Holiday Lantern Tours at The Frontier Culture Museum

For a memorable holiday experience, visit the museum after-hours for a walking tour by lantern light!! Visitors can see and experience historic holiday vignettes at England, Ireland,

Father Christmas at the Frontier Culture Museum

Father Christmas at the Frontier Culture Museum

Germany, 1820s America, and 1850s America (including a Mummer’s play near the Irish Forge) and a horse-drawn wagon ride from the “Old World to the New World.” Tours leave every 30 minutes beginning at 6:00 pm; last tour begins at 8:00 pm. By reservation only: adults $15.00, children $8.00. Reservations required. Visit or call (540) 332-7850.

Blow Your Own Ornament at Sunspots Studios. Step into the glass studio and help the glassblower in creating a one-of-a-kind, keepsake ornament made with your breath. Ornaments ready for pick up or shipping the following day. Cost is $40-$45 per ornament. Suitable for ages five and up. Daily until 4:00 pm (last appointment at 3:30 pm.) Reservations recommended, call (540) 885-0678.

Allison Glenzer as Mary in "The Twelve Dates of Christmas" photo by: Michael Bailey

Allison Glenzer as Mary in “The Twelve Dates of Christmas” photo by: Michael Bailey

Drop in for a jolly time at any of the holiday–themed shows at The American Shakespeare Center. For information on showtimes and tickets, visit or call (540) 851-1733. Now playing:

  • A Christmas Carol – Join Marley, the three Christmas ghosts, the Cratchits, and Tiny Tim – they’re all back to take Scrooge on the ride of his money-grubbing life.
  • The Santaland Diaries – An outrageously funny one-man play (from NPR’s well-loved humorist David Sedaris) about the author’s experiences as an unemployed actor/writer taking a job as an elf at Macy’s department store in New York City.
  • The Twelve Dates of Christmas – A one-woman show about how tough the holidays can be after your heart’s been crushed. (Mature audiences only.)

Handel’s Messiah is one of the best-loved musical traditions during the holiday season. This Baroque-era oratorio inspires and amazes listeners even now, more than 250 years after it was composed.  On Sunday, December 22 at 3:00 pm, join the Ovations Singers and Orchestra for this FREE concert at R. E. Lee High School.

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.” You might just catch a Santa sighting at Pufferbellies Toys and Books on either Friday, December 20 (from 6-8 pm) or on Sunday, December 22(from 1-3 pm), but you “better watch out” because all the photo sessions are fully booked and Pufferbellies is very busy this time of year. Still, you might be able to sneak a peek at the “right jolly old elf” while you shop for favorite toys and books.

Happy Holidays from all of us the Staunton Convention & Visitor’s Bureau!


With Thanksgiving around the corner, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the many things we are thankful for right here in Staunton. Photo by Peter Aaslestad

Here is our list in NO particular order…

  1. Music. From the Tuesday evening pick-up bluegrass sessions at Marino’s to the world-renowned performers who perform at the Heifetz International Music Institute, Staunton is home to the very best in music–making. We’ve got live, free music almost every night of the week at Gypsy Hill Park during the summer. We have music festivals that entertain all year long – this year we said hello to newcomer Red Roots Music Festival, and welcomed back the classical Staunton Music Festival, as well as blues, jazz, and folk festivals.
  2. Performing arts, artists and artisans.  It’s no secret that The American Shakespeare Center “does it with the lights on” 52 weeks a year to national acclaim.  ShenanArts is also a treasure, with high-energy performances delighting crowds of all ages.  The arts community flourishes in Staunton – take time to explore the many galleries all over downtown, or stop in to Sunspots Studios, where you can watch art being made in front of your eyes.
  3. Local farmers and producers.  We are fortunate to be able to enjoy some of freshest, most delicious locally grown food available anywhere in the USA.  With a twice-weekly seasonal farmer’s market, farm-fresh roadside stands, and pick-your-own farms – we’re the envy of many communities in the “buy fresh, buy local” movement.
  4. Museums and historic sites. History lines the streets in Staunton. When was the last time you visited Frontier Culture Museum or Woodrow Wilson’s Birthplace Museum?  If it’s been a while, then go – and watch the past come alive.
  5. Independent small businesses. In downtown Staunton, a diverse mix of indie shops surrounds you. Our small business owners are following their passions, and creating some of the best independent shopping district in the state.  Hurrah for Pufferbellies, The Split Banana, Coffee on the Corner, Cranberry’s and so many more!
  6. Walkable downtown. Staunton’s historic downtown is made for strolling, people watching and window-shopping.
  7. Amazing architecture. Hats off the planners and architects who have been creating, preserving, and adding to Staunton’s architectural legacy for more than a century.
  8. Food and wine. There is plenty to be grateful for when it comes to Staunton’s dining scene.  Who doesn’t love wine-tasting at Barking Dog Wine, or the creative menus whipped up by Zynodoa, and the yummy comfort food at Beverley Restaurant?
  9. Our location.  Priceless. Staunton is located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, and we’ve got mountains with gorgeous views on both sides. National parks, state forests, and bucolic farms all around make this a natural destination to hike, bike and explore our natural world.
  10. The people. We are grateful for all of the incredible people who live and work here that contribute every day to help make our small city so amazing.

