The long-standing tradition of Norfolk Harborfest® activates the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront with radiant summer excitement as the largest, longest-running, free maritime festival in the Nation. Norfolk Harborfest® launches Friday, June 7, 2019, with the Parade of Sail, to include the majestic tall ships leading onlookers into the weekend packed full of spectacular activities. Friday, Saturday and Sunday guests will experience sea activities such as tall ships, U.S. Navy Coastal Riverine exhibits and the fan favorite Build-a-Boat Challenge, along with land and air activities to include 5 stages with local, regional, and national entertainment acts, fun filled family activities, U.S. Navy Dive Tank demonstrations, the Colours Junkanoo Street Party musicians and dancers from the Bahamas, festival escape rooms, body marbling, unique and unusual performances, and the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Once the sun sets, Harborfest lights up the night with interactive laser and light shows, a choreographed drone show and one of the largest fireworks shows on the east coast.
Norfolk Harborfest Water Events
NEW! Norfolk Harborfest® Choreographed Drone Show
Presented by WAVY TV 10
Produced by Great Lakes Drone Company from Watervliet, Michigan, the Harborfest Drone Show is the first to take place in the region. Be prepared as the sky is filled with the highest quality imagery, data and cutting-edge UAV technology synchronized to a nautical musical playlist. The show is scheduled for Friday night at 9:30 pm and will be performed over the Elizabeth River.
Norfolk Harborfest® Fireworks Spectacular
Presented by WAVY TV 10
The Norfolk Harborfest® Fireworks Spectacular, produced by Pyro Shows of Tennessee, is one of the largest waterfront pyrotechnics shows on the East Coast. Be prepared for the unexpected as the sky is filled with an explosive display of light synchronized to a booming musical score throughout Town Point Park. The Fireworks show is scheduled for Saturday night at 9:30 pm and will be fired from a floating platform on the Elizabeth River.
U.S. Navy Coastal Riverine Force Exhibition - Forged from our rich coastal and riverine heritage, the Coastal Riverine Force regained prominence following the USS COLE and 9/11 attacks and is the only Navy Force that defends high value assets against a determined enemy. Catch their exhibit on the Elizabeth River throughout the weekend!
Ultimate Build-a-Boat, Boat Building Contest and Race - The very popular and zany Ultimate Build a Boat Challenge begins on Saturday, June 8th, when teams construct boats from scratch in various engineering and decorative designs in the hope that their design will survive the test of Sunday’s Ultimate Build a Boat Race! Sunday, June 9th at 2:30pm, the competing teams place their boats, and boating skills to the test with an all-out race to the finish line! This nail- biting event is one not to be not to be missed!
Fan Favorite Festival Features include….
NEW! Festival Escape Rooms
The Escape Room experience is provided by Neon Entertainment of Buffalo, New York. The multiple, simultaneously happening games will be wildly fun, completely immersive, and the ultimate team building activity. The Escape Rooms bring together family and friends to challenge their creative problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills to triumph over conundrums and escape together!
NEW! Ultraviolet Body Marbling
This new festival trend utilizes Hydrodynamics to transform skin and apparel into glowing works of art!
NEW! U.S. Air Force Performance Lab
A one-of-a-kind interactive experience, the U.S. Air Force Performance Lab is packed with mental and physical challenges that put skill and determination to the test.
The Colours Junkanoo Street Party
Twenty-five members of the world famous parade unit from Nassau, Bahamas will travel to Norfolk to perform “rushouts” throughout the weekend. Making music from goatskin drums, cowbells, whistles, horns and conch shells and wearing beautiful and vibrant handmade costumes – this is a must see performance!
The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
Nathan’s is operating a national mobile tour, each with a unique experience to bring Coney Island closer to you. The Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest is a culmination of a qualifying circuit conducted throughout the United States. Each year, the greatest competitive eaters on earth gather on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY, to compete, as they have since 1916, according to the archives and Norfolk Harborfest is a qualifying location! Do not miss your chance to be part of history!
The Back Bay Mermaid!
Watch as the curtains open to reveal ancient spirits of the deep, creatures thought to exist only in the shimmering mirage of the open ocean. Spotted by sailors for thousands of years in the breaking waves of their ships, these illusive beauties are now brought to you from the far corners of the earth. Their mystical songs will reveal stories of old that will warm the hearts and enchant the souls of all who dare to listen. Return to an age of magic, where myth blurs with reality and witness a real life mermaid.
The Shadow Players
The Shadow Players Stage Combat Group portrays and recreates the Golden Age of Piracy. Their show combines comedy and hi-jinx with rousing sword-fights and educational information. What could be better than being a pirate!? They like to make friends wherever we go. Come up after the show and introduce yourself and say hello. They would love to meet you.
Pirate Bandana Making and Defiant Crew Pirate School
Craft yourself the appropriate swashbuckling attire at the Pirate Bandana Tent and then set sail into a class at the Defiant Crew Pirate School where you will learn how to live the shipshape pirate’s lifewith special guest appearances by Blackbeard. … Yo Ho Yo Ho a pirate’s life for me!
NEW! 20th Anniversary of the Norfolk Mermaid – Throughout the weekend guests will enjoy mermaid themed family activities, and even have the chance to meet a real mermaid.missed!
Sunday Family Funday!
Join us on Sunday, June 9th from 10am-12pm for an exclusive early opening to Harborfest! With activities planned with the littlest festival-goers in mind, start your day off with a bounce by the river in themed bounce houses and hop on board the Harborfest Train for a scenic ride thru the festival grounds!
Get your face painted by the professionals, make your own pirate or mermaid bandana and enroll at the Defiant Crew Pirate School all starting at Noon, then head on over to join the Back Bay Mermaid for fun activities and ocean trivia.
At 12:30pm, head on over to the Main Stage for history in the making! Witness Nathan’s Famous 4th of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifying round. The final round will take place on Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY on July 4th. Join us as this legendary competition makes history at Norfolk Harborfest and cheer on your favorites!