Unwrap the Holidays in Greater Williamsburg

Visit Greater Williamsburg this Holiday Season to Enjoy the Freedom to celebrate!

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

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."

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. Tickets can be purchased at $79 per person.

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.

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.


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.


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. A History is Fun combination ticket – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission to both museums at $26.00 for adults and $12.50 for ages 6-12.

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 to 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. Tickets are limited and go on sale on November 1 for $20 per person.

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.

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. Tickets are limited and can be purchased at a Gold level for $115 or Platinum for $250.

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 and 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 for $35 each. 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 kickstart 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 holiday luncheon will be on offer on December 19 and 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Guests can feast on a buffet that includes medley of seasonal fare from award-winning butternut squash soup to roasted turkey with famous lodge cornbread stuffing.  In addition to lunch, there will be a chance to enter to win one of many prizes including a free one-night stay 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.   

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


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