Hi all, I moved to Richmond 17 years ago. In my free time, I love to travel, attend the many Richmond food festivals, and sleep -- because frankly naps are underrated! Since 2016 I've run UnlockingRVA, to help dispel the rumor that “there is nothing to do in Richmond.”
Enjoy unlocking these awesome date night ideas! - Faith Wilkerson
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Dec. 15-17
It’s time to take these holiday dates mobile with the Illuminate Light show in the Meadow Event Park. From now until New Year’s Eve head over to experience “nearly a million LED lights synchronized to music from your car radio”. I did this last year with a few friends and had a blast. We stopped into Santa’s Village for a few hot beverages, rolled down all of the windows (sunroof included) and cranked the heat and the holiday tunes all the way up. It was truly reminiscent of a scene out of a Night at the Roxbury! I suggest going during the week as it is less crowded and you can let all of the Christmas magic sync in.
I am going to start with the main reason I love Lewis Ginter’s GardenFest of Lights for an amazing date night…..S’mores! Their café sells everything you need to head right over to a nearby fire pit and to get that nice burnt flavor on your marshmallows. Seriously, do I need to write anymore? Ok, fine! They also have more than half-a-million lights and other holiday decorations which are truly the best around town. Honestly, though the S’mores should be more than enough!
Paint night activities are not for everyone but then there are people like me who absolutely love believing my last name is really van Gogh at the end of a session. I appreciate Paint & Play RVA because they go beyond the traditional canvas art by offering classes in silk scarf marbling, jewelry and even wreath making. Join them at Hardywood Brewery on Saturday, December 23rd from 1-3pm and 3:30-5:30pm for their Crafts & Ales: Holiday Wreath Making.
I have to admit a week ago I was not ready for the Christmas holidays, but I visited the Grand Illumination at the James Center and the excitement began to build. Now that the grand lighting has passed and the crowds have thinned out this is the perfect time to go. I suggest taking a walk through the magical set up and then head into Kobe Japanese Steak House off of Cary Stret and warm up next to the Hibachi fire.
Although this list is dedicated to the amazing dates you can have around town I feel the need to also share with you the amazing ways you, your friends and significant others can give back this holiday season. I have always said a date can be whatever you make it, so join me this season and let’s put some smiles on people’s faces. Here are just a few nonprofit organizations you can assist.
FeedMore is the areas “core hunger-relief organization dedicated to providing neighbors in need with healthy meals”. This is a great group activity as they are always in need for people to organize the masses of food they receive during this time of year.
Caritas is a local organization which provides “effective, permanent solutions to individuals and families dealing with the crisis of homelessness and/or addiction”. With this organization you are able to host a drive, volunteer on-site or donate meals.
The Ronald McDonald House provides families with a “home-away-from-home” while their children are undergoing medical treatment at local hospitals. You can help by providing meals for the families or help during a special events.
This international organization local mission is to “be a focused service provider and advocate for people seeking a path to self-sufficiency”. They are always looking for people to assist during the holidays with their Angel Tree program, Christmas distribution or preparing and serve meals to their community.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Dec. 8-10
Sing it with me! The Hiiiiills are aliiiiive with the Sound of Muuuuusic! Ok, sorry, had to get that out of the way! Catch this classical and romantic musical story of Maria and the von Trapp Family running December 8-10th at the Altria Theater. Before or after the show, think about popping into local VCU favorite Mojo’s and grab one of their amazing Philly cheese steaks or their chicken wings…I personally love the spicy garlic flavor.
Comicon is returning to the Old Dominion building at the Richmond Raceway on Saturday, December 9th. This time kids up to 12 years old are absolutely free! This event showcases “comic books, science fiction/fantasy related films, television, and similar popular arts”. I absolutely love seeing how much time and effort people put towards dressing as their favorite characters. It’s like reliving Halloween in December!
The Black History Museum is holding their Soul Santa celebration on Saturday, December 9th. The event will feature an “historical scavenger hunt, book giveaways, seasonal arts & crafts” and pictures with the museums designated “Soul Santa”. While you’re there, check out the museum’s permanent collection of historical art, photographs, rare books and other African American accomplishments. The oversized statue of tennis great Arthur Ash cannot be missed.
Take some time and head into Carytown on December 10th for their 6th annual Artisan Market. This event is featuring over 70 artisans, tons of live music and most importantly food. There are boasting this event as a great way to find the “perfect” Christmas gifts and I totally agree. While you are on that side of town consider heading into the legendary Byrd Theater. This weekend they will be showing films like The LEGO Ninjago Movie, It (I hate scary clowns) and It’s a Wonderful Life!
