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.
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Now – January 8, 2018 (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’s theme Naturally Ever After: Stories in Lights combines stories, legends, and rhymes embellished with amazing creativity and light displays, to create a wow-worthy holiday experience for you and your loved ones.
(Photo credit: Sarah Hauser).
Now – December 31, 2017
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!
The Grand Illumination
December 1, 2017, 5:50 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Bring your family and friends to the James Center to celebrate the holiday season with the 33rd annual Grand Illumination! This beautiful (and free!) tradition kicks off at 5:50 p.m. when Santa, the Snow Queen, and Jack Frost 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 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., experience the magic of the holidays with two blocks of family entertainment, plus performances from Good Shot Judy, The James River Brass, SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community), Flute Forte, The American Youth Harp Ensemble, The VCU Trombone Choir & Friends, characters from The Nutcracker cast, the Virginia Piedmont & Central HO Model Railroad Club and more.
Poe's Christmas Illumination
The Poe Museum
December 1, 2017, 5:00 - 9:00 p.m.
The Poe Museum’s historic Enchanted Garden comes alive with thousands of lights as the Museum rings in the holiday season, Poe style! Enjoy hot chocolate, traditional Christmas music, Christmas cookies, warm holiday beverages, and even a holiday-themed Curator's Corner!
Miracle on South Division Street
December 1-31, 2017
Virginia Repertory Theatre's production of Miracle on South Division Street will have the whole family laughing through the holidays. The Nowaks of Buffalo, New York have always known they are special, ever since the miraculous night in 1942 when the Blessed Mother appeared to Grandpa in his barbershop! Since then, the neighborhood has looked upon the Nowaks' 20-foot commemorative shrine as a beacon of hope and faith amidst the urban rubble. When a deathbed confession reveals a secret, the family legend comes into question. Arrive early to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner at Hanover Tavern (reservations recommended) before taking in this heartfelt and hilarious play, written by Tom Dudzick and directed by Debra Clinton.
Dominion Energy Christmas Parade
Broad Street between the Science Museum & 7th Street
December 2, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
The 34th 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!
Three Centuries of Virginia Christmas
Henricus Historical Park
December 9, 2017, Noon - 5:00 p.m.
Head to Henricus to experience Three Centuries of Virginia Christmas; from the 17th century through the 19th century. interpreters will be demonstrating the changing traditions of English Christmas during the reigns of King James I (1621), King George III (1776) and Queen Victoria (1864).
25th Annual James River Parade of Lights
Various viewing sites
December 9, 2017, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Each year, boaters decorate their boats and converge on the James River for a parade that marks the beginning of the holiday season. Presented by the James River Advisory Council, this free event also features other entertainment at each viewing site. Viewing sites include Libby Hill Park, Osborne Park and Boat Landing, Dutch Gap Boat Landing and Henricus Historical Park. Check out the website for specific viewing times and information about each viewing site. Bundle up and bring the whole crew out to enjoy the festive boats and a fun night out!
Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center
December 9-23, 2017
Richmond Ballet's production of The Nutcracker shines brighter than ever with redesigned costumes, heavenly new scenery, and brand new characters, including an elegant Swan Sleigh. 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. The Nutcracker is a favorite holiday tradition, and with Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, this dazzling production is sure to bring joy to everyone’s December!
Patrick Henry's Scotchtown
December 9-10, 2017
Come celebrate a simple 18th-century Christmas holiday at Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown. Enjoy festive holiday house tours, colonial dancing and delicious treats, including Martha Washington's cake, gingerbread cookies and hot cider.
31st Annual Court End Christmas
Sunday, December 10, 2017, 12-5 p.m.
An annual holiday tradition! Ten 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.
- The Valentine
- The Valentine First Freedom Center
- The Executive Mansion
- The John Marshall House
- Historic St. John’s Church
- The Virginia State Capitol
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
- American Civil War Museum - White House of the Confederacy
- Monumental Church
- Masons' Hall
- Egyptian Building
That's ten historic site visits for FREE! You can't beat that! Bring the whole family out to enjoy some historic, festive fun!
Yuletides at Agecroft: A Christmas Open House
December 10, 2017, 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!
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 9th! 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!