If you’re not the type to hang around at home during the Christmas holidays and you enjoy taking a trip to a location that truly celebrates the joy and beauty of the season, you’ll want to consider a trip to Williamsburg. Christmas in Williamsburg is nothing short of an amazing experience, given the trouble to which the city goes to make sure visitors are truly ensconced in the Christmas spirit. From incredible decorations to concerts and other special events to holiday-inspired dining experiences, Christmas in this Colonial town is hard to match.
Here are a few things you’ll want to include on your itinerary when you head to Williamsburg for the holidays.
Christmas Decorations Walking Tour
Throughout Colonial Williamsburg, historic homes as well as government and commercial buildings and the streets of the town, are all decked out for Christmas, usually beginning a week or two after Thanksgiving, depending on the date. You can stroll the streets on your own, of course, but it’s a good idea to sign up for the official Christmas Decorations Walking Tour.
The hour-long tour will not only help you learn more about the decorated buildings themselves, but also the decorations. You won’t see huge light displays, however. In Colonial Williamsburg, the decorations are – of course – Colonial in nature. Most are made of natural materials like greens, berries, apples, pine cones, and such. Furthermore, you’ll get an up close look at all these wreaths and other decorations because home owners don’t mind if you walk inside the gate and up to their front door to admire their handiwork.
In addition to the tour, there are all sorts of other activities occurring throughout the city. Concerts are abundant and there’s a wonderful tree-lighting ceremony scheduled at the beginning of the season. Check out Colonial Williamsburg’s Christmas calendar for exact dates and times.
Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration
If you do want to see twinkling lights, tinsel, and other fancy baubles, head to nearby Busch Gardens, which boasts a much more elaborate light show. The park puts up some 2 million lights and each themed land is decorated in the tradition of that particular country. In addition, you can partake of traditional holiday foods throughout the park, including soups, stews, smoked meats, and – without a doubt – Christmas cookies. And don’t miss the peppermint hot chocolate! Concerts also occur throughout the celebration.
Santa has a workshop in Busch Gardens as well, so be sure to save time to pay him a visit. In addition, in the Germany area, you’ll find Virginia’s largest Christmas tree, a 45-foot LED tree that features thousands of “dancing” lights. There’s also a great marketplace in Busch Gardens, where you can buy lovely items made by local artists and artisans.
Both the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum design their December tours with an emphasis on 18th and 19th century holiday traditions. In addition, these museums offer numerous special art programs for all ages, allowing participants to make their own decorations, toys, or other holiday-related item to take home.
Christmas at the Plantations
The James River Plantations – specifically Berkley and Shirley Plantations – also go “all out” for the holidays. In addition to enjoying the standard tour of the plantations, each tour guide embellishes their offerings with stories about Christmases of long ago at each respective plantation. In addition, gift shops at each location offer holiday items you can purchase for yourself or your friends and family.
Lady Dunmore’s Ball
If you find yourself in Williamsburg in mid-December, pick up some tickets to Lady Dunmore’s Ball. Lady Dunmore was a colorful and lively Colonial Williamsburg resident, married to the Royal Governor, and each year a ball is held at the Governor’s Palace to celebrate the birth of their daughter, Lady Virginia. Music, dancing, and refreshments make up the event, but you’ll also find yourself hobnobbing with some well-known Revolutionary era personalities, like Martha Washington and Patrick Henry. Delightful!
Either before you arrive or when you get to town, check out the various taverns, museums, and hotels for special holiday dinners and teas. For example, the Williamsburg Inn offers a wonderful mid-afternoon Christmas tea and often hosts dinners that include a reading of “A Christmas Carol”. Perfect for the whole family!