This annual tradition opens the door to nine historic Richmond sites with free admission on December 10th. They offer festivities like “carriage rides, carolers, living history, live music and children’s crafts”. My favorite part is the Valentine offering a shuttle service between each of the stops. This allows you to park once at any of the stops and enjoy all of the rich history without the hassle of parallel parking!
I have enjoyed several Richmond Ballet performances this year and am so happy to see them continuing their holiday tradition with their rendition of The Nutcracker! The show, which runs until December 23rd, is better than ever with “redesigned costumes, heavenly new scenery, and brand new characters— including an elegant Swan Sleigh”. If you and your date are college students you can purchase $20 tickets with a valid ID at the box office one week before the performance…you’re welcome.
Nothing says the Christmas holidays like tacky lights. My friends over at the Richmond Times Dispatch have put together an awesome list of where to find “some of the best over-the-top holiday light displays in Richmond”. Now of course you can drive your personal vehicle to a few homes around town or grab a group together and travel in style aboard a charter bus or a local trolley. I highly suggest checking out Richmond Brewery Tours upcoming schedule or contacting Taylors Classic Travels to hop aboard one of their weekly runs.
The Richmond Triangle Players aim to “deliver adventurous and entertaining theater as the leading voice in the community’s explorations of equality across sexual orientation and gender spectrums”. This season they are bringing back their hilarious holiday productions of ‘The Santaland Diaries’ and ‘Season’s Greetings’. First produced almost 15 years ago these productions focus on “a loving grandma’s annual holiday letter about a Christmas gone very wrong, and the secret revelations of what really goes on at Macy’s Santaland as told by “Crumpet the Elf”. I am laughing already as I firmly believe those floats are alive!
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Nov. 17-19
This event features several days of film and performances that celebrate the stories of Native American. The festival aims for a “greater awareness of and exposure to indigenous languages, cultures, and societies.” And it’s free. I’m extremely interested in the Friday, Nov. 17, screening of “The Exhiles” by Kent Mackenzie. It focuses on a group of Native Americans who left their reservation under the Indian Relocation Act of 1956.
I love that we can enjoy food festivals year round! Richmond’s annual Brunswick Stew & Stout Festival is back Saturday, Nov. 18, and did you know all of the stews on site are made from scratch? There will be plenty of local stouts on hand, like the Tiramisu Stout from Steam Bell Beer Works and the El Duderino Stout from Center of the Universe Brewing.
Experience and purchase the work of more than 120 artists in the areas of ceramics, metal, glass and recycled materials. Headed into its 53rd year, the Craft + Design Show is being held in the recently renovated Main Street Station train shed, which is taking many Richmond events to the next level. General admission is $10, and if you can gather 10 or more friends the price drops to $7. Oh, no worries: Beer, wine and food are available throughout the weekend.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts rolls out another special exhibition, and this time it features more than 40 never-before-seen terracotta figures amongst the nearly 8,000 life-size figures found in China in 1974. “Terracotta Army” also will display 130 works that tell the story of China’s birth and the country’s first emperor. Tickets are $20 for many of the museum’s exhibitions, but I have a bit of a cheat code for you. College students can get a one-year membership for $10, with every visit within that time frame free! You read that correctly.
Are you like me and tend to forget that going bowling is still a thing people do? Luckily the good folks over at Soul Bowl have added a few details to revamp this classic date. On Saturday, Nov. 18, head to Shrader Lanes for an event that adds “good food and good music” to the mix. Your $25 ticket covers you for unlimited bowling, shoe rental and even a soul food buffet.
All these years later and I still believe a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down! If you’ve never watched this classic Disney film, or don’t understand what it means to say something is supercalifragilistic-expialidocious, then stop what you are doing and head to Virginia Repertory to grab tickets for the Tony award-winning “Mary Poppins.” This is your second cheat code for this week: The theater gives away 50 seats to every Wednesday preview of signature season shows. Enter your name on the website a week before the performance. Good luck!
Bow Tie Cinema in Scott’s Addition has been keeping a secret from you, and it’s called Movies and Mimosas. Starting next weekend and continuing through December, a few classic movies will be back on big screen starting with “The Wizard of Oz” on Nov. 25. Imagine how much funnier the Cowardly Lion will be once you’re two drinks in. December also includes the holiday classics “Miracle on 34th Street” and “A Christmas Story.”
This by far is my favorite holiday tradition. The Illuminate Light Show is the coolest way to experience almost a million synchronized LED lights from the comforts of your car. All you do is hop in, adjust your radio to the designated station and watch the magic happen while you drive through the Meadow Event Park. Tickets are $25, but the visit to Santa’s workshop is free! OK, stop screaming at me, I’ll give you another cheat code. If you bring five cans of food you can get $5 off the regular gate admission Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from Nov. 20-Dec. 20.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Nov. 9-12
Did you know it’s Cider Week in Virginia? And to mark the occasion, the 5th annual Richmond Cider Celebration is back Saturday, Nov. 11. Cider makers will offer tastings and workshops all in the name of the Virginia apple. The $30 entry includes 10 cider-sampling tickets, a commemorative glass and a wine tote. My friends and I had a blast last year, and I definitely recommend going early because it gets crowded fairly quickly.
