VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Grab your sunscreen, and maybe a fan for the heat, because it's officially festival season at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
"The East Coast's largest outdoor party" is giving people plans from now until the end of September.
The Neptune Festival, now in its 47th year, brings thousands of people together annually. After last year's cancellation and the current COVID-19 surge, organizers said they're following CDC guidelines.
Melanie Gazzolo, director of marketing and special events for the festival, said they're encouraging people to socially distance where they can, and wear a mask where they can't. They're also adding hand-sanitizing and hand-washing stations around the boardwalk.
The festival's Symphony By The Sea kicked things off on Thursday night with Symphonicity. The weekly concerts will be free every Thursday at Neptune Park and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
"Up here at 36th St. we have a volleyball tournament as well as a little healthy haven that we’re creating on the boardwalk at the fitness park. Then over on 17th St. will have a whole family fun zone that will take place all throughout the weekend with magicians, stilt walker performers, we'll have some mascots out there doing some appearances as well as some nighttime movies and DJs in silent disco," Gazzolo said.
Gazzolo said there are many fun events leading up to the biggest weekend, September 24 through 26, where guests can attend the grand parade and international sand sculpting championship.
Businesses are also looking forward to the action and revenue that the Neptune Festival will bring especially after it was canceled due to COVID in 2020.
Organizers said that the Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend alone annually generates $23.5 million in economic impact, $16.9 million in direct impact by Boardwalk Weekend visitors, and $1.19 million in direct municipal taxes.
Gazzolo said, "In a typical year over 400,000 people come to the Boardwalk to enjoy all of our events throughout the year. People are coming down ready to spend money, ready to eat in the restaurants, ready to stay in the hotels, ready to spend it in the stores, so that's what we want to see."
Click here for a list of events from now until September.