The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® celebrates the advent of spring in the Shenandoah Valley as evidenced by the blooming of the area’s apple trees, one of the most important natural resources in the Winchester-Frederick County, VA area.
One of the oldest civic celebrations in Virginia, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® crowns Queen Shenandoah and hosts its Grand Feature Parade each spring. A series of more than thirty events includes: dances, luncheons, parades, band competitions, carnival, a 10K run, the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah, firefighters' events, a two-day craft show, fireworks, senior citizens and children’s' activities, a car show, and celebrity appearances. The Festival is an event the whole family can enjoy.
The Festival is held in Winchester, Virginia, in the beautiful and historic
Shenandoah Valley, just 75 miles west of Washington, DC. A small city
(population 24,000) with a rural atmosphere, Winchester is within easy
driving time from Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, PA, Baltimore, MD and Richmond,
VA. Festival organizers estimate total attendance of 250,000 to 300,000
during the 6 day festival.
• For General Information on the Shenandoah
Apple Blossom Festival®
Please contact us at:
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, Inc.®
No one really knows
for sure! The Festival is planned around the average yearly blooming
time. Due to the variety of apples grown in the Shenandoah Valley, there
is about a two-week period when different varieties are in peak. But,
the blossoms usually last about 10 days so there is rarely a Festival
In an incredible display of enthusiasm, hard work and public unity, the people of Winchester did not officially adopt the Festival until April 22, 1924 and the first celebration was held on May 3! W.A. "Dad" Ryan, manager of the Winchester Gas Co., was elected the first Director General and coordinated those early efforts. At the end of the April 22 public meeting, a benediction was offered by Parson Robert B. Nelson in which he gave the Festival a motto: the bounties of Nature are the gift of God.
The original format was centered on two events
that have endured the test of time and remain focal points of the Festival
years later: the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah and the Grand Feature
first Festival was held in 1924, and became an annual event until the
bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War
II caused a suspension of activities in 1941. After the war, the Festival
resumed in 1946 as if there had never been an interruption.
Stay tuned for more information about this year’s
Grand Marshal. Typically the Grand Marshal(s) are announced during
the months of March or April.
The Queen of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has not yet been announced at this time. The announcement is generally made during the month of March.
Through a complex process that involves festival organizers, former
queens, past celebrities, and political figures, nominations are made
for Queen Shenandoah and invitations are issued.
Miss Apple Blossom Festival is the official hostess of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® each year and is involved in several events throughout the Festival. The winner of the Miss America preliminary pageant held at Handley High School in January will serve as Miss Apple Blossom.
The astounding success of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is a direct product of the committed energy of many members of our community. Without their dedication, support and participation, producing an event of this magnitude would not be possible. The work is done by 1,500 volunteers who work with a staff of four full-time professionals. While the first Festival was pulled together in 11 days, planning for next year’s event will begin with the close of this year’s Festival. All officers, members of the Board of Directors and event chairs are volunteers.
Each year the SABF hosts a Volunteer Fair. The VF is an opportunity for local residents who want to volunteer plan the SABF. It allows you to speak to Apple Blossom officials, learn about the many functions of the Festival, answer questions you may have and view photos of events. Watch for the announcement of the VF in local new media, fill out the volunteer form, or contact the Festival Office at 540-662-3863.
The Festival is funded by a membership drive,
ticket sales to many of the events, advertising, souvenir sales and the
sale of a Souvenir Program. Sponsorships are provided by local, regional
and national businesses. Please contact the Festival office at 540-662-3863
to determine how your company might best support this year’s
wind through downtown Winchester and down Handley Boulevard in front
of the reviewing stands and judges. A complete map can be found on the
Maps page of this web site.
not lucky enough to own a home along the parade route (or know someone
who does), there are plenty of other places to watch the parades. One
of the best is on Handley Boulevard where there is reserved seating.
There is also additional Festival reserved seating located along the
parade route. Tickets for these areas may be purchased in advance at
the Festival Store location. Tickets are not available for purchase online.
The Festival is the event of the year
for the citizens who live or own businesses along the parade route. Many
start setting up their chairs in preparation for the festivities as early
as a week in advance of the parades for prime seating. In other cases,
many civic organizations, including Boy Scout troops and church groups,
rent chairs to view the parades from their sidewalks as fundraisers.
They generally advertise their availability with small flyers along the
The excitement surrounding
Festival events begins to build as the days get warmer and the grass
gets greener. Many residents decorate their homes in pink, white and
green in preparation for the Festival. And many hang their Shenandoah
Apple Blossom Festival® pink, white and green
flags sold by the Festival gift shop at the Apple Blossom Mall in anticipation
of the celebration. The colors of pink and white represent”the
bloom” of the apple trees and green is for the leaves. These are
the Festival’s official colors.
The Music Festival director
chooses judges for the Music Festival and other events. The panels are
comprised of high school and college band directors as well as a few
professional musicians. The individuals are chosen based on their reputations,
experience, past performance awards, and expertise in a given category.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has been fortunate to have
some of the best music professionals in the country adjudicate our Music
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is a mouthful – so
many locals shorten it to “The Bloom.”