Henricus Historical Park holds its 3rd annual Hops in the Park on Saturday, Nov. 11. This event features Virginia craft beer and a farmers’ market all mixed with a bit of Virginia history. There will be more than 20 craft breweries, meaderies and cideries, plus food vendors and live music. This event is free, but a VIP ticket includes a limited edition mug, specialty beer tastings and an artisan appetizer buffet. (And on your way to the area, speaking of history: Consider these 4 Ways to Drive Back in Time Along the James River.)
The Richmond Greek Festival has decided it hasn’t finished feeding us -- and I couldn’t be happier. From Through Nov. 11, organizers are putting on an indoor version of their festival where you can grab a good meal and check out a few cultural performances, all within the walls of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Food recommendation: the souvlaki. It’s chicken or pork marinated in Mediterranean seasoning and cooked over an open flame.
Brews & Burlesque’s ’80s sneak peek is happening Friday, Nov. 10, featuring the “greatest variety of burlesque, comedy, sideshow and vaudeville performers” across town. What makes this event so fun? Definitely the location. You tell me the last time you saw a burlesque show inside of a brewery. Strangeways Brewing doesn’t disappoint either. Its Ape Armageddon Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout runs at about 11% ABV and is my absolute favorite.
The Brunch Market bills itself as a monthly artisan market and brunch, with music and local shopping to match. It takes place in the Urban Roost Event Space managed by Lunch and Supper in Scott’s Addition. Because it’s November, expect a lot of vendors to focus on the holidays. The market’s also collaborating with the Massey Alliance on raffles. This is another event that gets crowded. So I definitely suggest arriving early on Sunday, Nov. 12.
I love that we get to enjoy the hard work of the students in the Theatre VCU program. While students prepare for acting careers, we get to watch them shine through some awesome performances. This month it’s bringing back Elle Woods in an adaptation of “Legally Blonde,” in which she conquers the world of Harvard Law while on a mission to win her boyfriend back.
Do you miss old-school hip-hop? Do you sometimes hear an old-school song on the radio and instantly flash back to your teenage years? If so, then the Art of Noise at The National is for you. While it’s still a few weeks away, Nov. 22, this event tends to sell out quickly. You’ll notice that’s the day before Thanksgiving, but I highly recommend bringing the entire family out to burn a few calories before that big turkey meal the next day.
If you add this ticket to your arsenal Nov. 22, you’ll have one heck of a musical date night. The ladies of the ’90s R&B group Xscape are kicking off their tour in Richmond. With such guests as Monica and Tamar Braxton this will be a good night of classic hits. Guess who once again has your chance to win a pair of tickets? You guessed it: UnlockingRVA. Follow the Instagram for giveaways on Friday, Nov. 10, and Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Nov. 3-5
This four-day food festival celebrates the Richmond region’s best culinary profiles. It blends dining events, food demonstrations, cookbook authors and culinary masters alike. I suggest attending the “Carnaval Latino on Clay” event Saturday, Nov. 4. They’ll be turning the streets into one large Latin-inspired carnival you don’t want to miss.
Not too long ago I mentioned InLight Richmond. Organized by 1708 Gallery, this is a free event Friday, Nov. 3, which showcases light-based art in the form of “interactive projects that illuminate pathways, walls, sidewalks, green spaces.” Broad Street is going to dazzle you, and the festivities begin with a Lantern Parade. Bring your own or make one on site.
I encourage you to head into the quiet town of Ashland on Saturday, Nov. 4, to experience the 15th annual Ashland Train Day. This can be such a cute date for you and the kiddies -- this event is for the whole family. You’ll find music, model trains, storytelling and train rides. The best part is that it’s free. When you’re done, consider heading over to the brewery rightfully called Center of the Universe. Its year-round pale ale, Pocahoptas, is a treat.
If trains aren’t your child’s thing, why not consider taking them to the Gottwald Playhouse inside of the Dominion Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 4, for a presentation of “Lily y la Mariposa.” The story portrays the story of a young girl named Lily has she is experiencing loss for the first time in conjunction with the Mexica holiday, Dia de los Muertos.
I know what you’re wondering. What is a UkeFest? Well, it’s a Ukulele celebration brought to you by the River City Ukulele Society. This event features workshops, concerts and food vendors to celebrate this quirky, four-stringed instrument. Think of it as a way to prep for that potential Hawaii trip in your future.
