How to celebrate the holidays in Williamsburg, Virginia

·4 min read
How to celebrate the holidays in Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia are noted for their vital part in U.S. history, playing a significant role in the American Revolution, but these days, they're also excellent spots for a Christmas and New Year's holiday getaway.

In 18th century Williamsburg, windows were traditionally decorated by a single candle, but today the light festivities abound, as do the opportunities to learn about Christmas Past, while fully enjoying a wonderful Christmas Present. This year features tons of family-friendly activities, and here are some of the best to get you started for your yuletide travels.

Grand Illumination

Colonial Williamsburg kicks off its holiday season with three weekends of Grand Illumination. From December 3-5, 10-12, and 17-19, a lighting show extravaganza takes place, starting on Friday evenings at 6 pm, with a yule log procession along the Duke of Gloucester Street, holiday songs on Market Square, all leading to a bonfire at the historic Magazine.

On Saturdays, starting at 5 pm, there is an appearance by Father Christmas, as well as yuletide and 18th-century music, and this all culminates with a fireworks grand finale – an 18th-century inspired pyrotechnic show over the historic Governor's Palace and Capitol Building.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Over in Yorktown, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a tradition that dates back to 1945 when a cedar tree was decorated on the corner of Main Street and Ballard. For this modern day version, the Fifes and Drums of York Town start things off with some entertainment.

Then a procession makes its way from Victory Monument to the Riverwalk Landing, where the 20-foot artificial "Giant Everest Fir" tree is lit and the whole celebration is capped off by a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Busch Gardens Christmas Town runs until January 2, and the theme park is transformed by 10 million twinkling lights, showing off one of the largest light displays in North America. In addition to rides and holiday shopping, Busch Gardens also features a "'Twas That Night" ice skating show, a Santa's workshop and a Christmas Town Express train.

Thrill seekers can jump on the Finnegan's Flyer pendulum ride, giving a Rudolph-worthy view of the 10 million lights below. All aboard!

Mistletoe Market

While Yorktown has a Farmers Market throughout the year, during the holiday season, it's transformed into a winter wonderland on December 11th, when it becomes the Mistletoe Market. It features an annual Toyland parade, as well as rides on the Riverwalk Landing Polar Express to loop around the festivities.

You'll be able to buy holiday wreaths, candles and soaps for presents, as well as feast on homemade jams, jellies, cookies, cakes and much more, either to satisfy a Christmas present craving, or bring home as holiday stocking stuffers.

Lighted Boat Parade

Christmas on the Polar Express
Christmas on the Polar Express

You'll also not want to miss the illuminating Lighted Boat Parade in Yorktown, now in its 25th season. On December 4, from 6-8 pm, the waterfront is the scene for a beach bonfire, Christmas caroling, a performance by Fifes and Drums of York Town, as well as complimentary hot cider to keep away the chills.

All this is followed by a dazzling light show as dozens of twinkling boats make their way down the river. This free event has been a community tradition for over two decades, bringing neighbors and visitors together to celebrate the holiday season.

Christmastide

Make sure to also check out Christmastide, an event at the historic Jamestown Settlement, where they show off Christmas customs and traditions of the 17th and 18th century (such as making figgy pudding), in addition to holiday food, live storytelling and musical demonstrations.

The history museum at the Jamestown Settlement, as well as the nearby American Revolution Museum are both decked out in boughs of holly, looking extremely photogenic. Christmastide runs from December 18-31, so come celebrate and learn about the past at this informative event.

Christmas Market on Main

While Christmas is all about tradition, family and celebration, it's also about plenty of good cheer shopping, and Williamsburg certainly doesn't disappoint, as Yorktown's Christmas Market on Main serves as a one-stop location for all of your holiday shopping needs. This event runs December 4-6 and is one of Yorktown's biggest annual events.

Over 100 local vendors and artisans line up along Main Street and offer everything from handmade soaps, holiday ornaments and much more. The market gets rung in by the town crier at 10 am, followed by a fife and drum performance, and then Kris Kringle shows up to personally greet everyone.

On Sunday, there's also an ice sculpture carving exhibition set up to further enhance the atmosphere, so bring the whole family and prepare to spend the day.

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This article originally appeared on 10Best.com: 7 fun ways to celebrate Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia

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