Williamsburg Live kicks off, bringing a star-studded, three-day music festival to the heart of Colonial Williamsburg

Scorching heat gave way to thunderstorm watches Friday evening, but a brief weather delay didn’t stop hundreds of guests from pouring onto the lawn of the Art Museums at Colonial Williamsburg for the kickoff of Williamsburg Live.

The three-day outdoor music event, organized by the Virginia Arts Festival, brings a star-studded lineup of widely-known artists to the heart of historic Williamsburg.

Concert-goers settled into their seats under a big covered tent or claimed a spot on the tree-shaded lawn to enjoy a show by the evening’s headliner, Mandy Moore. Canadian singer-songwriter AHI, a special guest of Moore’s, also performed.

The crowd was tame but enthusiastic. Many were long-time fans of Moore, who first emerged on the national music scene with her platinum-selling 1999 album, So Real, followed by a series of other celebrated albums. Moore is also an acclaimed actress who has most recently starred as matriarch Rebecca Pearson in the award-winning NBC drama “This Is Us.”

“I love Mandy Moore, and I follow her on Instagram,” said Grace Tena de Lara, a resident of Yorktown. “When I saw that she was coming to this concert, I knew I had to see her in person. I also really enjoy the outdoor venue.”

Crystal Busby and her friend Maylen Moore traveled to the festival from Virginia Beach after winning tickets from a radio station giveaway.

“I grew up in the 90s, and I loved Mandy Moore’s music, so I’m very excited to be here,” said Busby.

Concert-goers could also choose from a variety of dinner options served up by some of the region’s most popular food trucks, including Matchsticks BBQ, Avocargo and Seafood City. Craft beer, wine and seltzer were also available for purchase.

There are still two nights remaining to the festival. The Saturday, June 18 show will feature four-time Grammy Award-winning Americana icon Jason Isbell and the 400 unit. Isbell has a devoted base of followers who have propelled his albums to the top of the charts, and he often performs before sold-out crowds. Americana/Indie music band Waxahatchee will open the concert as Isbell’s special guest.

Jason Isbell headlines the Williamsburg Live outdoor musical festival Saturday evening. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Ghost Hounds).

Country music star Martina McBride will perform on Sunday, June 19, the final night of the three-day festival. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images).

The show on Sunday evening, June 19, will feature country music legend Martina McBride, a 14-time Grammy nominee who has sold over 18 million albums to date.

Organizers say nearly a third of all festival ticket sales come from outside the region, boosting visits to local museums and attractions, hotels, restaurants and other small businesses in the area.

Williamsburg Live welcomes thousands of fans every summer. It’s the final event of the season in a series of outdoor shows put on by the Virginia Arts Festival between late March and June.

The festival is co-presented with the City of Williamsburg and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in partnership with Visit Williamsburg, the official destination marketing organization for the Historic Triangle. The event is also funded in part by the City of Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission.

The Virginia Arts Festival is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and is the largest and most prestigious performing arts organization in Southeastern Virginia. The group has presented more than 1,438 events, including performances, free community events, and student matinees and workshops, to reach over 1.2 million attendees.

To purchase tickets for the remaining shows, visit vafest.org.

The locally owned and operated Matchsticks BBQ food truck was popular among festival attendees Friday evening. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

The big tent in the middle of the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg was filled with concert-goers who came to see live performances by AHI and Mandy Moore (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

Many of the concert-goers enjoyed the event from their spots on the tree-shaded lawn. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

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