You may not have heard of it, but the Richmond Folk Festival is one of the largest folk festivals in the nation. Each year, more than 200,000 visitors and local Virginians descend on downtown Richmond to boogie, swing, and sway.
The fest is also one of the more musically and ethnically diverse folk festivals, thanks to active work by RFF organizers including the National Council for the Traditional Arts. In 2021, for example, the lineup included DC’s Rare Essence, one of the best examples of go-go music, a syncopated call-and-response funk subgenre indigenous to Washington, DC. “[Including go-go music] was very important in bringing together Black and white audiences in Richmond,” NCTA’s Associate Director Blaine Waide told Style Weekly. This year, catch sets from Burkina Faso’s Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band, Québécois trio Genticorum, and Hindustani violinist Kala Ramnath.
This three-day event, held at Brown’s Island Park and the adjacent grounds of the American Civil War Museum, has music programming beginning around noon each day and stretching into the evening. Still COVID-cautious or crowds make you nauseous? The Richmond Folk Festival will be broadcast on Virginia Public Media (VPM). Check out VPM online to listen live.
- Over 200,000 people attend each year.
- Admission to the festival is free (though donations are welcomed).
- Make it a fall festival vacation! Spend a few days exploring the city, then head to the nearby Town Point Wine Festival, held the following weekend.
How can I get to the 2023 Richmond Folk Festival?
Fly into Richmond International Airport (RIC) about 14 miles away. Take the GRTC bus (route 7A/7B to downtown, free, runs every 30 minutes) or use a rideshare app.
Where is the festival held and what is the exact address?
The festival is held in downtown Richmond’s riverfront at Brown’s Island, 500 Tredegar Street Richmond, VA 23219 USA
What items should I leave at home?
Pets, large bags and backpacks, alcohol (and any other glass bottle drinks), bikes and skateboards, weapons, and flying objects (drones, kites, Frisbees, footballs, etc).
It’s my first time attending the event. What should I expect?
On the festival website, the Richmond Folk Festival describes itself as “one of Virginia’s largest, drawing fans each year to downtown Richmond’s riverfront to celebrate the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional crafts, storytelling and food.”
Who produces the fest?
From the music festival’s website: The Richmond Folk Festival is presented by Venture Richmond Events in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), Virginia Humanities, Center for Cultural Vibrancy, Children’s Museum and the City of Richmond.
Wait, is this connected to Richmond Folk Feast?
Funny you should ask. On the Monday before the music festival, the city’s restaurant community gathers on Brown’s Island for a fundraiser that supports the Richmond Folk Festival. The 2023 Richmond Folk Feast is on Monday, October 9 on Brown’s Island at the Dominion Energy Dance tent. Tickets are $125 each.
Which artists are on the 2023 Richmond Folk Festival lineup?
The Richmond Folk Festival features artists across an array of cultural traditions on six stages. The artists include Annie & the Caldwell Singers, Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band, Bio Ritmo, Cheres, Chris Thomas & His Smoke Dancers, Chuck Mead, Cyril Neville with Omari Neville & the Fuel, Genticorum, Grupo Mono Blanco, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Halau ‘o Lilinoe, Helobung, Kala Ramnath, Lutchinha, Melody Angel, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights and State of the Ozarks String Band.
Who played in 2022?
Among the artists who performed in 2022 were Art of Noise, The Legendary Ingramettes, Noura Mint Seymali, Ken Heath and the True Disciples, Nick Goad and more.