Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Williamsburg

skating rink with several people skating

The Holiday season is upon us! And here in Williamsburg, there’s so much going on to celebrate. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled the Ultimate Holiday Guide to all the special seasonal events so you don’t miss any Christmas festivities. Here we go!


First off, there are several recurring opportunities available in Williamsburg throughout the entire season. Come explore Sparkleland in Merchant’s Square every week Thursday through Sunday. You can enjoy special performances and activities, or come meet Santa! Just next door is the Liberty Ice Pavilion, open daily for the perfect cold-weather past-time. Every Thursday and Sunday, head over to Charlton’s Coffeehouse for Christmas caroling, complete with burning cressets.

If you have a love for the historic side, Colonial Williamsburg tours are perfect at this time of year. Check out their Christmastide in Virginia tour to learn about traditions and techniques of a colonial Christmas, or the Midwinter Stories presentations throughout the day. For some 17th century classics, consider the seasonal concert series at the Governor’s Palace where you can enjoy impressive musicianship and historic holiday-themed selections.

We would be amiss to forget Busch Gardens’ Christmastown, Williamsburg’s own winter wonderland! Always a local favorite, you can experience the sights, sounds, and smells of holiday comfort and take in thousands of Christmas lights!


There are, of course, some special events throughout the season as well. Here’s the ones we’re most excited about!

-November 24: The annual Tree Lighting party, complete with free hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts, of course.

-December 1: The Williamsburg Christmas parade, a must see!

-December 1-2: Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops concert, conducted by Janna Hymes.

-December 2: the ever-popular Grand Illumination! It’s a well-known Williamsburg tradition, including performances by the best local musicians and a beautiful fireworks display.

-December 15: “At Christmas Be Mery”: A Special Evening at Historic Jamestown, where you can experience traditional early-English traditions, including the firing of the guns and a seasonal bonfire.


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It’s certainly no secret that Colonial Williamsburg is known for it’s breathtaking and naturally-made decorations, and this year is no exception. The streets and buildings will soon be adorned by garlands and, in particular, wreaths made locally from natural materials to make a beautiful seasonal landscape. You can read all about the history of this tradition here, then take to the Williamsburg streets to experience this unique Christmas decor. You can even take a tour around such houses with this special Colonial Williamsburg tour.

We take such pride in these homemade decorations, in fact, that this year the Christmas Homes Tour is in it’s 58th year! This unique tour includes entry to several historic buildings like the Nelson-Galt House, Edinburgh Castle Tavern, and Benjamin Waller House. It’s a special event over the course of December 1-2; click here for tickets!


Finally, here’s a simple recipe for a cold-weather classic…mulled cider! It’s the perfect cozy drink for the holiday season…

This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman, click here for the whole post. 

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4 whole cinnamon sticks

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

8 whole allspice berries

Orange peel from 1 orange

Lemon peel from 1 lemon

1/2 cup maple syrup

6 cups unfiltered (fresh squeezed is great) apple juice

1/2 cup dark rum (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, allspice berries, orange peel, and lemon peel in a medium saucepan. Pour in maple syrup and apple juice, then bring to almost a boil. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and serve in mugs.

(Add a splash of rum for an adults-only version! Yum, yum, yum.)


We hope this Holiday Guide sets you up nicely to experience all the Williamsburg area has to offer this season!  It can be easy to get wrapped up (no pun intended) in Christmas crazy, so take a little time to experience the beauty of the area and the joy of the season. It only comes once each year, here’s to the loveliest year yet!

What’s your favorite way to bring in the holiday season? Let us know below!

9 Ways to Enjoy the Season this Fall

pumpkin on wood floor

Autumn has finally arrived! The trees are changing, the days are cooler, and we at the Fife and Drum Inn are looking forward to all the exciting events Williamsburg has to offer this season. 


