The most wonderful time of the year is here! The holiday season is a magical time in the Richmond Region as neighborhoods and storefronts light up with dazzling displays and holiday festivities abound. If you’re looking for holiday cheer, you’ve come to the right place! Create new traditions and unforgettable memories when you spend the holidays with us.
November 16, 2018 - January 6, 2019
Celebrate the season at Maymont and revel in Victorian holiday splendor! Major and Mrs. Dooley's spectacularly decorated Gilded Age home brings the wonders and festivities of Christmas past to life. Marvel at the 12-foot Christmas tree, the opulent dining room set for a feast, evergreen decorations, and lavish gifts and games of 1893. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with St. Nick and Maymont's Christmas Fairy, seasonal refreshments, festive music, and special activities that are sure to fill everyone with a merry holiday spirit!
Kings Dominion's WinterFest
November 23 - December 31, 2018 (Select nights)
Holiday traditions come to life at Kings Dominion's brand new WinterFest. Friends and families are treated to an ultimate holiday celebration as the park is magically transformed into a winter wonderland - full of enchantment, cheer and classic family fun. WinterFest is packed with all the sights, sounds, food and experiences of the holiday season. The park shines bright with over 2 million shimmering lights, a 300-foot tree and lavish displays. Twelve live shows and up to 34 strolling performers delight guests and spread Christmas cheer for all to hear. Festive fun and hands-on holiday activities are located throughout the park, and sweet aromas from special holiday dishes and desserts fill the midways. Plus, up to 21 of your favorite rides will be open to complete your night of memory making.
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
November 23 – January 7, 2019 (Closed Dec. 24 & 25), Nightly 5-10 p.m.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden hosts the ultimate holiday extravaganza during the Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights. This annual holiday tradition features more than half-a-million twinkling lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, family activities, and more. This year, famous works of art will come alive as the Bringing Art to Life theme will re-interpret well-known works of art in a spectrum of sparkling color, inviting guests to discover how sculpture, dance, music and paintings are informed by the natural world. Visitors will wander through a festive landscape alight in glimmering radiance and delight in handcrafted botanical decorations, all designed to illuminate nature and her power to inspire.
(Photo credit: Sarah Hauser)
41st Annual Model Railroad Show
Science Museum of Virginia
November 23-25, 2018
Featuring all the bells and whistles, guests will enjoy unique and traditional model train displays from across the state. Meet Clydesdales horses, watch a blacksmith in action and take a ride on the Teddy Bear Express! Learn how trains work, conduct experiments, check out special demonstrations and enjoy a holiday weekend filled with fun for the whole family. The Model Railroad Show is included with Museum admission.
Miracle on Cary Street
November 23 - December 31, 2018
Miracle, a beloved Christmas-themed pop-up that began five years ago in New York City, is making its way to Richmond this holiday season. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, The Jasper will be transformed into a winter wonderland for Miracle on Cary Street, a pop-up featuring nostalgic holiday décor and a seasonally-themed cocktail menu featuring items like the “Snowball Old Fashioned” (Butterscotch Rye, Spiced Demerara, Wormwood Bitters, Orange Zest) and “Christmas Carol Barrel” (Aged Rum, Aquavit, Amaro, Pumpkin Pie, Demerara Syrup, Lime, Vanilla, Angostura Bitters). Miracle on Cary St. will also join all of the other locations around the country in selling holiday mugs featured on the signature cocktail menu with 10% of all sales donated to Action Against Hunger. Be sure to stop in for an extra dose of holiday cheer!
32nd Annual Tree Lighting at the Jefferson Hotel
November 26, 2018
This time-honored tradition at The Jefferson is in its 32nd year. The evening's festivities begin at 5:00pm with holiday musical performances. The Tree Lighting ceremony begins at 5:45pm and includes a host of holiday characters. The ceremony concludes with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus for the lighting of the tree. This event is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to the Empire Ballroom following the ceremony to enjoy complimentary refreshments. Guests of the event will also be the first to enjoy the annual Gingerbread Display prepared by Executive Pastry Chef Sara Ayyash and her talented team. Thousands of pounds of gingerbread, royal icing and candy are used to create a child-sized depiction of a classic holiday scene. The display will be in the Palm Court Lobby through Sunday, January 6, 2019. The hotel will be decorated for the season beginning Monday, November 26, 2018 for Tree Lighting through Sunday, January 6, 2019. Hundreds of poinsettias, yards of garland and ribbon, thousands of twinkle lights and dozens of toy soldiers will adorn the public spaces.
