Christmas Williamsburg VA
The Christmas Season
The popularity of the Christmas season in Williamsburg has stretched the calendar. The decorations in the Historic area are typically up by Thanksgiving, and all are up by the premier event, The Grand Illumination, held the first Sunday in December. The season explodes with activity. Many guests focus on wandering the streets, examining the amazing decorations, which are made solely with natural plants and woodland fodder; but there is so much more going on!
Specialty tours show how Christmas was celebrated in Colonial Virginia. Another tour shows Christmas throughout the decades in Williamsburg, from the early 18th century to the present. There are classes on how to make your own Williamsburg Christmas decorations. Special meals, plays, colonial musical experiences abound, so that there is something for everyone everyday! The candle lights in the windows throughout the town are a longtime tradition rooted in 18th century tradition of using lights to celebrate special holidays. Candles were a precious commodity in the 18th century and probably would not have been used in this way by common folk, but have been used as part of the celebration since the 1950’s. We always like to see the spectacular ginger bread town displayed at the Williamsburg Lodge, and the special exhibits of 18th century toys and 19th century doll houses at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.
While the Grand Illumination is the official launching event for the season, there are numerous opportunities for more intimate nighttime experiences. The “mini-illuminations”, held throughout the weeks of December, offer an opportunity to follow the Fifes and Drums by torchlight through sections of the historic area, while learning the history of elements of the 18th century town.
The Grand Illumination
The Grand Illumination marks the official start of the Christmas holiday season in Colonial Williamsburg. The event is always held the first Sunday of December. Activities begin around 4 p.m. and continue throughout the evening and finish with a tremendous fireworks display. There are multiple stages throughout the historic area, with a variety of musical entertainments reflecting the 18th century. The Fife and Drum Corps are always the greatest draw. Visitors come from all around. As the event has grown in popularity, the Foundation has added more activity. The fireworks are actually shot from three separate locations, giving everyone a chance for a spectacular viewing! It is advisable to get here early. Parking downtown is a challenge, but there is ample parking at the Visitor Center with regular shuttles to the historic area. This gives the added advantage of skipping some of the post fireworks traffic jams downtown! Restaurants are packed and the lines for walk up dining can be long. If you haven’t made reservations, plan to eat early or pack a picnic.
The 56th Annual Christmas Homes Tour s always anticipated by locals and visitors. The tour typically features homes in the Historic area which are not open to the public. Anyone who walks the streets of Williamsburg wonders what the private homes look like inside. This tour offers a rare opportunity to explore a few of these each year. The homes are decorated by members of the Green Spring Garden Club, and proceeds from the tour fund college level scholarships in Environmental Science and Horticulture, scholarships for local youth to attend nature camp and community organizations which fund significant gardens and garden education in the Williamsburg area.
This year’s tour will be Saturday, December 5, 2015. As this event is matched up on the same weekend as the Grand Illumination, for those who want the best in Christmas opportunities, a three night visit is the way to go!