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Great events on the beach

 hangout-music-festival1Courtesy Hangout Music Festival


There’s so much more to the beach than just sand and shorelines when the whole group comes out to play. From pickup games of Frisbee to impromptu chowder chow-downs, everything is more fun with a few cronies on the coast, especially when there’s a reason to celebrate.

Beachfront festivals provide the perfect setting for group travel by offering something everyone can enjoy. Despite the consistent factor of a shoreline, seaside festivals differ dramatically from coast to coast, with each destination offering its own local spin on their seaside soirees.

Whether it’s salsa dancing in a Caribbean night breeze or savoring the local flavors of the ocean at seaside festivals on the East Coast, the following beachfront festivals will transport your group to a place of salty-air celebrations, great stories and lasting memories.

Town Point Virginia Wine Festival
Norfolk, Virginia
For one weekend only, everything glistens around the shores of the Elizabeth River as the Virginia waterfront in Norfolk, Virginia, plays host to roughly 250 varieties of wine in shimmering glass bottles from more than 35 of Virginia’s finest wineries. More than 12,000 visitors come out each year, eager to fill their days with sunshine and their glasses with sauvignons and cabernets.

Virginia is often revered as the Napa of the East by those in the know, and just as the vines in this region have only gotten better with age, so has the Town Point Virginia Wine Festival. Now celebrating 27 years in operation, the festival has grown into one of the largest wine festivals in the state and offers groups opportunities to savor the local flavors of this bountiful region, with gourmet food and wine and cultural attractions like live music and local artisans. Groups can take advantage of table/pavilion reservations and parkside boater packages, along with regular general admission tickets.

“Virginia is the nation’s fifth-largest wine grape producer, and the Town Point Virginia Wine Festival brings 35 of the wineries to Town Point Park, where guests can sample all wineries in one location over a two-day period,” said Heather Bilodeau, communications director for Norfolk Festevents and self-appointed photographer of the festival. “I’m a big photo buff, and I love taking photos of all our guests enjoying the wineries, having a good time with family and friends, and really seeing this community of wine lovers come together in one place. The backdrop of the Elizabeth River makes the pictures even more stunning.”

The next Town Point Virginia Wine Festival takes place October 18-19, 2014.

Hangout Music Festival
Gulf Shores, Alabama
From a swimming pool set up stage level to a dress code that allows for swimsuits all hours of the day and night, the Hangout Music Festival is every beach lover’s dream when it comes to a weekend spent in the sun. Add a giant Ferris wheel, tons of food vendors offering everything from vegan to gourmet and some of the best bands in the business, and groups have themselves a recipe for one unforgettable weekend.

Although this event is one of the most popular music festivals in the country, groups may be surprised that it’s not necessarily the current chart toppers taking the stage during the weekend. Past headliners have included Tom Petty, the Kings of Leon, Paul Simon, and the Dave Matthews Band.

“Groups are going to see some of the big superstars of the world,” said Sean O’Connell, festival director for the Hangout Music Festival. “But it’s not necessarily about booking bands that are on the radio; it’s about finding bands that give great live shows.”

Now into its fifth year, the Hangout Music Festival has started to attract an eclectic crowd looking for a great weekend with their friends and families. While festival goers can enjoy the natural and artificial oasis on the beach while soaking in some sun and tunes, bands typically get the best views as they look out on a sea of happy faces and crystal-clear waters.

The 2014 edition of the Hangout Music Festival will be held May 15-18.

Kristy Alpert

Kristy Alpert has traversed more than 50 countries in her quest to uncover stories for her outlets in Food & Wine, Men's Health, Group Travel Leader, American Way, and more. When she's not on the road, you can find her teaching yoga and exploring around her new home in Germany with her husband and her Boston Terrier, Tobias.