Moonshiners, and Hampton’s Prohibition Story

Through February 4 Learn about the Prohibition era in Hampton through dozens of photographs, saloon signs, games, bottles and jugs, and other artifacts. The exhibit explores the earliest days of Virginia’s turbulent relationship with alcohol leading up to Prohibition. The items from this storied period also include a moonshine still, memorabilia from Point Comfort resorts, and items from Phoebus police and fire departments. Adults, $5. Hampton History Museum, Hampton

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.

“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.

Grand Illumination

FREE! December 2, 9, and 16 Enjoy an evening that includes cresset lighting, an appearance by Father Christmas, seasonal music, a procession led by the Colonial Williamsburg Fife & Drums, and fireworks over the Governor’s Palace and Capitol building. Colonial Williamsburg.

Small Works

FREE! December 2–January 13 Artists explore different mediums and techniques when crafting diminutive works of art in this exhibit that showcases skill and creativity. The juried exhibition is open to all Virginia artists. Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center, Hampton.

Christmas Past & Present

December 9 Visit 3 different time periods while learning about traditions and activities in each era. Make crafts at each station, take family photos with festive backdrops, enjoy a holiday bake sale, and visit with the Youth Virginia Regiment. The event is included with museum admission (adults, $8). Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum, Chesapeake.

Surf-N-Santa 5-Miler

December 15–16 This 5-mile race takes runners on a festive route down the Virginia Beach Boardwalk with holiday surprises along the way. Runners’ swag includes a Santa-themed Hawaiian shirt and a finisher’s medal. The race concludes with a luau, beverages, and live music inside the Virginia Beach Convention Center. (A Rudolph’s 1K takes place on the 15th.) Adult registration starts at $45. Virginia Beach.

Holiday Wonder Walk

FREE! December 16–25 Take a holiday stroll down the illuminated Hampton Water Walk Trail and encounter animated displays, large-scale scenic props, entertainment, kids’ activities, video enhancements, lighted bridges, and other surprises. Hampton.

The 8-Bit Big Band

January 13 Hear your favorite video game soundtracks performed by a Grammy-winning jazz orchestra. Featuring 30 New York musicians who are also gamers at heart, the orchestra dubbed its genre “The Great Video Game Songbook.” Tickets start at $29.50. Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News.

Shen Yun

January 13–14 Experience an enlightening journey through 5,000 years filled with visually stunning costumes, original orchestra compositions, classical Chinese dance, and patented scenographic effects. Adult tickets start at $80. Chrysler Hall, Norfolk.

Rainforest Adventure

January 20–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.

Winter Wildlife Festival

FREE! January 27–February 4 Celebrate nature through wildlife-watching excursions throughout the week. A free exhibit hall on January 27 at the Princess Anne Recreation Center will feature more than 40 wildlife-related exhibits and vendors, children’s activities, and a food truck. Author and ornithologist Scott Weidensaul will be the keynote speaker at the MEO Central Library on January 28 (free) and a wildlife photo contest will run through February 5. Activities require registration, and some require fees. Various locations, Virginia Beach.

MANIA: The ABBA Tribute

February 8 Sing your heart out to ABBA’s timeless hits during this 2-hour dance-inducing performance. The show recreates the famous Swedish group’s concert experience with impressive sound, stage lighting, effects, and costumes. This tribute act formed in 1999 and has performed more than 400 shows worldwide. Tickets start at $22. Harrison Opera House, Norfolk.

Valentines and Wine

February 10 Treat your Valentine to an elegant evening featuring live music, wine, and appetizers, and immerse yourself in 18th-century Virginia while touring a museum filled with artifacts including muskets, cannonballs, and pottery. Tickets, $60. Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum, Chesapeake.

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. Patty’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.

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