Updated to February 2nd:
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 Feb. 2 - Feb. 4
Finding Neverland takes a whole new turn on the classic story of Peter Pan! It follows the life of the playwright J.M. Barrie’s adventure as he is setting out to “write a play that will astound London theatergoers”. As we move though his struggles he finds inspiration through four young brothers and their widowed mother. After seeing the play opening night I highly suggest you catching it before it leaves the Altria Theater on February 4th.
On Friday, February 2nd, The Coalition Theater will be hosting what they call a “live read”. This is where a few of the theater vets will be performing the entire Groundhog Day script right before your eyes! If you remember, Groundhog Day is the 1993 classic film starring Bill Murray, a weatherman who finds himself living the same day over and over again. Before or after this event, consider heading down the street to Asado RVA for their absolutely amazing tacos or an order of my personal favorite, their Cajun dry rub wings.
On Saturday, February 3rd head over to the VA Museum of Fine Arts for a chance to travel “from ancient China to 20th-century Black America to modern-day RVA, all in one night”. The $45 ticket includes a free drink ticket, free parking, and appetizers plus a Dessert Lounge from 8:30-11:30 pm. This is one date night you should not let pass you by. There will be live music by the Legacy Band RVA and one amazing DJ set provided by Lonnie B. I will be on a major date with a few of my best gal pals that evening, so if you see me, say hi!
On February 3rd and 4th, the Richmond Symphony will be presenting Remembering 1968: A Tribute to MLK, Jr - A Reflection on the Civil Rights Movement through Inspirational Music at the Carpenter Theatre. The event will feature narrators like, Mayor Levar Stoney who will lead the audience through each artistic piece. The concerts will also “feature a combined choir with voices from Longwood University, Norfolk State University, the Richmond Symphony Chorus, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union University”.
The Richmond Women’s Health and Fitness Expo will take place on Saturday, February 3rd from 10:00am – 4:00pm at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. The “Expo is celebrating its 16th anniversary of providing health screenings, healthy cooking recipes, cooking demonstrations, and the latest trends in fitness for the Richmond community”. I definitely suggest this as a group date so that each of you can hold one another accountable for a healthier lifestyle.
Who did not love the story of the girl who “pricked her finger on her 16th birthday after being cursed by the evil fairy”? Catch the Richmond Ballet’s latest adaption of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ from February 9th-11th at the Carpenter Theater and relive the moments of “true loves kiss”. Before or after the play I suggest heading across the street to Mayan Mexican Grill. I highly suggest the Roasted Pork over Tostones, you will not be disappointed.
Black Panther has to be the most talked about Marvel movie in a while. On Thursday, February 15th join The Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals as the enter “the World Of Wakanda” for an advance screening at Bow Tie Movieland Cinemas. The best part is they are offering up prizes for the best character Costume. I have my tickets purchased and my friends and I are beyond excited for this event.
This one’s for the ladies! Party with your girls and have some post-Valentine’s fun with UnlockingRVA and Matchbox Short Pump. Enjoy the soulful musical stylings of Legacy Band, signature cocktails from Belle Isle Moonshine, and a pop-up candy shop from Chocolates By Kelly. Ticket includes one signature cocktail, a couple complimentary bites from Matchbox, tastings from Belle Isle Moonshine and Chocolates By Kelly, and a raffle ticket to win a day of pampering in Short Pump!
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Jan. 12-Jan, 14
Every pet owner needs to spend a little quality time with their furry little friends. This date can be a great way to see if your pets can “play nice”. The Henrico Humane Society is holding its annual Pet Expo on Saturday, January 13th at the Richmond Raceway complex and it promises to be “a unique indoor event where people can bring their pet to enjoy a day of fun and excitement”. There will be several activities planned throughout the day with admission just $12 for adults, $5 for children ages 2-12 and of course free for your pets!
This date night is simple and short. All visitors to the Lew Ginter Botanical Gardens can enjoy free admission until January 14th. That’s right free! This is a perfect time to pack a nice lunch and explore the over 50 acres of gardens.