This Richmond sustainability festival is set for Saturday, Nov. 4. You can head over to Gallery5 to learn more about food miles, home energy savings options, and composting. Held by the Great Big Everything some community partners that will be on site include Compost RVA, Belle Isle Moonshine and Groundwork RVA.
Sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University and the Qatar Foundation, this symposium seeks to explore the broader issues in the visual arts of the Islamic world. Taking place Nov. 2-4, the event highlights the “history and archeology to curatorial and museum studies that are used to study Islamic art and culture” -- and surely will be an eye-opener.
With 10-plus participating restaurants to choose from, don’t let Richmond’s Nacho Taco Week come to an end before trying out some of these tasty specials. You’ll find $5 meal deals at some of your favorite local restaurants, including Casa del Barco, which has the most amazing chicken mole tacos you’ll ever eat.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Oct. 27-29
Have you been taking advantage of the second installment of Richmond Restaurant Week? You have the rest of the weekend to head into places like Lunch and Supper, Lehja or Saison, where I’m still investigating if its chicken biscuits somehow are being made by Julia Child herself. Each time you head into a participating restaurant you help send funds to The Central Virginia Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. You have till Sunday, Oct. 29. Check out OG’s skimmable list of participating restaurants and menus.
Richmond is raising the stakes -- and the graves. There are options to dress up your date night, like trying out Scott’s Addition Booz Crawl, Flora’s 80’s dance party and costume competition or my top pick, the 13th annual Zombie Walk. Yes, that’s just what it sounds like! You can watch in awe as hundreds of folks dressed in zombie costumes slither through Carytown. For other events happening feel free to scroll through OG’s Halloween Guide and the UnlockingRVA Facebook page. I’ve been sharing spooky events all week.
It’s exciting to see neighborhoods like Manchester move into the spotlight. On Saturday, Oct. 28, Legend Brewing Co. is putting on the first Manchester Harvest Festival. It’s billed as a “family friendly event featuring live music, pumpkin carving and face painting.” It’s free -- and if you won’t be up for beer, you can try local favorites Café Zata and Brewers Café, who is on hand with cider, doughnuts and coffee.
Church Hill is another area I am happy to see picking up steam this year. The landmark Robinson Theater Community Arts Center will hold its annual Fall Festival on Sunday, Oct. 29, filled with live music, kids’ activities and a costume contest. I love this theater because it has so many events to participate in during the week as well. From the Richmond Urban Dance classes to monthly family movie nights, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Mindful Mornings is fairly new to the Richmond scene. The monthly speaker series says its mission is “to connect, inspire and teach do-gooders.” Speakers as wide-ranging as nutritionists and nonprofit leaders help “break down silos by creating a community of people willing and able to help one another achieve their goals.” It’s free, but there’s limited seating. The next one will be on Friday, Nov. 3, at the Clopton Siteworks Warehouse. You can grab your ticket here.
I know a conference isn’t a traditional date by any means, but there can be something special about experiencing something for the first time with someone special. Rebelle Con is a new conference Nov. 9-11. It promises “panels, workshops, interactive exercises, creative head shots, delicious local food, cocktails and live music.” They’re coming out of the gate strong with keynote speaker Christian Siriano -- yes, that Christian Siriano!
As you know I run a company called UnlockingRVA. On Nov. 3, we’re holding another installment of an event I call Cocktails and Choreo. It combines two very important things every date requires: dancing and drinking! For two hours you’ll learn a routine taught by a Studio 4 trained dance instructor while shipping on delicious cocktails from Belle Isle Moonshine! No dance skilled required and the drinks are unlimited. I call that a win-win.
Pupatella is Richmond’s newest Neapolitan pizza place and does not disappoint. Located near Virginia Commonwealth University, this eatery serves up simply and fresh ingredients for every taste. On my last visit, my business date and I demolished a Mimosa pizza and a full plate of meatballs that I’m sure had bits of heaven mixed in. I raved so much that the owners decided to let me do a very tasty giveaway! On Friday, Oct. 27, head over to the UnlockingRVA Instagram page for details on how to enter to win pizza for two and a bottle of wine of your choice, courtesy of Pupatella! The contest will end Sunday, Oct. 29, so don’t miss out.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Oct. 20-22
This Scott’s Addition annual fall tradition is back Saturday, Oct. 21, on the Boulevard, from Broad Street to Leigh Street. You’ll find tons of musical entertainment, craft beer and most important -- pumpkin-inspired food. I’m making a beeline toward Buz and Ned’s to grab its Roasted Pumpkin Brunswick Stew topped off with their Pumpkin Funnel Cake. It is a family fun event so feel free to bring the kiddos along if you like.