We hope you’ll enjoy and share this list.  But most of all – we hope you’ll add to this list with all the things you are grateful for in Staunton. Happy Thanksgiving!

With gratitude and thanks,

The Staunton Convention & Visitors Bureau

WINE Your Way Through Autumn Splendor in the Shenandoah Valley

ShenValleyScenic_28It’s no secret that October is the best month for leaf peeping in Shenandoah Valley. But did you know that it’s also Virginia Wine Month? Here’s a guide on how to uncork the fun:

Staunton and Harrisonburg are located just off Interstate 81, which runs north south through the Shenandoah Valley. These two vibrant cities – just 25 minutes apart – form the perfect bookends to your next wine getaway.

Downtown Staunton

Downtown Staunton

If you like curvy county roads, skip the highway and try Route 11 or Route 42.  Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park provides a loftier option (and with the higher elevation, an earlier color show.)

Fall’s cooler temperatures bring clear skies with spectacular views of the mountain ranges to the east and west.

Nearby Vineyards

The view from Barrenridge Vineyards

The view from BarrenRidge Vineyards

BarrenRidge Vineyards is located on the grounds of a family-owned apple orchard, and features an 1890′s apple barn that has been converted into a state-of-the-art winery.

In addition to a beautiful landscape, Bluestone Vineyards offers tastings and tours so guests can get a deeper look into the winemaking process. At CrossKeys Vineyards, you can sip al fresco on the patio, and grab a bite from the pairing menu.

Downtown Sips   

It’s always wine-time in downtown Staunton, so if you’re serious about sipping make time to visit Barking Dog Wine Bar, AVA Wine Bar, and the sleek downtown tasting room of Ox-Eye Vineyard.  Need something to carry home or share a favorite wine purchase? Check out the handcrafted, witty (and reusable!) wine bags at Made, conveniently located next to Barking Dog Wine Bar!

In Harrisonburg, Downtown Wine & Gourmet offers free wine tastings every Friday from 5-7pm. If you need to stock up for the ride home, check out Vintage Wines which offers the largest selection of wines in the Shenandoah Valley.


Dinner at Zynodoa

Dine Out in Style

In Staunton, you’ll want to book a table at Zynodoa or Emilio’s. In Harrisonburg, you can’t miss with either Local Chop & Grill House or Joshua Wilton House. All of these fine restaurants proudly offer Virginia wine by the glass, and offer customized wine pairing suggestions for your meal.

Wondering how long to stay?

Plan to spend at least two nights, more if you want to take in museums, theaters, art galleries and other attractions. You can begin your wine-getaway in either Harrisonburg or Staunton – why not spend a night in each city to get the best of both worlds?

Travel tip: visit mid-week and skip the crowds!

Lodging packages

Want to stay in the city? Make plans to stay at The Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton.  Originally built in 1924 and a member of Historic Hotels of America, this 124-room is a Shenandoah Valley landmark. Ask for the “Downtown Wine” package (includes complimentary Virginia wine upon arrival, wine tasting for two at Ox-Eye Tasting room, 50% off bottles of wine in Sorrels Lounge, and more.)

