Williamsburg's Seasonal Splendor

Whether you’re looking to start a new holiday tradition or an unforgettable way to ring in the New Year, Williamsburg has more ways to celebrate this year than ever before. 

Soar: Get a Rudolph-like view of 10 million twinkling lights at Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg when you soar 80 feet in the air aboard the Finnegan’s Flyer pendulum ride – or simply enjoy some milk and cookies fit for Santa. Savory seasonal treats, sweets, festive shows, rides, and visits with Kris Kringle fill the theme park – which hosts one of the largest light displays in North America – on select dates Nov. 12 through Jan. 2. Extend the Christmas season and ring in 2022 with a fireworks show on Dec. 31, included with admission.

Light up: The first three Fridays and Saturdays of December feature unforgettable splendor and cheer with the expansion of Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination. Fridays kick off at 6 p.m. with a Yule Log procession along Duke of Gloucester Street, leading to a bonfire near the historic Magazine. The cresset-lined street will come alive with 18th-century entertainment, and the warmth of special holiday landscaping. 

Saturday events start at 5 p.m., with the presentation of an original holiday story, 18th-century music and other Yuletide favorites, and an appearance by Father Christmas. The “grand finale” will be simultaneous 18th-century-inspired pyrotechnic displays at Governor’s Palace and the Capitol building.

Gather: Yorktown’s Christmas Tree Lighting is a tradition that goes back to 1945, a celebration that is kept alive by the hard work of the York County Historical Committee. Celebrate Friday, December 3, by gathering at Yorktown Victory Monument by 6:30 p.m. for live music — including a performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town. The procession makes its way from Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing, where the tree lighting ceremony begins, capped off by a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. 

Shop: Check off all of your holiday shopping to-do’s while supporting local artisans at Yorktown’s Christmas Market on Main, extended from one day to a whole weekend (December 4-5) this year. Close to 100 vendors are expected, with diverse treasures like handmade soaps, ornaments, and wreaths. The town crier rings in the market at 10 a.m., followed by a fife and drum performance to get things started in style. Kris Kringle will be on hand to greet families and strolling entertainment will make for continual merriment. Ice sculpture fans can watch the progress of a carver set up in front of York Hall on Sunday.  

Float: The Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade will illuminate the waterfront in more ways than one on December 4. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with a toasty beach bonfire, caroling, and music from the Fifes and Drums of York Town. Grab a cup of complimentary hot cider to sip as a dazzling show of twinkling lights winds its way down the river at 7 p.m. during the boat parade. 

Taste: The site of the Yorktown Farmers’ Market transforms into a winter wonderland on December 11, during Mistletoe Market, with an annual Toyland Parade and Riverwalk Landing “Polar Express” looping rides. Stock up on hearty soups, seasonal cakes, or even treat yourself to a clean kitchen when you pick up an arrangement of holiday cookies that simply require eating and not baking. There will also be opportunities to fill stockings or homes with festive candles, art, and greenery. 

Learn: You can finally get the answers about just what goes into figgy pudding at Christmastide, December 18-31. The outdoor living history museums at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will be decked in boughs of holly for Christmastide, an annual event recalling 17th and 18th-century traditions and featuring musical demonstrations, holiday food, and live stories—all part of regular museum admission. 

Please continue to check back here for ongoing updates about things to do in Williamsburg, VA to celebrate the best of the season.

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