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Portside in Old Town Festival Kicks Off New Waterfront Happenings

This October, the Washington, D.C. region’s most historic waterfront is launching Portside in Old Town, a new programming series kicking off with the Portside in Old Town Festival October 12 to 14, 2018. Alexandria’s Portside in Old Town series features free-to-the-public themed happenings in history, art, music and fitness with activities for families and for adults, plus additional pop-up experiences and events. The series kicks off this fall and continues through 2019. The new Portside activities launch at Waterfront Park (1A Prince Street) and the Alexandria City Marina (0 Cameron Street) as anticipation grows for the opening of a greatly expanded new park area at the foot of King Street, which will open later this fall following some weather-related construction delays.

Image Credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Portside in Old Town Festival

The free-admission Portside in Old Town Festival welcomes all to Alexandria’s waterfront near King Street for three fun-filled days, Friday through Sunday, October 12 to 14, 2018, at Waterfront Park and the Alexandria City Marina. Festival-goers will enjoy free tours of the tall ship Godspeed, a waterfront beer garden from Port City Brewing Company, a pop-up Pizzeria Paradiso plus live music and history, art and fitness activities.

Image Credit: Port City Brewing Co.

The Portside in Old Town Festival lineup also includes an LED light performance by Incandescent Entertainment presented by The Athenaeum, a pop-up exotic car exhibit to preview next year’s Alexandria Festival of Speed and Style, a free kids’ pizza-making demo by Pizzeria Paradiso, a free kids decorative craft project from AR Workshop, a free outdoor group fitness class from Sand & Steel Fitness and more.

Image Credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Jamestown Settlement’s Godspeed, a re-creation of one of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607, will highlight Jamestown’s 17th-century history as well as 400-year milestones being observed during Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution.

The festival includes a preview of ongoing Portside in Old Town programming, including Portside History from the Office of Historic Alexandria, Portside Arts from the Torpedo Factory Art Center and the Mobile Art Lab, Portside Fitness from local fitness studios, and Portside Kids activities for families.

Image Credit: Pizzeria Paradiso

The weekend also includes two special events happening inside the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which is located at the Alexandria City Marina: The Late Shift on Friday night and the family-friendly Art Safari on Saturday afternoon.

Fall and Holiday Portside Plans

Image Credit: L. Barnes for Visit Alexandria

More events this fall include the Waterfront Beer Garden from Port City Brewing Company taking place two additional Saturdays (October 20 during Alexandria Seaport Day as well as on October 27); Alexandria Seaport Day on October 20 featuring live music, a boat show, boat building, children’s activities, beer and wine and an “Anything That Floats” Race; and a Portside Cinema outdoor screening of film shorts on November 8 presented by the Alexandria Film Festival.

The Office of Historic Alexandria presents Portside History every Saturday October 13 to November 17, with free hands-on activities and pop-up displays about Alexandria’s maritime history featuring weekly themes including archaeology, music, fashion and more. Register for Alexandria Archaeology’s ticketed waterfront walking tours on Saturdays or join a free Walking with Washington Tour on October 27 to explore important Old Town sites associated with George Washington.

Image Credit: E. Michio for Visit Alexandria

Portside Holidays will include pop-up happenings such as story time with Santa, a community sing-a-long, a hot chocolate bar, a Pacers holiday run meet-up, plus activities at major events such as the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Waterskiing Santa show, and First Night Alexandria on New Year’s Eve.

2019 Arrival of Resident Tall Ship and More

Image Credit: Tall Ship Providence Foundation

2019 will bring more fun and photo-ops with a visit from the six-foot-tall Virginia is For Lovers LOVE letters in February and a temporary interactive art installation from New York City studio SOFTlab in place March through November.

The biggest splash at the waterfront in 2019 will come from the tall ship Providence, arriving in July and opening later in fall 2019 as a permanent attraction. This celebrity tall ship, which has appeared in the international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean, is a full-scale replica of one of the U.S. Continental Navy’s first warships, which was captained by John Paul Jones, the father of the U.S. Navy, under the leadership of General George Washington. The public can look forward to public tours, chartered cruises, educational programs and local craft beer cruises.

Free, ongoing Portside in Old Town programming continues through 2019.

A Panoramic New Park

Image Credit: The City of Alexandria

The new Portside activities launch as anticipation grows for one of the most dramatic changes happening at the city’s waterfront in decades. A greatly expanded new park area at the foot of King Street will seamlessly connect Old Town’s historic retail corridor with the water. Residents and visitors strolling King Street will take in new panoramic views of the Potomac River from a space designed to be activated for the enjoyment of all.

The opening of the new park was expected in October, however, the opening is delayed until later this fall due to extraordinary weather and flooding that impacted the park’s construction schedule. The Portside in Old Town Festival and other October happenings will take place at adjacent waterfront spaces close to King Street: Waterfront Park at 1A Prince Street and the Alexandria City Marina at 0 Cameron Street.

Find the full Portside in Old Town programming and festival schedule and parking information at

Header Image Credit: Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

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