If you prefer a more intimate location, luxurious amenities await you at By the Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast in Harrisonburg. When you book your reservation, ask for the “Shenandoah Wine Trail” package (includes complimentary Virginia wine upon arrival, a light gourmet picnic to carry to one of your vineyard stops, discounts at local vineyards, voucher for a romantic dinner for two, and a hot gourmet breakfast basket delivered to your cottage door.)

In the Shenandoah Valley, local goodness is everywhere. Stop by a local farmer’s market, brewery, or pumpkin patch to bring some of this season’s bounty home with you.

Downtown Staunton Enchants with European-Style Music Festival

Get ready for a week of dazzling performances.SMF_Blackfriars

“Staunton Music Festival pushes the boundaries of classical music. We want challenge the audience to ‘rethink classical” and delight them with powerful performances and innovative programs.” – Jason Stell, Executive Director

Staunton Music Festival’s summer season kicks off on Friday, August 16th and runs through Saturday, August 24th. During these nine days, Staunton Music Festival (SMF) will present twice daily chamber music concerts, plus lectures and workshops.

The concert series features acclaimed performers from Europe and the United States.  Among the talented and celebrated artists performing in Staunton are Vladimir Mendelssohn (viola and composer), Antti Tikkanen (violin), Andrew Willis (fortepiano), Minna Pensola (violin), Igor Begelman (clarinet), and Sivan Magen (harp).

Highlights of the 2013 season include an evening of Handel and Purcell at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse; an evening of Baroque featuring period instruments and renowned vocalists; and the the Early Keyboard Extravaganza which will feature eight period instruments – all on loan from private collections. This is a rare opportunity for anyone on the East Coast to see and hear so many historical keyboards assembled and performed by recognized masters at one occasion!

Carsten Schmidt, the festival’s artistic director, enjoys a flourishing career with extensive performance and broadcast activities as a chamber musician and soloist with orchestras throughout Europe, North America, and Japan. He has been heard in such venues as Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Moscow Conservatory, as well as in broadcasts worldwide.

“It’s a rich festival experience, featuring a packed schedule of concerts, two and three per day – all centered in downtown Staunton. It’s very rewarding for us to see people traveling here from more distant places like D.C., Richmond, and Philadelphia.”

With the intimate performance venues in Staunton, there are no bad seats.

SMF_Minna The festival has a strong following, so reserve your seat as soon as possible. Tickets for the evening concerts are available at or by calling (800) 838-3006. Regular performance ticket pricing is $20 adult / $18 senior / $8 student (ages 16-and-under are free). Every day at noon there will be a free concert. All seats are unreserved. Doors open one hour prior to concert.  The full festival schedule is available online.

All performances take place at historic venues in beautiful downtown Staunton, Virginia – recently designated as one of the “best small towns in America” by Smithsonian magazine.

Two beeps or not two beeps? (That is the question.)


Dylan Paul as Captain Tempest and Emily Brown as Miranda. Photo by Michael Bailey.

The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton is pleased to present Bob Carlton’s rollicking starship musical, loosely based on The Tempest.  During the show, Captain Tempest and his fearless crew journey into hyperspace… and beyond. They land on the uncharted Planet D’Illyria, home of Mad Scientist Doctor Prospero and daughter Miranda. Adventure, romance and hilarity ensue.

With a jukebox assortment of some of the greatest hits of the 50s and 60s, a B-movie sci-fi setting, and dialogue borrowed from the greatest plays ever written, Return to the Forbidden Planet will have you dancing in your seat and laughing nonstop.

Rock and Roll Meets Shakespeare…In Outer Space

The musical production includes such toe-tapping numbers as Great Balls of Fire, Wipeout, Good Vibrations, Young Girl, Please Don’t Let me be Misunderstood, and Teenager in Love. All the numbers are performed live onstage with acoustic instruments. The costumes – and dance routines – would make Beyoncé proud.

So Punny, I Almost Cried

Even casual students of the Bard will instantly recognize such lines as “Two beeps, or not two beeps”, “Is this a monster that I see before me”, “Out damned blob” , and perhaps the best one-liner of all time — “Beware the Ids that march”.

