The annual Bizarre Bazaar Spring Market is back from April 4 to April 6 at Richmond's Raceway Complex! This large-scale event provides an optimal shopping experience for all--including gifts for Easter, graduation, birthdays, bridal and baby showers, and unique offerings including gourmet foods, cookbooks, fine linens, designer clothing, toys, crafts and artwork, decorative home accessories and jewelry. Springtime also brings gardening and the outdoors to the forefront, and included in items for sale are whimsical garden art and accessories, spring and summer perennials, outdoor furniture, and more! The Raceway Complex (former site of the Virginia State Fair), is just a short drive away from Maury Place at Monument. This is an event that Jeff especially recommends for shoppers!
Military Intelligence is a story that is our newspapers daily in the 21st century, but producers of AMC's new drama "Turn" have ripped their story from the history books. This new series is filming in the Richmond area and is based on Alexander Rose's "Washington Spies." "Turn" centers around Abraham Woodhull (played by Jamie Bell), a Revolutionary War era farmer living behind enemy lines in Long Island, New York. Woodhull joins forces with a group of childhood friends to form the "Culpepper Ring," a team of secret agents who helped George Washington turn the course of history. Richmond and its environs will be "playing the role" of several New York sites. When the series premieres on AMC on April 6th, many local folks will be tuned in, not just because of the fascinating topic, but to see if they can recognize any local landmarks. "Turn" is the first television series to be filmed entirely in the Richmond area, and Richmond was chosen in large part because of its historical character.
Spring arrives with magnificent splendor as the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden celebrates its thirty year anniversary. Last year, Lewis Ginter won recognition as one of the top ten North American botanical gardens worth traveling for--awarded by the Canadian Garden Tourism Council and a group of experts. The Travel Channel has also identified Lewis Ginter as one of the twelve best botanical gardens in the United States. See a succession of breathtaking blooms throughout the Lewis Ginter Gardens that color the landscape with beauty. Enjoy entertaining activities, exhibits and family events. Also take time to browse in Lewis Ginter's large shop, where you will find every imaginable garden accessory, jewelry, clothing, and gardening texts. Or stop for a bite to eat at one of the Garden's charming restaurants. Or simply relax in a scenic garden retreat! Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is just a short drive away from Maury Place at Monument. For more information, see www.LewisGinter.org.
It's that time of year again, when French accents and Francophiles abound in Carytown in the vicinity of the Byrd Theatre. The 22nd Annual French Film Festival begins on March 27 and runs through March 30, 2014. All films have English subtitles and will be presented by their actors and directors. The "Master Class" on Artistic Creative Stages of Filmmaking kicks the festival off on March 27 from 12 to 2 p.m. on the University of Richmond campus in the Adams Auditorium in the Boatwright Library. It is free and open to the public. There will be special free screenings that evening at the Byrd Theatre at 5 and 7 p.m. A wide variety of select French films will be screened from Friday (March 28) afternoon and evening, all day Saturday (March 29), and all day Sunday (March 30). There will be a special official reception at the Scott House at VCU on Saturday, March 29 at 7:00 p.m. Student, Faculty, and Regular VIP passes include guaranteed seating at all screenings and Q&A sessions with actors and directors. There is a $25 add-on cost per pass for admission to Saturday's reception. Tickets will also be available at the Byrd Theatre box office 30 minutes before each screening for each film for $15 each. A regular VIP pass is $115 per pass. Student passes for currently enrolled students are $65. For more information, call 804-827-FILM or check out www.frenchfilmfestival.us. The Byrd Theatre in Carytown is just steps away from Maury Place at Monument.
Enjoy an afternoon of steeplechase racing and trackside tailgating at the Dogwood Classic Races at Colonial Downs on April 5. One of the Richmond area's most stylish spring events, be sure to wear your "steeplechase" finery. Most vehicle tailgating spots are only $125 and include 6 admission tickets. Additional admission tickets are $10 each.
This year's theme is "Casino Royale," and there will be tailgating and fancy hat competitions. For more information, visit www.DogwoodClassic.com or call 804-966-7223, ext. 1073. Another great Richmond Springtime tradition!!
On March 22 and 23, the Irish Festival will once again return to Richmond at North 25th and East Broad Streets. Many are familiar with the lively sounds of bagpipes, Celtic vendors, live bands, Irish dancing, and festive beverages that surround the streets of Church Hill for the festival each year. The spirit of the festival started in the 1980's to assist St. Patrick's Catholic Church, which was built in 1859, and serves the thriving Irish community of Richmond's Church Hill, Rockett's Landing, Fulton, and Varina areas. The Church was connected to the Daughters of Charity, a religious order that educated the children of this area until just a few years ago when St. Patrick's school closed. For many years, St. Patrick's hosted weekly feeding programs for those in need, and the Irish Festival helped the Church to continue this mission. Throughout the years, the Festival has also helped to restore the historic church to its original beauty. The Irish Festival has donated over $400,000 to charitable, educational, and religious groups in the Richmond community. The Festival is yet another Richmond tradition that should not be missed!
