There is no better way to spend a hot Virginia day than splashing around with family and friends in the cool waters at the Water Country USA water park in Williamsburg. If you are planning a vacation to the Williamsburg area, then this can be a really enjoyable way to take a break from all of the fascinating historical sites you’ll want to visit, and simply relax and have fun.
The Water Country USA water park is an outdoor attraction furnished with some of the most fun water slides and rides in the region, including the long awaited Vanish Point slide that features a 75ft drop and two different ways to ride down it. There are 43 acres of pools, rides and play areas here in total, making it the biggest water park in the mid-Atlantic area, and there are also private cabanas and sun loungers where you can chill out and work on your tan. The park also has live music and other regular shows and events, meaning there is plenty to do here to make your day out a fun packed one!
Entry to the Water Country USA water park costs $49 for adults or children aged 10 and over, and $42 for kids aged 3-9. Toddlers and babies under three years old go free. You will also have to pay for parking if you bring a car, and this costs $14-$27 for the day depending on whether you have valet parking and where you park. It can be cheaper to buy a pass that gives you access to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg as well if you are planning to visit all three places on your stay, because this can give you some substantial savings. For more information about tariffs and the park in general, you can check out the official Water Country USA website at http://www.watercountryusa.com, or call toll free on 1-800-343-7946. It is also advisable to check the site for rules regarding attire, food, pets, and height restrictions for specific attractions while you are planning your visit.
History of the Williamsburg Scottish Festival
In 1977, an interest grew amongst the members of the St. Andrew’s Society of Williamsburg and others in the area, to organize a Scottish heritage and culture Festival. With the St. Andrew’s Society providing the funding, they formed a corporation called the Williamsburg Scottish Festival (WSF), Inc., and it was established as a 501 (c) (3) corporation under the laws of the commonwealth later that year.
In June of the following year, the corporation, with help from the St. Andrew’s Society and the Scottish community, held the first Williamsburg Scottish Festival. Because the new organization lacked the experience and organizational structure necessary to conduct a full Highland gathering complete with piping, dancing and athletic competitions, this first event consisted of only Highland dancing competition and Scottish country dancing demonstrations. The venue was the Parish Hall of Bruton Parish Church. Interestingly, the funds used to conduct the first Festival were raised through a garage sale and donations made by local Scots and other interested parties.
The next year, the WSF moved to Jamestown Academy, a small private school. The festival committee added piping and drumming competition and limited highland athletic participation. While at Jamestown Academy, the first clan societies informally sent representation to the Festival. Next, WSF moved to the Bruton High School grounds, and then to the William and Mary soccer field. The extreme temperature and humidity of Williamsburg summers, particularly troublesome during the year at Bruton High, prompted the WSF committee to shift the annual event from June to late September.
The Festival committee used Stone Mountain Highland Games as its model and sought guidance from several people in its leadership to mold the WSF organizational structure and procedures. During this period, the WSF Board established the Balmoral Society as its financial support agency. The Balmoral Society is not a society in the strict sense of the word–rather, it is the name given to the individual, clan and corporate sponsors of the Festival.
The WSF William & Mary site saw the first “Parade of the Clans.” The initial clan parade began with a pipe band leading the clans past the reviewing stand as clan representatives rendered honors to the honored guests. This simple beginning has evolved into a complex march past, during which everyone … lads, lassies, and even the wee bairns are involved! Most importantly, this event provides all participants with a special feeling of kinship and tradition among the clans.
The breakthrough year was 1984 when the Festival became a full-fledged Highland Festival, featuring all the events that make Highland gatherings an enjoyable experience. There was the first impressive Welcoming Ceremony with massed pipe bands appearing for the first time, exciting music and pageantry, a full slate of competitions and demonstrations, and a variety of activities for the whole family. In addition, for the first time, there was a concerted effort to solicit participation by clans and societies and they responded in great numbers.
Another WSF tradition began in 1984. In conjunction with the Balmoral Society Sponsors’ Reception, there was the first and only “Wren Rally.” Just prior to the sponsors’ reception, the WSF leadership, honored guests, Balmoral Society sponsors, and the sponsoring clan representatives gathered in front of the historic Wren Building on the campus of William and Mary. The Clan coordinator called out the name of each clan in order, beginning with the honored clan. The clans responded by shouting their clan war or rallying cry. At the conclusion, everyone, led by pipers, processed down Duke of Gloucester Street to Dr. Janet Kimbrough’s home in the restored area of Colonial Williamsburg for a reception. Interestingly, the city police ordered that participants “could not be in step,” for in doing so, the procession would become a parade, which required a permit! Dr. Kimbrough’s house in the restored area was selected as the site for the reception because the gracious lady of the house was a descendant of Robert Burns’ sister. The rally was so successful, it was renamed “The War Cry Rally” and henceforth featured in the Festival itself, so everyone could participate. Since then, it has been incorporated in the Parade of the Clans, and is one of the Festival’s most popular activities.