OCTOBER:

Now that the weather is cooling down, it’s the perfect time head just up the road to Pumpkinville in Toano, VA. You can pick out the perfect pumpkin to spice up your home and check out the selection of fall-themes crafts and decorations. Corn mazes, games, and a hayride complete the perfect autumn outing- check it out now through October 28!

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For any William and Mary alumni out there, Homecoming is just around the corner! Join us here in Williamsburg October 18-21 for a weekend reunion, and for a personal and memorable trip, remember to stay at the Fife and Drum Inn.

If you’re in the mood for something a little spooky this October, there are several local events and surprises to last all season long. Start at Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens, a Halloween staple in Williamsburg. This year, this scary celebration marks its 20-year anniversary and a new Era of Terror. Filled with new shows, scare zones, and haunted houses, it’s a must-see!

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For a more historical Halloween scene, try a Ghost Walk in Colonial Williamsburg, or a haunted hayride at York River State Park on October 20, 26, and 27. Also check out Monsters, Mayhem, and Musick, a baroque concert series playing every Tuesday at the Governor’s Palace. These are great opportunities to experience a new side of history and are a fun way to see the area!


NOVEMBER:

As the season of harvest and Thanksgiving approaches, there are a few great opportunities in the area to make this year extra special. The Virginia Thanksgiving Festival on November 4 kicks off the season with a day immersed in the history of the First English Thanksgiving, complete with food and dance.

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On Turkey day, Blue Talon Bistro’s annual Turkey Trot is a great way to start! It’s a time-honored tradition that supports local charity and brings people closer together. Finally, you can sit down to a beautiful Thanksgiving buffet at the Williamsburg Inn.

No matter how you choose to spend your fall season, it’s the people you spend it with that make it truly special. We hope that as the air gets colder, the company around you gets warmer.

Who will you be spending this season with? Leave a comment and let us know!

The Best Concert Series in Colonial Williamsburg

Merchants Square Summer Breeze concert series logo

Summer is the time to travel, bask in the sunshine, and listen to live music. Join us for the largest Summer concert series in Colonial Williamsburg: The Summer Breeze “Unleashed” Concert Series! 


This year marks the 27th Annual Summer Breeze Concert Series in Colonial Williamsburg, and is now “unleashed” as growing attendance and popularity has moved it out of Merchant’s Square and onto the lawn of the Decorative Arts Museum. The season opened last Wednesday with over 1,900 attendees – the highest ever recorded. The “unleashing” has allowed the lineup to double, extending the concert series from June – August. 

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Pack a picnic, grab those lawn chairs, and join us every Wednesday, June 13-September 19, at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum from 6-9pm for an unforgettable Summer! 

The 2018 Summer Breeze Unleashed Lineup:

June 13: Slapnation

June 20: Bobby Blackhat Band

June 27: Jacob Vanko Band

July 4: The USAF Heritage of America Band (4-6 pm) & Brasswind (7-9 pm)

July 11: Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Cha’s

July 18: Buddha Council

July 25: Chisman Creek Band

Aug. 1: The Grey Riders

Aug. 8: The English Channel

Aug. 15: Party Fins

Aug. 22: Air Force Rhythm in Blue

Aug. 29: Brandon Bower Band

Sept. 5: Raw Beets

Sept. 12: BJ Griffin and the Galaxy Groove

Sept. 19: 504 Supreme & Truetone Honeys

Location: DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum

325 Francis St E, Williamsburg, VA 23185

For more information and to share with your friends, click here

Pack a picnic and head over to the lawn at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg for some swingin’ live music at The Summer Breeze Concert Series!

5 Events You’ll Only Find During the Holidays in Williamsburg

smiling Santa Clause on street

Looking to get into the holiday spirit and wake up from that cabin fever? Williamsburg is full of classic traditions and new offerings for people of all ages. From ice skating at Liberty’s Ice Pavilion to The Grand Illumination, to beverage tastings at some of Williamsburg’s best new pubs and breweries. Can you cross everything off this list?


  1. Ice Skating

Skate into the wintery spirit at Liberty’s Ice Pavilion on the bustling Duke of Gloucester Street. Parking available at the Merchants Square lots or in the paid garage on Henry Street. Pricing ranges from $4.25 – $12 depending on age.

2. Caroling 

You’ll find live brass bands and carolers going from corner to corner in Merchants Square all month – not to mention the big man in red, making his rounds with candy canes and smiles!

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3 A Christmas Carol

Performed in the middle of the street: It has become a beloved Williamsburg tradition every holiday season; you simply can’t miss this two man production of “A Christmas Carol” – it’s a classic story turned into an outdoor family experience for the books.

4 The Grand Illumination

The grandest fireworks display you’ll ever see; did you miss the Grand Illumination this year? Here are some photos of the incredible festivities, including live jazz on the Palace Green to bring us back to the days of Colonial Williamsburg’s Restoration period of the 1930’s! Make reservations now for next year’s visit!

5 Holiday Beverage Tastings

Go to your favorite Williamsburg Breweries, Wineries and Meaderies (With two new breweries popping up in just the last 2 months) Williamsburg is filled to the brim with places to explore and sit down for a glass of Holiday Cheer! Check out events coming up at the Williamsburg Winery, the Hair of the DoG Bottle ShopThe Silver Hand Meadery, and the newest hot spot minutes from our doors, the Amber Ox!

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So, where are you going first?

A Williamsburg Halloween

pumpkins in wood wagon

Halloween is always a fun time of year in Williamsburg – from spooky decorations around the historic area to a park full of frights and hauntings at Busch Gardens.


Many children spend the holiday trick or treating in their own neighborhoods, but there are countless opportunities to take part in the many family-friendly events happening around town in the weeks leading up to the big night. Colonial Williamsburg invites children ages 3-12 to the historic area to a themed trick or treat event each year. This year’s Revolutionary-themed event will be held on Saturday, October 28 from 2-5 p.m. Click here for more information.

The Halloween holiday certainly isn’t just for kids. Williamsburg offers a slew of fun for adults, too.

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“A Haunting of DoG Street” transforms the historic area into a spooky, haunted colonial town from October 15-31. Visitors participate in haunted carriage rides and ghost walks, and face the wrath of the mad king in “The Mad Revenge of King George.” For more information on all of Colonial Williamsburg’s Halloween programs, click here.

Ghost tours are scheduled year round, but they’re sure to take on a more eerie feel as we creep closer to Halloween night.

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Across town, Busch Gardens’ famed Howl-O-Scream transforms the otherwise festive, joyful park into 380 acres of fright and excitement. There is something for everyone at HOS, from seriously scary haunted houses, to incredible dance & music performances, to the park’s rides which you can now experience at night! This year’s Howl-O-Scream, which features 7 haunted houses, an escape room and frightening shows, runs from September 23 to October 29. Click here for more information on the park’s attractions and hours.

Innkeepers, Billy and Sharon, are both life-long Williamsburg locals and are happy to answer any questions you have about the above events.

Halloween in Williamsburg: 2017 Activities & Events

haunted house in front of full moon

With its origins dating back to the early 1600s, the Williamsburg, Va., region has a long and haunted history, adding a sense of Old-World scares and superstition to the area’s annual Halloween happenings. This October, both kids and adults alike will find something to scream about when visiting this historic place and its outlying environs.


Much of the activity this year focuses on Colonial Williamsburg, but the depth and breadth of the living-history museum’s offerings for the season is beyond diverse enough. Nearby museums and theme parks, including the historic Jamestown Settlement, also get in on the spectral fun.