A confluence of factors, including the Richmond area's unique history and the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, were key reasons why travel guide publisher Frommer's chose the Richmond area as one of the 14 best places in the world to visit in 2014. Richmond is the "epicenter" of Civil War history, with many historic sites that should not be missed as part of any Civil War tour. The City's growing food and beverage culture and outdoor recreation opportunities were also plusses for the designation. Richmond has a thriving culture of new restaurants, craft beers, and emerging wineries. One of the only cities in the world with white water rapids flowing through its center, Richmond offers many opportunities for adventure on the James River as well. Come see us in 2014 and see all Richmond has to offer!
Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
Richmond's presentation of its past is getting a big bucks transformation. Museums and cultural sites across the city are moving into new places, creating spaces, restoring, reinterpreting and reshaping what they do. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is within walking distance of Maury Place, underwent a transformative renovation a few years ago, and the museum was totally reborn. Other museums and sites are now following suit.
The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia will be renovating the Leigh Street Armory this spring following a $13 million capital campaign. The Valentine Richmond History Center's $20 million campaign is in its final phases of construction. Even Richmond Region Tourism is planning a new visitor center adjacent to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by renovating the Robinson House next year. The new center will build on last year's record number of visitors, which was more than 7 million based on hotel tax collections. Attendance at museums on or near the Boulevard adds up to the highest visitation in the region.
The Science Museum of Virginia is installing a new NanoSeam screen and five digital projectors capable of projecting 3-D images across the expanse of the 76-foot dome. The Dome will reopen on March 15 with a showing of "Cosmic Expeditions," the museum's new astronomy program. Resolution will be 14 times better than a high def TV! The Science Museum is a short walk or drive from Maury Place.
New programming at the Virginia Historical Society, which is within walking distance of Maury Place, will include the first state-specific, crowd-sourced film of its kind, "Virginia Voices," as an adjunct to its new exhibit "The Story of Virginia." Producers of the film have been out in the field to capture the beauty of the state and its people for the production's debut this fall. Videos can be uploaded at www.virginiavoices.org. The film project is part of a $38 million campaign at the VHS that includes $20 million for capital projects and $8 million for programs. Construction will include a more prominent main entrance, a pedestrian friendly green area on Boulevard, a new learning center with a separate entrance, and a redesigned exhibit area for "The Story of Virginia."
The Valentine Richmond History Center is undergoing a $20 million renovation that will include enlarging its gallery space and restoring the 1812 Wickham House and the studio of sculptor Edward Valentine. There will be a new education center, new history of Richmond galleries, and new community galleries.
The American Civil War Museum is planning a new building at the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar's riverfront. The new orientation of the building will feature stunning views of the river and the riverfront property. The 45,000 square foot expansion will include major new exhibits, state of the art preservation of the collection, and an immersion theater that engages the emotions as well as the intellect. Opening is targeted for the fall of 2015.
So many exciting plans for Richmond's great museums!!
The Williamsburg Winery was honored last week when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe awarded the 2014 Virginia Wineries Association's Governor's Cup to the Williamsburg Winery's 2010 Adagio, a blended red wine.
The Virginia Governor's Cup Competition was conducted over three weeks of preliminary tastings, and the final round of tastings was held at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond in early February. The winner was selected from 410 entries of both red and white wines from 96 wineries.
Sales of Virginia wines reached a record high in the last fiscal year that ended on June 30 with more than 6.1 million bottles sold. Virginia ranks fifth in the nation in the number of wineries in the state, now 250! Many are within a short drive of Maury Place at Monument. Maury Place exclusively features Virginia wines--including several from the Williamsburg Winery!
Overall, tourist visitation to Richmond increased 4.5% in 2013, demonstrating that the combination of historic and cultural attractions keep Richmond on the list of cities many tourists seek out to see. The most popular tourist attraction in Richmond last year was Maymont Park, which offers many outdoor opportunities with two lakes, a large wooded park, a zoo, and the historic Dooley Mansion--all on the banks of the James River!
Richmond's second most popular tourist attraction was the world class Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is located just five blocks away from Maury Place. Rounding out the top five were the Children's Museum of Richmond; the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden; and the Three Lakes Nature Center and Aquarium. Frommers Travel Guide selected Richmond as one of 14 destinations in the world--and only three in the United States--that it considers prime places to visit in 2014.