There’s Nowhere Better to Celebrate Old-Fashioned Christmas Traditions than Greater Williamsburg, the Birthplace of American Holidays

Visit Greater Williamsburg this Holiday Season to Reinvigorate, Reimagine, or Reenact Christmas Traditions!

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – October 11, 2018 – Holiday memories are ones we deeply cherish. Whether it’s spending time with out-of-town family, enjoying a child’s first Christmas, or sharing a sweet kiss under the mistletoe, the holidays are all about togetherness as we revel in the rich traditions of the season. And there is nowhere better to relish the past and toast to the future than in Greater Williamsburg, home of America’s inaugural Thanksgiving and first Christmas tree! This year, make memories anew with the ones you love as you participate in the merriment throughout the region.

Here are some holiday happenings full of comfort and joy this holiday season. Feeling extra festive? Check out for additional holiday activities.

Colonial Williamsburg

Share the warmth of neighborly love as you brave the cold and participate in the Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 20 at 5 PM.

Literary lovers won’t want to miss Midwinter Stories at the Governor’s Palace Stage. Get lost in the stories and traditions shared between colonists and Native Americans as they engaged in 18th century trade and diplomacy.

Looking to burn off the Christmas cookie calories? Be sure to check out Colonial Williamsburg decked out in all its seasonal splendor during the Christmas Decorations Walking Tour and Talk of the Town: Christmastide.


Just because school will be out, doesn’t mean the learning has to stop! One of the most educational experiences of the season will be Christmastide in Virginia.  Running from December 20-31 at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, this special event offers a glimpse of 17th and 18th century holiday traditions through interpretive programs and demonstrations. Enjoy festive fun with daily appearances by the Lord of Misrule at Jamestown Settlement and period musical entertainment at both museums.


Get an early start to the celebration at Harvest Festival, a pre-Thanksgiving celebration being held November 10 from 9 AM-3 PM at Riverwalk Landing. There you can shop for turkeys, pies, and other holiday treats during the market’s extended hours. Vendors will feature seasonal produce, flowers, plants, meats, seafood, fresh-baked breads and desserts as well as local art. For more goings-on around Yorktown, check out the dates and links below:  

Holiday Open House Weekend – November 17

Christmas Tree Lighting – November 30

Christmas Market on Main – December 1

Yorktown’s Lighted Boat Parade – December 1

Cookies with Santa – December 2

Holiday Market & Toyland Parade – December 8

Busch Gardens—Christmas Town 2018

Christmas shines brightest at Busch Gardens Christmas Town on select dates from November 17 through January 5, 2019. One of the largest light displays in North America grows even bigger in 2018 with more than 10 million lights to commemorate the family-friendly winter holiday event’s 10th anniversary.  Festive food and drinks, holiday shopping, and heart-warming shows make the spirit of the season flourish.

New this year, Busch Gardens Railway turns into the Christmas Town Express.  Sing along to favorite holiday songs while enjoying the lighted decorations along the park’s popular train route.  The experience features festive caroling, two million lights, and holiday-themed vignettes deftly placed along the 1.5-mile route around the world’s most beautiful theme park. 

Looking for more of a thrill? About 25 rides are open during the Park’s special Christmas Town celebration, including InvadR and Verbolten roller coasters.

And don’t forget to preserve your children’s memories for a lifetime. Opportunities to capture a photo with Santa will be available daily at Santa’s Workshop.

Merchants Square

As always Merchants Square, an 18th century style retail village with over 40 shops and restaurants, will be abuzz with Yuletide activity this holiday season. From live music and theatrical performances to free giveaways and donation opportunities, there will never be a dull moment.

Highlights include the Blue Talon Turkey Trot on November 22, the Williamsburg Christmas Parade on December 1, and Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination on December 2.

SPEND A LITTLE; SHARE A LOT  — Tired of giving a bottle of aftershave to dad or a calendar to mom year after year? Pay a visit to countless retailers throughout Greater Williamsburg to fuel your gift-giving imagination.

Determined not to procrastinate this year? Williamsburg Premium Outlets, the area's premier shopping destination with over 120 sought after brands, will kick off the holiday season early by launching a NEW signature holiday event on Saturday, November 17. The shopping extravaganza will feature live performances, all-day giveaways, a tree lighting ceremony, and much more. Looking for exclusive savings this holiday season? Join the VIP Shopper Club for a connection to free VIP offers, the latest on center promotions, events, and so much more! 

