The Richmond region always puts on a festive showing of Christmas lights, holiday shows and fun family events. The upcoming weeks are some of the best times to visit Richmond’s many attractions and venues all lit up and decked out for the holidays.
Following is a list of some of the most festive Christmas light displays, holiday tours, attractions and venues in Richmond and the surrounding area. Check back often as this list will be updated as new events become known.
Christmas lights, shows and events in Richmond
Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens (Friday, Nov. 23 through Monday, Jan. 7, 2013) – Richmond’s most beautiful year-round attraction kicks off the Christmas season with a theme of “East Meets West.” Paying homage to the culture and decorative arts of the East that have influenced Western traditions, the Garden has gone all out with botanical decorations, train displays, Christmas caroling, Asian plant trails, family activities and much more.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at the Landmark Theater (Nov. 27 – Dec. 2) – Everybody’s favorite green-skinned grouch makes his debut at the Landmark Theater. This classic Dr. Seuss tale is set to music and is sure to delight the whole family.
Grand Illumination at the James Center (10th and E. Cary Street) – Richmond’s downtown offices and the James Center’s winter wonderland of twinkling lights and animated deer light up the city skyline at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. The Illumination lasts from 5:50-7:00 p.m. and features lots of fun family activities and musical performances. Entertainment includes Big Ray and the Kool Kats, the Greater Richmond Children’s Choir, characters from the Nutcracker cast, the VCU Trombone Choir, the Radio Disney Road Crew and many more. Gift donations for Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) are being accepted in the James Center Lobby from Illumination night until Dec. 11. The lights, deer and decorations can be enjoyed nightly all season long.
29th annual Dominion Christmas Parade – (Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.) -This widely popular annual event starts at the Science Museum on Broad Street and continues east to 7th Street. If you can’t make it, watch it live on WTVR-CBS6 from 10:00 a.m.-noon. It will also air on Christmas day.
James River Parade of Lights – (Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012) – Decorated boats make their way down the James River, providing a festive and unique way to celebrate the season. The parade route runs (or rather, floats) from Richmond to Henricus Park in Chesterfield County, with several viewing sites along the shoreline. For a complete schedule and viewing spots, please visit jrac-va.org.
Christmas at Maymont Mansion – Celebrate a Victorian Christmas at Richmond’s Maymont Mansion. Various events, tours and activities are scheduled throughout the season, including mansion tours, Christmas crafts, visits with Santa and festive holiday decorations, music and caroling.
Further afield (distance from Richmond given in parentheses):
Centuries of Christmas at Berkeley Plantation (25 miles) – Dec. 1–Jan. 1, 2013 Costumed guides give tours and tell stories of four centuries of Christmas at Berkeley.
Colonial Christmas at Berkeley Plantation (25 miles) – Dec. 15 and 16, 2012 – Colonial music and decorations give guests a glimpse of the 18th century holidays of the Harrison family.
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens (55 miles) – Nov. 23–Dec. 31 (open on select days) – The Williamsburg park turns into a very retro vintage Americana Christmss wonderland, complete with six million lights, festive holiday music, rides, attractions and maybe even a penguin or two.
McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach at Virginia Beach (100 miles) – Nov. 16–Jan. 1, 2013 – Drive down the boardwalk through a colorful, nautical world of jumping fish and dolphins, dancing crabs, festive palm trees and a giant “12 Days of Christmas” display (on the boardwalk – between 2nd and 34th streets). Santa, the elves and many other magical creatures have made this spectacular event one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s “Top 20 November Events” and one of the American Bus Association’s “Top 100 Events in North America for 2011.”
Shrek the Halls in ICE! at the Gaylord National – (1 hour, 45 minutes) – Nov. 16–Jan. 6, 2013 – Enter the ogre-iffic animated world of Shrek the Halls in ICE! Over two million pounds of ice have been sliced, diced, carved and dyed to recreate the life size likenesses of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Gingy and Puss in Boots. Within minutes of D.C., the Gaylord National is a premier resort destination right on the Potomac River. All decked out for the holidays, it features a sparkling glass-enclosed Atrium with a 60-foot glass Christmas tree, festive flowers, foliage, and nightly snowfalls. Packages are available.
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