Cultural Crawl is making its way back into the city Saturday, Oct. 21. Think about this event like a traditional bar crawl with the bonus of art and food. You and your date can “explore the coolest bars all while having access to awesome street art in between.” I see that local favorite Continental Divide is part of the crawl. I urge you to take advantage of its Prickly Pear Margarita and Red Hot Blues, because nothing says bar food like blue corn chips topped with cheese and onions.
Did you know famed poet Edgar Allan Poe has roots right here in Richmond? Did you know we have an entire museum in Shockoe Bottom dedicated to his life and work? It includes the largest collections of his original manuscripts, letters, memorabilia and personal belongings.
Oddly, my favorite part of the museum is Poe’s Enchanted Garden, which was created based off his visuals in a poem entitled “To One in Paradise.” After you explore his life you can pop right next door to the 2017 Elby’s Best New Restaurant winner and Style Weekly Restaurant of the Year, Nota Bene. Ordering tip: Try the Torchio Pork Ragu.
Cirrus Vodka is “premium, potato-based, gluten free vodka,” distilled right here in Richmond. Just this year it opened up a tasting room. And through November you get a $1-off special on tastings that you can grab right from its website.
Cirrus is located right across from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, which releases new flavors you have to try pretty frequently. Most days there’s a food truck or two in the parking lot. I think I smell a two-for-one date!
Shape Soirée is a new 3 day event being brought to the city by the owners of Om on Yoga and Boho Cycle. It’s geared to entrepreneurs and “overall go-getters who are ready to endeavor beyond their wildest dreams.” They’ll have sessions on mindfulness, nutrition and overall life hacks. I think the sessions serve as a great “date” for friends or significant others, as you’ll definitely need an accountability partner once you shape out your future at this event.
CreativeMornings is a date my friends and attend once a month right before we head into work. It celebrates Richmond’s creativity while providing a quick and free early morning “inspirational boost.” Each month, new local speakers cover topics ranging from passion to equality and change. I always leave with a ton of ideas and with a few more contacts for my business. Tickets move fast, so sign up for its email list to be among the first to know when to grab yours.
Have you ever been downtown and had a large group of folks in an upright position zip past you through an intersection? That would be folks on a Segway of Richmond tour. You can experience a ton of places around town on two wheels. My very first experience was the two-hour Richmond landmark tour. After getting over my fear of tipping over in the streets, it was such an informative experience. We rode through the Canal Walk, into Church Hill and even got up close and personal with the State Capitol. They do tours year round so definitely keep them on your weekend adventure list.
Just when you thought the days of the arcade were over, Richmond’s newest bar called The Circuit enters the scene. It has “over 50 throwback arcade and pinball machines, as well as classic console games from the past.” Not only that -- the entire restaurant is self-service. With at least 50 various wines and craft beers on tap, there’s something for everyone. I smell endless date-night competitions in many futures and welcome any of you to reach out if you need any ideas on “friendly” wagers [insert evil villain laugh here]!
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Oct. 13-15
One of Virginia’s most popular events, the Richmond Folk Festival makes its triumphant return this weekend. For three days you can “celebrate the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance traditional crafts, storytelling and food.” Find me as a judge at the Step Team competition on The Community Foundation Stage judging the Step Team competition at The Community Foundation Stage on Saturday at 3. When you do, let me know how your dating life is going! I may have some on-the-spot suggestions. And check out OG’s Folk Festival Guide for Romantics!
Although Petersburg is about 30 minutes outside of Richmond, I wanted to put a newly added entertainment arena on your radar for events. Last year, Virginia State University added a multipurpose center, which serves as host to “athletic events, live concerts, family shows, trade shows, and more.” This weekend, actor and comedian Mike Epps makes his way into town alongside Sommore and Bruce Bruce.
Richmond’s longest running poetry event, Tuesday Verses, celebrates its 15th anniversary and it should not be missed. It will be a night filled with live poetry and outstanding music. May I even suggest stopping into to local favorite Bottoms Up Pizza for a bite before heading in. My absolute favorite is its signature white sauce pizza, the Chesapeake.
The Foo Fighters are making their way into the Richmond Coliseum for their Concrete and Gold tour. After the rock show you can keep the music flowing by popping into Vagabond to hear the band Camp Howard and grab some food from the late-night menu.
If I’ve ever stated the words, “this is hands down my favorite festival,” I am truly sorry because well, I lied. The Festival of India truly holds the No. 1 spot for my heart each and every time. The event is truly the perfect blend of cultural food, music and Indian traditions. My favorite thing to grab is the vegetable Samosas from India Karaja and to visit the out-of-this-world market, which sells beautiful jewelry and handmade garments.
