Unwrap History Over the Holidays as Greater Williamsburg Delivers a Package of Yuletide Cheer

Visit Greater Williamsburg this Holiday Season to Enjoy the Freedom to be Festive

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – October 16, 2019 –As the holidays rapidly approach, Greater Williamsburg celebrates the past amidst creating new time-honored traditions. Exceptional in its charm, Greater Williamsburg delves into the holidays of yesteryear to relive the sights and sounds of a young nation. From an early English Christmas to the cresset adorned streets, Greater Williamsburg offers visitors a magical journey to rediscover the most wonderful time of year while providing a bundle of contemporary merriment including noteworthy music festivals, extraordinary light displays and opportunities to meet Christmas royalty.

The following are several of the holiday happenings certain to make spirits bright. For an extra serving of festive fun throughout the region, check out http://www.visitwilliamsburg.com to find information on additional activities.

Colonial Williamsburg

No holiday is complete without a traditional parade. This year, the Williamsburg Annual Parade will come alive with floats, marching bands, local civic and business organizations, animal groups and, most importantly, special guests, Santa and Mrs. Claus. The parade will commence at Richmond Road at Brooks Street and end at Duke of Gloucester at North Henry Street.

Commemorating the spirit of America during the holiday season, the Grand Illumination Fireworks reflect on the illuminations used during the 18th century to mark major events like military victories or the arrival of a new colonial governor. A highlight not to missed, the spectacular fireworks will be displayed from three different locations in the Historic Area – the Capitol, Magazine, and Palace. Come early to view decorations and enjoy musical performances from multiple stages throughout the Historic Area.

The Grand Illumination Groaning Board Dinner, Colonial Williamsburg’s family style dinner, has been served to Williamsburg’s visitors since Colonial times. On December 8, guests can enjoy live entertainment while feasting on house-made bread, signature peanut soup, traditional southern entrées and sides like fried chicken and braised collard greens, and desserts prepared by the talented Pastry Chef Michelle Brown.

A true glimpse into America’s colonial past can be seen through the Illuminations taking place throughout Colonial Williamsburg. Between December 10 and 15, visitors can stroll through areas like the Palace Green, the Capitol, Market Square or the taverns to enjoy an 18th century seasonal celebration as candles and cressets illuminate these sites, and the firing of muskets and a musical performance by the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drums whisk us back in time.

In keeping with beloved annual holiday traditions, the Community Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on December 19 where visitors will be serenaded by a medley of classic Christmas carols as they watch the large evergreen tree on Market Square light up in all its spectacular glory. They can also learn about the first Christmas tree in the United States and listen to a special reading of "The Night Before Christmas."


Riverwalk Restaurant is taking the stress out of holiday cooking with their all-you-can eat Thanksgiving Day Buffet. The exquisite spread features a carving station, seafood bar, classic sides, seasonal salads, seafood bar, and to–die-for desserts. Riverwalk Restaurant, as well as Water Street Grille, will also be open on Christmas Eve until 3 p.m. with regular menus.

The holiday fun kicks off with Yorktown's Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony which dates back to 1945. The York County Historical Committee works hard to keep this ritual going and invites all to join the special event on December 6.  Live music including a performance by the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown will commence the ceremony before the procession makes its way from the Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing for the tree lighting.  Little ones should make sure to stay put afterwards for a much-anticipated visit from Santa.

Whether searching for a holiday gift for family or friends, or as a treat to yourself, the Christmas Market on Main Street has something for everyone.  This is one of the most anticipated Yorktown events of the year with more than 50 vendors selling artisan treasures. The Town Crier will ring in the market on December 6 at 10 a.m., followed by a performance from the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown and a visit from Santa who will ride in on York County's first fire truck to mingle with the crowd and greet families. Expect strolling musical entertainment throughout the day to add to the festive atmosphere.

The excitement continues the next day with the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade on December 7 from 6-8 p.m. This annual event has been a community tradition for more than two decades with an impressive showcase featuring boats that have taken almost 20 hours to decorate.  Pre-parade festivities start at 6 p.m. and include caroling around a beach bonfire, a musical performance by the Fifes & Drums of Yorktown and complimentary hot cider. The boats will top off the merriment of the evening at 7 p.m., as they make their way down the river in a dazzling display of illumination.

Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & Petite Cafe has several festive surprises in store in December. Early Evening Nutcracker Sweet Treats will be on tap before the Yorktown tree lighting on December 6 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  Visitors can delight in 18th Century chocolate, hors d’oeuvres, champagne or French wine by the glass.  On Friday, December 27, a special Holiday Wine Tasting, led by the venue’s own master sommelier, will take place from 7-9 p.m.  This palate-refining event will educate both wine newbies and aficionados on the flavors, aromas and characteristics of Bordeaux-Vintage Premier Cru 90 (2008-2014). Ending the year on a high note, Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & Petite Cafe will host an early evening soiree on New Year’s Eve between 7 and 9 p.m. with champagne, sparkling wine and chocolates.


Military history aficionados may take delight in Christmastide in Virginia at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown between December 20 and 31.  17th and 18th-century holiday traditions are recalled through special interpretive programs and musical entertainment of the period.  At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, visitors can hear accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and relive holiday preparations on a Revolution-era farm.  Additionally, at Jamestown Settlement, English Christmas customs of the period can be compared and contrasted with how the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of the Jamestown colony.

Historic Jamestowne

Step inside a bygone era of early-English Christmas traditions with “At Christmas Be Mery” A Special Evening at Historic Jamestowne on December 14 from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.  Sir George Yeardley, Virginia’s Governor in 1620, invites all to an early Virginia Christmas celebration complete with a seasonal bonfire, caroling and firing of the Christmas guns.  A rare opportunity to see Jamestown Island aglow with firelight, this unique program offers insights into early English Christmas traditions. After a brief introduction to what the Jamestown settlers expected during their Christmastide, the Captain of the Guard will escort the “new arrivals” along a cresset-lit path to the 1608 Church before Governor Yeardley then offers a welcome and invites everyone to sing carols.

Busch Gardens—Christmas Town 2019

The world’s most beautiful theme park is also one of the largest lights displays in North America with more than 10 million tiny globes making all merry and bright.  Between November 16 and January 5, 2020, the season rejuvenates with festive food and drink, lighted Christmas train rides, holiday shopping and heart-warming shows in Busch Gardens – Christmas Town 2019.

New for 2019, the Traditions Tree Maze presented by Coca-Cola will feature nearly 500 fresh-cut Christmas trees creating a spectacular maze that allows park-goers to take a stroll around the world and explore holiday traditions celebrated in places like Japan, South Africa and Mexico. Country of origin themed craft-making stations for the kids, picture-taking moments, music and lights make this immersive experience like no other.  Also debuting this year, Believe will let guests dine while enjoying inspirational holiday music performed by a solo pianist in the Italy’s San Marco Theatre.  Not for the faint at heart, the new Finnegan’s Flyer will test the bravest of riders as they swing at speeds of 45 mph and 80 feet above the cliffs of the Celtic Coast, taking in the festive sights of Ireland.

Among the many attractions and experiences at Christmas Town, perhaps one of the most memorable is the chance to deliver wish lists to jolly ole’ Saint Nick and dine with Mrs. Claus. Afterwards, families must not forget about snapping a few photos with everyone’s favorite reindeer, Rudolph. Visitors who climb on board the beloved Busch Gardens railway, Christmas Town Express, will find themselves surrounded by two-million stunning Christmas lights, holiday vignettes and the sounds of festive caroling, as they take a 1.5 mile, magical trip around the park.  Guests will also want to be sure to check out returning yuletide shows, including Deck the Halls, Scrooge No More!, ‘Twas That Night opening on November 23,  and to stop by Wilkommenhaus, located in the park’s German village. The Wilkommenhaus transforms into a fantastic visual Christmas spectacle through beautiful projection mapping with virtual gingerbread men bringing this festive village to life every 15-minutes.

Williamsburg Winery

Begin the holidays on a high note, listening to the sounds of Grammy-award winning composer Chris Botti while sipping smooth red and white varietals at the Williamsburg Winery. On November 30, Newsradio WRVA will broadcast live with Uncorked and Unplugged – Holiday Edition, bringing hundreds of enthusiastic like-minded folks together in a beautiful vineyard backdrop.