The Bizarre Bazaar's 43rd Christmas Collection
Richmond Raceway Complex
November 29 - December 2, 2018
A Richmond tradition for over 42 years, The Bizarre Bazaar's unique offerings include seasonal gifts and decorative accessories for the home and garden, gourmet food and cookbooks, fine linens, designer women's and children's clothing, toys, fine crafts and artwork, furniture and jewelry. Sunshine Artist Magazine rated the Bizarre Bazaar as the number 3 show in the country in its list of Top 200 Shows. Come see what all of the excitement is about while you knock out your Christmas shopping!
The Grand Illumination
November 30, 2018, 5:50 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Bring your family and friends to the James Center to celebrate the holiday season with the 34th annual Grand Illumination! This beautiful (and free!) tradition kicks off at 5:50 p.m. when Santa and the Snow Queen welcome everyone to the James Center and lead the count down to the illumination of the downtown office buildings, plus the great tree and reindeer. From 6:00 - 7:00 p.m., experience the magic of the holidays with two blocks of family entertainment, plus performances from Good Shot Judy and more.
The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays
Virginia Rep at Hanover Tavern
November 30, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Virginia Repertory Theatre opens Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays on Friday, November 30 at the Hanover Tavern, the first show of the 2018-19 Hanover Season. Murder, mystery, and mirthful merriment color this twisty holiday whodunit. Centered on Broadway star William Gillette, admired worldwide for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, this wacky comedy follows the actor as he must reprise his role in order to solve the mystery of his own attempted murder during holiday festivities with his castmates. Starring Scott Wichmann and directed by Debra Clinton, this “murderously funny” farce is sure to be a holiday hit!
Dominion Energy Christmas Parade
Broad Street between the Science Museum & 7th Street
December 1, 2018, 10 a.m.
The 35th annual Dominion Energy Christmas Parade is a beloved Richmond tradition that attracts more than 100,000 spectators each year. This year's parade will feature a very special Grand Marshal, holiday floats, marching bands, huge helium balloons, and, of course, Santa himself!
20th Annual Tree Lighting and Holiday Market
The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen
December 1, 2018, 4:30 - 7:00 p.m.
In partnership with Henrico County Recreation & Parks, The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen welcomes you to this beloved holiday event! Come early at 3 p.m. to browse the festive holiday market or take in a special screening of the PBS KIDS special, Let’s Go Luna!: Christmas Around The World. For more info and to register, visit: https://ideastations.org/luna. Enjoy magical holiday music performances, hot chocolate and cookies, a toasty bonfire and, of course, a special visit from Santa to light the 60-foot cedar Christmas tree at The Center’s entrance! There will also be holiday crafts for the kids, new art exhibits to view, and "Illumination: Festival of Trees” featuring beautiful artisan crafted Christmas trees in various themes, plus a fun scavenger hunt! Admission and parking are free.
Gingerbread Date Night
Branch Museum of Architecture and Design
December 1, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Join The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design for its first Gingerbread Date Night! Celebrate the season and enjoy a night out with a date, special friend or family member. All of the materials you need to create your sugary and sweet gingerbread house will be provided. Enjoy wine and heavy holiday hors d’oeuvres as you decorate.
Light Up the Tracks Celebration
December 1, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
Stroll the mile-long holiday postcard created by outlining every building in the historic district along the railroad tracks with twinkling white lights. Stop-in the shops and businesses for holiday specials, and enjoy dinner at one of the charming local restaurants. A Community Chorus will sing carols, followed by celebrity vocalists' vintage holiday tunes, and the festive Ashland Players Band. Event kicks off at 6:30 pm at The Depot at Cross Brothers Grocery.
2018 Fan District Holiday House Tour
December 8-9, 2018
Your presence is requested for a top secret mission taking place December 8 & 9 in the Fan District of Richmond. Our sources indicate eleven fabulous homes will be on the tour, including the home used in the filming of Showtime Original Series, Homeland. In its 56th year, the Holiday House Tour is the Fan District Association’s annual fundraising event with the proceeds benefiting the neighborhood through community grants. The tour is walk-friendly, but two trolleys will be circling the Fan from noon – 5 p.m. each day for those who wish to ride.
Three Centuries of Virginia Christmas
Henricus Historical Park
December 8, 2018, Noon - 5:00 p.m.
Head to Henricus to experience Three Centuries of Virginia Christmas; from the 17th century through the 19th century. Begin in 1611 at Henricus Fort and see how Dutch ideas influenced English holiday traditions. Move on to 1778, when the Revolution called for simpler ways to mark the season. Then, arrive in 1860 and celebrate with carols and hot cider while decorating a Victorian Christmas tree by the fireside! Your festive journey through time will end with a visit from Father Christmas – he’ll be there to hear everyone’s Yuletide wishes! Make your holidays historical at Henricus.
