With festivals, internationally acclaimed museums and performance venues situated in intriguing historic hotspots, Norfolk won’t disappoint student groups. From a town that once covered only 50 acres of land, the sprawling city today has a population of more than 245,000. Its lively downtown area provides student groups with cultural experiences, educational opportunities, inimitable dining choices and diverse neighborhoods. Norfolk has all the charm and services for the perfect student group trip.

What can we enjoy in Norfolk?

Norfolk accommodates traveling student groups with exceptional events and activities. On an educational cruise, American Rover Field Trip, students set sails, steer the ship, and learn how to navigate and tie knots. Performance groups can participate in a question- and-answer session with JoAnn Falletta and other musicians from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, then take a backstage tour. The Virginia Arts Festival and World Class Education Program, one of the Mid-Atlantic’s premier cultural events, showcases performing artists from around the world with more than 80 performances, events and educational programs. The festival offers students a variety of master classes, clinics, backstage tours, and pre- and post-performance conversations.

Seasonal events in Norfolk include an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade; the Virginia International Tattoo, with marching bands, military drill teams, massed pipes, drums and Celtic dancers from around the globe; and Virginia International Music Festival, where performance groups from elementary to college levels attend choral and instrumental ensembles, performance workshops and educational classes.

Norfolk’s unparalleled performance venues

Nauticus/Battleship Wisconsin

Nauticus/Battleship Wisconsin

Ever wonder what it would be like to explore the confines of a historic battleship prominent during World War II? Take students on a one-of-a-kind adventure through Norfolk’s Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin. Battleship Wisconsin remains one of the largest and last battleships built by the U.S. Navy and earned five battle stars during WWII. Fully equipped with outdoor and indoor facilities, electrical outlets and chairs, Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin’s performance venues are available Tuesday through Sunday and seat between 80 and 1,200. Venues include the Main Deck, Officer’s Wardroom, Living Sea Theater and Elizabeth River Pavilion, the largest event area on the Nauticus grounds.  Events include presentations, weddings, performances and military ceremonies. Student groups can explore the decks of the unique facility through self-guided tours with exhibits including aquariums, a shark tank, hurricane simulator and a large-screen 3D theater. The second floor of Nauticus offers the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, containing an eclectic collection of authentic uniforms, weaponry, underwater artifacts, detailed ship models and artwork.

Amenities on the grounds include Dockside Cafe, Banana Pier Gift Shop, an admissions area, lockers and onsite parking; large vehicles are permitted to unload equipment at the front traffic circle. The city also offers complimentary off-site bus at nearby Harbor Park stadium, located eight blocks away. Student groups are offered storage for box lunches or can order box lunches provided by the facility. Students can enjoy their meals at the venue’s covered front deck or Town Point Park, adjacent to Nauticus.

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Discover the natural beauty of Norfolk at Norfolk Botanical Garden. Conveniently located, it has all the necessary amenities for student group performances. The venue has trams with wheelchair accessibility, benches throughout the garden, 12 miles of walking paths, a picnic area with a covered pavilion and picnic benches, and free parking adjacent to the main Visitors Center. An eight-minute video gives an overview of the garden. Other amenities include a library, Marigold and Honey Cafe and the Garden Gift Shop. Upcoming events at Norfolk Botanical Garden include “Super Spooky Garden Stroll” and “Dominion Garden of Lights,” a Virginia winter holiday favorite and previously voted “#8 Best Light Display in the Country” by USA Today for its exhibit of over one million dazzling lights.

The 155-acre garden includes an array of indoor and outdoor performance facilities, including Rose Garden Hall, Baker Hall, Garden Cafe, Baker Overlook, Bicentennial Rose Garden and Bristow Butterfly Garden. Facilities, available Monday through Sunday, have electrical outlets and chairs, and seat between 50 and 1,000. In their downtime, students can get lost in the various indoor and outdoor gardens such as the Japanese Garden, Enchanted Forest, Hummingbird Garden, Mirror Lake and Hofheimer Camellia Garden.

MacArthur Memorial

McArthur Memorial

Located in downtown Norfolk’s restored 1850 City Hall building, MacArthur Memorial is an ideal destination for traveling student performance groups. The MacArthur Memorial Visitors Center Theater holds up to 200 students and has chairs, a projector, electrical outlets and is wheelchair accessible; venues are available Tuesday through Sunday. While students aren’t performing, they can take advantage of the MacArthur Memorial Visitors Center and Gift Shop, Jean MacArthur Research Center and MacArthur Memorial Museum, where upcoming events include movie screenings, World War I symposiums, a Veteran’s Day Commemoration and exhibits such as “Keeping the Promise: the Liberation of the Philippines.” Performance groups touring the museum learn about the life of General Douglas MacArthur through podcast tours, virtual tours and scavenger hunts.