Whether it’s “Candy Cane Lane” or “Christmas Cookie,” you can take in all the sweet scents of the season at Yankee Candle Village. But there’s much more than candles to this magical place. Join the fun on November 10 beginning at 9 AM as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by horse-drawn carriage. Festivities will include a petting zoo, caroling, cookies, and more! Come back on December 1 as Santa lights the Yankee Candle Village tree and on December 5 for Girl’s Night Out, an opportunity for you ladies to not only save big but to take a breather from the stresses of the season and pamper yourselves. Don’t miss your last chance to see Santa at the Village on December 14 when he returns for a pajama party—replete with hot cocoa and story time!

On December 1, the Miracle Market at Merchants Square Farmers Market will be the ideal opportunity to grab breakfast, buy a gift, or simply enjoy the spirit of the season. Beginning at 7 AM, guests can listen to live music and watch a Christmas parade while paying a visit to multiple vendors.

Later that same morning, head over to The Christmas Market on Yorktown's historic Main Street as more than 50 vendors line the street. The Town Crier will ring in the market at 10 AM, with a musical performance from the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown and a chance to catch a glimpse of Santa and Mrs. Claus on the county’s oldest fire truck to follow.

Everyone has that one eccentric aunt who needs just the right gift. Where better to look than at Busch Gardens' Mistletoe Marketplace? Here local (yes, local, for all you “Shop Local” lovers!) artisans showcase their wares in a traditional outdoor German market setting.

Still struggling to find the right gift? When all else fails everyone loves to eat! And if you’re unsure what restaurant the recipient prefers, it’s quite alright. Purchase a Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association (WARA) gift certificate. Each gift certificate is good at any of their eighty restaurant members and ten tasting partners. These can be purchased at the Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce, any of the local BB&T Bank Branches, at Alewerks Brewing Company located in Williamsburg Premium Outlets, or online. 

EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY—Have a drink with an old acquaintance for the holidays or share a meal with family from near or far at one of the many impressive bars or eateries that Greater Williamsburg has to offer.

Feast at one of several area restaurants offering special holiday menus and here are a few highlights:

The Whaling Company—A local staple for almost four decades and best known for fresh fish, simply prepared, at reasonable prices. In fact, don’t feel like cooking a big turkey or ham dinner? No problem! They will be open both Thanksgiving Day (serving from their regular menu or featuring a traditional turkey meal with all the trimmings—$21 for Adults and $11 for children 12 and under) as well as Christmas Day with a special menu. Reservations for both holidays are encouraged.

Alewerks Brewing Company—Williamsburg’s first brewery established in 2006. Spice up the season with Alewerks' "Fun, Old-Fashioned Family Christmas Ale" with notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg that combine in a smooth, warming texture. And if you’re the designated driver and must limit it to one or two, for the first time you can take a 4-pack home! On Black Friday, look for a special release of 1.5 Liter magnum bottles of this limited edition ale along with other special holiday treats. Sip, sip, hooray!

Revolution Golf and Grille—A fun family favorite (that also conveniently touts a fully-stocked bar with over twenty taps on draft). While you nosh, take in some tunes as Good Shot Judy, a local band specializing in classic vocal jazz entertainment, performs on November 23 at 7 PM as part of a Black Friday Holiday Kickoff. Or pull that decades-old Santa sweater out of your closet and flaunt it at the Annual Ugly Sweater Party on December 21 starting at 6 PM. There will be cash prizes and fun for all ages! Also, beginning November 23, take advantage of gift certificate savings. When you purchase a $50 gift certificate you’ll receive an additional $10 or spend $100 and you’ll get you an extra $20.

Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que—A family-owned business that opened along the roadside in the 1970s. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to savor the taste of Virginia BBQ as it blends with the flavors of the season. Added bonus? You can pig out right in the comfort of your own home! The family at Pierce’s will once again prepare your holiday meal for you to pick up in advance. Choose from a selection ranging from whole turkeys or apricot glazed spiral ham to pit-cooked brisket, side items, homemade desserts, and more. 


Show on Press Room: