To kick off the festivities, Hampton offers First Light Celebration on December 2. First Light is an event commemorating the first recorded English Christmas, which just so happened to occur in Hampton, Virginia. Bring the whole family for old English caroling, ginger cakes, wassail, a reenactment of a “Kecoughtan Christmas,” and finally, a blue star lighting atop the Hampton History Museum. This is a free event.
“In December of 1608, Captain John Smith recorded the events leading up to, during, and following their Christmas with the Native Americans. It was a hard second winter for the English settlers, and Smith sought trade with Chief Powhatan so that his people could survive …
With forty-six men at his command, Smith began sailing down the James River, and made formidable progress on the first day. However, when they woke the next morning, a snowy nor’easter was brewing, and their progress was severely cut, forcing them to seek shelter at Kecoughtan Village. Chief Pochins and his people welcomed them with great hospitality as the settlers ‘kept Christmas’ during the English days of Twelfth Night. For a week, until the storm passed, there was merriment, delicious food and comfortable lodging. His journey led him to today’s Yorktown, Gloucester, and beyond. During this time, Smith actually described their Christmas in his journal, thus leading to evidence for celebrating the 403rd anniversary of the event this year.”
-Hampton History Museum
Make a weekend of your Hampton stay, as the following day, December 3, is the 23rd Annual Lighted Boat Parade. Twenty-plus boats are expected to glide down the Hampton River as a narration is read at the Hampton Maritime Center. If the sight is more important than the sound, grab some hot cocoa and perch any place along the river.
Should the following weekend work better with your schedule, the Hampton Holly Days Parade gets the merriment rolling on December 10. Themed “Candy Cane Lane,” you can expect a special appearance by Willy Wonka – the ultimate candy man. The Holly Days Parade is the area’s largest and will definitely have everything you hope to find in such an event. The route is from Eaton Street and Settlers Landing Road to Darling Stadium.
Regardless of when you travel to Hampton this season, you’ll want to add the ice rink at the Virginia Air & Space Center to your to-do list. The rink opened November 18 and will remain open through March 4, 2012. Admission is $6 for two hours. Skate rental is $2.
Eager for more 100 Miles of Lights events? See Virginia.org/100MilesofLights/.