With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to check off all the annual traditions, from tacky lights tours to a heartwarming breakfast with Santa himself. But if you’re looking to really immerse yourself in the spirit of the season, these festive destinations take decorating to the next level with millions of lights, unique seasonal themes, and enough holiday cheer to get you through the New Year. Head to one of these beautifully decorated seasonal sites for a concentrated dose of holiday spirit in Virginia.
An 100-year-old Leesburg historical landmark, Old Lucketts Store is home to over 30 dealers that showcase antique, vintage, and new finds from all over the East Coast. During the holidays, they deck out the 6,000+ square-foot store with creative displays that the staff spends all year long dreaming up. After filling the shop to the brim with imaginative decorations and decor, they have expanded to the property farmhouse, adorning the home’s eleven rooms with beautiful decorations, all of which are for sale. Spend the day getting some holiday shopping done at Old Lucketts Store, then take your holiday photos at one of their many Instagram-worthy seasonal scenes, including three hand-painted murals, decorated vintage vehicles, and an authentic London cab packed with holiday cheer.
DOMINION ENERGY GARDENFEST OF LIGHTS AT LEWIS GINTER BOTANICAL GARDEN—RICHMOND
Photo Credit: Don Williamson
Now through January 6, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is blanketed by twinkling lights in all colors and designs for their annual GardenFest of Lights, sponsored by Dominion Energy. Gaze at over one million holiday lights as you stroll through the 50+ acres of public gardens, voted one of the top four in North America by USA Today readers. The gardens offer family activities every night during GardenFest, as well as model trains, holiday dinners, and snacks like s’mores and hot chocolate to warm you up on even the coldest nights. Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for seniors 55 and up, $8 for children 3-12, and free for children under three.
BUSCH GARDENS CHRISTMAS TOWN—WILLIAMSBURG (LIMITED CAPACITY IN 2020 DUE TO COVID-19)
During select nights through January 5, Busch Gardens transforms into Christmas Town, a family-friendly holiday celebrations with over 10 million lights (more than any other holiday event in North America), six festive shows, photos with Santa, and a 50-foot Christmas tree illuminating the Germany region of the park. Ride in the Aeronaut Skyride to get views of the grandly-lit park from above, and get a grand tour of the decorations from the Christmas Town Express, a train decked out in lights that plays all the classic holiday songs for those on board to sing along. Head to the Highland Stables to see the Clydesdale horses, then take the kids to meet Rudolph and the rest of his reindeer friends in Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland.
RICHMOND TACKY LIGHTS TOUR—RICHMOND
Every year, a collection of Richmond homes participate in the Richmond Tacky Lights Tour, which is organized by the Richmond Times Dispatch. Take a self-guided driving tour of these homes to catch wacky, over-the-top decorations around the city, or hire a private transportation such as a bus or limo to catch the lights with a group of your close friends or family.
DAK LIGHTS IN RANDOLPH PARK—DUBLIN
A free event in Dublin, Virginia, DAK Lights is an annual holiday light and music show held every night from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve in Randolph Park. Hundreds of people travel to the New River Valley each year for this spectacular holiday show, which lasts roughly 20 minutes and choreographs over 20,000 brightly-colored lights to seasonal songs broadcasted on local radio channel 103.9FM. The show begins each night at 5:30, repeating in 20 minute intervals until closing, and visitors can enjoy the holiday tunes and flickering light displays from the comfort and warmth of their cars.
DOMINION GARDEN OF LIGHTS AT NORFOLK BOTANICAL GARDEN—NORFOLK
Photo Credit: Addie Roark
See the 26th annual Garden of Lights at Norfolk Botanical Garden, where visitors can walk through the wondrous displays featuring millions of holiday lights from November 8th to December 14th. Then, from December 15th to December 31st, the two-miles of illuminated pathways transform into a drive-through light show, allowing you to take in the stunning holiday decorations from your cozy car. Reservations are not necessary; general admission is $30 per car, or $50 for limousine and multi-passenger van group tours.
ILLUMINATE LIGHT SHOW—DOSWELL
The Illuminate Light Show held in Doswell’s Meadow Event Park runs from November 13, 2020 to January 3, 2021 from 5:30pm-10pm nightly. This drive-thru holiday lights spectacle is synchronized to music, creating an encompassing vibe that will put you in the holiday spirit.
CELEBRATION IN LIGHTS—NEWPORT NEWS
Virginia’s first drive-through holiday light show is now in its 28th year! Since 1993, Celebration in Lights has transformed Newport News Park into a magical winter wonderland. Enjoy two miles of dazzling holiday light displays, set along the beautiful woods and waterways of Newport News Park. The event has grown steadily each year and has more than one million lights. Admission on weeknights (Monday – Thursday) is $12 per car, a savings of $3 off the weekend rate (Friday – Sunday) of $15 per car. Additionally, advance purchase tickets (good any night) can be purchased for $10 at the Newport News Visitor Center at Newport News Park. Admission for motorcoaches is $75 per busload. Celebration in Lights is open daily, 5:30 to 10 p.m.
Kings Dominion’s Winterfest is a park-wide holiday celebration that runs select nights from November 23rd through December 31st, with millions of shimmering lights, a 300-foot Christmas tree, 12 live shows, up to 21 rides open (weather permitting), and 34 performers spreading Christmas cheer to visitors throughout the park. There are plenty of hands-on festive activities and crafts for all ages, an artisan village open for your holiday shopping, and special seasonal dishes like smoked turkey and carved ham served in the park restaurants. Kids will love the live entertainment and seasonal shows, including Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular, the Coke Polar Party, and the Sounds of the Nativity scene, a petting zoo with 38 animals that tells the Christmas story of Bethlehem. Tickets start at $25 per person, with free admission for children 3 and under.
Note: Instead of the annual Winterfest event, Kings Dominion will host Taste of the Season: An Outdoor Holiday Experience. This holiday celebration will feature 25 sweet and savory food tastings, festive themed areas, live shows, and 16 popular rides throughout the park. The event will be open on select dates between December 5 and December 27; limited number of tickets available in order to keep guests safe and socially distanced.
These are a few of the most incredible lights displays in Virginia, but you’ll find many more in virtually every corner of the state. Where are your go-to places to take in over-the-top holiday decorations? Share your favorite seasonal spots with us in the comments below!