A Patrick Henry Christmas
Patrick Henry's Scotchtown
December 8, 2018, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Imagine it's 1772. Your host, Patrick Henry, meets you at the door, welcoming you to his Christmas party. Dancers teach you the latest dances of the century. Between sets, you sit and play parlor games or enjoy light 18th century refreshments. You also mingle with other 21st century guests as you enjoy visiting the house Mr. Henry called home from 1771 until he moved to Williamsburg in 1776 to become the first elected Governor of the new state of Virginia. You will experience all of these things and more at A Patrick Henry Christmas! Please note: Attendees of this event must be 18 years or older and tickets must be purchased in advance, so don't delay!
A Scotchtown Family Christmas
Patrick Henry's Scotchtown
December 9, 2018, Noon - 5:00 p.m.
Come celebrate a simple 18th-century Christmas holiday at Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown. Make your own 18th century Christmas decorations, practice your dance steps and learn colonial games. Then, relax in the kitchen with light refreshments. Father Christmas may even stop by!
31st Annual Court End Christmas
December 9, 2018, 12-5 p.m.
An annual holiday tradition! Historic sites in downtown Richmond open their doors for a day of FREE admission and holiday festivities. Enjoy carriage rides, living history, live music, children's activities, gift shops, tours, and more! Wondering about transportation? Not to worry! Park once, then hop aboard the complimentary shuttle that will be circulating among all sites throughout the event. Event is rain or shine.
Participating sites at the time of this writing include:
- The Valentine
- The Valentine First Freedom Center
- The John Marshall House
- Historic St. John’s Church
- The Virginia State Capitol
- American Civil War Museum - White House of the Confederacy
- Monumental Church
That's seven historic site visits for FREE! You can't beat that! Bring the whole family out to enjoy some historic, festive fun!
Yuletides at Agecroft: Christmas Open House
December 9, 2018, 12:30-5 p.m.
Experience the Christmas season at Agecroft Hall from three different eras: England in 1640, London in 1860, and Richmond in 1942. Watch Charles Dickens perform a lively reading from his classic A Christmas Carol. Tell Father Christmas your Christmas wishes. Meet characters from England during the time of Dickens and join them for a period parlor game. You'll be introduced to the family and servants that lived at Agecroft in Elizabethan England as they prepare for a holiday feast. See a Christmas party held in support of service men and women during World War II, and hear a live telling of stories from that time. Enjoy Victorian carols, dancing, acrobatics, and craft activities. This event is outside and inside, so be sure to bundle up!
Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center
December 14-23, 2018
Richmond Ballet's production of The Nutcracker returns in December to enchant audiences with all of its splendor and beauty. Watch as Clara and her Nutcracker Prince battle the Rat King, then travel through an Enchanted Snow Forest to meet the Dancing Bear, Chinese Dragon, and Sugarplum Fairy. As the beloved characters of this dazzling production come to life to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, children and adults alike will be swept away by the magic of the holidays in this favorite family classic.
Holiday Lantern Tours
Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park
December 15, 2018, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Christmas was a popular time to get married during the 19th century. You will meet interpreters portraying family and friends of the happy couple as they prepare for the big day. What advice will Mother have for her daughter? Attend the wedding ceremony and enjoy some refreshments to celebrate. Free, but please register at (804) 652-1455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Shoemaker and the Christmas Elves
The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen
December 15, 2018, 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Virginia Repertory Theatre, one of the nation’s largest touring theaters for young audiences, presents The Shoemaker and the Christmas Elves, a heartwarming holiday musical! Join in as Virginia Rep takes a yuletide spin on the classic Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale. The fun begins when the poor shoemaker and his wife are visited by Christmas elves on assignment from Santa. You won’t believe what happens next! Bring the whole family to delight in this magical story as we all learn the true meaning of Christmas. Call 804-261-ARTS (2787) for tickets.
Holiday Glitter Walking Tour
December 26-27, 2018, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
A Richmond holiday tradition! Enjoy the lights and glitter of Monument Avenue while learning about the history of the homes, architecture, residents and their holiday traditions.
The festive fun continues throughout Richmond when the region adorns itself with Tacky Lights for all to see. This tradition of over-the-top holiday decorating can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car, a trolley, or a limousine. Admire the vibrant displays while running through illuminated neighborhoods during the CarMax Tacky Light 6k Run on December 8th! This is one holiday tradition that oooohers and aaaahers of all ages won't want to miss! Don't just take our word for it (we might be a tiny bit biased, but it is for good reason!), Travel + Leisure says Richmond has The Best Christmas Lights in Virginia.
There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate the season in RVA! We hope you will come visit and experience them for yourselves. While you're here, be sure to pair these holiday activities with shopping, dining at our fabulous restaurants, and soaking in every meaningful moment with the ones you love. We'll see you soon!