I realized a long time ago I love just about any adaption of a Disney film. Next up on the Richmond Ballet list is Sleeping Beauty. You know this one. It’s the story of the girl who was cursed to sleep for 100 years until her one true love awakens her with a kiss. I am personally looking forward to how well Puss ‘N Boots plie’s across the stage. Oh please, you were thinking it too! Tickets are on sale now and the show begins on February 9th and is only running until February 11th.
Escape Room RVA is the perfect date to really test your partner on so many things without them even knowing. For example, I once broke a nail attempting to crack the code to a padlock and refused to play along for about 5 minutes. Go ahead judge me! They generally have four challenges to choose from with the themes changing pretty frequently. Friendly suggestion to check on sites like Groupon or Living Social before you goes as they sometimes have specials running.
Taught by the Claves Unidos, head over to Dogtown Dance Theatre each and every Saturday from 9am-10am for their free community dance class. Learn African roots between the backyard and the Caribbean and feel free to bring a family member or a friend! It’s fun for all ages and dance experiences.
Located in historic Jackson Ward the Maggie Lena Walker site is “devoted to her life to civil rights advancement, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for Jim Crow-era African Americans and women and today her “home is preserved as a tribute to her enduring legacy of vision, courage, and determination”. I love the fact all of the furnishings throughout the home are original family pieces and that admission is always free.
Want to find a new way to explore Richmond’s exploding food scene. Look no further than River City Food Tours where they believe in introducing “you to at least one new spot you’ll return to again and again”. The group promises you a journey to “lesser-known food purveyors” and leave with “the knowledge of a true Richmond insider”. This definitely sounds like a winner to me!
As I hope you know by now I run a truly amazing platform called UnlockingRVA. Well, on January 27th we turn 2 years old. I really want you to celebrate with me so I am personally inviting you to some amazing events I have lined up. From entrepreneur mixers, to hip hop classes and my personal favorite, our anniversary brunch we truly have a little something for everyone. Head to our Eventbrite page to purchase tickets or follow us on social media to stay up to date. I have a lot of giveaways in store you do not want to miss.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Dec. 29-Dec. 31
With just one $35 ticket getting you access to food, gaming tokens, live music and at least 50 beers on tap why wouldn’t the Circuit Arcade be an option for you on New Year’s Eve? Local ban Wax Moon Records will be playing live and there will be lots of giveaways and even raffle prices. There are about 50 arcade games to choose from with my personal favorite being Crazy Taxi. I think it’s because I really wish I could drive through city parks in a drop top convertible in real life without a care in the world.
The Party Liberation Foundation (PLF) is a collection of “artists, DJs, musicians, sculptors, dancers, fire spinners and community organizers” who seek to fund and facilitate art creation and performance. Their annual Decemberween event features a costume ball that benefits their art foundation. It will take place at Diversity Richmond, where they plan to turn the space into a place for “fire performers, DJ’s, live music, interactive art installations and stage performances”. I have heard nothing but good things about this event in the past and it comes highly recommended.
This James Bond themed New Year’s Eve party will be the first to be held inside of the newly renovated Main Street Station and is promising to be a legendary night filled with “masquerade treasure hunts, premium bars and exciting door prizes” all benefiting the Single Mothers United Foundation. This event will also feature a couture fashion show featuring Andres Aquino and a Casino Royale themed gaming experience. I hear there will also be Bond girls in attendance and I really am trying to figure out how I missed the auditions for that role!
This cover band has done multiple performances in Richmond the last few years and never disappoints. This group is a “national sensation that is bringing back the 90s with a huge interactive party featuring a live 90s cover band” that does everything from Third Eye Blind to the Backstreet Boys! This is the ultimate party to wear those hot pink spandex pants or that tie dye shirt you have buried in the back of your dresser. I promise you will not be judged!
