Alexandria celebrates new waterfront experience with portside festival

rendering of park

Courtesy of Visit Alexandria

One of the most highly anticipated transformations of the Old Town Alexandria waterfront is happening this fall.

Visitors strolling King Street can take in new panoramic views of the Potomac River from an expanded park area at the foot of King Street that will seamlessly connect Old Town’s historic retail corridor with the water.

The new area is designed to be a dynamic space. The new waterfront experience will include Portside in Old Town programming, which will include free-to-the-public weekend events in history, art, music and fitness. There will be activities for children and for adults in addition to pop-up experiences and events, Visit Alexandria announced last month.

Portside in Old Town Festival to kick off Portside programming series

The Portside in Old Town Festival will kick off Friday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Oct. 14 with activities along the Potomac River near King Street. Festival-goers will enjoy free tours of the tall ship Godspeed, a waterfront beer garden from Port City Brewing Company, a pop-up Pizzeria Paradiso, live music and more.

The festival lineup also includes:

  • LED light performance artists presented by The Athenaeum
  • a pop-up exotic car exhibit to preview next year’s Alexandria Festival of Speed and Style
  • a free kids’ pizza-making demo by Pizzeria Paradiso
  • a free kids decorative craft project from AR Workshop
  • a free outdoor group fitness class from Sand & Steel Fitness and more.
  • Portside History from the Office of Historic Alexandria,
  • Portside Arts from the Torpedo Factory Art Center and the Mobile Art Lab,
  • Portside Fitness from local fitness studios
  • Portside Kids activities for families.
  • The weekend also will include two special events happening inside the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which is located at the Alexandria City Marina. The Late Shift on
  • Friday night will feature gallery talks, artist receptions, music, live performances, hands-on artmaking and three floors of open artists’ studios. Art Safari on Saturday afternoon will welcome kids and families to a festival of artist-led hands-on activities.

Portside in Old Town to Continue Through the Winter Holidays

More events this fall will include the Waterfront Beer Garden from Port City Brewing Company taking place two additional weekends in October, with food from Chadwicks Restaurant and Mia’s Italian Kitchen, and an outdoor screening of film shorts in November presented by the Alexandria Film Festival.

Portside Holidays will include pop-up happenings such as story time with Santa, a community sing-a-long, a hot chocolate bar, a Pacers holiday run meet-up, plus activities at major events such as the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Waterskiing Santa show, and First Night Alexandria on New Year’s Eve.

Coming up next year, 2019 will bring more fun and photo-ops with a visit from the six-foot-tall Virginia is For Lovers LOVE letters in February and a temporary public art installation from New York City studio SOFTlab in place March through November.

The biggest splash at the waterfront in 2019 will come from the tall ship Providence, arriving in June as a permanent attraction. This celebrity tall ship, which has appeared in the Academy Award-winning film Master and Commander and in the international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean, is a full-scale replica of one of the U.S. Continental Navy’s first warships, which was captained by John Paul Jones, the father of the U.S. Navy, under the leadership of General George Washington.

*** Read more about the tall ship Providence in the September/October edition of Alexandria Living Magazine, available now! ***

The public can look forward to public tours, chartered cruises, educational programs and beer cruises presented in partnership with Alexandria’s own Port City Brewing Company. Free, ongoing Portside in Old Town programming continues through 2019.

Find the full Portside in Old Town programming and festival schedule and parking information at

About the King Street Corridor Initiative

Portside in Old Town programming is part of the King Street Corridor Initiative, a public/private partnership focusing on programming, beautification and marketing, spearheaded by the City of Alexandria and Visit Alexandria.

Founding private sector partners include Lead Partners: Alexandria Restaurant Partners, Alexandria Hotel Association, Carr Hospitality and TTR Sotheby’s; Community Contributors: EYA and the Tall Ship Providence Foundation; and Neighborhood Partners: Asana, Augie’s Mussel House, Chadwicks Restaurant, Pizzeria Paradiso, Port City Brewing Company, Potomac Riverboat Company, and Urbano 116.

The King Street Corridor Initiative will be further supported by a $25,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Program for the launch of Alexandria’s expanded waterfront and downtown experience.

City of Alexandria partners include the Department of Project Implementation, Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, Office of Historic Alexandria, and the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services.The expanded park space at the foot of King Street is a major milestone in the City of Alexandria’s long-term waterfront plan. To learn more, visit

This article originally ran in Alexandria Living Magazine, a regional magazine covering the businesses, events and issues affecting the dynamic and growing Alexandria area.