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Tom Tom Festival takes over downtown Charlottesville

The Tom Tom Festival is taking over downtown Charlottesville once again.

The Tom Tom Foundation on Wednesday kicked off its 11th annual namesake spring festival, celebrating entrepreneurship, creativity and social justice in Charlottesville.

On Wednesday at noon, attendees launched into the five-day festival with a tai chi session called “6 Steps to Compassion” at the Charlottesville Tai Chi Center. The session was the first event in the “Conscious City Conference” portion of the festival, which set the theme for all of the events that day.

The “Conscious City Conference” also included panels that discussed “conscious dying,” practicing gratitude toward caregivers, the role of the church in community success and effective plant medicine.

The first day of the festival ended on a relaxing note, with a wine tasting and discussion with the owner of Eastwood Farm and Winery as well as panels on 100 Black Men of Central Virginia’s #100Cuts initiative and finding personal style.

The theme of consciousness will carry into Thursday with a sunrise meditation at 5:50 a.m. before transitioning to the new theme of the day with the “Technology for Good Conference.”

Thursday will present the first full day of the festival, with 23 events to choose from between 5:50 a.m. and 7 p.m., including a two-part panel on “C’ville’s Most Innovative Start-Ups.”

To support other local businesses, the festival will also host a “Crowdfunded Pitch Night,” inviting local entrepreneurs the foundation already announced as pitch night finalists to pitch a live audience for a chance to earn startup funding and a $5,000 prize.

Friday will introduce the “Social & Justice Conference,” a series of panels that will discuss early childhood education, mentoring youth and Black-led community events and spaces.

Fitting for a Friday-night festival, the day will wrap with a Black Business Social before shutting down the Downtown Mall for a block party with DJs and live performances, featuring R&B and gogo music throughout the evening.

While most events will be located on the Downtown Mall, some will also be held at the University of Virginia’s Medical and Contemplative Sciences Centers and the Albemarle County Economic Development building.

Saturday will bring more creative and active events, including an opportunity to paint a community mural at Ix Art Park and attend an Albemarle Ballet Theatre performance before resuming the Downtown Mall block party with reggae music and dance performances.

On Sunday, festival attendees are invited to a training session at the Wartime Fitness boxing gym in Charlottesville before going to watch the Tonsler League All Star Game from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Tonsler Park.

To conclude the day, Tom Tom will host its own version of the popular West Coast music festival Coachella with “Porchella,” is a series of free acoustic concerts and live music sessions from artists including Mike Younger, The Hot Mamas and the Tara Mills Band.

Those interested in attending the 2023 Tom Tom Festival can register for different events on the Tom Tom Foundation’s website. The festival is operating on a pay-what-you-can system, requiring attendees to pay as little as $1 for access to each day of the conference.


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