Portside in Old Town

Summer waterfront festival June 16 & 17, live music, local libations and family fun

The Portside in Old Town Summer Festival returns riverside for a two-day event kicking off summer on Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, 2023. This free festival features live music, local craft beer from Port City Brewing Company and fun for the whole family at Alexandria’s Waterfront Park.

New this year:

* Port City Brewing Company’s team will serve Lost Boy Cider’s Comeback Kid, Virginia wine from Breaux Vineyards and Hopwell, Port City’s hops-infused sparkling water, in addition to their beer offerings.

* A Lawn Game Zone from festival sponsor Ting Internet will entertain guests with cornhole and Connect 4.

* A new retail presence at the base of King Street will include Made in ALX, White Lily Shoppe, Inti Phaxsi Gems and Sophisticate Supply.

* Complimentary bike valet service will be offered on Saturday by Two Wheel Bike Valet, located at the HB Parking Lot at 300 N. Lee Street.

* Guests can stay for the weekend with discounted hotel rates accessible via PortsideFestival.com .

Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., the Portside Festival once again merges with the 45th Annual ALX Jazz Fest to showcase jazz performances and readings by local poets. Festival-goers will enjoy a dynamic lineup featuring jazz vibraphone from the Joe Baione Quintet, Alexandria born-and-raised bassist and composer Michael Hawkins and his band The Brotherhood, and celebrated vocalist Sharón Clark. Musical sets will be complemented by interludes of poetry from Zeina Azzam, the City of Alexandria’s Poet Laureate; Sami Miranda, a published author and artist; and two Alexandria City Public Schools student poet laureates. Friday’s festivities will be emceed by award-winning poet C. Alexandria-Bernard Thomas, a queer Black non-binary teaching artist and advocate. ALX Jazz Fest performers were selected through a collaboration with the Office of the Arts and the 2023 Alexandria Jazz Fest Activation Team comprised of John Hasse (Smithsonian), Suraya Mohamed (NPR Music) and Jeremy Castillo (Levine School of Music). Friday’s musical lineup will serve as the inspiration for an onsite live mural painted by Aniekan Udofia.

Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m., the Portside Festival continues with musical acts starting with nouveau flamenco group Ouros, featuring Danny Knicely on mandolin; Ethiopian folk and jazz from Kalkidan Meshesha; and indie soul group Oh He Dead. Blues guitar aficionados will enjoy the collaboration between The Linwood Taylor Band and special guest Sol Roots. Close out the evening on your feet with danceable zydeco tunes from Louisiana’s Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble and salsa from Hermanos Galván y Orquesta. Alexandria-based musicians and founders of the Yellow Door Concert Series, Vaughn and Robyn Ambrose, are guest musical curators and emcees for Saturday’s performances.


Meet local artists and explore various art projects from the Office of the Arts, while also taking part in a creation of your own. Try your hand at making chocolate with Historic Alexandria. 

The tall ship Providence team will have a tent on site in anticipation of the opening of the Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center, the ship’s new home at Waterfront Park. On Saturday, Safe Space NOVA will offer activities such as rock painting, bubbles, plantings and more to support LGBTQ+ youth.

For a full festival schedule and more information, visit PortsideFestival.com.