Starting on Sept. 23, the Busch Gardens Williamsburg theme park transforms into a ghoulish landscape for Howl-O-Scream, which runs through Oct. 29. After 6 p.m. each Friday, Saturday and Sunday night the park takes its spooky turn, serving up a horrifying assortment of haunted houses, live shows and immersive themed Terror-Tories like Axe Alley, Demon Street, Ripper Row, Sideshow Square and Vampire Point. The park will extend its hours to midnight on Saturday nights in October, just to allow more time for scares. (Busch Gardens Williamsburg, 1 Busch Gardens Blvd., Williamsburg, VA 23185; https://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg)

No proper Halloween is complete without a spooky soundtrack, and in Colonial Williamsburg, the sounds of haunting take on an appropriately historical twist. The Governor’s Musick—Colonial Williamsburg’s resident baroque ensemble—will present several concerts highlighting the darker side of baroque music in Monsters, Mayhem and Musick, presented on the Tuesday evenings of Oct. 17, 24 and 31, at the Governor’s Palace. The event isn’t appropriate for children 6 and under, but older concertgoers are sure to find the concert absolutely spellbinding. (Two performances nightly. Governor’s Palace, 300 Palace Green St., Williamsburg, VA 23185; https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/plan/calendar/monsters-mayhem-and-musick)

In Williamsburg, even the museums get involved in the ghostly fun. Returning for its 18th year is Night of the Living Museum, a family-friendly Halloween event held at the Virginia Living Museum, featuring themed galleries filled with characters and Halloween decorations. Highlights include demonstrations of pumpkin-carving secrets, live animal shows, presentations on spiders and other creepy crawlies, Halloween crafts and games, trick-or-treating, nighttime hikes along the boardwalk, and “Fright Light,” a special Halloween laser light show at the Abbitt Planetarium. Costumes are encouraged. (Oct. 20 & 21, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Virginia Living Museum, 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601; https://thevlm.org)

Another terrifying Halloween transformation happens at the historic Jamestown Settlement, which presents Family Frights at Jamestown Settlement on Oct. 20 & 21, complete with smoke, lanterns and eerie sound effects throughout the recreated 1600s fort. Families with elementary school-aged children can spend the evening from 6:30 to 9 p.m. listening to ghostly tales, exploring haunted houses and ships, and tempting fate with a series of grisly games. (Jamestown Settlement, 2110 Jamestown Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23185; http://www.historyisfun.org/jamestown-settlement/fright-nights-at-jamestown-settlement)

In the 18th century, the tale of Jack of the Lanterns gave rise to our modern-day jack-o-lantern tradition. So, it only seems fitting that this Halloween in Williamsburg, you can take in a mesmerizing display of pumpkin-carving prowess at Jack of the Lanterns, featuring more than 250 jack-o-lanterns placed on Historic Area porches and steps along Duke of Gloucester Street. Each night from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 27 to Oct. 31 jack-o-lanterns will light your path. (Colonial Williamsburg, Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg, VA 23185; https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/plan/calendar/jack-of-the-lanterns)

Let’s not forget, Colonial Williamsburg also has a history of being fairly spooky all year round. Each night from 7 to 8 p.m., and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., the Ghosts Among Us walking tour takes visitors through the district’s reportedly haunted homes and buildings, accompanied by an ever-changing cast of characters and guides. A similar nightly event, the Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Walk, focuses on treading lightly through the Historic Area’s streets and gardens, where your guide will give you chills by spinning yarns of ghostly hauntings and encounters. (Colonial Williamsburg, 101 Visitor Center Dr., Williamsburg, VA 23185; https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com)

And in perhaps the most unique offering at Colonial Williamsburg this year, immerse yourself in The ‘Mad’ Revenge of King George III, where you’ll traverse the halls and grounds of the Capitol in an alternate version of reality in the mad king’s mind; a reality in which the American Revolution ended in a British victory and the patriots faced a gruesome end for their revolt. Fortunately, this version of history is purely a work of frightful fiction. (Oct. 28, 7 to 9 p.m.; Capitol, 500 East Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg, VA 23185; https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/plan/calendar/the-mad-revenge-of-king-george-iii)