Art, culture and sports
From contemporary art to natural escapes, from incredible performances and festivals to nationally recognized sporting events, downtown Richmond offers unforgettable amenities you just can't find anywhere else — and best of all, many are free.
A creative palette
Exploring the visual and performing arts downtown ranges from the expected to the completely unexpected. Downtown Richmond has been attracting both local and national artists, performers and musicians for years, and today a lot of downtown’s vibe and energy comes from them.
1708 Gallery, Virginia’s first alternative nonprofit gallery and one of the oldest artist-run galleries in the country, anchors the arts scene in the Broad Street Arts District, where the First Fridays Art Walk takes place. There are more than a dozen galleries in this area offering an intriguing mix of local, regional and nationally recognized artists ranging from established to emerging.
Another area with a high concentration of arts and artists is at Plant Zero in Manchester, just over the 14th Street Bridge. Artspace Plant Zero Arts Center has 60 working studios for artists, and Art Works, located in the southwest corner of the same block, has 75 studios. Artspace, a nonprofit gallery for the visual and performing arts, is also located at Plant Zero. These Manchester galleries have Fourth Fridays art openings. In addition to these two arts districts, you can find great art galleries and art shows throughout downtown, as well as arts-oriented special events such as the RVA Street Art Festival and G-40 mural project. And all sorts of more organic arts happenings tend to “pop up” throughout the year.
There are a variety of recording studios, dozens of clubs featuring live music and numerous entertainment venues. Performing arts and music venues dot downtown’s landscape: The National Theater, Richmond CenterStage, the Altria Theater, Theatre IV, the Richmond Ballet Studio and the Richmond Coliseum. In addition, various galleries and restaurants serve as alternative performance spaces. Film festivals, including the large French Film Festival, and numerous indie film festivals, take place throughout the year.
Many of the region’s cultural celebrations take place downtown — on Brown’s Island, at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market, in the Greater Richmond Convention Center, in the Coliseum and even in the streets. The Richmond Folk Festival is really the “mother” of all festivals and celebrates many cultures each year, but there are festivals all year long honoring specific cultures. Among them are the 2nd Street Festival, Asian American Celebration, Festival of India, Que Pasa, the Irish Festival, Shamrock the Block, Broad Appetit and many more. Downtown is really the region’s cultural crossroads.
For a calendar of events, go to Visit Richmond.
Going au natural
Whether you dream of chasing the rapids or simply chasing the perfect tan, look behind the buildings and you'll find downtown’s softer, serene side. Because of Richmond’s strategic location along the James River, those lucky enough to work in the hustle and bustle of the city are minutes away from bird-watching hot spots, fishing holes, kayaking adventures, Class IV white-water rapids, 20 miles of mountain biking trails, one of the only urban climbing wall sites in the U.S., and more hiking and running paths than you can shake a stick at.
Stick some bug spray in your briefcase and get ready for an after-work wind-down that beats even the best martini.
Get ready to run
Break out your iPod and sunscreen. All year ‘round, the city offers action-packed sporting events ranging from motocross competitions to one of the largest 10k races in the country. With the Richmond Raiders indoor football team, tthe Ukrops Monument Avenue 10k, the McDonald’s X-Country Festival, the James River Regatta, Dominion Riverrock, River City Roller Girls, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, VCU basketball and the Anthem Richmond Marathon all conveniently located downtown, the adrenaline rush of the game is just a giant foam finger away.