Since 1969

An Occasion for the Arts has been a fixture of culture in Williamsburg, Virginia over 50 years!
  • 1969

    23 artists, 13,000 guests: Clothes line show of children’s art, woven from tree to tree, “Paint-In” for children on panels zig-zagged through the area. Norfolk Symphony family concert with “Capt. Kangaroo”, featured guest narrating from “Snakes, Snails & Puppy Dog Tails”. Food was sold – apples and cookies from Colonial Williamsburg. Programs were one long sheet nailed to trees on Duke of Gloucester. Carlton Abbott designed zig-zag chicken wire display racks for the artists (used for number of years until artists started bringing their own tents).
  • 1974

    76 artists & 5 stages
  • 1976

    First time a juried show and judging for prize money, purchase awards where businesses and people pledged ahead of time to purchase art
  • 1982

    Fife & Drum Corps began opening the event & at 5:00 p.m. lead visitors to W&M campus for Symphony concert.
  • 1987

    90 artists & 7 stages (at the college)
  • 1994

    Hot air balloon rides in sunken garden, W&M campus
  • 2008

    Art of Food at Williamsburg Community Center; VA Chiefs featured; ice sculptor carved a horse out of block of ice using chain saw
  • 2009

    204 artists & 5 stages (on Boundary)
  • 2010

    Plein Air painting & contemporary artists demonstrations on DeWitt Wallace lawn; Symphonia performed Sat. night.
  • 2011

    Transitioned to 2 day show!
  • 2016

    Transitioned to 3 day show!
  • 2018

    The 50th Show for AOFTA!
  • 2020

    Our first ever Virtual An Occasion for the Arts featuring over 90 Artists selling work online and a 2 day performing arts live stream!


An Occasion for the Arts was founded in 1969 to provide Williamsburg with an arts extravaganza. Since then it has grown, year by year, to become the area’s premier art and music festival. We are especially proud to draw outstanding artists from around the country on the first weekend in October each year.

We are equally proud of having an exceptional youth component to the show. We provide space for talented young people to display their work in partnership with Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center, a place for young people to create their own artwork.

Lively performances are held both days on our two stages, and the popular food court provides a culinary taste of fall.

With the help of our Friends, sponsors and supporters, we now provide an endowment through the Williamsburg Community Foundation to promote the arts in our area.

If you would like to sustain quality art in Williamsburg, join us as a volunteer or as a Friend using our printer friendly form.

An Occasion For The Arts
P.O. Box 363
Williamsburg, Virginia