Yankee Candle Village

For an effortless holiday shopping experience, Yankee Candle Village offers a plethora of options to make swiping that credit card enjoyable. On November 28, Midnight Madness allows customers to shop until they drop from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. This late-night retail experience will also give a gift to the first 100 guests. Ladies can relish in the December Girl’s Night Out on December 12 from 6 – 9 p.m. with raffles, crafts, live music, food and wine, chocolate tastings and 30% off their entire purchase.   For those procrastinators, Tacky Last-Minute Shopping will be held on December 18 between 6 - 10 p.m. with 30% off the entire purchase and a prize given to those wearing a tacky sweater! The Yankee Candle Village Annual Tree Lighting will take place on December 7 beginning at 1 p.m. Kids should come early to ride the Bellatori Trackless Train and enjoy complimentary milk and cookies, while grown-ups can take advantage of 30% off of all ornaments, as well a visit to the Chrysler Museum Mobile Glass Studio where “make-your-own” ornaments are available. Santa himself will have the honors of lighting the tree at 5 p.m.

Culture Fix

Promoting and enhancing the cultural energy and vitality of the Greater Williamsburg community, Culture Fix supports and collaborates with local artists, organizations and business to help bring this mission to fruition.  During the month of November, Culture Fix has planned a notable agenda to help kick start the holiday season.  The extremely popular culinary event A Wonderful Williamsburg Weekend is back in its 8th year on November 8 with Chowderfest. In partnership with American Evolution Customs Cultures & Cuisine Festival, Chowderfest will run from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. and feature live music by Strictly Bizzness. Back by popular demand, Noktoberfest will be held on November 9 from 5 - 9 p.m. under a huge, heated tent as beer maids serve endless pretzels and beer and men in traditional lederhosen dance to music by New York's Polka Brothers. Specially brewed beer from local Williamsburg Breweries will be on hand, as well as the Prost Food truck serving mouth-watering German fare. Rounding out the weekend, the crowd-pleasing Second Sunday's Art and Music Festival will take place on November 8 from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and is free to all on Prince George and North Boundary Streets. Discounted weekend tickets will be available for purchase.

Brass Cannon Brewing

Food and drink are typically on the agenda during the holidays and Brass Cannon Brewing has several events lined up to spread a cup of cheer.  Throughout the month of November, Brass Cannon will sponsor a food drive and on November 23, this generous cause will be given special attention with Brewsgiving, featuring live music and other special offers to help focus on food for the hungry.  Along the same lines, the Toys for Tots Holiday Party on December 8 in the Tap Room invites everyone to come celebrate and bring toys to donate to the less fortunate.  The tasting room will transform into a sophisticated space for the Black Tie News Years Bash on December 31. Doors will stay open until 2 a.m. with a dance floor and toast at midnight featuring a signature brew made for the event. 

Great Wolf Lodge

Luxury escapes during the holidays are definitely a must and luckily the Great Wolf Lodge has recently completed a multimillion-dollar room renovation including a top-to-bottom transformation of all 405 guest rooms, halls and stairwells. The classic rustic log cabin look has been updated with new furnishings, floors and wallcoverings to reflect a more modern Northwoods lodge feel 

and the indoor waterpark has incorporated a contemporary design. Kids will be thrilled to know that the Wolf Den and Kid Cabin Suites feature a private alcove with bunk beds. In early 2020, Great Wolf Lodge will also be moving forward with their conference center renovation.

During this holiday season, a Thanksgiving Buffet will be held in the Grand Ballroom on November 28 from 12-7 p.m. for $39.99 per adult and $17.99 per child ages 4 -10 (children 3 and under eat free). Every family will receive a splash pass and get to savor traditional Thanksgiving fare including Roasted Breast of Turkey with Giblet Gravy and Cranberry Compote, Lodge-Made Cornbread Stuffing with Italian Sausage and Caramelized Apple, Lodge Signature Mac and Cheese and Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Marshmallow and Sugar Brulee.   On December 19 and 20, a Holiday Luncheon will be on offer from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for $35 per person.  Guests can feast on a buffet that includes a medley of seasonal fare from Chef’s Award-Winning Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Crème Fraiche to Braised Beef Tips with Roasted Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion Demi-Glaze.  In addition to lunch, there will be a chance to enter to win one of many prizes including a free one-night stay, water park passes and an Elements Spa & Salon gift certificate.

