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For those planning a date night, a night out with the family or something special for the kids, the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance is offering up the Summer of Freedom Concert Weekend.
This three-day event from Friday, July 31 through Sunday, Aug. 2 at Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre represents a collaboration between the Alliance and the Williamsburg Symphonia, the area’s premier professional orchestra.
“The Alliance has never done a major tourism event in the summer before, so we saw this as an opportunity to try something new,” said Karen Riordan, the president and CEO of the Alliance.
Because many of the Alliance’s other initiatives revolve around the fine arts, organizers decided the new summer event should highlight a performing art. After considering a variety of mediums, including plays, dance performances and other concerts, the Alliance approached the Williamsburg Symphonia.
It has been several years since the Symphonia performed in an outdoor venue, but the Music Under the Stars concerts the orchestra used to put on in Merchants Square were popular, said Carolyn Keurajian, executive director of the Symphonia.
Janna Hymes, the orchestra’s musical director and conductor, said she was immediately on board with the idea. Planning began in earnest in January 2015.
In the early stages of planning, the Alliance stressed the importance of tying the event to its summer advertising campaign, “Summer of Freedom.” The campaign emphasizes three essential freedoms integral to the Williamsburg vacation experince: “freedom to relax,” “freedom to have fun” and “freedom to be curious.”
The Symphonia took the Summer of Freedom idea and ran with it, coming up with a three-day concert weekend event that embodied all three freedoms and could appeal to a variety of locals and tourists.
The first event is “Bring Your Sweetheart” night, which will kick off the weekend July 31. This concert is intended for couples looking to indulge in the “freedom to relax” and enjoy a romantic date night under the stars.
On Aug. 1, the “Bring Your Family to the ‘Movies’” event embodies the “freedom to have fun.” The whole family is encouraged to come out and listen to a concert of famous movie themes, including Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and Frozen.
The concert weekend wraps up with an afternoon concert Aug. 2 for the “Bring Your Kids” performance of Peter and the Wolf, the musical story that launched the Williamsburg Symphonia 31 years ago. In keeping with the “freedom to be curious,” kids are invited to participate in a “musical petting zoo,” in which they can hold, touch and play the various instruments of the orchestra.
The Williamsburg Winery and Alewerks will be pouring wine and beer at the evening shows, and event planners are hoping to offer some dessert options and light concessions for those who want to snack.
“We hope that people will consider going out to a nice dinner before the performance so that local restaurants feel some of the benefit from this event,” Riordan said of the decision to forego more extensive catering on site.
So far ticket sales have gone along at “a nice pace,” said Riordan, but most of the sales are coming from people local to the Peninsula, where the Symphonia has a strong following.
Recently, the Alliance began heavily advertising for the concerts in the D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and Raleigh-Durham markets, in the hope this event will seal the deal for people who are considering Williamsburg as a travel destination but who are not yet fully decided.
When pricing the concerts, the Symphonia and the Alliance kept out-of-town families in mind.
“We definitely didn’t want visitors to be discouraged by the price,” Riordan said.
There are several different options for July 31 and Aug. 1 ticket packages depending on age and proximity to the stage, ranging from $15 for kids on the lawn to $50 for VIP seats with passes to meet members of the orchestra after the show. All lawn tickets for the Aug. 2 performance are $5.
“This is something completely new for Williamsburg, and we think there’s something for everyone. We’re excited to see how it turns out,” Riordan said.
The July 31 performance is scheduled for 8 p.m., the Aug. 1 performance is at 7:30 p.m. and the Aug. 2 performance is at 11:30 a.m. The complete range of ticket options can be found and purchased here.