Monsters Attack!

It’s not often that aliens invade the Blackfriars.  And since when do Shakespearean actors bust loose with a rousing rendition of Monster Mash?  It’s an out-of-this-world production, taking place in downtown Staunton. Bring it on!  (If you have teenagers, bring them too. They’ll love it.)

Return to the Forbidden Planet will be performed every week in repertory (the same group of actors in all shows) along with Romeo and Juliet and All’s Well That Ends Well.  Check the American Shakespeare Center website for specific show times or call 877-Much-Ado.

BE WARNED:  Audience participation is necessary. The spacecraft needs a bit of help to correct its intergalactic path.  Don’t worry, the actors can show you how to get your reverse polarity on.

Staunton’s Got Talent!

Musical Protégés Perform in Staunton for Heifetz International Music Institute

Heifetz Institute

The Heifetz Institute is dedicated to the artistic growth and career development of some of the most talented and promising young musicians in the world.

For six weeks each summer, the Heifetz International Music Institute brings together 75 advanced string players and a faculty of world-renowned artists for a summer of performance and study – right here in Staunton, Virginia!

Concerts are happening now through August 10, 2013 at Mary Baldwin College’s Francis Auditorium.

So, what’s all the buzz about?

The Heifetz International Music Institute is an intensive, six-week summer program for the world’s most brilliant young artists of violin, viola, and cello. Auditions are held each January at some of the nation’s top conservatories. Students come to study at the institute from all over the world.

Multiple concerts every week

  • The Celebrity Series, in which faculty and students come together to perform, takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30. This year’s performances will include such artists as Elmar Oliveira, Amit Peled, Joan Kwuon, members of the Emerson String Quartet, and many more. Tickets for the Celebrity Series are available by calling the Institute office at 410-480-8007.
  • The Stars of Tomorrow Series, featuring the Institute’s brilliant young artists, takes place on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 PM and Saturday afternoons at 1:30 PM at Mary Baldwin College Francis Auditorium. The Stars of Tomorrow performances are free to the public.

Ready to see the stars in action?

Visit the Heifetz website for updated concert and performance details. Don’t delay – this is a limited season.  For visitors to the area, information about where to shop, dine, and stay is available at

 And, wait…there’s more!

Once the Heifetz program concludes, classical music fans can still look forward to more world-class talent in downtown Staunton!  The Staunton Music Festival, one of the most innovative chamber music festivals on the East Coast, runs for nine days in August. Staunton Music Festival offers performances from acclaimed European artists, many of them performing on a rare collection of early keyboard instruments. Tickets are on sale now by calling (800) 838-3006.

Ready to Rock on New Year’s Eve?

Ring in the New Year in Staunton this year with a party, live music, or an excellent meal!


  • Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center New Year’s Eve Celebration – The evening includes a gourmet dinner buffet, live entertainment, and a complimentary toast at midnight. $250 per couple. OR take advantage of the special overnight package, which includes the gala, a deluxe room, and breakfast for two for $375.

    zyn food

    Zynodoa photo by Sera Petras

  • Celebrating {Southern Style} on New Year’s Eve at Zynodoa – On Monday, December 31st, Zynodoa will offer a single dinner seating at 6:30 p.m. to bring you a special New Year’s Eve dining experience. You will be welcomed with a complimentary holiday cocktail, which will be followed by an 8+ course menu. Prix fixe $125 | wine pairing $48.  To make a reservation please call 540 885 7775 or make a reservation online.
  • A Magical New Year’s Eve Party at Darjeeling Cafe – In addition to a magical six course menu this year’s floor show will be a magician and Brian Boyd will be spinning throughout the night. $60 per person/ $110 per couple. If you would like to join us after dinner at 11:00 to dance and ring in the New Year, it will be $10.
  • New Year’s Eve Masquerade Party at The Pompei LoungeSarah Lynna & The Misfit Toys will be playing 8:30 p.m. – 12 a.m., champagne toast at midnight to ring in the New Year, and DJ Neili Neil will be spinning til 2 a.m. COVER: $8 Advance/$10 Door

Remember, if you are drinking this New Year’s Eve, don’t drive.  Have a designated driver or call a cab for a safe ride home.