Ready to heat things up? The 4th Annual Kickin' Chicken WingFest is back this weekend and boasting as Richmond’s “biggest tailgate party.” This festival has it all: multiple wing vendors, a wide beer selection and most of all, football! See the Washington Redskins take on the San Francisco 49ers on the big screen throughout the event. This is the perfect outing for any couple that battles about how to spend their Sunday afternoon.
Henrico will not be silenced when it comes to some of the amazing restaurants the county has to offer. You have the remainder of the weekend to try out places like Charles’s Kitchen and Deep Run Road House. With lunch and dinner prices ranging from $10-$30, you have room to pick more than one dinner option for the weekend. Which is great considering that there are three full days to take advantage of.
I want to let you in on an amazing event happening Oct. 25, from 7-9 a.m. Richmond businesses Coffee with Strangers, Lou Stevens Glam Squad and Capture Photography would like to treat some deserving local women to mini makeovers before they head into work. This is a chance for them to win a full makeover, photo shoot, “Coffee with Strangers” interview and dinner for two from the Richmond Hospitality Group! All you have to do is nominate a woman you think deserves to be spoiled. So
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Oct. 6-8
You’re ready to take things to the next level. Want to send a not-so-subtle signal? Try the 66th annual Parade of Homes! The Richmond Home Building Association gives you a chance to view 91 homes on a self-guided tour, offering an “opportunity to see innovative ideas, spectacular design features and floor plans, and master craftsmanship.” It happens throughout October and viewing each property is free. Happy hint-dropping!
You should know by now I firmly believe that sometimes dates should include the kiddies. Until Nov. 5, the Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn is performing “Akeelah and the Bee.” This play is based on the 2006 film that follows Akeelah’s travels to Chicago for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. At the very least you’ll walk out being able to spell words you can wow your coworkers with at the water cooler Monday. Did I also mention that Duck Donuts is steps away? Now that’s i-n-c-e-n-t-i-v-e.
I can’t believe it’s already time for Halloween. OccasionGenius keeps you posted on all the seasonal scares, but there are a few catching my attention now. The first is The Veil Brewing Co.’s Outdoor Horror Movie Nights every Friday in October. It features “The Shining,” “The Sixth Sense” and more -- and kettle popcorn is provided! Another one to watch is The Hof’s Halloween Masquerade Party on Saturday, Oct. 28. Admission in advance is $20 and includes three levels of horror and two drink tickets.
The RVA MakerFest returns to the Science Museum of Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 7, for a free, family-friendly event “featuring hands-on demonstrations in robotics, science, art, technology, engineering, sustainability, food, music and fashion.” Afterward, head across the street to Lalo’s Cocina. There’s a menu item called El Guarache and it is so delicious.
This marks the 29th year for the 2nd Street Festival, which celebrates Richmond’s Historic Jackson Ward area. This can be an action-packed weekend featuring music performances, Zumba and line-dancing demonstrations, and of course, lots of food vendors. I particularly love that of this year’s performances are homegrown acts.
Imagine you and your date walking through a “winding path of 1,800 roses.” Sounds amazing, right? The Rose Fest at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden promises to heighten all of your senses with entertainment from the Latin Ballet of Virginia, and gives you another chance to see Butterflies LIVE before it disappears Oct. 15. This sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon.
I absolutely love the year round entertainment offered by the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. On any given week there could be an art exhibition, concerts, a play and several modern and classic dance performances. I’m looking forward to “Pinocchio” on Oct. 14, by the Virginia Repertory Theatre. Strangely, I’m most curious to see how they’ll make his nose grow right before our eyes.
The entire month of October is dedicated to Virginia wine! I know, I just became really excited too. This month-long celebration the perfect time for you and your mate to not only enjoy some award winning wine, but also take in the amazing “landscape, rich history and fine dining” of our glorious state. Through the Virginia Wine website can focus on certain regions and see all the events to attend. In this area, click on Central Virginia. The options are almost endless.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 29-Oct. 1
The State Fair of Virginia is back this weekend for 10 days of nonstop fun at Meadow Event Park. I can’t think of a better reason to ride a Ferris wheel, eat elephant ears and drink some hot cider all at the same time. I suggest waiting to go Friday, Oct. 6, to take advantage of Barn Appetit, when you can enjoy a ”farm-to-fork dinner in Meadow Hall mansion featuring locally sourced foods and craft libations."
I hear the couple that Cosplays together stays together. On Saturday, Sept. 30, you can celebrate your favorite superheroes, zombies and comic book characters all in one place -- Virginia Comicon. The best part? Kids 12 and younger are free! I love a date night that can truly serve as a night out for the whole family. Please note dressing up is optional, but how cool would your family look dressing up as the Incredibles?
