Since 1969

An Occasion for the Arts has been a fixture of culture in Williamsburg, Virginia for close to 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

    Our 50th Show!


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

View our Executive Committee, Board of Directors, & Staff

It is with sadness that we share the difficult decision made by the AOFTA Board of Directors to cancel the 2020 An Occasion for the Arts.

This decision was made after weeks of careful deliberation about the challenging and evolving impacts of COVID-19, and was informed by the recently published Phase 3 Guidelines of the Governor of Virginia.

The free and un-gated access to the show simply would not allow us to provide the proper environment for safe physical distancing and adherence to the Governor's Guidelines. Health experts are warning of likely outbreaks this fall because of the strength of the virus and the lack of public compliance with rules about social distancing and other safety actions. We are confident this is the best decision to ensure the safety of artists and the safety of our community.

We will postpone the event until next year and plan to celebrate the 52nd An Occasion for the Arts on October 2 and 3, 2021.

All accepted artists to this year's show will be posted to this website (aofta.org) in August 2020. We are considering holding a virtual event in the fall. More about this later.