Over at The Hofheimer Building they want you to “bring your feather boa and get ready for six hours of rump shaking”! That sounds like a very convincing argument right? The event will feature DC-Based Gypsy Jazz and Funk Black Masala and Andrew Alli & the Mainline. Most of the various ticket prices includes event “admission, complimentary buffet, party favors, and midnight toast”! The rooftop will also be open if you want to experience some of this crisp winter air Richmond has been experiencing.
If hanging out until 2am is not your thing you can head over to The Broadberry and catch local band Three Sheets to the Wind! This group, who was named “Best Band” by Richmond Magazine and Style Weekly, plays “authentic tribute to soft rock classics from the late '70s and '80s”. This will definitely be one smooth way to move into the New Year.
So you partied your way into 2018, now what? Why not try out a “2 hour self-care experience” from Lucid Living on New Year’s Day? Their Yoga asana, pranayama, Himalayan Singing Bowls and custom herbal tea should set the tone for your next 12 months. This experience is highly recommended for “anyone looking for a year of graceful transformation”. I think this is one date I can live with for that long.
If you read the title of this date and immediately thought, “she can’t be talking about actual cones parading down the street”, you would be wrong because I am in fact talking about actual humans dressed in cones parading down the street. Created by the owner of the Aquarian Bookshop 10 years ago, the Cone Parade, a free event on January 1st will have participants marching down the Boulevard rocking their very best cones! Best part is there will be prizes awarded for the top 3 costumes! I can sense your hesitation, but seriously you should register for this like right now!
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Dec. 22-24
Need a little holiday fun before hunkering down with your family? Join Richmond’s own DJ Mad Skillz and DJ Duffy as they bring you their Christmas Jammy Jam and Toy Drive on Friday, December 22nd. This is a costume pajama party that will cover every musical genre. They will also be taking toys to donate to the less fortunate during the holiday season. So you get to have little holiday fun and give towards a great holiday cause.
This is an event you and your date do not want to miss. Every DJ Williams concert keeps you on your feet and is a true throw down. If you didn’t know he is the former “jam-band guitarist from Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe” and a highly regarded performer around town. It is all happening on Friday December 22nd at the Cary Street Café. While there I highly suggest ordering one of their stone oven pizzas. Trust me on this!
Who knew tiny animals and a screening of ELF would pair so well together? On Saturday, December 23rd head down to the Veil Brewing for a holiday treat for the whole family. They will have the Teeny Tiny Farm there with their full mini animal petting zoo and then to top it all off they will be showing the movie ELF on their outdoor movie screen. For those who like their dates to also include a little food, Continental Divide and River City Kettle Corn will be on hand all night.
Don’t miss this Talking Head’s tribute band Fear of Music, on Saturday, December 23rd at the Broadberry. I love this venue for a good date night because it gives you the space to grab some delicious eats, drinks and hear a wide variety of good music all in one place.
Your friends or family are now in town, everyone is off of work and now it’s time to celebrate the night before the night before Christmas on Saturday, December 23rd. The Coalition Theatre has put together an amazing cast of Richmond improvisers for one night of “wacky hilarity”. The theater puts on a ton of events each and every month so check out their monthly calendar and get some laughs in before the year is out.
On Saturday Dec 23rd the folks over at Gallery 5 are gathering loads of Richmond musicians together to raise awareness for HomeAgain, one of the city’s top emergency shelters. Acts will be covering a few of your favorite holiday tunes of course. Plus, the bar will be wide open…which can only help in making your Yuletide gay!
Santa is headed into the Quirk Hotel’s Maple & Pine restaurant on Christmas Eve and here is your big chance to have brunch with him! There is truly no other way to bring in the holidays than with great food and of course Bellini’s! Guest also are able to snap a free photo with old Saint Nick himself. Who says you can’t be a kid again?
This is a great date to take the kiddies on during their holiday break. A Puppet off Broad Street’s mission is to “shine a spotlight on the art of puppetry in the Richmond region to inspire imaginations, empower youth, build community, and spread joy”. This event features “four award winning puppeteers” with several performances to choose from until January 1st.
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<
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