Williamsburg Premium Outlets

In November and December, the Williamsburg Premium Outlets have a line-up of stellar retail experiences not to be passed up. On November 28, the first 700 shoppers to visit the Management Office during the Swag Bag Giveaway will receive a special holiday-themed swag bag packed with special surprises and deals from center retailers.  What’s Christmas without Black Friday and on November 29, 120 sought-after brands will go on sale with savings of up to 65% off.  Look no further than the Ultimate Holiday Outlet Sale from December 6-24 which will also see up to 65% in savings on 120 desired brands.  Several existing stores at the outlet will reopen after having undergone renovations, including Vans and Sketchers which have both doubled in size.  The trendy women’s and kids’ retailer Rainbow will join the Premium Outlet family as well, just in time for the holiday bustle. Whatever your pleasure may be this holiday season, Greater Williamsburg is your go-to vacation destination.  

Greater Williamsburg Packages

Whether planning to spend the holidays with family, a significant other or exploring with friends, an exceptional getaway awaits every kind of traveler in Greater Williamsburg. 

The Kingsmill Resort, set on the picturesque James River with championship golf courses and miles of nature trails, is offering the perfect excuse to gather family and friends together for an escape with the Williamsburg Thanksgiving Package. Guests can celebrate a Kingsmill Thanksgiving as they enjoy the comforts of home with two nights in comfy accommodations, full daily buffet breakfast at Elements 1010 and a traditional Thanksgiving buffet dinner with the all the fixings. 

Colonial Williamsburg Resorts are also offering a range of holiday packages to satisfy a range of expectations. The Holiday Getaway Package offers nightly accommodations, tickets to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Town, daily breakfast, daily parking at all parks or complimentary shuttle and up to $350 in Resort Outlet savings. With Stay More & Save More, guests can receive special savings depending on the length of stay, as well as exclusive hotel guest benefits including complimentary 30-minute tennis clinic, complimentary golf clinic and use of driving ranges and discounts on Colonial Williamsburg evening programs, ghost tours and carriage rides.  

Couples looking for a romantic retreat can indulge in A Romantic Getaway for Two which features two night’s accommodations at Colonial Williamsburg Resorts, Colonial Williamsburg tickets, daily breakfast credit, a carriage ride in the Historic Area and a romantic treat for two.  For families traveling during the holidays, parents will be thrilled to know that Williamsburg Woodlands is offering an exclusive Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free package. Kids under 12 get to eat free and play free at the Green Course and the Williamsburg Inn Tennis Club.   The offer also includes complimentary continental breakfast, parking and shuttle service and length of stay Colonial Williamsburg tickets per adult.

At the Great Wolf Lodge, guests can discover the magical world of Snowland, where snow showers and twinkling lights transform the property into a winter wonderland complete with spectacular decorations, visits with Santa, Snow ‘N’ Glow Dance Parties, and North Pole University activities. When booking between November 30 and January 5, families will receive water park passes included in their room rate. Each night’s stay gets two days of play with park access from 1 p.m. on day of arrival until close of departure date. 

For a more intimate experience, The Williamsburg Winery is offering couples a dreamy escape that entails fine dining, ice skating and sipping wine in front of a cozy fireplace. The Romantic Colonial Holiday Package is available between November 21 and December 31 and includes one 

night in a Tradition Room with a king-sized bed and wood-burning fireplace, two passes to the Colonial Williamsburg Ice Skating Rink, a tour and wine-tasting at The Williamsburg Winery and a bottle of their wine, holiday-inspired artisanal chocolates, two glasses of warm, holiday spiced wine at  The Merchants Square Tasting Room & Wine Bar, a $100 dinner voucher at Café Provencal and a European-style continental breakfast for two.

For more information and itinerary suggestions, visit www.visitwilliamsburg.com.


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