A series of more than forty events make up the Festival. Stop by the Festival Store to find out what events still have tickets available. The store accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and personal checks. Tickets to select events are available for purchase at the Festival's official online store. Note: Ticket orders placed online or mailed to our office will be sent to you after the store opening.
The gift shop location is typically announced
in early March. Check our Home, News and Store pages for updated information
during that time frame.
Wear your raincoat.
Our events go on rain or shine.
organizers estimate total attendance of 250,000 to 300,000 during the
6 day festival.
Last year, we had more than 170 units in the
Grand Feature parade including floats, bands, special units, and official
cars. The parade generally lasts about three hours.
largest display of firefighting equipment in the country can be seen
in the Firefighters’ Parade. A variety of fire trucks, new and
old, make the Firefighters’ parade special. We expect about 175
trucks and squad units.
Annually, a host of celebrities from various parts of the sport and entertainment world attend the Festival. They add excitement and glamour to the enjoyment of those who come from all over the country to participate compete or watch the festivities. Because of the cross-section of our audiences and participants, celebrities from all of the entertainment fields have found enthusiastic crowds. This year’s celebrities are still being lined up, but you can check this web site for regular updates.
Some of the more recent celebrities featured have included: Robert Wagner,
Tom Poston, Jimmy Dean, Anson Williams, Tom Bosley, Hal Linden. Bob Hope
was Grand Marshal on two separate occasions. Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball,
Joan Rivers, Hal Holbrook, Willard Scott, Mary Tyler Moore, Susan Lucci,
Katie Couric, Adam West, Billy Graham, Dolly Parton, Diahann Carroll,
Brenda Lee, Pat Boone and Dan Aykroyd.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is a one-of-a-kind
event. Winchester native Patsy Cline wrote about it in her letters to
friends, as have many others since.
of the streets along the parade route are closed during the Festival.
Beginning the week of the Festival, the city clearly marks the route.
Why do you want to drive when all the excitement is in the streets
Follow the directions of the police, get as close
as you can, and park somewhere legal. One “insider” recommends taking
Interstate 81 to Route 37, then exit at the Sunnyside Exit. From there,
proceed towards downtown on Fairmont Avenue where you’ll see many
parking lots selling spots for minimal fees. The walk from there to the
Parade Route and the Midway is not very long and the view is great.
The area around
Handley High School is an ideal place to catch the fireworks.
A complete line-up is still in the planning stages,
but we can assure you that there will be a great mix of celebrities,
marching bands, floats, clowns, kids and entertainers. The three-hour
parade will be so entertaining, in fact, that it’ll be over before you know
it. The line-up for the Grand Feature Parade and the Firefighters’ Parade
is included in the Souvenir Program Book.
Contact the Festival Office
with your ideas for next year’s Festival
to do both in Winchester and the rest of the scenic Shenandoah Valley.
But we recommend calling ahead. Because the Shenandoah Apple Blossom
Festival® is such a great tradition, many local businesses
give their employees the weekend off so they can enjoy the festivities
with their families. Contact the Winchester/Frederick County Chamber
of Commerce at 540-662-4118 for more information.
is a Festival Store with merchandise. Limited amounts of merchandise
may be purchased year-round at the Festival office that is located at
135 N. Cameron Street, or the Store sectin of this website.
The 10K has become one of the premier events
in the Shenandoah Valley and more than 800 runners take part in the race.
We expect more than 50,000 people to attend the
Weekend in the Park at Jim Barnett Park each year. Over 250 juried Arts and Crafts
displays will be on hand to share their wide array of craftsmanship skills
with attendees. A wide variety of musical entertainment will be provided
throughout the weekend by various artists.
Frederick County and the City of Winchester Public Schools close for
part of the week as well as many businesses, especially those located
in the Historic District.
This Web site
is updated regularly with new information. Or, you can write to: Shenandoah
Apple Blossom Festival®, 135 North Cameron
Street, Winchester, VA 22601. Or call us at: (540) 662-3863 or by e-mail for event information.
Yes. They can be obtained
at the Festival office at 135 N. Cameron Street or by calling the Festival
Office. The most up-to-date information can be found on this Web site.
Children, stepchildren and grandchildren of
the Festival volunteers are chosen for the maids and children of the
court. Festival volunteers are described as president, vice presidents,
and additional members of the Board, department chairs and dedicated
workers. These children are chosen with consideration being made for
their availability for coronation rehearsals and for the level of time,
effort and support of the volunteer. Princesses may be from families
of Festival volunteers or from families within our community. A princess
may represent a college, university, or state horticultural society.
Names are submitted to the directors of Queen and Court. The names are
then compiled and given to a committee that makes the selections. This
list receives final review by members of the Board of Directors.
the Apple Trail Driving Tour” isn’t part
of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®, but it’s a great
way to tour scenic and historic Winchester-Frederick County using an
audiotape and its companion brochure as your guides. The Apple Trail
is forty-five miles in length and will take you via highways and backcountry
roads, to attractions and farm markets in Virginia's Apple Capital. You
can comfortably complete the tour in 1 1/2 hours, but we suggest that
you allow enough time to stop and take full advantage to the attractions
that interest you.
The Apple Harvest Arts & Crafts
Festival is a great family event, but it’s not affiliated with
the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®.
It’s usually scheduled for September and has been sponsored by
the Winchester Rotary Club for almost 30 years.