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Downtown in Bloom focuses on beautification and fun

Next time you’re enjoying a colorful flower box or lush container garden in front of a Downtown Mall business, look past the pansies and impatiens for a QR code.

Starting Thursday, that code is your opportunity to vote for your favorite display in the flower box competition in Downtown in Bloom, a series of spring beautification events presented by Friends of Charlottesville Downtown. Forty-one downtown businesses are participating in the competition, which runs through May 31, and one will come away with a $1,000 prize.

The organization, which presented Magic on the Mall events during the holiday season, aims to bring attention to the delights of spring in downtown Charlottesville.

“It’s more geared toward beautification,” said Greer Achenbach, executive director of Friends of Charlottesville Downtown. “We want [the Downtown Mall] to be as beautiful as it can possibly be.”

Plan ahead for the 2023 Chalk Fest, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20. Friends of Charlottesville Downtown is teaming up with Ix Art Park to present the event, which will bring 13 mural artists downtown to create murals all the way from Ting Pavilion to Quirk Hotel and Dairy Market. If watching artists at work inspires young people in your life to give chalk art a try, “we’ll have some community spots where kids can draw,” Achenbach said.

Another Downtown in Bloom feature that’ll appeal to young visitors and their families is Charlottesville City Schools’ annual ArtConnections show of student art, which is on display in restaurant and retail shop windows along the Downtown Mall for the first time. Look for drawings and paintings by city students in preschool through 12th grade.

“It’s bringing kids downtown,” Achenbach said.

Throughout Downtown in Bloom, the Spring Stroll will give visitors a chance to try specialty drinks, cocktails and mocktails from a variety of restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

To sample the sips along the Spring Stroll, pick up a passport at the participating merchants, Charlottesville Insider or one of the CACVB mobile vans. Try at least 10 of the featured beverages and collect a code word at each stop. Turn in your completed passport to the Charlottesville Insider folks before May 31 to score an invitation to a rooftop celebration at Common House this summer.

Participating businesses include The Fitzroy, The Milkman’s Bar, Botanical Fare, The Bebedero, Petite Mariebette, Miller’s, Tonic, Citizen Burger Bar, The Nook, Cafe Frank, South and Central, Brasserie Saison, Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar, Quirk Hotel, Tilman’s Cheese and Wine, Rapture, Lucky Blue’s, Mudhouse Coffee Roasters, Cville Brightside, The Whiskey Jar, Bradbury Cafe and The Alley Light.

Achenbach said Friends of Charlottesville Downtown aims to help stimulate the downtown economy, promote a vibrant environment and encourage a safe and welcoming vibe for visitors.

Volunteers are welcome to join the Chalk Fest fun at The Flower Box Competition grand prize also includes a full-page ad in Cville Weekly. To learn more about Downtown in Bloom events and Friends of Charlottesville Downtown, go to


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