Our Story

In 1974, we never imagined that The Neptune Festival would grow into the organization it is today. We are proud to bring the people of Virginia Beach and surrounding areas together, while also having the opportunity to benefit the City and other non-profit organizations financially. 

Our History

Celebrating Beach Life Since 1974

Photo of Richard Kline from 1975 Neptune Festival Guide

In 1973, Richard Kline, president of the Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce and the owner of RK Chevrolet, reached out to Fred Napolitano to help the city come up with an idea to create an event that would bring residents together, attract the interest of tourists and celebrate the heritage of the city.

After brainstorming and connecting with event planners and other cities that had successful festivals, the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival was born and the first celebration took place in 1974, with Napolitano serving as the first Festival president.

View 1974 Neptune Festival Guide

The Virginian-Pilot Beacon at the time reported attendance of about 50,000 people at the first festival, with seafood selling out before the festival ended. Actor Lyle Waggoner from The Carol Burnett Show participated as Grand Marshal of the parade, and was followed by a number of notable celebrities — from Elizabeth Taylor to Chuck Norris!

Elizabeth Taylor and Husband at Neptune Festival in 1977
Photo from 1977 Neptune Festival guide of group singing and dancing

Nancy Creech was a chamber member and festival volunteer at the time. She became a driving force in the Festival’s success and continued to lead after The Neptune Festival split from the chamber in 1987. She was quoted in The Virginian Pilot saying the organization is “in the business of fun and aims to provide activities that can be enjoyed by people across the demographic spectrum, and to evolve with the times.”

Today, Neptune Festival produces over 40 events in Virginia Beach each year and has become one of the Country’s Top 100 Festivals and Top 10 on the East Coast, bringing thousands of visitors to the Boardwalk. Our signature Boardwalk Weekend draws more than 400,000 people, including visitors from other countries. From free concerts and seaside wine tastings, to athletic events and a 30-block long celebration on the boardwalk, we are proud to celebrate the beach life!

Photo from 1976 Neptune Festival guide of young women running in waves

Our Mission

Provide a quality, safe and diverse mix of events and activities that will: 

  • Enhance family values and togetherness
  • Provide a vehicle by which business organizations can return value to Virginia Beach through support and sponsorships while receiving promotional and marketing values
  • Create a positive economic impact
  • Allow an opportunity for non-profit, civic and charitable entities to enhance fund raising for their individual groups
  • Showcase the unique location of Virginia Beach as a city by the sea

Our Purpose

To create a venue which will: 

  • Engender a spirit of community pride, fellowship, camaraderie and cohesiveness for the diverse elements of the Virginia Beach citizenry
  • Appeal to a wide ranging regional constituency
  • Add to the quality of life
  • Offer a diversity of enjoyment opportunities for the family unit
  • Market Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads area, creating a significant economic impact

Quick Facts


Neptune Festivals


Attendees at First Festival


Events Per Year


Avg Attendees at Boardwalk Weekend

Paying It Forward

As a 501c-3 organization ourselves, we live to serve and paying it forward is part of our core values. We may have a professional staff, but we are truly here in service to the community and because of community support. We couldn’t do it without our over 1,000 active volunteers!

Volunteer with Us

We have a commitment to making impact on, and beyond, the boardwalk. See how we’re making a difference in Virginia Beach.

See Our Impact