Diversity Richmond raises funds throughout the year to “support local nonprofit, LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+-friendly community-based organizations.” Its Drag Bingo event is such a fun way to support a great cause and have a little fun playing the ultimate game of chance. I love that they also have some of the top drag performers in Richmond. Mark your calendar for Friday, Sept. 29, and make sure to save up those one dollar bills, as the performers love to be tipped.
I know this blog is about having great dates in Richmond, but every now and then I have to push you to travel outside of the city, even if it's only 30 miles. It’s also because I love wine, there I said it! On Saturday, Sept. 30, head down to the Grapes and Hops Festival in historic downtown Petersburg. I hear one of my favorites, Mattaponi Winery will be on hand and serving up their Makadewamin (blackberry) fruit wine.
This event had me a “Blue Crab." For one price you head in to a date night with live music, steam spiced crabs and beer and wine! The Blue Grass and Blue Crab Festival also is family friendly and features clowns, magicians and even a silent auction.
Celebrate the Hindu holiday Diwali or “Festival of Light” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts this weekend. I love this event because it gives you and your date a chance to make “an Indian-inspired lantern in preparation for 1708 Gallery’s annual InLight exhibition” taking place in November. Every year, InLight “features performances, sculpture and interactive projects that illuminate pathways, walls, sidewalks, green spaces.”
During the month of October, CultureWorks brings us artoberVA. Throughout the month you and your significant other can catch various art or cultural experiences happening in the Richmond area. I am most excited about the Tattoo Festival happening on Sunday, Oct. 1. The event usually features some of the top tattoo artists, live painting and an auction for charity.
Did know the University of Richmond is home to the Modlin Center for the Arts? Throughout the year it serves as a host to live concerts, plays and highly regarded guest speakers. I/m really looking forward to the Festival of South African Dance, which features “20 dancers accompanied by live musicians, the Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies."
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 22-24
If you love the amazing murals across town, then this weekend’s RVA Street Festival will knock your socks off. The group is turning the Flying Squirrels baseball stadium “into a canvas of mixed-media art -- including painted murals, projection lighting and landscape art.” Concerts, food and beer trucks and other activities for all ages are included.
As I’m sure you know, Virginia is filled with tons of history. This weekend you can head to Henricus Historical Park to watch “living history re-enactments, military drills and musket firings.” You can even tour a replica of Godspeed, a 17th-century Jamestown Settlement ship. While out there, I suggest checking out Chesterfield’s Dutch Gap Trail. You can hike, bike and ride horses along its 4.5 miles.
What a better way to bond than by giving back to others. On Saturday, Sept. 23, HandsOn Greater Richmond wants you to Give a Day RVA. You and your partner can choose a project at one of 55 nonprofit and community partner sites and spend the day making a big difference. One thing I love is the DIY projects -- you can knock them out ahead of the event if you find yourself unable to commit to the full day.
If you’ve never attended Virginia’s annual PrideFest, then you’re missing out. It’s the state’s largest LGBTQ+ celebration -- and it’s free to everyone at Brown’s Island. Just like many of our local festivals (see 10 fantastic fall festivals in Richmond here), you’ll find food vendors, a variety of activities and lots of great entertainment. With the event being set against the background of the James River, you just can’t lose.
Did you know that Richmond has an Artisan Pickle Club? It has monthly meetings where members literally share and all things pickled! You may want to save this outing for date No. 3, once you’ve ensured your mate likes things a little briny! The group’s Pickled & Fermented celebration kicks off this weekend at Ashland brewery Center of the Universe. Come say hi -- I’m a judge, currently prepping to try all of the pickled goodness.
Sunday brunches at Mama J’s have returned -- and this time, I hope it’s to stay. If you enjoy the restaurant’s normal menu, then you’ll fall in love with these brunch options and so will your date. Classics like catfish, chicken, waffles, grits, baked apples and more will be available on the all-you-can-eat buffet. And because you can’t have brunch without a mimosa or bloody Mary, there’s a full bar on hand as well!
Have you experienced the improved Vagabond restaurant yet? It’s recently revamped the menu to a more southern dining experience. It’s also ramped up nightly entertainment options in the Rabbit Hole speakeasy, where you can “enjoy the best jazz, blues, and R&B that metro Richmond has to offer.” Speaking of live music, did you know Vagabond was right next door to The National? I suggest checking out its performance schedule to create a full night of fun.
The Coalition Theater is home to live comedy as well as a place to take improv and other comedic classes to sharpen your skills. This theater should stay on your date-night rotation because it provides fresh content each week. Shows touch on everything from gender to race and sexuality in fun ways that anyone can appreciate. You’ll have lots to talk about afterward.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 14-17
The Afrikana Film Festival makes its way back to Richmond this weekend, creating the potential for some special date nights. I suggest taking full advantage of the Saturday Shorts and end the night at the festival’s after-party, being held at the Hofheimer. On tap is a Blue Mountain Octoberfest draft you just have to try!
