The Middleburg Film Festival offers a weekend of sights, sounds, and tastes, including dinner at the festival’s hub, Salamander Resort & Spa.
Middleburg prides itself on its sleepy charm, but every fall a little Hollywood razzle-dazzle comes to town. Starting October 20, more than 20 films, from foreign dramas to wonky documentaries, will be screened at the Middleburg Film Festival, many of them at festival mastermind Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort & Spa.
Serious Oscar contenders are expected again this year—Spotlight, last year’s winner for best picture, made its regional debut here. Even with such high-profile credits, “the atmosphere is relaxed and intimate,” explains Johnson, a self-described movie buff who co-produced Lee Daniels’ The Butler. “From screenings to wine tastings, farm-to-table dinners, and great parties—or simply strolling through the picturesque town—there’s so much to enjoy.” In that spirit, here are some time-out tips.
Dine Village chronicler Vicky Moon, author of The Middleburg Mystique, recommends the coffee and business-card swapping and free Wi-Fi at Middleburg Common Grounds. There’s also Upper Crust (540-687-5666), which Moon describes as an “old-fashioned bakery with ‘cow puddle’ cookies and the best chicken salad in town.” She also suggests a trip to nearby Upperville (home of Buchanan Hall, where several screenings will take place) and a stop at Hunter’s Head Tavern for a pint and some shepherd’s pie.
Drink Salamander’s bustling Gold Cup Wine Bar is a good starting place—keep your eyes peeled for celebs. Oenophiles will be in heaven with all the vineyards. No trip to the area is complete without visiting Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery.
Watch Our picks are the Oscar-buzzy La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone; Lion, with Dev Patel; American Pastoral, directed by Ewan McGregor; Toni Erdmann; and The Eagle Huntress. And when the movies are over in Middleburg—the horse and hunt capital of the nation—don’t forget to ride off into the sunset. It’s a wrap! Middleburg Film Festival runs October 20–23.