A Quick Guide to First Fridays


By: Emma North

As the name suggests, First Fridays is held on the first Friday of each month. Whether it’s gallery, shop, or bar hopping you can do it all during First Fridays. There is so much to do you might not even have to walk inside of most places to have a good time. 

“Don’t just stick to the art museums on broad, first fridays also includes live performances in the side streets and outside areas,” said Richmond resident and First Fridays frequenter, Katie Boller. 

We are here to give you our insiders guide to attending First Fridays. Whether you come early, stay late or both we know you’ll have a good time!

1. Start off at the ICA at VCU 

The VCU Institute for Contemporary Arts opened in April of 2018. The ICA is free and open to the public. This is the largest gallery on the First Fridays route and also typically the only stop  on the opposite side of North Belvidere Street. If you don’t start your route here you might totally miss it and you wouldn’t want to do that! Currently on display they have Provocation by Rashid Johnson, Shadows are to Shade by Corin Hewitt, and their summer sessions. Shadows are to Shade is only on display for the summer season and is being shown both at the ICA and the artist’s home in the Fan district. 

2. Cross Belvidere on Broad into the rest of the Arts District 

Next, it’s time to head into the main area of the festival. By walking down Broad Street and across North Belvidere Street you enter into the main festival area and the core area of the Arts District. 

Two pieces from the Above Earth, Below Sky exhibit at the Quirk Gallery.

Two pieces from the Above Earth, Below Sky exhibit at the Quirk Gallery.

3. Check out the Galleries

Obviously going to art galleries is a core part of your First Fridays experience. There are so many art galleries to choose from, be sure to check out the First Fridays website to see who will be staying up late each month. 

This month, Saadias Juicebox is hosting an entire day of events on Friday including a donation based yoga class during the day and live music and a gallery opening in the evening.  You definitely won’t want to miss Gallery Five’s $1000 competition this Friday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.. All you have to do is pay $2 to enter their Rock Paper Scissors tournament and then of course win the tournament.  This weekend will be your last chance to view the Above Earth, Below Sky exhibit by Hillary Waters Fayle at the Quirk Gallery.

Other galleries that frequently participate in First Fridays are 1708 Gallery, Gallery EDIT, Atlas/Art 180, The Mix Gallery, Workshop RVA, Gallery at 23 and Black Iris

4. Live Music 

Keep your ears open as you stroll around the Arts District this Friday you might catch some music out on the streets or inside a gallery or bar. Handmade RVA is hosting a pop-up market with Lou Stevens this Friday that will feature live music for just $5.  Anne’s Visual Art Studio will be hosting a pop-up sale on this month’s First Friday as well as live music by Aurika.

5. Hit the bars 

The final step to enjoying First Fridays is to grab a drink afterwards and extend your evening. You’re already out and you’ve already parked so you might as well continue to enjoy yourself! Bar Solita is open until 11 p.m. and they have awesome cocktails and tapas to fill you up after a long evening of art walking. If you’re the kind of person who thinks 11 p.m. is early then you can continue your party over at Switch, the pop-up bar currently sporting an Alice in Wonderland theme. Switch is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays which means you carry your Friday night festivities all the way into Saturday morning.