I love how Lewis Ginter is stepping up its weekly events. You can “learn how to use smoked, charred and grilled produce from the late summer harvest to create a delicious craft cocktail” on Thursday, Sept. 14. This class is a part of the Garden to Glass series that will be going well into the fall months. So if you can’t make this one check ahead for October and November!
Want to head into this year’s Oktoberfest and impress your date? Just hold out and your cup and proudly shout, “Mehr Bier”! I bet you never thought you’d learn a new language through this blog! With plenty of German delights like pretzels, potato pancakes, pastries from Reinecker’s Bakery and endless imported beer this is one date you are sure to enjoy to the max.
Who says you can’t get a little rainbow dirty on a date? The Color Vibe 5k is a fun race where all levels are welcomed to come out and have a little colorful fun! Throughout the course you’re sprayed with an array of nontoxic paint powder colors. Once you reach the end a DJ awaits to get the party started.
The 43rd Street Festival of the Arts is filled with fine arts, crafts, music and food. Because it’s located in Forest Hill Park, you and your date also can take advantage of the 3-mile track for a stroll, or take in a view of the James River.
There’s no museum like the Valentine. It’s the best place to learn about Richmond’s 400-year-old history. Running until 2018, you can catch a dynamic exhibit called “Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond.”
With more than 100,000 Latinos living in the area representing an array of backgrounds, this presentation allows you to take a glimpse into their movement into the city and how they began to transform our culture.
Before you leave, stop by the gift shop, where many local artisans have specialty Richmond products for sale.
I’m so excited about the latest food crazes making their way to Richmond. Rolled ice cream is definitely at the top of the list. I could describe exactly what rolled ice cream is, but I want it to be a surprise date-night for the both of you.
Let’s just say this little piece of heaven may be hard to miss, so here’s what you should do. Pop into the local Korean grill Zzaam, preferably on a Tuesday when its delicious tacos are only $2. Now, before you walk to your car, look for a set of blue pop-up tents and smiling faces on the corners of Cary Street and South Dooley! Enjoy!
In my opinion, staycations have the ability to truly help you appreciate the surroundings you take for granted daily. Between the rooftop bar, wine tastings and its weekly $55 dinner for two special, the Quirk Hotel can be the perfect choice for a weekend getaway if things rae getting serious. And if you really want to show off, spring for the Terrace King Room, where you have your own private patio to catch the sunset each day.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 8-10
One of the many things I love about Richmond is that festival season seems to go on forever. The 59th Annual Armenian Food Festival returns to St. James Armenian Church this weekend, laying out the perfect date needs: music, food and wine! I like you, so I’m going to share my annual concession order with you. Pay attention. Are you ready? It’s simple: Order the Hye Burger with a side of Lupia and Pilaf. For dessert, remember the Bourma and grab a bottle of the Khoran wine to wash everything down. Trust me when I say it’s worth every single bite and sip!
Do you see what I mean? The festivals are never ending! The annual Shockoe on a Half Shell heads back to Shockoe Bottom on Sunday, Sept. 10, giving you a chance to try smoked, grilled, roasted or fried oysters -- or every style. Personally, I’m hoping that featured vendor The Boathouse will have its delicious Oysters Rockefeller to serve up, because let’s face it, everything taste better with bacon!
Each year Maymont is the host to the Beer and Wine Classic. You can sample beer and wine from across Virginia while enjoying live music and an entire “game zone” from ClubWaka Richmond. Such local restaurants as Slideways Mobile Bistro and Continental Divide also will be on hand serving up the good eats.
Unless you live under a rock you’re probably aware that Richmond is home to several NASCAR races through the year. This weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY series will hit the raceway for some roaring fun. There are multiple ticket packages to choose from, like the Saturday Drive Intro Pass which allows you to “get up close to all 40 drivers and be able to stand on the track just minutes before the green flag is waved.” My only advice: Remember the earplugs.
I had the amazing opportunity to try out “Richmond’s Ultimate Educational Drinking Experience” called Drink Richmond. New to town, the tours allow you to meet new people while enjoying beverages from such places as Buskey Cider, James River Distillery and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. Along with the tastings, each stop also serves as a time to learn more about each company and their products in detail. I also love how Drink Richmond allows you get together 14 of your friends for your own private tasting tours. Smells like a couples’ night out to me!
Although not exclusive to the Richmond area, Virginia Opera’s new season is not to be missed. For starters, it’s kicking things off in October with the story of Samson and Delilah -- you know, the biblical story a
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