Nineteen eighty-four also featured WSF’s first Clan Chief as an Honored Guest. Lord Rothes, Chief of Clan Leslie was invited to preside over the event. He was accompanied by his wife and Clan Leslie was recognized as the first “Honored Clan.” In succeeding years, WSF has honored Lord Huntly of the House of Gordon, Sir William MacPherson of Cluny, David Ross of Ross, Danus Skene of Skene, Brigadier Ronald MacLennan of MacLennan, and a number of other Scottish chiefs or their designated representatives. One of the more memorable Festivals boasted the arrival of Duke of Atholl, Chief of Clan Murray, who arrived with a pipe band and full contingent of the “Atholl” Highlanders,” the duke’s private army. Although he was not the Honored Guest, the group provided a rare measure of pageantry. In order to find accommodations for the Highlanders, the Festival committee initiated an “Adopt a Scot” program where local families adopted a member of the contingent and provided them with a “Bed and Breakfast.” The Scots enjoyed the experience and a number of informal Ceilidh blossomed around town that evening!
Nineteen eighty-four was also the year that the first Lord Dunmore Award was first presented. This award named in honor of the last Royal governor of Virginia, a Scot, and recognizes the clan organization or Scottish society that most accurately and attractively portrays Scottish heritage and culture.
In addition to the Bruton Parish House, Jamestown Academy, and the campus of William and Mary, other sites were used as the event grew. Jamestown Festival Park, now Jamestown Settlement, followed the College, followed by Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County, and then the Williamsburg Winery. Perhaps one of the most interesting sites for the Festival occurred during the last year at Jamestown Settlement. Heavy rains associated with a passing hurricane rendered the grounds unusable. The committee refused to cancel the Festival and frantically searched for an alternative site, eventually finding a major hotel that was available due to a sudden cancellation of a large conference. Suddenly, the Williamsburg Scottish Festival became a huge indoor party! For 2008, the festival will once again find itself in a new home. The event will be held at the Rockahock Campground in New Kent County, just west of Williamsburg.
As the years passed, additional activities and features have been added to the Festival, enriching its appeal to more and more people. Historical re-enactors and living history groups, particularly those associated with Scottish, British and colonial American history joined the Festival, as well as demonstrations by skilled historic craftsmen and women. The rise of enthusiastic public interest in modern Celtic and Celtic Rock music has prompted the inclusion of a featured Scottish Pub Tent in the Festival. Now WSF offers two venues for music: a Celtic Heritage Tent that features traditional Scottish and Celtic entertainment, and the Pub Tent, which headlines more modern Celtic style entertainers. In 2000, the Festival was renamed the Williamsburg Scottish Festival and Celtic Celebration to acknowledge its expanded celebration of the cultures of Ireland and Wales.
As the Festival celebrates its thirty-first anniversary, those associated with the early days can take great pride in its growth and stature as a major regional Highland gathering. Newer generations can appreciate the efforts of the Festival pioneers and take the event to newer and higher levels of excellence. The goal of the Festival remains as it was at the beginning: to educate future generations the rich heritage and culture of Scotland.
Visiting the Yorktown Victory Center Museum Near Williamsburg, Virginia
Every year, people from all over the country visit the Williamsburg area in Virginia on vacation. While the area is home to a number of world class theme parks and other attractions, the biggest draws are the sites of historical significance that are found here. If you are staying in or near Colonial Wiliiamsburg and looking to make the most of your time here by visiting all of the most important historic locations, you will definitely want to make time in your vacation itinerary to visit Yorktown.
Yorktown’s Victory Center is one of the best museums and educational centers in the country for finding out more about the lead up to the American Revolution, and the effect the events of the war had on real men, women and children. The victory Center features a number of well presented indoor exhibitions, explaining about things like the Declaration of Independence and what it meant to real local people at the time, as well as the ships involved in the war that used the York river.
For history buffs, this museum is a must see, however it is also accessible enough that it will be interesting to all of the family. In addition to the indoor displays there are also outdoor recreation scenes where you can explore a farm and a soldier’s camp. There are also daily live displays of weapons, where you can see a cannon fired, among other fascinating artillery.
The Yorktown Victory Center is open all year round, with the exception of the major holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year), and is open from 9-5 or 6pm if you visit in July and August. Admission costs $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for kids, except for children under 6 years old who can enter for free. You can find out more about the Victory Center by visiting their official website at http://www.historyisfun.org/ or by calling 888-593-4682 or 757-253-4838.
