Everyone has traditions they look forward to each holiday season. Virginia’s 100 Miles of Lights is a major one, but here are 10 more. Are they among your favorites? If not, give them a try this year and perhaps you’ll have a new one to look forward to.
What events does your family enjoy during the holiday season? Leave a kind comment to share and give ideas to others.
— DOMINION CHRISTMAS PARADE | RICHMOND —
Nearly 100 entries that include emergency response vehicles, giant balloons, marching bands, floats, athletes, celebrities, dance troupes and more draw a crowd of more than 100,000 to Broad Street year after year. Held the first Saturday in December.
— SUNTRUST DICKENS OF A CHRISTMAS | ROANOKE —
The first three Fridays of December are dedicated to family festivities at Dickens of a Christmas. Centered in the historic Roanoke market, this event features carriage rides, chestnuts roasting on an open fire (well, roasted chestnuts anyway), and plenty of merriment to go around.
— ANNUAL CAMPAGNA CENTER SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS WALK | ALEXANDRIA —
Alexandria was established by Scottish merchants in 1749 and the annual Christmas Walk pays homage to that rich history with the only parade of its kind in Virginia: a kilted one. The first Saturday of December always welcomes dozens of Scottish clans descending upon Old Town in their best plaids and armed with bagpipes. It’s a tradition that has frequently landed on the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events list.
Photo by R. Kennedy
— HOLLYDAZZLE | NEWPORT NEWS —
If you have an affinity for fireworks, Hollydazzle is the place to be in the evening hours of the first Saturday of December. Pyrotechnics, synchronized-to-music special effects, and fun light shows make this a tremendous night for all ages. It all happens “in the round” at the City Center at Oyster Point, which happens to be a great place to find dinner and a hot chocolate.
— GRAND ILLUMINATION | COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG —
Gun fire and fireworks were the celebratory actions one would experience during the 18th century. If you’re in Colonial Williamsburg, what else would you expect? Join in a night of revelry with musical performances and three locations of beautiful fireworks. Grand Illumination occurs the first Sunday of December annually.
Photo by Tom Green, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
— WINTERFEST | WATERFORD VILLAGE —
The entire village of Waterford is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, which should tell you that it’s beautifully preserved and should be ripe with festivities during the holiday season. Tour the homes (even by candlelight!), enjoy carolers, and find the perfect handmade artisan gift in this sweet early American rural community during the second weekend of December.
— MCDONALD’S HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT THE BEACH | VIRGINIA BEACH —
How does driving the boardwalk at Virginia Beach sound? Pretty cool, huh? Even cooler to drive it at night with light displays surrounding you. See dolphins appearing to jump from the tide, enormous sandcastles, and even wise men making their way to the star. Load up the car/van/minibus/motorcoach and come on down. There are special price nights, military nights, and more. The boardwalk will be lit from November 20 through January 2.
— A COLONIAL CHRISTMAS AT JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT | JAMESTOWN —
What does a 17th century Christmas look like? Head to Jamestown Settlement to find out just how different today’s celebrations are from settlers’ time. A variety of daily tours, interpretations, music, and special opportunities will entertain and educate families between December 1 and January 3. Be sure to seek out the Lord of Misrule, a mischievous character indeed.
— BUSCH GARDENS CHRISTMAS TOWN | WILLIAMSBURG —
You won’t find anything that compares to Busch Gardens when it’s transformed into Christmas Town. The jolly ol’ elf, Santa, is one of the best (from this mom’s point of view), and the themed areas are great fun. Millions of lights paired with the top-notch shows Busch Gardens is known for equals a night your family won’t soon forget. Do get the signature peppermint hot chocolate, too!
Photo by Scott K. Brown.
More than 30 acres of lit displays and botanical creations make for a delightful walk through a merry wonderland. The centerpiece, however, is the Conservatory. Beautifully lit and housing indoor displays, it’s not to be missed. Seek out the firepits and make yourself a s’more. Hot chocolate is available, too!