As we head into July, everything from Independence Day celebrations to a festival or two are starting back up.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE-The numbers look good. An estimated 70% of Virginia adults have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. New cases keep dropping and hospitalizations because of the virus are falling too. As a result, things look almost normal in the Commonwealth. Theaters are opening up, towns are scheduling a festival or two and, for the first time in two years, there will be Independence Day celebrations.

Here’s a look at some of unique events. From festivals to fireworks, there’s something for everyone happening this month.

1. Balloons Over Rockbridge Hot Air Balloon Festival

When: July 2 through July 3

Where: Oak Hill Property, Virginia Horse Center. 487 Maury River Rd., Lexington

Cost: Free

What: Have you ever gone up in a hot air balloon? Each year, the city of Lexington offers that chance. Their Hot Air Balloon Festival gives tethered rides, piloted flights and music, food, games and crafts.

2. Before The Works Independence Day Festival

When: July 3 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Liberty Lake Park, 939 Burks Hill Rd, Bedford

Cost: Free for kids, $10 for adults

What: The Town of Bedford will host an Independence Day celebration, complete with live music, food and dessert trucks, vendors, a kids zone, and an adult zone. After it gets dark, you can sit back at Liberty Lake and watch fireworks, which will be set off from the D-Day Memorial at 3 Overlord Circle. Typically, the fireworks show is visible across town.

3. Independence Day Celebration at Mount Trashmore Park

When: July 4 at 8 p.m.

Where: Mount Trashmore Park, 310 Edwin Dr, Virginia Beach 

Cost: Free admission

What: Sure, there are lots of great places to watch the fireworks on Independence Day in Virginia. One of the more unique locations is in Virginia Beach.

In the late 1960s early 70s, the city converted a 640,000-ton pile of garbage into the nation’s first landfill park. Now, the main “mountain” at Mount Trashmore rises over 60 feet high and scales over 800 feet in length. 

Set on 165 acres, Mount Trashmore Park features two man-made mountains, two lakes, two playgrounds, a skate park and vert ramp and multi-use paths. Come July 4, it will also serves as a great spot to see fireworks.

In addition to the pyrotechnic sky show, the event will feature a DJ and food vendors.

4. Smith Mountain Lake Fireworks Benefit

When: July 4 at 9 p.m.

Where: Mitchell’s Point Marina, 3553 Trading Post Road, Huddleston.

Cost: Free. Donations will be accepted for the Saunders Volunteer Fire Department

What: Normally on Smith Mountain Lake, the Saunders Volunteer Fire Department holds an Independence Day fireworks show. A 27-year tradition, boats fill the water and people line up on shore in cars and on blankets. But there’s so much involved, it takes six months for the fire department to fundraise. They couldn’t do that this year, as the department only learned restrictions would be lifted in May.

Mitchell’s Point Marina is stepping in to help. The group, which typically has a July 2 fireworks show, announced it would also hold a July 4 show and collect donations for Saunders.

5. Celebration Turns 70 in Narrows

When: July 4 from 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Narrows Town Park, 110 Mary Street, Narrows

Cost: Free

What: The Town of Narrows has held an Independence Day celebration for the last 70 years. Things start at 12:30 p.m., with a kids parade. Kids come dressed in their best patriotic clothes and decorate their bikes and scooters. After the parade, there will be food, games, vendors and music, at this place locals call ‘The Boom’.  

It’s called ‘The Boom’ because loggers used to float logs down to the Mill Pond, located a small distance from the park, to be cut into boards.  As the logs arrived at the pond, they banged against other logs already in the water, producing a loud boom. 

As for fireworks, those start at 9:45 p.m.

A look at the fireworks display in Colonial Williamsburg.

6. Lubber Run Summer Concert Series

When: July 9 – 11; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. through Aug. 15.

Where: N Columbus St & 2nd St N, Arlington

Cost: Free admission

What: The Lubber Run Summer Concert Series features free performances from a variety of genres including big band, blues, soul, orchestral and cabaret music. 

The summer series kicks off with a weekend full of entertainment. On Friday, Chris Pierce – who co-wrote “We Can Always Come Back to This” – will engage listeners with his socially-conscious music. 

On Saturday, VERONNEAU takes the stage. Winning awards for Best Jazz Group, Best Jazz Vocals and Best Jazz Recording, the group performs samba, bossa nova, swing, jazz and French chanson along with original compositions.

On Sunday, Encore Stage & Studio presents Voyager’s Compass By Xander Tilock, a quest joining eccentric creatures on their epic mission to explore the seven skies.

7. Blacksburg Vintage Market

When: July 11 and the second Sunday monthly from April to November, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Where: The corner of Roanoke St and Draper Ave in Market Square Park, Blacksburg

Cost: Free admission

What: Hoping to add a little vintage flair to your home, office or wardrobe? A monthly spring, summer and fall event may have just what you’re searching for.

Established in 2013, the Blacksburg Vintage Market takes place in the same location as the Blacksburg Farmers Market. Up to 14 vendors present their goods under the sheltered area for scouring treasure hunters.

“[Shoppers] can expect vintage clothing, vintage LPs, jewelry, furniture. You name it. Shoes, hats, books. Lots and lots of really cool, older, one-of-a-kind items,” said Ian Littlejohn, director of the Blacksburg Farmers Market.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the July event, live musical performers hit the stage.

“It’s completely free,” Littlejohn said. “Anyone can come and hang out and they are welcome to do so [and] encouraged to do so.” 

8. 2nd Sundays: Williamsburg’s Art and Music Festival

When: July 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the second Sunday monthly from March to December. 

Where: Along N Boundary St, Williamsburg

Cost: Free admission

What: The 2nd Sundays: Williamsburg’s Art and Music Festival features more than 90 artisans, street performers, food vendors and more.

Vendors set up their goods along four blocks of the street, inviting consumers to view crafts, shirts, dog bandanas, beverage coasters and other unique items.

The event also features live music on the community building lawn, en plein air artists producing paintings in their booths and vendors selling handmade jewelry.

Come on out for food, fellowship and fun.  

9. Black Pride RVA Weekend

When: July 16 – 18

Where: Friday 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. – Roots Awards, Diversity Richmond at 1407 Sherwood Ave, Richmond

Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Day of Purpose, Trinity Family Life Center at 3601 Dill Rd, Richmond

Saturday 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Block Party, 1300 Block Altamont Ave, Richmond

Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Pride in the Park at Bryan Park, 4308 Hermitage Rd, Richmond

Cost: Most events are free. Admission to the awards ceremony requires a $20 advance ticket. Weekend drag show performances also come at an additional cost.

What: “Black Pride RVA is Virginia’s first Black Pride LGBTQ weekend,” said Lacette Cross, Black Pride RVA co-founder and director.

First held in 2018, the event now embarks on its fourth year. Festivities include a ticketed awards ceremony on Friday, a Day of Purpose celebration and separate block party on Saturday and a Pride in the Park event on Sunday.

“Pretty much, one can expect to hear some music, have a good family-friendly vibe or a good welcoming vibe and just really celebrate one another,” Cross said. “It’s just a really good, fun-filled weekend of just recognizing that we are all uniquely created and we all come together to make this community the best that we know how.”

The Day of Purpose features health and wellness information, education opportunities, entertainment, vendors and food trucks. The block party involves food, a live DJ, dancing, drinks and entertainers. Pride in the Park is a Sunday fun-day focusing on unity in the community. 

“Our Black Pride weekend is to lift up the voices and experiences of Black LGBTQ folks and celebrate that with our families and our allies and our advocates and supporters,” Cross said. “Each event is always going to be like, what we call ‘a party with a purpose.’”

10. The DC Big Flea

When: July 17 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and July 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: 4320 Chantilly Shopping Ctr, Chantilly 

Cost: $10 admission for the weekend

What: Hold onto your purses and wallets. The DC Big Flea boasts the Mid-Atlantic’s largest indoors flea market.

The show occurs a few times a year, where vendors present unique antiques and collectibles. Bring the truck to load up some furniture and take out the magnifying glass to view the details of antique paintings. From pottery to coffee grinders and everything in between, the event has a little bit of everything for each interest. 

Family owned and operated since 1978, the July show marks the DC Big Flea’s premiere event post-COVID. 

11. The Virginia Highlands Festival

When: July 23 through Aug. 1

Where: Barter Square, 127 W Main St., Abingdon

Cost: Free (while the event itself is free, several workshops do cost)

What: The Virginia Highlands Festival is one of the oldest in the state, dating back to 1943. Each year, the festival offers a glimpse inside the culture of Southwest Virginia. That’s done through arts and crafts, meals, demonstrations, live music and performances that highlight local history. There’s every type of concert from rock to country, bluegrass to Celtic, with antique shows and other events to show Southwest Virginia’s culture. There’s more information at their website here.

12. Norfolk Latino Music Festival

When: July 24 from 5 to 10 p.m.

Where: Town Point Park, 1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk

Cost: Free admission

What: Looking for a tradition steeped in tradition? Look no further than the Norfolk Latino Music Festival.

Celebrating its 20th year, the annual even kicks off with live music, Latin food, dance lessons and more. 

Dawn Whittaker, Visit Norfolk director of sales, invited locals and visitors to dance the night away and enjoy the festivities.

“Who doesn’t love salsa music or Latino music?” Whittaker said. “It brings together all of the cultures in the community in addition to being able to enjoy some local salsa bands as well as some international salsa bands that come in to play. You get to sample some of the Latino cuisines that are available for sale and purchase.”

The family-friendly event also includes activities like face painting, a bilingual story time, hands-on crafts and games. 

“It kind of speaks to our local community. It is representative of our local community,” Whittaker said. “We are very culturally diverse. We have a nice population of minorities within the city. And so it kind of reflects the overall culture of the city. I think that’s why it’s such a popular event.”

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