At the heart of the city of Williamsburg, Virginia is Colonial Williamsburg, a fantastic recreation of the 18th century Virginia capital. There is loads to see and do in Colonial Williamsburg, from museums and reenactment performances through to great shops and restaurants, as well as an excellent golf club and spa. There are also six official hotels that you can stay in while you enjoy your vacation here.
In colonial Williamsburg, as much as possible is done to give you the feeling of stepping back in time to the 18th century, while still offering you all of the amenities of a modern resort. This means you can enjoy period food and music in a tavern favored by George Washington, or get involved in an interactive live spy game where you role play someone in revolutionary times trying to work out who you can trust and who is a spy for the other side by completing code breaking puzzles and quests. You can also buy traditional crafts and merchandise, and take a variety of different guided and self guided tours of the city and the museums.
To see everything in Colonial Williamsburg and gain access to all of the museums, as well as the tours, you need to buy an admission ticket. These vary in price depending on how many days you want to be able to access the resort for. A ticket for three consecutive days, which will allow you to enjoy all of the things there are to discover, will cost $49.95 for an adult or $24.95 for a child aged over 6. You can get a discount on these ticket prices by buying them online, so it is advisable to get your admission tickets from the official Colonial Williamsburg site at http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/plan/tickets/ticket-options/. A single day admission ticket will cost $41.95 for an adult or $20.95 for a child with no online discount currently offered, so it really is very good value to get the three day ticket if you have enough time to spend in the area.
You can also get tickets that grant you admission to Colonial Williamsburg as well as other attractions, for example you can get a ticket for $140 for adults and $115 for children that grants access to Colonial Williamsburg and also Busch Gardens and Water Country USA (seasonal). Check the website for the best option to suit you and your group, or call (757) 229-1000. There is also a lot of information about Colonial Williamsburg on the history foundation website at http://www.history.org/
Visit the Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg, Virginia is best known as a tourist destination for its historical sites and some of the great, educational recreations of revolutionary life you can see in places like Yorktown and Jamestown. It is also a well equipped family fun destination, with fantastic parks and resorts like Busch Gardens to give all the family lots of opportunities to enjoy thrilling rides and take part in exciting activities. What many visitors to the region don’t realize, however, is that Williamsburg also produces some world class, award winning wines.
At the Williamsburg Winery, you can indulge in fine food to accompany the local wine, take a tour of the winery complete with tastings of some of their best vintage wines, or even stay at their luxurious Wedmore Place lodgings. There are two different tour options available, a $10 tour for the more casual enthusiast who wants to see where the wine is grown and made and taste some of their produce, and a more extensive $35 tour experience where you will also get to taste some of the reserve wine collection with a specially selected cheese board. The $35 tour has to be booked in advance at least 24 hours before you want to attend, and has very limited availability. You can call to arrange it on 757-229-0999 ext 129. The $10 tour is easier to get on and available every day. If you want the basic tour and tasting with lunch included at the site’s beautiful tavern, then you can buy this as a package for $30.
In addition to taking the tour, you can also shop at the fine wine shop on site at the winery where you can buy all of the wines you’ll sample on the tour, so if you discover one you really love, it is easy to take a case home with you!
The wine tours, because of the alcohol consumption involved, are only suitable for adults. For more information about the Williamsburg Winery, their lodgings, and their award winning wines, take a look at their official website on http://williamsburgwinery.com.
Visiting Freedom Park and the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia
Freedom Park is a recreational park that also has a rich and storied history. It was the site of a battle called the Battle of Spencer’s Ordinary in the Revolutionary War, as well as an 18th century cemetery, and prior to this is was a settlement in the 17th century, which is currently being studied by archaeologists investigating the area’s history. In the 19thcentury, it became on of America’s first free black settlements, and you can see three cabins from this period that have been lovingly recreated
The park can be explored on foot or by bicycle, and there are hiking trails through the forest covering around two miles as well as twenty full miles of specially made mountain bike paths. Cyclists are not allowed to use these in certain weather conditions because this can cause the trails themselves to deteriorate, so if you are planning a cycling day out in Freedom Park and you aren’t sure about the weather, you can find out if cycling is available in the park calling 757-259-4022.
In addition to the historical sites and the vast forest with its easy to explore trails, you can also check out the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens at Freedom Park. These lush gardens are carefully maintained to create a beautiful and fascinating environment with over 800 species of plant life.
Finally, there is also a visitor’s center and meeting complex called the Freedom Park Interpretive Center. This has displays of many of the archeological recoveries from the Freedom Park site, as well as maps and an interactive digital tour of the park area. It is also available to be booked for events and conferences.
The park is open daily from 7am until the sun goes down. The Freedom Park Interpretive Center is open from 10-5 on weekdays and 9-5 on weekends.