Enjoy colorful mountain vistas, craft food and beverages, hiking, biking, competitive runs, games, workshops and — oh, yes — live music at a festival Oct. 5–8 in Virginia’s Nelson County. It’s The Festy Experience — one of four music festivals attracting thousands annually to the rural county.
The Festy’s Michael Allenby hopes you will “choose your experience.” He offers a quintessential Virginia ambience with a musical backdrop for family outings that surpasses “staring at the stage.”
Noting the dusty, “third world” conditions at many festivals, Allenby emphasizes comfort for visitors and artists. “We thought we could do it better,” he said.
The Festy has hilly, grassy terrain with rotating performances on two stages convenient to on-site camping with luxury upgrades. There are well-organized routes and parking, a central “hang-out” zone, and free water and steel cups.
Allenby curated the 25-band lineup, featuring roots music and gender equality among the artists. Performers include The Infamous Stringdusters, Ani DiFranco, Drive-By Truckers, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush Band, Beats Antique, the Jerry Douglas Band, and Joan Osborne.
Insider tip: Watch our Weekend Update eblast and social media for great discounts on tickets and even a getaway to The Festy.
The location is the 387-acre Infinity Downs Farm at 1510 Diggs Mountain Road in Arrington, easily accessible via U.S. Route 29 near Lovingston. The Festy leases the grounds from Lockn’ Festival, which formerly operated from Oak Ridge Farm but now has established permanent residence at Infinity Downs. The larger space allows for infrastructure improvements and development into a multi-use venue.
“The music is front and center,” said Dave Frey, of Lockn’, whose next festival is set next year for Aug. 23–27. “We just want people to come and have a good time.”
Thirty classic rock and jam bands play continuously from a black box stage turntable. John Fogarty, Gov’t Mule, and Widespread Panic were among recent acts.
The experience includes craft beer and food, arts and crafts vendors, camping (including a non-alcohol area), and a forested interactive performance space.
More in store
Coming up Sept. 29–Oct. 1 is Hoopla, a festival that lives up to its name. This event is held in partnership with Devils Backbone Brewing Co.’s Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows at 200 Mosbys Run, Roseland.
Featuring bluegrass and rock, 25 bands, including Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Langhorne Slim, The Hip Abduction, Blitzen Trapper, and Larry Keel X2, will perform.
The festival’s Justin Billcheck said Hoopla is meant to be a comprehensive family experience. Besides enjoying on-site food and craft beer, participants are encouraged to pursue their own adventures, including games, mountain biking, camping, and off-site excursions.
“You have to be here to get how special it is,” Billcheck said.
For an adventure in classical music — at 3,515 feet — the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Academy offers a month-long series of concerts in an open-air tent at the crest of Wintergreen Resort during July and August.
Professional musicians and artistic directors, as well as aspiring student musicians and faculty from around the country, present symphonic and chamber music and other genres in an informal atmosphere. Highlights include preconcert talks, special masterwork performances, “mix, mingle, and music” concerts with cocktails, and events at other venues.
Wary of classical music? The festival’s Julianne Akins advises you come for the artistry and the scenery, and “just trust us on the music — it’s going to put you over the top.”
Tickets and information
The Festy Experience: thefesty.com
Lockn’ Festival: locknfestival.com
Wintergreen Summer Music Festival: wintergreenperformingarts.org
NOT INTO on-site camping?
Try these options
You won’t find chain hotels and motels in Nelson County, but the area does have other appealing choices if you don’t prefer on-site festival camping.
One is Wintergreen Resort, site of the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival. For overnight lodging, festival attendees get a 20 percent discount off the best available rate. (wintergreeenresort.com/accommodations-home).
A number of bed-and-breakfasts are available, too.
A new one is Ad Astra Bed & Breakfast, atop Ennis Mountain in Afton, offering magnificent views (especially at sunset) of meadow, woodlands, and Humpback Rock. Owner Kris Mackey calls the 16-acre property “rustic luxe.” The “rustic” includes seven nature trails, cycling or fly fishing, and an outdoor copper-infused (non-chlorine) spa pool. The “luxe” includes a modern, whimsically decorated house, spacious guest suites with king-size beds and wine, reading nooks, an outdoor deck, and hot, gourmet breakfasts. You can even book a massage or luxury car to take you places.
Ad Astra offers package deals for guests attending the county’s music festivals and certain special events. (adastrabnb.com)
The Nelson County website has a list of B&Bs, cabins, campgrounds, and other vacation rentals. (nelsoncounty-va.gov/buscat/lodging)
Outside the county, accommodations can be found 30 miles away in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and Waynesboro. The Lockn’ festival website offers selected hotel-and-shuttle packages. (locknfestival.com)
In addition to the festivals, Nelson has a wealth of craft-beverage establishments and recreational opportunities, including access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail.