With its colorful foliage, beloved fall traditions and vibrant cultural scene, Alexandria, Virginia, is an autumn arts destination, just minutes from Washington, D.C. Explore outdoor festivals, soak up a show, stroll through galleries and more. Keep reading for the top fall arts happenings in and around Old Town Alexandria and Del Ray.
1. 17th Annual King Street Art Festival
Experience Alexandria’s historic corridor as an outdoor art gallery during the 17th Annual King Street Art Festival, on September 21 and September 22, 2019. Stroll through the collage of styles and mediums, from paintings to jewelry to sculptures and everything in between. Stop for a scoop and a ceramic artisanal bowl at The Art League’s Ice Cream Bowl Fundraiser, then soak up live music and sip a refreshing glass at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Beer & Wine Torpedo Garden as you explore three floors of active artists’ studios.
2. Del Ray’s 24th Annual Art on the Avenue
On October 5, 2019, Del Ray’s 24th Annual Art on the Avenue celebrates the community’s creative spirit with an artistic bonanza along Mount Vernon Avenue. This ever-popular event features more than 300 creators, from quilters to card-makers to cartographers, displaying their one-of-a-kind wares. Arrive with an appetite and grab a bite like local tacos or fresh-baked treats, and check out the children’s activities, including scarecrow-stuffing and pumpkin-painting, set to the soundtrack of live music along the avenue.
3. Torpedo Factory Art Center Events
Head to Alexandria’s premier art center to celebrate the season in style. Party like it’s 1919 or 1974 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Anniversary Ball, honoring the building’s centennial and the art center’s 45th anniversary, on November 16, 2019. Enjoy the debut of Target Gallery’s “45: An Anniversary Exhibition,” and the premiere of a documentary tracing the art center’s history, along with refreshments, a retrospective showcase, guest presenters and live music.
At the popular 24th Annual Art Safari, October 19, 2019, don your play clothes as dozens of artists guide creative kiddos through artistic projects throughout the building. This event is ideal for kids ages five and up, but younger children are welcome to join the fun.
Later this fall, grown-ups can view and sip curated art and craft beer pairings at The Art League’s Art on Tap event on November 1, 2019 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Taste local restaurants’ art-inspired appetizers as you vote for your favorite combos of flavor and artistic flair.
4. Mirror Mirror
As the fall foliage bursts with color, visit the vibrant lights at Waterfront Park’s Mirror Mirror public art installation, on display through November 2019. Take in the mesmerizing fixture, designed by New York’s SOFTlab studio, during the Mirror Mirror Performance Series. Discover how Orange Grove Dance’s choreography represents both the installation’s and audience’s relationship to land and river when they perform on September 6, 7, 13 and 14, 2019. Then, see amplified violinist David Schulman perform an original score to interact with Mirror Mirror alongside saxophonist Sarah Marie Hughes on October 5, 2019, and vocalist Bonnie Lander on October 6, 2019. Visit www.alexandriava.gov/arts for the full schedule and rain dates.
5. Concerts at The Birchmere
The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall will host big-name artists alongside up-and-comers this fall at their acclaimed, intimate venue. On October 18, 2019, catch “I Hope You Dance” crooner Lee Ann Womack. Then, on October 25 and 26, 2019, singer and actress Stephanie Mills will offer up an R&B-infused set. Spend an evening with ukulele-strumming Jake Shimabukuro on September 18, 2019, and be mesmerized by Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter Chris Botti when he comes to The Birchmere on November 22 and 23, 2019.
6. Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s “Imaginary Symphony”
Alexandria Symphony Orchestra opens its season with an “Imaginary Symphony,” arranged by Music Director James Ross. Ross weaves together movements by a quartet of composers across centuries and continents to compose a symphonic reflection on war and peace, in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. See the strings in action on October 5 and 6, 2019 at Schlesinger Concert Hall and George Washington Masonic National Memorial, respectively.
7. Gallery Events and Exhibits
Take advantage of the cooler autumn air to embark on a gallery crawl through Old Town’s fine art hotspots, from Principle Gallery’s contemporary realism collection on King Street, to the global curations at Kyo Gallery on S. Patrick Street. At The Athenaeum, the salmon-pink Greek Revival home of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, find atypical gallery programming including a free spoken word reading from Virginia-based poet, 13 of Nazareth, on September 13, 2019.
8. 13th Annual Alexandria Film Festival
The 13th Annual Alexandria Film Festival is a must for filmmakers and film lovers, showcasing independent films from around the world with diverse and thought-provoking short and feature-length films and documentaries. The festival, happening November 7 to November 10, 2019, highlights the talents of local, national and international filmmakers and includes opportunities for audiences to ask questions and interact with filmmakers.
9. Performances at The Little Theatre of Alexandria
This fall, The Little Theatre of Alexandria presents “A Few Good Men,” the Aaron Sorkin-penned play later adapted into a film starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise and Demi Moore. The riveting courtroom drama tells the story of military lawyers who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their U.S. Marine clients. See the show from September 7 to September 28, 2019. Get into the Halloween spirit with their Halloween One Acts, presented October 5 and 6, then get spooked by “The Haunting of Hill House,” based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 gothic horror novel. Considered one of the best ghost stories of our time, this story is a chilling and mystifying study in mounting terror, on stage October 19 to November 9, 2019.
10. National Acts Accessible by Water Taxi
Plan a memorable autumn evening dining at one of Old Town Alexandria’s top restaurants, then hop on the Potomac Riverboat Company’s water taxi for an evening cruise to National Harbor to see Marlon Wayons on September 14, 2019, Avril Lavigne on October 9, 2019, or ZZ Top on October 25, 2019, at jaw-dropping MGM National Harbor. Or, take the water taxi to The Wharf and see Alessia Cara, Lauv, Sleater-Kenny, Eric Church or Sara Bareilles at The Anthem. Close by, award-winning Arena Stage’s fall season includes August Wilson’s “Jitney” and Disney’s “Newsies.”
Get inspired with more fall events to enjoy around Alexandria.
Header Image Credit: Richard Nowitz for Visit Alexandria